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10 Ways Substance Use Impacts Your Well-being

Addiction is an all-encompassing disease that hurts your well-being. In the throes of a substance use disorder (SUD), your actions center around drugs or alcohol. This issue disrupts more than just a single facet of your life; it causes social, mental, physical, and economic problems.

Substance use – and eventually, drug addiction -- will impact all areas of your life. Here are 10 ways SUD harms your well-being:

10 Ways Substance Use Impacts Your Well-Being

Substance abuse will eventually affect every area of your life.

Social Problems

  • #1. Social Isolation: Secrecy is a cornerstone of addiction. With SUD, you must hide substances, usage, and the severity of the symptoms. If a person tries to confront you, you may shut them out. You may fear the damage that your disease could cause for your loved one, deciding it is better to distance yourself now. You could also find yourself too busy using or drinking to maintain friendships. No matter the motivation, it creates social isolation.
  • #2. Risky Behavior While Intoxicated: When under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your inhibitions may decrease. You may make unsafe sexual decisions, leading to STDs or unwanted pregnancy. Emotional instability, created by your substance consumption, could result in violence and domestic disputes. You could decide to get behind the wheel of a vehicle, putting everyone around you in danger. Self-loathing and guilt could cause self-harm as well. All of these actions create dangerous situations.

Mental Problems

  • #3. Anhedonia: Substance use alters your brain chemistry. Most drugs work by creating higher quantities, mimicking the effects, or blocking the reuptake of the neurotransmitter called dopamine. This neurotransmitter is responsible for habit formation and motivation. Over time, your neurons change to monitor the situation. Chemical receptors shut off. Your neurons produce lower quantities of dopamine. These actions are meant to balance out the brain.
    Dopamine releases are not just present in substance use. Everyday activities cause small releases of dopamine. It is minuscule compared to the effect of substances though. With the lowered impact of dopamine, you may feel zero joy or pleasure. Doctors call this symptom anhedonia. It is commonly experienced in major depressive disorder and SUD.
  • #4. Loss of Hobbies: This negative effect of addiction ties into the previous point. When going through anhedonia, you will feel no joy in your hobbies, which then creates a void. Why participate in activities when it offers zero positive feelings? Why engage in hobbies when you experience no motivation? You may feel emptiness. Eventually, your hobbies could make you grieve for what you lost. You might feel sadness or anger. This often creates an aversion to the hobbies you once enjoyed.
  • #5. Mood Swings: Due to the effect of substances on the prefrontal cortex, you may experience an impaired ability to rationalize and control impulses. This creates a situation where you express emotions tenfold. Anger becomes sheer rage. Sadness becomes despair. Happiness becomes elation. Behavior, driven by emotions, might seem erratic without logic to regulate your emotions.

Physical Problems

  • #6. Altered Brain Structures: Outside of the chemical and molecular changes, SUD alters the physical structure of the brain by modifying the gray matter and white matter. Different substances target different regions impacted. Whether they increase or decrease also depends on your substance/s of choice. Either way, you may experience long-term changes in brain functioning.
    In most cases, it creates top-down processing too. This means that incoming information is filtered through past experiences, current perceptions, and expected outcomes. The change in processing indicates alterations in the neural pathways. 
  • #7. Chronic Illnesses: Often, long-term addiction can cause chronic illnesses. Alcohol use often harms the liver, causing issues like fatty liver, cirrhosis, and hepatitis. Opioids can put you in an immunocompromised state. Injecting any drug creates a higher chance of getting HIV. Tobacco increases the probability of lung problems like pneumonia or cancer. Smoking any substances elevates the likelihood of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema. These are only a few of the many chronic illnesses that substance use can induce.

Economic Problems

  • #8. Poor Work Performance: People with SUD capable of performing life responsibilities to a reasonable level get labeled as “functional addicts.” Even without the harmful language, this label is dangerous. If you are part of this subgroup, you cannot maintain your functional performance forever. Eventually, your substance use will seep into your responsibilities. You may consume substances late at night instead of sleeping, causing you to be tired during the day. You could begin drinking or using at work. You could call out sick because of substances one too many times. You can only keep the effects away for so long.
  • #9. Housing Instability: Drugs and alcohol can impair your ability to think clearly. When under the influence, you may forget to pay your rent. You could also experience conflicts with neighbors. They may call in noise complaints if you loudly express your erratic emotions. You may leave your home in a wrecked state because you are too busy using or drinking; this may result in your landlord evicting you. You could also experience housing issues if you lose your job.
  • #10. Financial Struggles: While experiencing SUD, you may not make logical decisions. Your cravings and dependency can lead you to make poor financial choices. You might reallocate funds away from basic needs like food, shelter, and clothing. You may borrow funds from loved ones, lying about what it is for; meanwhile, you do not have a plan in place to repay the debt. You could even take out credit cards to pay for more drugs and alcohol. These decisions could create dilemmas that last for many years. 

Don’t Wait for a Bad Outcome from Substance Abuse. Find Detox Help NOW with!

If you're struggling with substance abuse or even addiction, you may experience impairment in all areas of your life. You could feel like everything is falling apart. However, hope is within your reach.

It all starts with drug detox to treat your SUD. Before entering into rehab though, you need to attend a drug detox program. Detox allows you to withdraw from drugs and alcohol in a safe, controlled environment. You'll receive 24-hour care to monitor your safety and progress. Not all detox centers provide the right kind of care for your individual needs, though. can help you find the right facility for you. With thousands of detox center listings on our site, finding a detox center is as easy as hitting search.

Don’t risk the damage substance abuse can do to your life. Start the road to recovery today with!

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