Physical effects of drug abuse

Updated March 23, 2017

Many people wonder about the physical effects of drug abuse. Long term drug abuse takes a toll on the addict's body. The lungs, the teeth and even the skin are affected by the use of drugs. Some of these physical effects are reversible after the addict stops using drugs, but others are not. Below are some of the physical effects of drug abuse.

Appearance Changes

One noticeable physical effect of drug abuse is changes in physical appearance. The addict might experience a drastic change in his weight over a short period of time, either gaining or losing a substantial amount of weight depending upon the drug of choice. Personal hygiene is also affected, including body odour, greasy hair and complete disarray. The outward appearance of the abuser can change drastically over time as the body craves an increasing amount of the drug.

Periodontal Disease

Gum disease can be a mild or major physical effect of drug abuse. Initially, the gums are reddened and bleed more frequently. As the drug abuser sinks into his addiction, irresponsible care of the mouth can cause more severe problems, including tooth loss. Infections in the mouth can lead to death if not properly treated.

Upper Respiratory Infections

The drug addict will show physical effects on the respiratory system. For drugs that are inhaled, immediate physical effects could include nosebleeds, deep chest coughs and inflammation throughout the respiratory system. With severe drug addiction, respiratory complications, such as lung failure, can occur and even lead to death. Because the body is so resilient, the addict can recover from the effects with treatment and time.

Skin Disorders

The appearance of the drug addict's skin changes when substances are in his system. The skin will appear red with noticeably larger pores around the nose. Because heart rate and blood pressure are increased, veins and arteries are affected and can produce a blotchy appearance. Sweat and oil glands can overproduce, causing the drug addict to be more prone to outbreaks and acne.

Cognitive Impairment

Cognitive impairment is a physical effect of drug abuse. Drugs that enter the body affect neurological activity in the brain and cause dopamine levels to be altered. The drug abuse can affect the addict's memory, attention, and reasoning abilities, such as time gaps and event confusion. Cognitive impairment in the drug abuser becomes more debilitating with increased years of use. Fortunately, a recovering addict can, in most cases, improve and possibly reverse these effects after a year of sobriety.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author