Can Substance Abuse Lead to Other Medical Conditions?

Substance abuse and the immune system are closely related. Drugs damage the immune system or send it incorrect signals that cause it to attack healthy organs and cells. Recent research also suggests that the relationship goes both ways, and neuroimmunologists, or those who study the relationship between the brain and immune system, have found that the immune system supports behaviors and thoughts related to drug dependence and addiction much like dopamine does. Because the two interact and influence one another, addiction has long-term effects on the physical and mental health of Orlando residents, and substance abuse contributes to the development of a variety of medical conditions.

Alcohol Abuse and Physical Health

“Alcohol’s Effects on the Immune System” (Addiction Treatment Magazine, Feb 2013) shares that binge drinking decreases the activity of immune system cells by over 50 percent. This leaves Orlando’s heavy drinkers at increased risk for infectious diseases such as the following:

  • Pneumonia
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Blood infection
  • Diphtheria
  • Meningitis

Drinking increases the chances of developing these illnesses, and it also reduces the body’s ability to defend against them once infection occurs.

Prescription Painkillers and Hyperalgesia

Abusing painkillers such as Vicodin, OxyContin, or Lortab creates a range of social, personal, and professional consequences. It can also lead to hyperalgesia, or increased pain sensitivity. Drugs that once provided relief from pain may come to increase pain sensitivity in Orlando residents who overuse or misuse these medications.

Anxiety and Addiction

Substance abuse does more than affect physical health. It can lead to the development or worsening of mental health conditions. Drug Abuse and Addiction in Medical Illness: Causes, Consequences and Treatment (2012) shares that “anxiety symptoms often emerge during the course of chronic intoxication and withdrawal,” if they were not already a preexisting condition contributing to substance abuse. Furthermore “anxiety disorders modify the presentation and treatment outcomes for [substance use disorders (SUDs)]…SUDs modify the presentation and treatment outcome for anxiety disorders.” Co-occurring addiction issues and mental or physical health conditions makes identification and treatment of all related factors more difficult. Getting proper physical and mental health diagnoses as a part of an addiction treatment program is essential for long-term recovery and complete wellness.

Integrated Addiction Recovery

Effective addiction recovery programs address all aspects of mental and physical health through integrated treatment. They provide a team of medical and addiction professionals that work together to provide real and lasting solutions for a drug-free life. If you or a loved one in Orlando is ready to find health and wellness, call our toll-free helpline. We are here 24 hours a day to connect you to the addiction recovery resources that provide thorough and long-term treatment and support. All calls are free and confidential, so please don’t hesitate to call today.