Drugs and alcoholYou can’t deny the drama of substance abuse. Addiction, overdose and other side effects disrupt families, personal lives, and professional lives. Unfortunately this same drama leads to assumptions and stereotypes about those who abuse drugs. It shapes public opinion about what addiction looks like. It leads to confusion about what and if anything should be done.

Healing comes through treatment. Unfortunately few people reach out to or access treatment resources. The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health explains, “Only about 1 in 10 people with a substance use disorder receive any type of specialty treatment.”1 With the right treatment program, recovery is possible. Anyone can overcome substance abuse and related issues. Anyone can build a life that is safe, sober, and free from substance abuse side effects.

What Are Some Substance Abuse Side Effects?

Substance abuse side effects can be physical, mental, social, and spiritual.

Physically, substance abuse can land you in the emergency room. There are a staggering number of overdoses every day. Many of these are fatal. The New York Times shares, “Drug overdose deaths in 2016 most likely exceeded 59,000…now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.” Although the data is preliminary, the Times’best estimate is that deaths rose 19 percent over the 52,404 recorded in 2015. And all evidence suggests the problem has continued to worsen in 2017.” 2

While substance abuse has serious physical consequences, it does more than harm your body. It negatively impacts your mental health as well. Drugs change how you perceive the world. These changes begin to affect you even when you aren’t actively using a substance. They affect how you think, what you say and what you do. Substance abuse changes your ability to experience pleasure. Things that once made you happy or excited no longer will. The brain begins to focus on and respond only to drugs. At the same time, chemical changes begin to interact with or create other mental health issues.

Woman taking anti-depression pillIf you take drugs to self-medicate depression or anxiety symptoms, you actually make those symptoms worse. If you have never struggled with a mental health issue, you may find that you now do. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America explains the relationship between substance use and mental health: “Those with anxiety disorders may find that alcohol or other substances can make their anxiety symptoms worse. And they are two to three times more likely to have an alcohol or other substance abuse disorder at some point in their lives than the general population. About 20 percent of Americans with an anxiety or mood disorder such as depression have an alcohol or other substance use disorder, and about 20 percent of those with an alcohol or substance use disorder also have an anxiety or mood disorder.”3

Mental health issues are not only a side effect of substance abuse, but also mental illness is a common cause of addiction. The two issues are intertwined. Treatment can address all co-occurring illnesses, ending both the dependence on drugs and controlling the effects of mental health issues on your life.

Treatment Can Help

There is treatment for substance abuse. The Surgeon General’s Report explains, “Well-supported scientific evidence shows that substance use disorders can be effectively treated, with recurrence rates no higher than those for other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, and hypertension. With comprehensive continuing care, recovery is now an achievable outcome.” If you seek professional help, you can find real healing. You can find hope for a drug-free life. You can find hope for mental, physical, and emotional health.

Black Bear Lodge offers integrated, effective care. We help you address any and all co-occurring addiction, physical health, and mental health issues. We create a solid foundation for recovery and continue to support you long after immediate treatment ends. Call to learn more about beginning your recovery with an in-depth assessment and personalized treatment plan. We can help you heal. Reach out today.


Key Findings: Early Intervention, Treatment, and Management of Substance Use Disorders.” Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Surgeongeneral.gov. Nov. 2016. Web. Accessed 30 Jun. 2017.

2 Katz, Josh. “Drug Deaths in America Are Rising Faster Than Ever.” New York Times. Web. 5 Jun. 2017. Accessed 30 Jun. 2017.

3.“Substance Use Disorders.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Web. Accessed 30 Jun. 2017.