Common Consequences of Addiction

depressed man struggling with the consequences of addiction

Addiction is a chronic brain disease that affects millions of individuals worldwide, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. It is characterized by compulsive drug or alcohol use despite negative consequences. Once a person is addicted, it is difficult to stop substance use without professional help.

The consequences of addiction are widespread, severely affecting the addicted person and their loved ones and significantly impacting society. Increased healthcare costs, lost productivity, and criminal justice expenses are just a few ways addiction affects communities. Addressing addiction and providing effective treatment and support for those affected is essential for improving the lives of those addicted, their loved ones, and society.

Common Consequences of Addiction

Addiction can lead to a range of negative consequences that can affect individuals physically, psychologically, socially, and behaviorally. These consequences can be severe and long-lasting, but seeking help for addiction and beginning the journey toward recovery makes all the difference, enabling many individuals to live fulfilling sober lives.

1. Physical consequences of addiction

Harm to body systems – Many addictive substances are toxic and can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and other vital organs over time. For example, alcohol abuse can lead to liver disease, while drug abuse can cause kidney damage.

Increased risk of illnesses and diseases – Addiction weakens the body’s immune system, leaving individuals more susceptible to infections and diseases. Intravenous drug use can also increase the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne infections.

Nutritional deficiencies – Those addicted to drugs or alcohol may neglect their health and diet while pursuing their addiction. Poor nutrition can result in malnourishment, weight loss, and other health problems.

Potential for overdose and death – Addiction can disrupt the body’s natural systems and functions. For instance, opioids and other drugs can depress the central nervous system, leading to slowed breathing and reduced heart rate, which can be dangerous and potentially fatal.

2. Psychological consequences of addiction

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues – Addiction and mental health issues often co-occur, with individuals who suffer from addiction being more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.

For those with co-occurring substance use and mental health issues, it may be unclear which came first. For example, substance abuse can lead to changes in brain chemistry that can contribute to depression and anxiety. On the other hand, individuals with pre-existing mental health issues may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate or cope with their symptoms.

Addressing both addiction and mental health issues concurrently through integrated treatment and support is essential for promoting recovery and improving overall outcomes.

Impaired cognition and memory – Many addictive substances damage brain cells and alter brain chemistry, which can impact cognitive function and memory. Addiction may also contribute to unhealthy sleep patterns, poor nutrition, neglect of self-care, and psychological distress, such as anxiety and depression, all of which can further impair cognitive function and memory.

Increased risk of suicide and self-harm – Addiction is known to increase the risk of suicide and self-harm by:

  • Worsening mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
  • Leading to social isolation, which can increase feelings of hopelessness and exacerbate mental health problems.
  • Causing financial problems, relationship issues, and legal consequences, which can lead to further emotional distress.
  • Acting as a coping mechanism for emotional pain can increase the risk of self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

3. Social consequences of addiction

Strained relationships with friends and family – Addictive behavior can lead to a lack of trust and communication between individuals, damaging the foundation of a healthy relationship.

Prioritizing drug or alcohol use – An addicted person may focus much of their time and attention on obtaining and using an addictive substance rather than time with loved ones, often leading to resentment, anger, and isolation.

Erratic and unpredictable behavior – Unpredictable behavior by an addicted person can be frightening and frustrating for family and friends.

Money problems – The money issues that often accompany addiction can create tension and conflict within relationships. Job loss, debt, poor money management, failure to pay rent or other monthly bills, legal charges, and money spent on purchasing the substance strains relationships.

Legal issues – Possessing or distributing drugs, arrest for DUI, stealing money to purchase drugs or alcohol, or violent behavior while under the influence can result in incarceration, affecting personal relationships and social standing.

4. Behavioral consequences of addiction

Impulsivity and risk-taking behaviors – Some addictive substances alter brain chemistry, leading to poor decision-making and impulse control, which can result in poor judgment, impulsive behavior, and neglect of responsibilities.

Risky behavior – Addiction can lead to a preoccupation with obtaining and using drugs or alcohol, leading individuals to take risks and engage in dangerous behavior to get their desired substance.

Reduced motivation – Regular use of drugs or alcohol can alter reward and motivation pathways in the brain, increasing the desire for the substance and reducing the incentive to focus on people, work, or anything unrelated to substance use.

Manipulative behavior – Addicted people may lie, blame others, or be emotionally abusive to avoid taking responsibility for their behavior.

Treatment and Recovery

Many addictive substances cause changes in the brain, rewiring neural pathways and impairing normal brain functions. Once these brain changes occur, it is incredibly challenging for an addicted person to stop using drugs or alcohol without professional help.

When the body becomes physically addicted to a substance and substance use stops, the addicted person will experience withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and some are life-threatening.

Professional treatment provides a range of services, such as medical detoxification, counseling, behavioral therapies, and support groups which can help people manage withdrawal symptoms, address the root causes of their addiction, and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

The compassionate team at Midwest Recovery Centers provides a supportive and non-judgmental environment for people to recover and rebuild their lives. Seeking professional help is an essential step toward recovery and can significantly increase the chances of successfully overcoming addiction.

Contact Midwest Recovery Centers today to learn more.


Reviewed and Assessed by
Taylor Brown, B.A.Com., CADC
Tim Coleman, M. of Ed.

Staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Click or Call Today! 844-990-1578

Verify Your Insurance Coverage
close slider
  • General Information

  • Address

    Address on file with your insurance carrier.

  • Insurance Information

  • Accepted file types: jpg, gif, png, pdf, Max. file size: 64 MB.
  • Max. file size: 50 MB.

  • Additional Information

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This