Your heart is the center of your circulatory system. It transports oxygen and nutrients, protects you from infection, and regulates body temperature. Your heart keeps you alive and healthy. It can’t do this to the best of its ability when you are using drugs. Different drugs have different effects, but all can put your health at risk. Ending substance abuse and addiction means ending this risk to heart health.

Opiates and Your Heart

Opiates stress the body. They put individuals at greater risk for overdose, accident, and injury. They also increase the likelihood of heart problems. shares research that found, “People who took opioids were more than twice as likely to have a heart attack than their counterparts who took [over-the-counter painkillers].”1

These were individuals taking the drug as prescribed and for underlying medical concerns. When you use opiates incorrectly or take them recreationally, you put your heart at further risk. Injecting crushed or dissolved pills damages vital tissues. Street drugs may contain contaminates that cause even more harm to your heart and blood vessels.

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The Effects of Stimulants on Your Heart

Heart monitorStimulants affect the heart. A recent FOX News report explains that amphetamines, “have long been linked to heart attack, stroke, artery wall damage, bleeding in the brain, abnormal heart rhythm and sudden cardiac death.”2

Stimulant use can be fatal. Its impact on the heart and circulatory system is immediate.

The damage stimulants cause can also create long-term problems. The report continued, saying “Middle-aged adults who use recreational amphetamines…may develop a prematurely aging heart and experience health problems normally associated with older people.”2 Amphetamine users have a circulatory system that functions like that of someone much older. Stimulants do immediate damage, and that damage has long-reaching effects.

How Benzodiazepines Impact the Heart

Benzodiazepines include Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin. These and other drugs in the class are sedatives. They slow down heart and breath rate. If you take too much of a benzodiazepine, you risk slowing your heart rate to damaging or fatal levels. You may develop blood clots that cause immediate or future damage. Combining multiple sedatives increases these risks.

Hallucinogens and Heart Health

Marijuana is increasingly legal, but this doesn’t mean it’s heart-healthy. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains: “Marijuana raises heart rate for up to 3 hours after smoking. This effect may increase the chance of heart attack. Older people and those with heart problems may be at higher risk.”3
Marijuana puts your heart health in danger. Other hallucinogenic drugs cause fast, erratic heartbeats. They elevate body temperature and contribute to dehydration. These effects strain the heart and can result in immediate or long-term damage.

Alcohol’s Effects on Your Heart

Alcohol damages your heart directly and indirectly. According to the American Heart Association, “Drinking too much alcohol can raise the levels of some fats in the blood (triglycerides). It can also lead to high blood pressure, heart failure…cardiomyopathy, cardiac arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death.”4

Drinking too much alcohol also contributes to an overall unhealthy lifestyle. This may lead to obesity, high blood pressure and other issues that stress the heart. Consider how much you drink and how this drinking may be impacting your health.

Protecting Your Heart Health

Quitting drug use is a priority for heart health. Recovery lets your heart heal. It gives you energy, motivation, and interest in creating an overall healthy lifestyle. You may find a passion for cooking good meals. You can explore active hobbies like dance or running. You may simply find you are better able to relax and practice self-care. Recovery gives you opportunities. Drug use takes them away. It can take them away for good if you don’t take action to protect your heart.

At Black Bear Lodge, we believe in holistic, integrated addiction treatment. We care for your physical, emotional, and mental health. We help you develop healthy habits and strengthen both heart and mind. Call us at 855-808-6212 and ask about customized options for recovery. Learn about our innovative, individualized approach to treatment. Start a conversation, and start healing.


1 Mann, Denise. “OxyContin, Similar Drugs, Up Fracture, Heart Attack Risk.” 13 Dec. 2010. Accessed 23 Jun. 2017.

2 FOX News. “‘Speed’ and Other Recreational Stimulants Tied to Heart Damage.” 15 Feb. 2017. Accessed 23 Jun. 2017.

3 National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Marijuana.” Feb. 2017. Accessed 23 Jun. 2017.

4 American Heart Association. “Alcohol and Heart Health.” 12 Jan. 2015. Accessed 23 Jun. 2017.