Addiction is a complex illness that takes no prisoners. This disease may result in several social, physiological and behavioral side-effects. The development of addiction can be fueled by various substances such as alcohol, illicit drugs, and even prescribed medications.

Drug dependency may occur in social situations through the occasional use of a recreational drug, and drug use in some populations is becoming more widespread. For others, particularly for narcotics, pharmaceutical dependency occurs with the introduction or obtaining of drugs administered by a family friend or even a doctor.

Some medicines, such as opioid painkillers, are more addictive than other medications. Some of the illnesses caused by substance dependency are sorted below to further understand the danger of addiction.

HIV, Hepatitis, and Other Infectious Diseases 

The abuse of substances has been linked to risky behaviors such as needles sharing and unsafe sex. This combination dramatically increases the risk of AIDS, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases being contracted.

Common drugs that can lead to HIV, Hepatitis, and other infectious diseases are cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, prescription drugs, and steroids. But the risk of contracting or transmitting diseases is not just for injecting drug users. The intoxicating effects of all substances of abuse affect behavior and decision making — driving users to perform risky actions, including unprotected sex, that can result in the spread of HIV and other illness.


The most preventable cause of cancer in the world is cigarette smoking. Smoking cigarettes has been linked to teeth, ear, stomach, and lung cancer. Young men in puberty who use weed are at risk for an aggressive type of testicular cancer. Drugs that cause cancer are often marijuana, steroids, and tobacco. There are wide-range risk factors for cancer. Several variables are outside of individual control, such as age, family history, and hormonal fluctuations.

Effects in Cardiovascular System

Researchers discovered that most drugs would cause adverse cardiovascular effects, from abnormal heartbeat to cardiac arrest. The use of injection drugs may also contribute to cardiovascular problems such as broken veins, blood vessel and heart valve infections. Multiple drugs may damage the cardiovascular system. Some of these drugs include:

  • Cocaine
  • N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)
  • Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB)
  • Heroin
  • Marijuana
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
  • Mescaline
  • Methamphetamine
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Performance-enhancing drugs
  • Synthetic Cannabinoids
  • Synthetic Cathinones
  • Tobacco
  • Ecstasy

Respiratory Illness

Several respiratory problems can be caused by substance abuse, for example, bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer were shown to occur with people who smoked cigarettes. Breathing problems, including chronic bronchitis, may be due to marijuana smoke. Crack cocaine when smoked can also cause respiratory illness and serious respiratory problems.

The use of certain medications, such as antidepressants, can contribute to sluggish breathing, hinder oxygen intake into the lungs, and may exacerbate asthma symptoms. Drugs that may affect the respiratory system are cocaine, heroin, inhalants, ketamine, marijuana, prescription drugs, tobacco, dextromethorphan (DXB), and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB).

Gastrointestinal Damages

Some medications can cause nausea and vomiting during use as well as other adverse effects. The use of cocaine may also contribute to abdominal pain and deterioration of bowel and opioid discomfort, acid reflux, and extreme constipation that can lead to abdominal pain. The common substance that can lead to any gastrointestinal illness includes:

  • Cocaine
  • Dextromethorphan (DXB)
  • Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB)
  • Heroin
  • Khat
  • Kratom
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
  • Ecstasy/Molly
  • Nicotine
  • Prescription drugs
  • Psilocybin
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Muscular and Skeletal Effects

Steroids in children or teenagers that result in artificially high levels of sex hormones can indicate that the bones stop growing faster, which results in short stature. Certain drugs may also lead to serious muscle cramping and muscle weakness overall. Steroids, inhalants, Psilocybin, Synthetic Cathinones are some of the substance that leads to such damages in the muscles and skeletal formation of the body.

Damage in the Kidneys

Many medications may induce kidney injury or loss from fatigue, adverse changes in body temperature or muscle weakness, either directly or indirectly. Drugs that result in kidney damages include heroin, ketamine, inhalants, and steroids.

In some instances, the impact of medication may be exacerbated if the kidneys are not working correctly. It can be highly risky for individuals who have drug or alcohol abuse, who often raise their dosage to combat withdrawal symptoms.

Liver Diseases

Chronic use of some drugs, including cocaine, inhalants, and steroids (medications to boost attractiveness and performance), can contribute to significant liver damage. The injury may become worse if alcohol or other substances are added.

A very limited amount of drugs affect the liver to the eyes, including a yellow eye and skin color, abdominal pain and scratching and a blowing and bleeding habit. The word DILI (drug-induced liver injury) applies to liver damage, whether it contributes to signs or not, done by drugs. Doctors use this term, the term often covers damage caused by recreational medicines, spices, plants, and supplements.

Neurological Effects

Each addictive substance creates a sense of euphoria in the brain. However, as a product of convulsions, strokes and other toxic effects some may even damage brain cells. Medicine can also lead to an addiction that happens during brain disorders, as the repeated use of narcotics can help to improve the function of several brain circuits that control pleasure, discomfort.

Those with tolerance to normal rewards such as food, sex or positive social experiences make it more difficult for people to manage their pain, regulate their urges and make the healthier choice to stop finding and using narcotics. Some common drugs that could lead to such diseases are cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs, stimulants, and sedatives, steroids, and tobacco/nicotine.

Hormonal Effects

Drugs that enhance beauty and efficiency disrupt the natural hormone production in the body, creating both temporary and irreversible changes. Such modifications involve male infertility, as well as gender-pattern baldness and body hair development in women.

Mental Health Effects

Chronic consumption of certain medicines may lead to shorter and longer-term brain changes that can lead to problems of mental health, such as paranoia, depression, anxiety, attack, hallucinations, and others.

Most people addicted to drugs also have other mental health conditions identified and vice versa. Individuals with drugs have about twice the risk of mood and anxiety disorder compared to the general population, with the opposite also true. While conditions correlated with the use of drugs similar to other mental disorders, it is often not obvious whether one has related to the other or whether the same risk factors relate to the two disorders.


Without a doubt, addiction can induce a serious illness for a person. There is nothing good that can come of substance abuse so it’s best to kick the habit. If you or a loved one are looking for addiction recovery services, reach out to your local rehab center today.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.