The Health and Social Consequences of Addiction
Addiction is a disease that has a serious impact on the sufferer. Not only can substance and behavioral addictions rob a person of their physical health and wellbeing, but they can also lead to mental health issues. Additionally, addiction can have a significant impact on an individual’s social health.
As we discussed, both substance and behavioral addiction can develop from many different sources, such as genetics and the environment of a person’s upbringing. But the impact of addiction extends beyond just the individual with the addiction; it also extends to their social network, friends, and family.
Let’s consider the health and social consequences of addiction:
Causing or Worsening Mental Health Issues
Substance addiction can be a leading contributor to medical or psychiatric conditions, disability, and death because of accidents or diseases caused by or worsened by substance use. By changing the brain’s reward system, behavioral addiction can also cause a person to have a warped view of themselves and others, causing introversion and selfish tendencies to become exacerbated, leading to further issues.
Leading to Premature Deaths
Sufferers of addiction are much more likely to experience premature deaths, either because of the misuse of drugs or alcohol or by suicide. Of all the factors associated with suicide, only depression is more closely correlated than substance abuse. If you or a loved one are having thoughts of suicide, it is crucial that you seek help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 800-273-8255.
Increasing Violent Crimes
Since drug and alcohol use can weaken self-control, it’s not uncommon to see people who are under the influence engaging in behaviors they usually wouldn’t if they were sober. While using drugs or alcohol does not always produce violent behaviors, it can in certain situations, particularly for people who may be behaviorally predisposed to violent acts or are experiencing other stressors or traumas.
Those closest to individuals suffering with addiction are their families. Tensions can become high if their addiction is discovered by their family, especially if they have kept it hidden for years. Family members may feel deeply abandoned if the person they love has been addicted to alcohol or drugs. Additionally, addiction interferes with the physical and emotional development of children, and affects the health of the family. Behavioral addiction can also be shocking, such as those sexual in nature, and can leave the affected mate feeling betrayed and cheated on.
Those suffering from an addictive disease can frequently change their circle of friends and lose friends who may have tried to help them. They may have concerns about regressing to addictions they had in the past, such as overdrinking, or they just cannot cope with seeing their friend struggle or refuse help. Whatever the reason, it can be detrimental for both the sufferer and their friends to lose their close bond at a time when they more than likely need them the most.
Living Less Productive Lives
Substance addiction can trigger or intensify the feelings of loneliness, sadness, and hopelessness often associated with depression. Even if those feelings are not as intense, the addiction can take the sufferer away from the things they enjoy most in life, leaving them feeling less fulfilled and less content. This can have a spiraling effect, making them pursue their addiction even more, leading to worsening feelings of uselessness.
Don’t Lose Hope
The health and social consequences of addiction can impact every aspect of both the sufferer’s life and that of those closest to them. That is why, if you or someone you know is dealing with an addiction, the best thing you can do is try to get help.
At Valley Forge Medical Center, we are here to help you develop effective prevention and treatment strategies. Contact us today.