Long Term Substance Effects

Anika Hovel

Alcohol only stays in the system for 48 hours, but a lot of people don’t realize the long term effects of alcohol. This can go for almost any substances including drugs and marijuana. The long-term effects can cause slight difficulties in everyday life, to even death. 

Jason Friesema, a chief clinical officer at Peaks Recovery in Colorado Springs, said “Alcohol can cause cirrhosis of the liver which is irreversible damage.” Cirrhosis is essentially a late stage of liver disease that can often lead to jaundice and liver failure, resulting in death.

Along with cirrhosis people can often develop an inflamed pancreas also known as pancreatitis which can be extremely painful. The alcohol changes the viscosity of the pancreatic “juice” causing self-aggregation. This can last just a few days or even span out over years.

While people don’t think about it that much, substances can also lead to a lot of mental health issues while using, and later on. Depression and anxiety are most often seen alongside use of popular substances like cocaine and cannabis.

Many who struggle with substance abuse also struggle with being honest in relationships with friends and/or family. The loved ones themselves often get “addicted” to the problem. This results in a lot of dishonesty between other people when they try to help. Not only is dishonesty a thing, but people dealing with addiction experience cravings for the substance they are using.

 “Addiction leads to significant craving for substances. I like to say that addiction cravings feel a lot like being very, very thirsty and the feeling that only water will quench the thirst. In a similar way, addiction tricks the brain into thinking that the substance use is the only solution for the craving,” Friesema said.

While withdrawal seems like the easy solution to addiction, some substances have symptoms that go along with withdrawal. Friesema said “The withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and another class of drugs called benzodiazepines can actually be deadly due to a high risk of seizures while someone is withdrawing from these drugs.”

Although withdrawal can be hard and dangerous, there are a lot of ways to recover safely. This can look like therapy, support groups, and healthy relationships with influential friends and families.