We’ve all heard the stories, but it’s not until it hits somewhere close to home that we get a taste of how substance abuse ruins the lives of its victims and those around them. Substance abuse has this unique effect on our brain in such a way that it alters the majority of our perception of external stimuli. Beyond that, a person suffering from substance abuse can also take its toll on their families, jobs, relationships, etc. Here are some of the things that bear the strain of this chronic disease:
It Hurts You Physically and Emotionally
Your body can only take so much punishment from substances that if abused, can cause a lot of serious health complications. These include but are not limited to a compromised immune system, a variety of heart conditions, abdominal pains, a heavy burden on the liver, lung disease, and diminished mental capacity. All in all, substance abuse damages almost all of the organs of the body.
Nicotine, opioids, alcohol, and others target the brain’s reward system or what is known as the limbic system. Dopamine, which regulates the mood and instincts floods the brain whenever these substances are taken. The resulting euphoria or pleasure is the main cause of addiction. This is why people easily lose control once they start using because the compounds alter brain chemistry, consequently interfering with people’s ability to make logical choices. The choices become a pattern of behavior that leads to dependency or addiction.
Between January and March 2020, the Canadian government reports over 4,500 cases of apparent opioid overdose, which caused more than 1,500 deaths. And 96 percent of the deaths were unintentional.
It Drains You Financially
You’ve read or seen celebrities who, at the height of their fame, were affluent and thriving, but because they abused certain substances, they were left bankrupt and in crippling debt. Those are just extreme cases of how people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol are hit financially. Some of their financial losses were not because to support their addiction, rather they’re the consequences of it. Legal fines, loss of confidence by their employers, or just reckless behavior resulting in various property damages.
It Destroys Families and Relationships
Addiction is not just a physical malady but also a serious social issue. The problem stems from families being torn apart and destroyed because of an individual’s battle against their demons. When an addict loses their family’s trust and has completely alienated their friends, society is then left to pick up the slack and the ramifications. Interestingly enough, family and community is the most effective element for healing, as Recovery Works Canada believes that removing people from isolation and sharing the experience of change makes the process work. Most people who are suffering feel like they’re so far from the world and that their burden is only for them, which makes the problem insurmountable.
It Affects Your Job and Career
Diminishing productivity, behavioral changes, and cognitive impairment are common signs that a person is suffering from substance abuse. It does not only affect that employee but also their co-workers and the company’s interests as well. Alcohol use and opioids of workers vary from different fields, and it’s fair to say that their dependency on alcohol stems from the stress, fatigue, depression, or fear caused by the job. Some people turn to drugs or alcohol to alleviate their distress and be able to function the next day. However, things go full circle when what they take to cope, becomes the reason they fall on their performance and lose their professionalism.
There’s also that lost trust from your colleagues and peers in your field, which becomes onerous to regain if you don’t take corrective measures and prove yourself. Unfortunately, society, especially the workforce, places an unfair stigma on people who have been known to have struggled with substance abuse. This is not to dishearten those who seek to recover, rather it’s to bring to light the topic of the social stigma placed on them and how it doesn’t help people who are already struggling wearily to better themselves for society.
If you or your loved one is suffering from substance abuse, you must encourage them to seek help and give your full support by giving your time and attention to their recovery. The road may not be smooth and straightforward, there will always be the possibility of a relapse. But the important thing is to have continued support for the patient and afford them all avenues for recovery and reintegration into society.