Addiction is an affliction that can destroy every aspect of a person’s life. Unlike other disorders which can be limited to a certain part of the body, such as achondroplasia which impacts bone growth, addiction impacts the physical body, the mental capabilities and the emotional well-being of the addict. Left untreated, addiction can take a life in more ways than most people can possibly imagine.
Addiction to drugs and alcohol will in time cause damage to almost every organ in the body. And in most cases, when left untreated, that damage become irreversible and life threatening. Addiction causes a weakened immune system leaving the addict susceptible to infections. The cardiovascular system can exhibit conditions ranging from an abnormal heart beat to a heart attack. The added toxins in the body causes the liver to be over worked which often results in liver failure. And seizures and strokes are common due to damage to the brain and nervous system. In addition, the brain is exceptionally involved in addiction. In the early stages of addiction the person is choosing to use the substance. But scientists have found that many substances alter the brain chemistry enough to make the brain dependent which causes cravings and compulsion. The brain literally needs the new substance to exist and the addict is no longer making the choice to use.
Addiction has a huge impact on behavior and personality. You often hear friends or family of an addict making excuses say that it was the drugs talking or the alcohol talking when the addict becomes aggressive or abusive. When, in fact, it is the result that the substance is having on the chemical balance of the addict’s brain. They might be craving their drug of choice and be willing to do or say anything to get it. Addiction often causes paranoia, aggressiveness, hallucinations, impaired judgement, impulsiveness and lack of self-control.
As the addiction grows, it becomes the most important relationship to the addict. This can cause an otherwise caring and loving person to become distant and even abusive or hurtful to loved ones. Anyone who stands between the addict and their drug of choice becomes just an obstacle to be dealt with. Other relationships have no value to the addict and he or she will feel no remorse for ignoring them or even ending them.
Early in the addiction process, the user will understand the need for employment and will try to maintain a job. But as the addiction becomes the persons only comfort and satisfaction, they will lose interest in maintaining a job or even a place to live. The addiction is all that matters to them and they will do anything in their power to find that substance.
Sadly, addiction is something that mothers can pass on to their children. Nearly 4% of the pregnant women in the United States are using. This drug and alcohol use can result in the baby being born too early, being too small, having birth defects or even being born with the same addiction as their mother. And if the child does survive, he or she can face a lifetime of health issues as a result of being born addicted.
The effects of addiction touch every person who knows the addict. The only way to break this cycle is to work with professionals to determine the underlying issues and work to correct them. With treatment and help the person can look forward to a productive life rather than being a puppet to his or her addiction.
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