Addiction, clinically referred to as substance use disorder (SUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, relapsing brain disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) substance use disorder is a “complex condition in which there is uncontrolled use of substance despite harmful consequence.” Addiction can lead to an array of adverse physiological effects. Different parts of the body that are affected by addiction may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Endocrine system: made up of a complex network of organs and glands, the endocrine system uses hormones to coordinate and control the body’s metabolism, reproduction, energy levels, growth, and development, as well as response to injury stress and/ or mood. Alcohol and drug abuse can impair the production and secretion of these hormones.
- Circulatory system: the circulatory system is comprised of three independent systems (cardiovascular, pulmonary, and systemic) that work together and are responsible for the flow of blood, nutrients, oxygen, hormones, and other gases, to and from cells. It helps the body maintain a normal body temperature and fight off disease. The ingestion of harmful substances, particularly drugs and alcohol, is associated with cardiovascular disease, or the deterioration in the health of the heart and/ or blood vessels. Changes in blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure are common side effects of substance abuse.
- Nervous system: the nervous system is the center of all mental activity including memory, thought, and learning, as it is the major controlling, regulatory, and communicating system in the body. Drug and alcohol abuse interfere with the nervous system’s ability to regulate mood, thinking, and coordination of bodily functions.
- Muscular system: the muscular system is an organ system consisting of skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscles. It permits movement of the body, maintains posture, and circulates blood throughout the body. Substance abuse can lead to slow muscle movement, impair muscle coordination, and over a prolonged period can reduce muscle mass.
- Respiratory system: the respiratory system’s primary function is to deliver oxygen and remove carbon dioxide. Substance abuse interferes with this process by reducing one’s rate of breathing. When breathing is depressed, it can lead to respiratory failure depriving the lungs of essential oxygen.
Habitually abusing drugs and/ or alcohol will affect the way one’s brain functions, as one’s body becomes increasingly accustomed to functioning with the presence of the substance in its system. Different drugs can have neurotoxic and destructive effects on brain cells. The brain is known as the most complex organ in the human body. Repeated and prolonged substance use that occurs with addiction can reshape the brain’s structure and how it functions.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at email@example.com