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The Physical Side Effects of Drugs and Alcohol

Substance Abuse Impact on Your Body

Perhaps the most obvious effect that substances have on the human body is their brain altering effects. Taking a substance will result in either some kind of high or suppression. Over time, this initial ‘feel good’ effect wears off and leaves the person with many repercussions.

Below are a few examples of how substances such as drugs and alcohol can abuse your body.

Alcohol Side Effects

  • Physical addiction
  • Blackouts
  • Dizziness
  • Shakiness or tremors
  • Craving
  • Sweating
  • Stroke
  • Alcohol poisoning or overdose
  • Personality change (irritability)
  • Problems with coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Mental health symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and guilt
  • Death

Opiate Side Effects

  • Physical dependence
  • Chronic constipation
  • Small pupils
  • Sweatign
  • Nausea
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Sensitivity to pain
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Mental health symptoms such as depression, anxiety and uncontrollable cravings.
  • Death

Long Term Abuse Impact on Your Cardiovascular, Circulatory, Renal, and Digestive Systems

Although none of the below happen overnight, the continued use of substances can have a severe impact on your bodily systems and can lead to cancers, diseases, or system failures.


  • Liver cancer
  • Pancreatitis
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • And others.


  • Gastrointestinal failures
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Tuberculosis
  • HIV or Hepatitis contraction
  • Collapsed veins

Accidental injuries and death can go hand-in-hand with substance use. Some of these events happen gradually over a period of use, while others can happen because someone using substances made one bad decision. The number of injuries or fatalities from drunk/impaired driving continues to go up. Increased binge drinking has also lead to alcohol poisoning and deaths. Accidental or intentional overdoses are rampant as of late as we find ourselves in the middle of an opiate epidemic. Increased needle sharing by heroin users raises the chance of contracting deadly diseases such as HIV and AIDS. Furthermore, the bodily pain caused by addiction can be so overwhelming that some people opt to end their own lives.

It’s hard to ignore the many effects that substance use has on the body over time. Understanding the harmful impact that substances can have on bodily systems can aid in making smarter decisions.

Horizon Health Services offers help for individuals and families dealing with the impact of addiction. If you or someone you love is experiencing any symptoms of addiction and live in the Western New York area, please contact us. We can help. Cal us today at (716) 831-1800.

Sources used to write this article: