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What Other Issues Can Addiction Cause?

Posted on 01/23/20: Addiction Aftercare

Everyone can agree that addiction is bad. But sometimes we forget just how drastically addiction can alter one’s life in the worst ways. Obviously addiction takes a pretty severe physical toll on a person, but there are plenty of other issues that it can have on all areas of a person’s life. This article will explain all of the ways addiction can negatively impact the individual and their family.

Physical Issues

Probably the most base side effects of addiction are those that affect the user’s physical health. These are often the most obvious and difficult to overlook. Each drug or substance can cause varying physical effects on a person. Here are some of the side effects of the most harmful substances:


  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Stroke
  • Inflammation
  • Hepatitis
  • Fibrosis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Kidney disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Weakened immune system
  • Brain damage
  • Seizures


  • Brain damage
  • Hormonal changes
  • Physical dependence (which leads to withdrawal symptoms)
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Cold flashes
  • HIV or hepatitis (if injected)


  • Headaches
  • Convulsions and seizures
  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Mood problems
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Lung damage
  • HIV or hepatitis (if injected)
  • Bowel decay (if swallowed)
  • Sinus issues (nosebleeds, dry nose, etc)


Mental illness is usually either the cause or a result of addiction. On one hand, a person who was previously struggling with mental illness may turn to substances that numb the emotional pain they are in or to forget about the stressors in their life. On the other hand, someone who becomes addicted to substances is likely to experience negative emotional side effects because of the isolating nature of addiction, among other things. Dual-Diagnosis (also referred to as co-occurring disorders) is a term for people who are experiencing one or more mental health or behavioral issues simultaneously. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 45 percent of people with addiction have a co-occurring mental health disorder. 

Some common mental health disorders that co-occur with addiction are:

  • ADHD. Approximately 25 percent of adults that go to a treatment center for alcohol and substance abuse also live with ADHD (Addiction Center). ADHD may cause a person to experience difficulty paying attention, staying still, coping with boredom, performing tedious tasks, and they may be impulsive or hyperactive. ADHD is usually treated with stimulants, which can be highly addictive. People with ADHD may also turn to other kinds of drugs and alcohol to calm their busy minds.
  • Bipolar I and II. Bipolar I is characterized by periods of depression and mania, while Bipolar II has lows of depression but no real manic episodes, only hypomania (which is much less serious). A person is susceptible to turning to substances to either cope with the lows, or consume while they’re feeling euphoric in their manic or hypomanic state.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) can experience distorted self-image, impulsiveness, extreme emotions, and intense, unstable relationships. Aside from substance abuse disorder, these individuals are also susceptible to other mental health struggles such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, etc. Over two-thirds of people with BPD have turned toward substance abuse at some point in their lives (Addiction Center). 
  • Depression. Depression can make a person feel extremely sad, hopeless, empty inside, etc. It can have severe effects on a person’s capabilities to take care of themselves and maintain relationships. People with depression may use drugs or alcohol to escape the deep feelings of sadness that they may be experiencing. This is why an estimated one-third of people with major depression also have an alcohol problem (Addiction Center).
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). People with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are often plagued by constant, irrational worry about everyday occurrences. Reality can become very exhausting, especially in social situations. For this reason, these individuals may use drugs or alcohol to “shut off” their worries for a while. It is estimated that around 20 percent of those who have an anxiety disorder also have a substance use disorder (Addiction Center).
  • Eating disorders. Eating disorders are generally defined as abnormal eating patterns. This can be a severe restriction of food, or on the opposite end, over-consumption of food. Either way, an unhealthy relationship with food and emotional disturbances usually accompanies these kinds of disorders. An eating disorder can be an addiction in and of itself. A person could be addicted to counting calories, or conversely addicted to consuming large amounts of food.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders (OCD). OCD is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to develop recurring thoughts that cause irrational fears and anxieties. People with OCD usually form “rituals” such as tapping, washing hands, organizing, etc. They can feel as though if they do not perform these rituals, something bad will happen. The Journal of Anxiety Disorders estimates that over 25 percent of those who seek treatment for OCD also meet the criteria for a substance use disorder.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A person develops PTSD from witnessing a traumatic event which causes emotional disturbances for the individual long-term. PTSD is seen most commonly with victims of serious accidents or injuries, natural disasters, acts of terrorism, sexual or physical assault during childhood or as an adult, military combat, or death. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, nearly three-quarters of those surviving violent or abusive trauma report alcohol use disorders.
  • Schizophrenia. Individuals with schizophrenia have difficulty in distinguishing the imaginary from reality. They may experience hallucinations or delusions that affect their ability to function in society. People with schizophrenia are very susceptible to forming a dual-diagnosis with substance abuse disorder: An estimated 50 percent of individuals suffering from schizophrenia have a history of substance abuse.

In addition to diagnosable disorders, addiction can lead to a lot of general mental health concerns such as sadness, anxiety, isolation, etc.


Addiction can have a grave effect on one’s social life. Often times, drug users turn to drugs to help them be more sociable. These individuals may feel that the drugs make them more outgoing, confident, funny, etc. But drugs cause physical disruptions in the brain that affect a person’s ability to judge, make decisions, and regulate their behavior, which can create a rift in relationships without the user being conscious that they are occurring. 

Addicts will often engage in extremely risky, erratic behavior in order to continue using their drug of choice. It will push them into doing things they would have never done before. Not only this, but they will begin to isolate themselves from family and friends. They will typically cease engaging in activities that they once enjoyed. 

They will begin replacing lost, healthy friendships with new ones that enable their drug use. The addict is resistant to surrounding themself with people who will encourage them to seek treatment, especially if they are adamant that they do not have a problem. They do not want to hear that what they are doing is damaging. 

Financial Issues

It’s a no-brainer that addictive substances and addictions in general cost money. And since we’re talking about an addiction, we know it is going to be a consistent, sustained expense that will add up greatly over time. Also, it is inevitable that tolerance will begin building, meaning a person will need to consume more and more of the substance in one sitting as time goes on to achieve the same “high”. 

Addiction also hi-jacks the brain’s reward system and takes away a person’s ability to feel satisfaction for doing simple things like paying rent, working a job, saving for gifts and vacations, achieving financial goals, and more. This leads to financial obligations falling to the wayside. Not to mention, if addiction gets too bad, it may lead to the individual losing their job and source of income. Bills and unpaid debts will begin to add up, and without a means to acquire the funds necessary to pay them, the person can be left in a deep hole. This is why so many people who fall into addiction end up homeless and on the streets, which adds even more barriers to receiving treatment. 

Legal Issues

If substance abuse gets too out of hand, it can lead to severe legal troubles. These can be financially related, criminal, or simply due to being caught in possession of an illegal substance. As we mentioned earlier, addiction can cause a person to engage in reckless, dangerous behavior that is out of character for them. They may even commit crimes to get their next fix, which unfortunately can land them in major legal trouble.

Court costs and attorney fees can be a huge financial burden, as well as the prospect of having to serve time in jail or prison. Not to mention the social effects of having a permanent criminal record. 

It’s not worth it

The troubles that addiction causes in a person’s life and the lives of their loved ones isn’t worth any drug or activity. The sooner an addicted individual gets help, the better. The problems only get worse and worse, and some may even be long-term. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help as soon as possible. 

If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, contact Sober Living of AZ now to get the help you need. Sober Living offers an acclaimed recovery environment that merges upscale and luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare. Call us now at 602-737-2458.

Content for Scottsdale Recovery Center and Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best.

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