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.

Running Towards Recovery

When anyone mentions running, most people might cringe, and while you don’t necessarily have to run, exercising is certainly something worth considering, when working towards recovery from substance use disorders (SUDs). While it may not be the only method that works to overcome SUDs, when it is combined with other treatment methods, it has been proven to be highly effective as stated by Claire Twark, MD. She cited several studies that were conducted on rats, and it was found that when rats participated in swimming, it reduced the voluntary consumption of substances. For those who ran on an exercise wheel, it was found that there was a decrease in the frequency of the administration of substances. Furthermore, in one study that was conducted using people as participants, they were asked to partake in an exercise program that lasted anywhere from two to six months and included three weekly group sessions. The results of this particular study were recorded five years after completion. It was noted that of the nearly 40 participants, 20 completed the program in full and of those 20, 10 people had significantly decreased their substance use and 5 people had stopped using substances altogether. While this study is smaller, it does provide promising information concerning the correlation between increased exercise and decreased substance use, which is very positive. You must ultimately find coping mechanisms and programs that fit who you are and will work the best for you, but exercising on a regular basis is certainly worth consideration.

Health Benefits

No one has to tell you that exercising is good for your health, it’s common knowledge. However, when going through a significant life change such as moving into and maintaining recovery, it is important to note that the health benefits can be even more important for you than ever before. It is likely that you experienced significant changes to your health when battling your SUD and getting your health back on track will only make you stronger and give you the energy you need to keep moving in a positive direction.

When you begin making your physical health a priority once again, there are many advantages that exercising can bring you such as:

Weight management (whether gaining or losing weight).

Improvement of your mood and mental health.

Increase in your potential life span.

Improved sleep.

Reduction in risks for cancers, heart disease, and other health issues.

Helps metabolic function by managing blood sugar.

Improves mental acuity.

Even though it may take some time to notice a difference, you will be happy that you chose to engage in exercise. When done on a consistent basis, you will surely notice positive changes in your health and appearance.

Consistency Translating to Recovery

One important key to keep up exercise is finding something that you really enjoy doing. Coming up with a few different exercises will also help you to change things up so you don’t get bored doing the same things repeatedly. Being able to work exercise into your daily routine will ensure that you stick to it and make it a good habit that you incorporate into your everyday life. If you are able to get to a point where you can exercise every day, it proves that you can choose to do something and stick to it. This means that you are able to make good choices in other areas of your life and stick to them as well. All good decisions take time to come to fruition and to put into practice, however, once you make the decision to do something, your willpower will help see you through. Even small changes made over time can add up to big results, so don’t feel like you have to make all of these big changes all and once and overwhelm yourself. Take small steps towards progress, one day at a time, and enjoy the long-lasting fruits of your labor in all areas of your life that you put effort into.

When the time comes that you decide that you are ready to leave substance use behind and move on to better things is the perfect time to do so. You are probably aware that your whole life will change, but in many cases, change is for the better. Despite having reservations and fears about what the future will look like for yourself, know that it can only get better from here. For more information, call us at (805)719-7954.