Did you know that substance abuse doesn’t only affect the person using drugs or alcohol, but all the people around them too? Family, friends, children and even unborn babies can be affected by it.

If suspect that you or someone you love uses too much alcohol or drugs, in this article you’ll find everything you need to know as we’ll to discuss the impact of substance abuse on a person.

What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse can be defined as the continual use of legal or illegal drugs for the sole purpose to change the way someone feels or acts.

Substance abuse affects the body and brain of an individual and over time and repeated use, an individual may become physically and mentally dependent on the drug, which is known as an addiction.

How Does Substance Abuse Affect the Body?

The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that over time, continued substance abuse can change the way the nerve cells in the brain gives and receives information. It enhances a chemical known as dopamine, which is responsible for the pleasurable feelings that are felt in the body.

Each substance has its own unique characteristic that can be felt when used, for example crack cocaine causes an increase in the energy levels of an individual and while heroin has sedative-like qualities, making people feel calm and relaxed.

How does Substance Abuse Affect Behaviour?

People who abuse narcotic substances will behave in ways that is completely different to their usual behaviour.

For example, substance abusers may become chatty, happy, short-tempered, unsympathetic, obsessive, sad, lazy and aggressive when they are under the influence of the addictive substance or when they cannot get hold of the drug.

When abusers try to stop using drugs or alcohol, the cravings they experience may cause them to relapse. Because most substances are expensive to obtain, it may force individuals to spend lots of money on it. When the finances aren’t available, substance abusers may opt to lie and stealing from family members to get hold of cash.

Substance abusers will also find it difficult to be productive at work and this could lead to job loss and may even engage in dangerous behaviour such as drunk driving, which not only puts their lives at risk, but also the safety of pedestrians and fellow drivers.

How does Substance Abuse Affect Health?

Substance abuse can make people more susceptible to becoming diabetics, suffering from high blood pressure as well as picking up diseases such as cancer and liver disease.

Depression, heart and cardiovascular disease may also be experienced through long term and excessive use of alcohol or drugs.

Mothers, who abuse narcotic substances while they are pregnant, may face the risk of their newborn babies suffering fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which causes growth, mental and physical complications.

If you or a loved one abuses alcohol or drugs, then it’s important to get professional help.