One way to define substance abuse is as a maladaptive coping strategy to stress. Exposure to stressors at an early age or for long periods throughout one’s life can cause chemical reactions in the brain, which increase the likelihood of developing addictive behaviors later in life. This article does not reference the term “drug abuse,” which is a stigmatizing term.

Imaging technique that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to generate detailed images of water molecules in a cross section or area of the brain. Different types of tissue hold different amounts of water, generating maps or pictures of the brain that contrast and detect structural abnormalities such as size, density, and volume of brain tissue such as white and grey matter. An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that detects electrical activity and patterns in the brain using small, flat, non-invasive metal discs (electrodes) attached to the scalp. Brain cells communicate continuously via electrical impulses, even when asleep, and this activity is reflected via fluctuating lines on an EEG recording.

Factors that Increase Risk for Substance Use, Misuse, and Addiction

If a person who drinks too much is going to develop alcohol-related liver disease, the progression will start with fatty liver disease, move to alcoholic hepatitis, and culminate with alcoholic cirrhosis. However, it is possible for some heavy drinkers to develop cirrhosis first, bypassing the hepatitis stage. Some drinkers may develop alcoholic hepatitis but never show the symptoms of it. Non-alcoholic liver diseases, such as chronic hepatitis C, may exacerbate the damage done to the liver by excessive alcohol consumption. However alcohol-related liver disease presents, the complications that arise can be life-threatening. Such complications include internal bleeding (usually from the stomach or also from the esophagus, which can present as coughing up blood), an enlarged spleen, kidney failure, and liver cancer.

long term effects of substance abuse

This means getting the right addiction treatment as soon as possible is vital. Nuclear imaging technique that uses a radioactive drug tracer to detect how tissues and organs are functioning, measuring low concentrations of molecules to detect cell-to-cell communication, and track a substances distribution within and movement into and out of the brain. Visit the links below to find out more about your health insurance coverage levels, how to get your insurance company to pay for drug and alcohol rehab, and how to pay if you don’t have insurance.

Marijuana, hashish and other cannabis-containing substances

Treatment aims to help individuals develop a healthier relationship with drugs, helping them live productive lives in relationships with their family, work, and society. SUD is a complex but treatable disease that affects a person’s cognitive function and behavior. A professor in neurocognitive development writes in Scientific American that heavy alcohol consumption changes the structure and composition of the brain and, by extension, the body. There is no telling how much can be recovered even after years of abstinence. Psychoactive substances affect the parts of the brain that involve reward, pleasure, and risk.

long term effects of substance abuse

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug dependency, don’t hesitate to contact one of our treatment centers to learn about how we can help. Once you’ve been addicted to a drug, you’re at high risk of falling back into a pattern of addiction. If you do start using the drug, it’s likely you’ll lose control over its use again — even if you’ve had treatment and you haven’t used the drug for some time.

Addictive Substances “Hijack” Brain Reward Systems

Stimulants like cocaine and meth are infamous for how they blitz the brain into producing dopamine, but another drug that can impact the production and function of the neurotransmitter in the brain is marijuana. Tetrahydrocannabinol, the active chemical compound in marijuana, also triggers the release of dopamine, which is why marijuana smokers feel good and satisfied about the act of smoking marijuana or consuming edible marijuana products. Such damage not only targets the dopamine neurotransmitters but also the grey matter centers of the brain, resulting in cognitive decline. Substance abuse has many potential consequences, including overdose and even death. Brain damage may also occur through alcohol-induced nutrition deficiencies, alcohol-induced seizures and liver disease.

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