The long-term physical and mental effects of drug abuse


The long-term physical and mental effects of drug abuse

Drugs come in many forms; illegal, prescription and even over the counter medications that, if abused, can lead to a serious dependency. From street drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, fentanyl and methamphetamine to prescribed medications, like Oxycodone and Vicodin and even those bought from a pharmacy, for example, codeine; all alter the chemistry of the brain and create a need, both mentally and physically to continue feeding the addiction.

The highs and lows are wide ranging and, in some cases, can fuel an addiction that proves fatal. Whiles users may experience euphoric highs or opium-fuelled sedation, the physical side effects of drug taking are not only numerous but also dangerous and unavoidable to anyone who develops a serious addiction. The user is never in control of the drug, the drug always maintains a much firmer grip.

From recreational use to a need to feed addiction

Most people who use drugs begin by taking them recreationally. For some, the need to take more and more drugs grows, and they progress from relatively minor drugs (cannabis) to ever stronger drugs, such as crack or heroin. Addiction can become a problem as tolerance to a drug is built over time and renders the user incapable of achieving the same high without increasing the amount taken.

The detrimental effects to health

The physical side effects of different drugs are extremely varied. Cannabis, being a drug that is largely rolled into a cigarette (although it can be eaten) obviously carries the same risks as smoking: lung disease, mouth and throat cancer and emphysema, for example.

Heroin, a drug that is usually injected by addicts, carries a variety of health risks. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse these include insomnia, constipation, lung complications (such as, various types of pneumonia and tuberculosis), which may result from the poor health of the user, as well as from heroin’s effect on depressing respiration. Chronic injection can also be the cause of scarred and/or collapsed veins, bacterial infections of the blood vessels and heart valves, abscesses (boils), and other soft-tissue infections.

As noted above, also associated with taking any illicit substances are the detrimental effects of administering the drug itself. For example, cocaine users may suffer nosebleeds, nasal damage or trouble swallowing. Any injected drug carries the risk of HIV or hepatitis from sharing infected needles.

Mental Health

The mental implications of long-term drug use are as varied as the drugs used themselves. From mild paranoia to schizophrenic episodes. There have been contentious debates as to the effects of cannabis and its role in the development of schizophrenia as recently as this year, with some research suggesting there is a causal link. The results, however, are not conclusive and, as yet, there has been no definitive link published, or proven.

In extreme cases of long-term abuse of hallucinogens, such as LSD or magic mushrooms, the user is at risk of going insane. This is because reality becomes so distorted while intoxicated that the mind may never fully recover.

The results of any form of drug addiction lead to undeniable effects on both body and mind, the consequences of which often lead to fatalities. It is vital that professional help is sought to overcome the addiction and learn the tools necessary to lead a life without relapse.

Our drug addiction treatment programme

The Wave Clinic deals with all forms of drug addiction, whether long-term abuse or a recently formed habit. From illegal drugs to prescription medications, our tailor-made programmes ensure that the correct care and tools are provided to maintain sobriety.

Our 6-10 week programmes provide medical support through the early stages of recovery from a drug addiction. A daily structured itinerary along with personalised, age-appropriate treatment and access to holistic therapies and treatments create an environment in which to recover. With the use of proven treatments, such as the 12-Step Programme, combined with physical exercise and education, our extensive support system is run by qualified professionals whose goal is to rehabilitate and lead you to a life free from addiction.

If you or a loved-one are suffering from any form of drug addiction, contact us today to find out how we can help.

For All Admission Enquiries Call The Wave On +60 32 727 1799

Fiona - The Wave Clinic

Fiona Yassin is the founder and clinical director at The Wave Clinic. She is a U.K. and International registered Psychotherapist and Accredited Clinical Supervisor (U.K. and UNCG).

More from Fiona Yassin
Low angle view of a group of multiracial friends standing on a circle, smiling and embracing

Understanding Mental Illness Identity

When a young person has a mental illness, it has a big effect on their daily life. Managing and recovering from mental health disorders can take a lot of time and energy. Mental health disorders may affect their relationships, school or work, and plans for the future.

Read More »

Professional associations and memberships

We are here to help

Have any questions or want to get started with the admissions process? Fill in the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.


    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    London, United Kingdom