Addiction is a physical and mental health concern. It is a real disease with real treatment options, but a person has to ask for help before he or she can begin to get better. Understanding the consequences of drug abuse can help you or a loved one decide to take action.

Drug Abuse and Your Health

Any drug use involves serious risks. The more a person uses, the greater the risks become. It doesn’t matter if a drug is available through a doctor or only on the streets. Drug abuse occurs any time a person uses an illegal drug. It occurs any time a person uses a legal prescription drug any way other than as prescribed. Specific health effects vary by substance and method of use, but all abuse has risks. Even if you do not extreme an extreme health crisis, addiction keeps you from doing and feeling your best. It keeps you from taking care of your body and mind.

Heather H. of Heroes in Recovery shares, “During my active addiction, I didn’t do any kind of exercise at all. I remember riding a bike one time in order to get to a dealer who was only one mile away. I was so out of breath that I could only barely make it at all. Today I run, I row, I bike…Our body is amazing. It’s incredible how it can heal.” Addiction impacts a person’s ability to live life to the fullest. However, it isn’t a life sentence. There is health and hope after drug abuse.

Doctor with patient in exam room

Health Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. It is increasingly available for legal, medical, and recreational use. Many people view it as harmless, but no drug use comes without risks. Marijuana can pose serious risks to a person’s overall health and well-being. The Centers for Disease Control states, “The compounds in marijuana can affect the circulatory system and may increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Studies have shown smoking marijuana can have a big effect on heart rate and blood pressure.”1 Marijuana use may also be linked to different types of cancer. It also puts users at increased risk for accident and injury. Most importantly it puts brain health at risk. It impacts brain development. It impairs judgment and memory and can contribute to mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

Health Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine isn’t legal in any form. This should indicate its potential for harm. Use can be deadly. U.S. News reports that in 2014, cocaine was the second most common drug involved in overdose deaths. Nearly 6,000 people died as a result of overdose on what is often seen as a fun “party” drug.2 Cocaine doesn’t have to kill someone to cause serious health consequences. Other physical effects of the drug include the following:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Malnutrition
  • Major organ damage
  • Respiratory failure

Cocaine interferes with overall health and wellbeing. It keeps individuals from feeling their best, and it puts lives at risk.

Health Effects of Prescription Opioids

Not all dangerous drugs are illegal. Marijuana isn’t the only prescription drug that can cause health concerns. In fact, prescription opioids cause more harm than all other drugs combined. The seriousness of this harm is only increasing. reports that “[drug overdose death] estimates for the first nine months of 2016 were higher than the first nine months of the previous year, which had already reached an all-time high of 52,404. Of those, more than 33,000 were attributed to opioid drugs including legal prescription painkillers as well as illicit drugs like heroin and street fentanyl.”3 Opioids slow breath and heart rate. They weaken the immune system and increase the likelihood of disease. They impact well-being and put lives at risk.

Finding Health at Black Bear Lodge

No matter the drug used, addiction is one of the greatest health risks users face. Addiction steals your or a loved one’s health and happiness. It can steal lives and families. Fortunately, recovery is always an option. There is always hope for health and recovery. If you or someone you love struggles with drug abuse or addiction, call Black Bear Lodge at 706-914-2327. We provide comprehensive treatment that addresses all aspects of mental, physical, and emotional health. Learn more about our programs and how we can help. Reach out today.


1Marijuana and Public Health: Health Effects.” Centers for Disease Control. 26 Jan. 2017. Accessed 5 Oct. 2017.

2 Leonard, Kimberly. “These Are the Drugs Killing the Most People in the U.S.” U.S. News. 20 Dec. 2016. Accessed 5 Oct. 2017.

Kounang, Nadia. “U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Reach New Record High.” 8 Aug. 2017. Accessed 5 Oct. 2017.