Long-Term Effects

Long-term effects of addiction include persistent health issues and symptoms resulting from prolonged drug use, damaging vital organs like the liver, heart and brain and weakening the immune system. Beyond physical health, addiction can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and cognitive impairments. The repercussions of addiction also impact relationships, trust and financial stability affecting not only the individual but also their loved ones.

Addiction treatment centers offer comprehensive recovery programs that tackle these long-term effects through detoxification, therapy, support groups and other treatments, aiding in the mental, physical and emotional healing of individuals and families. Recognising addiction as a medical condition rather than a moral failing, the recovery community emphasises a holistic and personalised approach to treatment, focusing on ongoing management and support for effective long-term recovery.

Long Term Effects of Alcohol Use

Excessive alcohol consumption over an extended period can lead to a range of chronic diseases and severe health issues. These include elevated risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease and digestive complications. Additionally, there’s a heightened risk of various cancers, such as those affecting the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon and rectum. The immune system can also suffer making individuals more susceptible to illnesses. Further to that alcohol abuse can cause cognitive impairments, including learning difficulties, memory problems, dementia and negatively impact academic performance. Mental health can also deteriorate, leading to issues like depression and anxiety. The social ramifications are profound as well with alcoholism contributing to familial strife, workplace issues and increased unemployment. Ultimately, the path towards alcohol use disorders or dependence is a significant risk. By moderating alcohol intake, individuals can significantly lower the risk of encountering these diverse short- and long-term health challenges. Read More About Rehab.

Long Term Effects of Cocaine Use

Cocaine addiction leads to significant changes in the brain making natural rewards less appealing while increasing sensitivity to stress and the unpleasantness of withdrawal. This shift in brain function causes individuals to prioritise cocaine over other aspects of life, such as relationships and basic needs. As tolerance to the drug’s pleasurable effects builds, users require higher doses or more frequent use to achieve the same high, escalating the risk of overdose. Conversely, users may become more sensitive to cocaine’s adverse effects like anxiety and convulsions, heightening the danger of using the drug. The physical and psychological effects of cocaine are profound and varied. Binge usage can trigger severe mental health issues, including psychosis, while different methods of cocaine intake, such as snorting, smoking or injecting, carry unique health risks, from damaged nasal passages to increased likelihood of infectious diseases. Cocaine abuse also severely impacts the cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal tract and can lead to malnutrition and significant weight loss. Long-term use may cause neurological issues, including an increased risk of stroke and movement disorders. Despite the severe consequences, the potent memory of cocaine’s effects and exposure to related cues can easily trigger relapse in former users, underscoring the drug’s powerful addictive potential. Read More About Rehab.

Long Term Effects of Heroin Use

Repeated heroin use leads to significant alterations in the brain’s structure and function, resulting in long-lasting imbalances in the brain’s neuronal and hormonal systems that are difficult to reverse. This includes damage to the brain’s white matter, impairing decision-making, behaviour regulation and stress response. Users develop a high tolerance, needing increasingly larger doses for the same effect and physical dependence, where the body requires the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can start within hours of the last dose with symptoms like restlessness, pain, insomnia and severe discomfort, peaking within 24-48 hours and potentially lasting for months. Heroin addiction or heroin use disorder, is a chronic relapsing condition characterised by an overwhelming urge to seek and use heroin despite harmful consequences. This disorder makes heroin one of the most addictive substances, especially when used via methods that deliver the drug quickly to the brain, such as injection or smoking. For those suffering from heroin use disorder, acquiring and using heroin becomes the central focus of their lives, overshadowing all else. Read More About Rehab.

Long Term Effects of Methamphetamine Use

This addiction results from and exacerbates functional and molecular changes in the brain, significantly reducing sensitivity to natural pleasures and increasing withdrawal symptoms like depression, anxiety and intense cravings when the drug is not consumed. Long-term use not only necessitates higher doses to achieve the same effects due to tolerance but also leads to significant emotional and behavioural issues, including anxiety, mood disturbances, insomnia, violent behaviour and psychotic features such as paranoia and hallucinations. These psychotic symptoms can persist for months or years after ceasing methamphetamine use with stress potentially triggering spontaneous recurrences of psychosis. Neuroimaging studies have shown that methamphetamine misuse causes substantial alterations in brain structure and function, particularly affecting areas responsible for emotion, memory, decision-making and habitual behaviors. Some of these changes like those in the dopamine system, are associated with cognitive and motor skill impairments. While research indicates that certain neurobiological effects of methamphetamine abuse may partially reverse after prolonged abstinence with improvements observed in dopamine transporter activity and reductions in microglial cell activation, complete recovery remains uncertain and some brain changes appear long-lasting. Beyond the neurological impact, chronic methamphetamine users also face physical health issues, including weight loss, severe dental problems and skin sores, further illustrating the extensive and enduring harm caused by long-term methamphetamine misuse. Read More About Rehab.

Long Term Effects of Cannabis Use

Research in both animals and humans indicates that cannabis exposure, particularly during developmental stages, can lead to long-term or potentially irreversible adverse changes in the brain. Animal studies have demonstrated that exposure to THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) before birth, shortly after birth or during adolescence can cause difficulties with learning and memory tasks in later life, as well as structural and functional changes in the hippocampus, a critical brain area for memory and learning. These findings are complemented by human studies, which have shown mixed results regarding the impact of cannabis on brain structure. However, there is evidence suggesting that regular use during adolescence could lead to altered brain connectivity and reduced volume in regions essential for executive functions. Furthermore, cannabis use has been associated with cognitive impairments with the severity and duration of these impairments being linked to the age of initial use and the extent of cannabis consumption. Several studies have found correlations between cannabis use and cognitive decline, including reduced verbal memory and decreased IQ, particularly with use that begins in adolescence and persists into adulthood. Despite these findings, not all studies agree and the relationship between cannabis use and IQ decline is complicated by various factors such as genetics and environmental influences. However, a significant study highlighted that persistent cannabis use from adolescence into adulthood was associated with an average loss of 6 to 8 IQ points. Ongoing research, including the National Institutes of Health-funded Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study, aims to provide more definitive answers about the long-term impacts of cannabis on the brain. Additionally, THC’s impact on memory is believed to be due to its effects on the hippocampus with evidence from animal studies suggesting that THC exposure can lead to memory problems and accelerated age-related loss of hippocampal neurons. Read More About Rehab.

Long Term Effects of Ecstasy Use

Ecstasy (MDMA) use can lead to a range of cognitive impairments and behavioural changes, impacting everything from hormone regulation to memory and reasoning abilities. While general intelligence levels are also negatively affected, instances of severe long-term psychiatric issues linked directly to MDMA are uncommon. However, there’s a notable concern regarding chronic psychosis in MDMA users, which seems resistant to treatment. Additionally, MDMA’s impact isn’t limited to direct neurotoxic effects; it also affects cerebral circulation, posing a risk for cerebrovascular accidents (strokes) in young users. These strokes, sometimes silent, might not show symptoms immediately but could lead to cognitive decline similar to that observed in multi-infarct dementia over time. Addressing ecstasy users about these risks requires a delicate balance. Overemphasising the dangers may lead to disbelief among the youth, particularly given the relatively few high-profile cases of MDMA harm versus its widespread use. Studies on MDMA’s effects often rely on self-reported data, which can be unreliable due to underreporting of multiple drug use or inaccuracies in abstinence duration before the study. Health professionals need to communicate that cognitive disorders, mood changes and an increased risk of strokes are potential long-term outcomes of MDMA use. Even though these impacts might initially be subtle, they could evolve into significant health issues, possibly intensified by normal aging or additional stressors. Given MDMA’s popularity, even if only a subset of users are especially vulnerable, the sheer number of people experimenting with the drug suggests that MDMA-related health issues could become a significant concern in the future. Read More About Rehab.

Long Term Effects of Bath Salts Use

Bath salts, a term for a group of drugs known for their stimulant effects, pose significant addiction risks due to their rapid effects on the brain, notably the substantial release of dopamine and the body’s swift development of dependence on these chemicals. Withdrawal symptoms from bath salts, while not fatal, can be severe, encompassing insomnia, tremors, depression, anxiety and prolonged paranoia. Individuals with a predisposition to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, psychosis and schizophrenia face heightened risks of exacerbating these conditions, even with a single use of bath salts. Repeated use inflicts considerable harm on the body, including muscle injuries, infections, skin rashes, severe dehydration from accidental self-harm, rhabdomyolysis (a condition that leads to kidney failure due to the breakdown of muscle tissue), dental damage and significant cardiovascular harm. The unpredictable nature of bath salts significantly increases the risk of overdose, which can escalate body temperatures to dangerous levels, induce extreme agitation, delirium and violent behaviors, complicating emergency medical treatment. Overdose symptoms include dangerously high body temperatures, severe agitation, increased blood pressure and heart rate, which could lead to heart attacks, strokes or seizures and in some cases, respiratory failure. The alarming impact of bath salts is underscored by the 29,000 emergency room visits recorded in 2020, highlighting the urgent public health concern posed by these substances. Read More About Rehab.

Long Term Effects of LSD

LSD, though not considered addictive, can lead to significant long-term effects due to its potent alteration of brain chemistry. One notable condition is Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD), commonly known as flashbacks, where individuals re-experience sensations from a previous LSD trip. While these flashbacks are generally harmless and rare, they can cause distress, especially in those with pre-existing mental health conditions. Another severe but rare condition triggered by LSD is serotonin syndrome, particularly in individuals on psychiatric medications. Symptoms range from agitation and rapid heartbeat to seizures and hallucinations with potential long-term brain damage if not treated promptly. LSD also has the potential to induce psychosis in individuals predisposed to mental illness, the importance of understanding family medical history before experimenting with any substance. While LSD-induced psychosis or the effects of serotonin syndrome may receive medical treatment, conditions like HPPD often do not have a specific treatment and can persist as a chronic issue. The reality is that there are risks associated with recreational drug use, dispelling myths of “safe” substance abuse and pointing the need for caution and awareness of the long-term implications on mental health. Read More About Rehab.

From the damaging impact on vital organs and cognitive functions to the strain on relationships and financial stability, the repercussions of addiction extend far beyond the individual affecting families and communities at large. Recovery programs offered by addiction treatment centers play a central role in addressing these issues, providing a beacon of hope for those trapped in the cycle of addiction. By adopting a holistic and personalised approach to recovery, these programs emphasise the importance of treating addiction as a medical condition rather than a moral failing.

What Are Long-Term Effects? - Long-Term Effects of Substances

Long-term-effects can be defined as the continual effects and symptoms that an individual faces due to long use of a substance. Get help from qualified counsellors.

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    Founded in 2008, WeDoRecover has evolved from an advisory service for addiction treatment into a comprehensive provider of care, following its 2019 merger with Changes Addiction Rehab in Johannesburg. Specialising in connecting patients to top-tier addiction treatment centers in the UK, South Africa and Thailand, WeDoRecover supports individuals globally, including those from the United Arab Emirates and Europe. Accepting both South African medical aid and international health insurance our organisation facilitates access to high-quality treatment for substance and alcohol use disorders, offering individualised care that addresses the physical, mental and social needs of patients.

    Our team, led by Gareth Carter, offers empathetic and professional support, guiding you through every step of the treatment process. Whether you're in South Africa or abroad, our acceptance of various insurance plans makes quality care accessible, providing a platform for lasting recovery and a healthier future.

    Inpatient Rehab

    Rehab care is a good option if you are at risk of experiencing strong withdrawal symptoms when you try stop a substance. This option would also be recommended if you have experienced recurrent relapses or if you have tried a less-intensive treatment without success.


    If you're committed to your sobriety but cannot take a break from your daily duties for an inpatient program. Outpatient rehab treatment might suit you well if you are looking for a less restricted format for addiction treatment or simply need help with mental health.


    Therapy can be good step towards healing and self-discovery. If you need support without disrupting your routine, therapy offers a flexible solution for anyone wishing to enhance their mental well-being or work through personal issues in a supportive, confidential environment.

    Mental Health

    Are you having persistent feelings of being swamped, sad or have sudden surges of anger or intense emotional outbursts? These are warning signs of unresolved trauma mental health. A simple assesment by a mental health expert could provide valuable insights into your recovery.

    Finding the right rehab close to you is simple with WeDoRecover. Our network includes the finest rehab centers, ensuring personalised, quality care for your recovery needs. Let Gareth Carter and our empathetic team help guide you to a center that feels right for you, offering expert care and support. Start your healing today by choosing a rehab that's not just close to you, but also that truly cares about your loved ones recovery.

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