How Does Substance Use Change a Person’s Health and Physical Appearance?

Not surprisingly, individuals who engage in substance use are likely to suffer from changes to their overall health and appearance. Those with substance abuse disorders (SUDs) that have been using for a long period of time will not only have their entire lives change, but they can ultimately end up feeling and appearing like a totally different person. Knowing what substances can do to one’s body is important to recognize those loved ones who need help but is also an incentive for those with SUDs to seek support to get help and get back to being themselves again.

Internal Health

More important than one’s physical appearance is their health and the way it is impacted based on prolonged substance use. The effects on health are not only determined by the type of substance ingested but by other factors such as the amount taken, how long it is taken, and whether it is taken with anything else. The class of substances known as stimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine can lead to strokes, heart attacks, heart palpitations, blood clots, and damage to the heart. Use of inhalants may lead to the same health issues and even death. Mixing alcohol with any other type of substance significantly increases a person’s risk of ending up in a coma or dying. Substances such as ecstasy may cause an increase in body temperature and dehydration which inhibits effective blood flow throughout the body which can lead to the kidneys shutting down. Poor nutrition and impaired cognitive function are also on the list of adverse health effects as these two areas alone impact so much else of what they body does. Other ill effects for health due to prolonged substance use include addiction, contraction of HIV/AIDS, contraction of Hepatitis, mental illness, cancer, as well as lung and heart disease. It is important to note that substance use that occurs in women during pregnancy can cause their baby to develop differently than they normally would as well as for them to be born and have to face withdrawals. Additionally, substance use can alter the genetics, which can lead to mutated genes being passed on to babies, which may lead to health issues or the development of disorders in children.

External Appearance

All substances have differing effects on a person’s appearance, some similar to one another and others are specific to certain substances in particular. Use of steroids can cause the breasts to develop on male users in addition to causing serious acne all over the body, not just on the face. Also, there can be a reduction in hair growth for women and for men. If used at a younger age, steroids may even stunt your growth. Methamphetamine can cause changes in appearance such as the presence of wounds from a habit known as “picking” where users pick at their skin to alleviate various sensations. It also causes skin that looks as though it has lost its color in conjunction to causing acne. It also seriously impacts a user’s mouth in that it can cause them to clench their teeth, increase dry mouth, and impair one’s ability to take care of their teeth and in many cases an individual’s teeth may actually rot.

Methamphetamine will also cause users to lose their appetite which can result in severe weight loss due to malnourishment. If substance users inject their substance of choice intravenously, then they will likely have “trach marks” in places such as the ditch of their elbow from continued insertion of needles. These are all very negative effects of substance use and it can be hard on friends and family to see their loved one turning into a person that they hardly recognize. Getting into treatment and starting the road to recovery is the best way to change one’s physical appearance and begin to look healthy again. The body is surprisingly forgiving and if you suffer from a SUD, you should consider letting your body work its way back to health now before damage is irreparable while you work to get everything else back on track.

If you are currently suffering from a SUD, there is a chance that you may feel as though you have lost your way. You may not understand why you are where you are or how to find a way out. We want to help you get back on track. Make a personal investment in yourself and get help today. Having a team and really community of support to help get you through can offer piece of mind and a sense of security. At Enlight Treatment Center, we emphasize care and comfort and we want to be that team for you to help you overcome issues and get back to your best self. Whether you have questions or want to visit our facility and talk with us in person, we are always here for you. You can call us at (805)719-7954 or schedule a tour of our facility at 11811 Darlene Lane, Moorpark, CA 93021.

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