Long-Term Consequences of Going Untreated

When you’re caught in the trap of drug or alcohol addiction, it’s easy to ignore the fact that you need treatment. You might promise yourself or your loved ones that you’ll get help at some point in the future — maybe when you’re under less stress in your marriage or you’ve found a new job. But as time goes by, you may find yourself suffering from serious long-term damage to your body, your psyche and your self-esteem. Think about the ultimate consequences of addiction before you let another opportunity for healing pass you by.

Consequences for Your Physical Health

In the early days of addiction, you may never experience any severe physical side effects from substance abuse. A hangover, a headache or an upset stomach probably doesn’t seem like a big price to pay for that euphoric high. But what happens to your body when you keep abusing drugs? Here are just a few of the consequences you could face:

  • Brain damage. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), drugs and alcohol don’t just affect your thoughts and behaviors in the short-term; they can permanently alter the structure of your brain. Drugs like cocaine, marijuana and alcohol can destroy brain cells, changing the way you think, learn and remember. The NIH points out that studies of brain activity in cocaine users have shown that even after three months, brain activity continues to be much lower in people who abuse this stimulant.
  • Heart problems. Stimulants like cocaine and meth and hallucinogenic drugs like Ecstasy (MDMA) can cause a wide range of cardiovascular problems, ranging from an irregular heart rate to cardiac arrest, even in young users.
  • Liver disease. Liver failure is one of the greatest health risks for long-term alcoholics. According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, 15,990 people died of alcohol-related liver diseases (such as cirrhosis or cancer of the liver) in 2010.
  • Blood-borne diseases. Intravenous drug users who share needles or who use unsterile needles have a high risk of contracting blood-borne diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases. Because drugs and alcohol can impair your judgment, you have an increased risk of having unsafe sex or being sexually assaulted when you’re under the influence. Unprotected sex can lead to devastating consequences, like HIV/AIDS, unplanned pregnancy, cancers of the reproductive system and infertility.
  • Complications with pregnancy. Drug or alcohol abuse during pregnancy can cause complications with pregnancy, miscarriage or premature labor. It can also cause serious harm to the developing fetus, resulting in a low birth weight, neurological damage or developmental problems in childhood. 

Effects on Your Psychological Well-Being

Even if you have no history of depression or anxiety, chronic drug abuse can promote these conditions by altering your brain’s production of biochemicals that regulate your moods and emotions. When you first start using drugs or drinking, you may enjoy the social activities surrounding substance abuse. But as time goes on, you will probably find yourself becoming more isolated and unhappier about your drug abuse.

Clinical studies confirm that there is a strong link between depression, suicide and addiction. Psychiatric Times notes that people who abuse alcohol or drugs are almost six times more likely to try to end their own lives. Drugs like meth, cocaine, LSD and PCP can cause long-term alterations in your psyche, triggering episodes of paranoia, anxiety attacks, hallucinations or flashbacks even after you’ve stopped using.

Damage to Your Self-Esteem

Drugs and alcohol can take a big toll on your self-esteem. Addiction can drive you to do things that threaten your deepest beliefs and values, such as:

  • Stealing money from friends or relatives
  • Selling drugs to get money or obtain more drugs
  • Abusing a spouse, partner or child
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Having unsafe sex
  • Lying to your loved ones
  • Risking your own health
  • Attempting suicide

The rehab programs here at Axis are designed to help you regain your self-esteem by giving you the support and motivation you need to get clean and sober. Located near Palm Springs, California, our residential facility offers an exclusive yet affordable environment for healing.

When you’re surrounded by compassionate addiction treatment specialists and peers who are committed to sobriety, you’ll find that there’s plenty of hope available. Call our intake counselors to talk about how a personalized treatment program could help you regain your self-respect and create the life you really want.