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Long-Term Effects of Drugs on the Body and Brain

An addiction to drugs can develop for a number of reasons. For some, a genetic predisposition to addiction may be possible, while others may have developed their drug use as a result of environmental factors. Some may have even begun their drug use due to an injury and were prescribed pain medication. Regardless, drugs are often used for their fast-acting effects on the body and mind. However, as the “high” wanes, there are still other long-term effects of drug use on the body and mind, all of which can continue to affect an individual for years to come. Educating oneself on the long-term effects of drug abuse, the negative effects of drugs, as well as what the short-term side effects of drugs and alcohol include, can all help you understand the breadth of effects that these substances have on the mind and body, as well as inform you of the proper treatment for taking the first step towards healing. 

Long-Term Effects of Drugs on the Body

There are several ways in which drugs can continue to affect a person through daily life, even when they are not being actively used. The body may take a long time to heal many of the long-term effects of substance abuse, even after the cessation of a particular drug or addictive substance, and it is possible that an individual may have to continue to deal with the lasting side-effects on the body for years to come. Some of these side effects include:

  1. Cardiovascular Disease

  2. Respiratory Problems

  3. Kidney Damage

  4. Liver Disease

  5. Scarring

  6. Mouth and Skin Decay

Each of these individually is a major health complication that will need to be addressed. While not every person will necessarily develop all of these long-term effects, it is still crucial to take each of these side-effects seriously, as they can pose their own threats to one’s health and quality of life. 

Long-Term Effects of Drugs on the Brain

Drugs affect the brain in a variety of ways, inducing the “high” that is being sought. However, there are also some lasting effects on the brain that can cause health detriments long after the immediate effects of the drug have worn off. Some of these consequences of long-term drug use are:

  1. Impaired Cognitive Function

  2. Changes in Forming or Recalling Memories

  3. Altered Brain Connections

  4. Death of Brain Cells

The long-term effects of drugs on the brain can make forming new memories or learning new things more difficult, which can inhibit the development of either personal or professional skills, as well as personal relationships. 

Short-Term Effects of Drug Use

There are also various short-term effects that drugs and alcohol can have on the mind and body, each of which can also present its own health complications. Drugs will affect each individual differently, but some of the possible short-term side effects include: 

  1. Appetite: The use of drugs or alcohol can have a variety of effects on one’s appetite. Some may indulge themselves in excessive eating, while others may forego meals entirely while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This leads to inconsistent eating habits.

  2. Sleep Disruption: Sleep schedules may become irregular, leading to difficulty getting asleep or staying asleep, compromising the need for regular restful sleep. 

  3. Heart Rate: Increased heart rate is also common when using drugs or alcohol. 

  4. Speech and Cognitive Function: Slurred speech or delayed cognitive processing may occur, making it difficult to formulate and express coherent thoughts or ideas. 

  5. Temporary Euphoria: Euphoria can be an intense level of elation. However, this feeling is created through forcing chemical pathways open through the use of drugs, and as drugs subside, an individual can feel the “crash” involved as the euphoria fades away, potentially creating periods of low mood, depression, or anxiety. 

  6. Impulsivity: Impaired cognitive function can also cause an individual to act on more impulsive thoughts, even at the expense of their own or others’ safety. Drugs and alcohol can also lead an individual to act against their own better judgment. 

  7. Hygiene: Regular hygiene routines can become disrupted, leading to a person skipping regular health practices, even showers, or taking care of one’s teeth. This can further accentuate many of the long-term physical effects of drugs on the body as proper hygiene and nutrition become neglected. 

  8. Planning and Management Techniques: The influence of drugs or alcohol can also compromise one’s planning or time management techniques. This can cause an individual to begin neglecting personal or professional responsibilities, and poor time-management can further disrupt regular routines or sleep schedules. This can affect a person’s health, as well as any professional goals or responsibilities. 

Some of these short-term effects can even continue while not actively under the influence of an addictive substance and may persist and become long-term effects of one’s substance use. 

When Drug Use Turns Into Abuse or Addiction

Managing one’s drug use is important for maintaining a healthy body and mind. However, drug use can turn into abuse when it begins to impede the individual’s ability to accomplish other responsibilities, or begins to damage other aspects of the individual’s life, such as relationships or workplace performance and attendance. One’s drug use can further develop into addiction as the individual has issues ceasing their use of a particular substance, or finds they are having many intrusive thoughts or impulses to act on an addictive substance when it is not around, further affecting the individual’s focus, routines, and responsibilities. 

Treatment Options

Not all individuals will address their use of drugs or alcohol in the same way, and multiple approaches to recovery are necessary to find a plan that works for each person. A combination of the following treatment options may be necessary to effectively address the short- and long-term effects of drugs on the brain and body:

  1. Detox

  2. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

  3. Medication-Assisted Treatment

  4. Movement Therapy

  5. Meditation

  6. Nutrition Guidance

These are just a few things to consider when beginning one’s journey to sobriety that can help address the various short- and long-term effects of drug use. Each of these approaches can be further customized to fit into one’s personal needs and goals, effectively creating an impactful recovery plan that is unique to each person. It is crucial to remain open-minded about various therapeutic approaches to address the complex long-term effects on the brain and body, as doing so can increase the chances for a successful recovery and implementation of coping techniques. 


The use of drugs or alcohol can have lasting effects on the body and mind, and it is important to address substance abuse quickly and effectively to prevent some of these lasting effects. However, no part of overcoming substance abuse or addiction is easy. At Chateau Recovery, we understand the very personal nature of substance abuse and are prepared to personally curate a recovery plan that is fit for each unique individual. We champion our wide breadth of proven therapeutic options, such as art therapy, individual and group therapy, cognitive-behavioral approaches, or even neuro transmitting, depending on your unique experiences, needs, and goals in recovery. Our secluded, beautiful, and recovery-focused facility allows you to detach from outside stressors and prioritize your own recovery and wellbeing. For more information on how we can help you tackle the lasting effects of alcohol on the body and mind, call to speak to a caring, trained professional today at (435) 222-5225.

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