Drug abuse and alcohol addiction affects almost every system in your body. Many people understand that drugs affect feelings and moods, judgment, decision making, learning, and memory. However many people do not know consistent abuse causes other health problems—cancer, heart disease, lung disease, liver & kidney damage, infection of heart lining and valves; mental disorders; seizures; and infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis. Substance abuse can even change hormone and testosterone levels in men and women.
Primary Care in Addiction Treatment
Many chronic conditions such as diabetes, depression, hypertension, and asthma require continual care in order for treatment benefits to be sustained. The disease of addiction is similar to other chronic diseases in this regard. It requires monitoring of the patient's status on a regular basis, early intervention regarding possible problems, and proper referrals in order to maintain positive treatment effects. Substance abuse is a chronic disease in most cases. It can’t be treated like a broken leg or appendicitis. Our primary care providers help to integrate a full spectrum of health care services – including primary care, behavioral health, specialty addiction care, and case management for community resources – improving recovery outcomes and overall health. Primary care is the important setting in which we deliver evidence-based treatments to address not only the substance use disorder itself, but the long-term effects caused by the disease.
At Detox and Recovery Solutions Las Vegas, we use primary care as the first step in making addiction treatment accessible, destigmatized, and structured. We provide longitudinal, community-based care for the the chronic diseases of addiction that require frequent and long-term attention. We believe that continuity of care helps us to identify and address the underlying causes of addiction and helps patients build supportive networks, secure stable plans of care, and to avoid the familiar triggers of relapse by addressing the reward center of the brain. As primary care providers we understand that substance use disorder is a chronic illness requiring ongoing recovery management rather than isolated episodes of treatment. Our strong primary care relationships allow us to help evaluate the needs of patients, stabilize the patient, and to oversee follow-up treatments with other providers. In other words, your primary care provider helps to navigate the ship from detox through recovery and beyond.
If you already have a chronic condition like addiction, your primary care provider helps manage it and improve your quality of life. A primary care provider can provide preventive care, teach healthy lifestyle choices, identify and treat common medical conditions post detox and make referrals to medical and mental health specialists, when needed. Primary Care providers are not episodic; in theory, they have the opportunity to get to know their patients over the long term and to develop .a relationship with the patient. That is something that a specialist simply does not have the opportunity to. The primary care provider continues to have a relationship with the patient long after detox and can help to identify behaviors and health conditions that may cause relapse.
The Health Complications Of Addiction
Drugs and alcohol impact almost every organ in the human body and not only have short-term effects, but also long-term effects. For many patients stopping the use of the substance will not reverse the physical diseases caused by substance abuse, but instead results in a need to continue to manage both the substance abuse disorder and the resulting physical illness for the rest of the person’s life. People may face various acute health risks immediately after drinking or using a drug. Immediate health consequences are easy to understand and can be very hard to ignore. But some health impacts associated with long-term substance aren’t as clear-cut. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, found 19 common health conditions were present in patients with substance use disorders vs. demographically matched patients without a history of drug or alcohol abuse, including arthritis, asthma, chronic pain, congestive heart failure, hypertension, pneumonia, and stroke. These patients also had an elevated risk of dying—and at a younger age—than those without a substance use disorder.
Effects Of Substance Abuse On The Brain
The human brain is the most complex organ in the human body. It controls both physical movement and the physiological processes that keep you alive. Drugs and alcohol change the way you feel by altering the chemicals that keep your brain working smoothly. Although in the beginning initial drug and alcohol use may be voluntary, drugs and alcohol can alter brain chemistry and size after long-term use. Long-term substance abuse changes how the brain functions and can interfere with a person’s ability to make good choices. Drugs including opiates, cocaine, heroin and all others–affect the brain’s “reward” system, an intricate part of the limbic system. This part of the brain effects instinct, critical thinking skills, and mood. Drugs activate the limbic system, causing large amounts of dopamine to be released — These "happy" brain chemicals help to regulate emotions and create a feeling of euphoria. This flood of dopamine to the brain is what causes the “high.” It’s one of the main causes of drug addiction and relapse.
Effects Of Substance Abuse On The Body
- Lung & Kidney Damage
- A weakened immune system, increasing the risk of illness and long-term infections.
- Heart conditions ranging from abnormal heart rates to heart attacks.
- Infection of heart lining and valves; collapsed veins and blood vessel infections
- Nausea and changes in the stomachs ability to absorb vitamins and minerals.
- Increased strain on the liver, which puts the person at risk of significant liver damage or liver failure.
- Global effects of drugs on the body, such as breast development in men and increases in body temperature, which can lead to other health hormone and testosterone issues.
- Infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis.
Medical Conditions Commonly Associated With Substance Use Disorder
|Substance Use Disorder||Medical Condition|
|Alcohol Use Disorder||Cardiovascular diseases
|Opioid Use Disorder||Arthritis
|Methamphetamine Use Disorder||Respiratory deficits
Mental Health Disorders