Futures Recovery Healthcare

How Addiction Impacts The Body & Recovery Programs that Heal



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Addiction is a chronic brain disease characterized by the inability to stop or cut down on a substance. From addiction to alcohol and cannabis to heroin and cocaine, addiction can leave a path of destruction in its wake like nothing else. Relationships are lost and broken, careers abandoned, and health sometimes nearly obliterated. The consequences of addiction to any substance on health can result in both short and long term problems. However, treatment programs offering not only psychotherapy but also program options for health, can help to promote recovery of the body, mind, and soul. 

Millions of people around the globe live with a substance use or alcohol use disorder. The rates of both alcohol and substance abuse are high. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the harmful use of alcohol results in 3.1 million deaths a year and there are 31 million persons across the globe with a drug use issue. The health issues that come with long-term, and in some cases even short-term, drug and alcohol abuse are serious. 

Short-Term Health Consequences of Addiction

There are many detrimental effects of both alcohol and other substances on the body. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), substance use disorders, including alcohol and tobacco, cost the nation around $740 billion annually. One component of this number is health care costs. From emergency visits for overdoses and cirrhosis of the liver to bronchitis and stomach issues, substance abuse compromises the body and an individual’s health in negative ways. 

Addiction is unique to each person who has it. And the impact of the drugs or alcohol on the body varies from person to person as well. Some factors contribute to the health impact of alcohol and drugs. 

  • How much of the substance is used
  • How long the substance has been used
  • What other, if any, substances are used
  • How the overall health of the individual is otherwise
  • What the age of the person is
  • How often the substance is used
  • What kind of family health history the person has
  • What substance is being abused
  • How the substance is taken or used

And while each case is different, there are some general health consequences from substance abuse. The WHO reports that alcohol is the leading risk factor for premature death and disability in people between the ages of 15 and 49 years of age. It’s important to also understand that while there are many adverse effects of substance and alcohol use disorders, when an individual takes the first step and gets help the road to recovery can begin. This road to recovery will include a return to better health, if the right tools and resources are utilized. 

At Futures Recovery Healthcare, we believe that there are multiple pathways to recovery but each involves an integrated, holistic care continuum. Attending to the body, mind, and soul are essential for long-lasting, vibrant recovery and health. Our professional and experienced team conducts a thorough assessment and customizes a treatment plan to address the unique needs of everyone who comes to Futures for  help in recovery from addiction. This includes an approach to restore the physical health of everyone in need of that. 

Short-term problems with health from an addiction to alcohol or drugs can include:

  • Injuries from accidents such as slips and falls, automobile accidents, and alcohol-related violence
  • Passing out or blacking out
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of coordination (sometimes resulting in injury)
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Reduction of core body temperature
  • Imparied ability to concentrate
  • Loss of judgement abilities
  • Mood swings
  • Blurred vision or other vision issues
  • Decreased inhibitions
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleeping issues

While many of these short-term issues may seem inconsequential, when these continue for longer periods of time they can lead to more serious, long-term health issues. It’s also important to realize that some of these short-term issues can lead to death or disablement. For example, falling while under the influence can result in anything from a broken leg to a head injury. Broken legs are clearly not life threatening however, head injuries, depending on the severity, can result in death as well as significant impairment. 

Understanding the Long-term Health Problems from Addiction

Anyone who uses a drug, illicit or legal, or alcohol for extended periods of time can end up with unexpected and serious health concerns. As mentioned, how severe the health issues are and how many a person has depends on a variety of factors, however, most people who misuse and abuse alcohol or another substance suffer from some type of health issues eventually. 

The Brain: 

Both alcohol and drugs impact the brain in several ways. From the diminishment of gray and white matter, which serve different functions in the brain, and memory loss to decreased ability to focus and learning impairments, the brain is negatively impacted by substance abuse. 

The Heart: 

Consuming alcohol or taking drugs over a period of time is linked to certain heart issues. 

  • Hypertension
  • Atrial fibrillation and flutter
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure


There is an increased risk for certain cancers with alcohol and drug use. These include:

  • Oropharynx
  • Oesophagus
  • Liver
  • Colon
  • Rectal 
  • Breast in females
  • Head and neck

Communicable Disease:

The WHO reports an increased risk for certain communicable diseases including HIV/AIDs. In addition, those who have HIV/AIDs and continue to use alcohol or drugs have a higher rate of mortality. In addition, there is an increased rate of some forms of hepatitis amongst those who have alcohol or substance use issues as well as tuberculosis. 

Liver Disease: 

Drinking, particularly heavy drinking, and drug use can take an insurmountable toll on the liver. These problems include steatosis or fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis.

Pancreas Issues:

Alcohol and drug use can lead to problems with the pancreas causing it to produce toxic matter. This in turn can lead to issues with inflammation and swelling resulting in dangerous digestion problems.

Immune System:

Substance use disorders and alcohol use disorders can lead to a weakened immune system. This can cause any number of health issues like bronchitis, pneumonia, and other viruses and diseases. 

There’s no doubt that long-term use of alcohol or another substance can really cause unwanted and serious damage to one’s body. However, the good news is that the sooner you stop using that substance, whatever it may be, the sooner you’ll be on the road to restored health and wellness—body, mind, and soul. 

Finding a treatment center that offers tools and programs to support comprehensive wellness is essential to reclaiming your life and health. Futures understands how substance abuse can impact the body and offers specialized programs to get you back on the road to healing from addiction. From specialized therapies to address eating disorders, trauma, and chronic pain to physical therapy to help clients restore their strength and address underlying pain issues, Futures compassionate, experienced staff create a program of recovery specific to each individual’s unique treatment needs. 

Even if you don’t have a need for those services, Futures knows how vital wellness is to a comprehensive treatment program and offers programs to improve and support the vitality of all clients. From yoga and massage to our nutritionist and chef creating healthy and delicious meals, everyone who comes to Futures is given the support and resources needed to live a life in recovery for the body, mind, and soul. 

If you or someone you love is living in the bonds of an alcohol or drug use issue, Futures is here to help. Our expert, caring admissions team is here to help you learn more or get started today. Contact us confidentially online or by phone at 866-351-7588.


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