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The Permanent Damage Of Addiction

It’s a sad fact, but years of substance abuse and/or alcoholism can do severe damage to your body. Thankfully the cravings can be conquered, with proper recovery and treatment. But what about the permanent health effects that may occur afterward? It’s certainly a tough topic to hear about, but one that’s important for those who may be starting down a road of dependency.

The Fix recently shared data from the Journal of Addiction Medicine, which was based on feedback from 2,000 subjects who had gone through a recovery program. Many had been longtime addicts and because of that fact, roughly 37 percent claimed to be dealing with a secondary health issue. These included everything from cirrhosis of the liver, to HIV, to hepatitis C and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

And if you think about it, it’s not that hard to imagine how these conditions arose. Cirrhosis, for example, is largely attributed to alcoholism and the direct damage that incessant drinking does to the liver. HIV amongst addicts is commonly linked to needle sharing, though heavy users also engage in promiscuous, unprotected sex. Hepatitis also has links to drug abuse, as does COPD (which comes from smoking harmful substances).

The Fix quoted the study’s lead author, Dr. David Eddie PhD. He was of the opinion that, although recovery is a tremendous step forward, it is important that the public knows about the long-lasting effects an addiction can have.

“The prodigious psychological, social, and interpersonal impact of excessive and chronic alcohol and other drug use is well-characterized,” he explained. “Less well-appreciated is the physical disease burden, especially among those who have successfully resolved a significant substance use problem.”

The study made a point to address the nation’s opioid crisis, highlighting hepatitis C as one of the biggest after-effects related to painkiller abuse. This type of habit has been known to escalate into heroin problems; with needles (again) playing a role in a larger health problem.

It was also pointed out that many of the participants have two or more of these chronic illnesses. There were also higher counts of cancer cases and heart disease amongst this set.

Older Americans were in the higher risk bracket (particularly if their habits stretched over decades), as were lower income participants.

If anything, this is a red flag to curb any addiction as fast as possible. Living with a serious dependency has major consequences, which can appear years down the line. For that reason, we applaud the researchers for bringing this important message forward.