Drug addiction is a serious problem. Addicts are associated with homelessness, problems with the law, and having a life which is not normal at all. Drug addiction also increases the probability of contracting many deadly diseases, due to the use of infected needles, unsanitary conditions and unsafe behavior. Some of the dangerous diseases drug addicts are prone to contracting are:
9 serious diseases drug addicts are most prone to
HIV is an infection for which there is no cure at present. There are many reasons why a person can contract HIV, and one of them is drug abuse. Injection Drug Use (IDU) has been found to be responsible for 1/3rd of adolescent and adult AIDS cases in the US. In other countries too, the percentage of drug addicts contracting HIV/AIDs is quite high. This is due the tendency of drug users sharing needles and thus one HIV infected person can spread the disease to a huge number of people. Unprotected intercourse between drug addicts can and does spread HIV/AIDS.
Non-injection drug users are also prone to HIV. According to studies, inner city youths who use crack cocaine are at least 3 times more prone to HIV than those who don’t. Non-injecting drug addicts, who practice unprotected sex under influence of any serious drug, increase the infection risk, thus showing that drugs have a negative effect on health.
Hepatitis B or HBV and Hepatitis C or HCV are some viral diseases drug addicts face. These two diseases destroy the liver cells, leading to liver cirrhosis and even liver cancer. Liver is the primary organ in the body which processes toxins and metabolizes the nutrients. When drugs pass through the liver, it processes the toxins too, and when there are too many toxins due to continued substance abuse, the liver is unable to process all of it, and the organ tissues start to break down, thus damaging the liver.
Both injectable drugs and non-injectable drugs can rapidly cause liver damage and thus various liver diseases are some of the addiction disease frequently seen in drug addicts.
When the liver is functioning well, and the body’s immune system functions well, then people are lees in danger of viral diseases such as HBV and HCV. Drug addicts have very high chances of getting these diseases through shared needles. A study found that HBV and HCV prevalence percentage is approx 76.9% and 65.7% respectively in one group of drug users who injected drugs for about 6 years.
Diseases of the kidney
Kidney diseases are also some of the diseases that drug addicts have to deal with. Sometimes the effect on health is so bad that the addicts lose their lives. Kidneys flush the toxins out of the bloodstream and out of the body, and they are negatively affected by the drugs in the system of an addict. Many of the drugs cause rhabdomylosis, a condition in which the body’s muscle tissues break down and the bloodstream is flooded with the toxic drugs.
In this situation, the kidneys are overwhelmed and cannot process the toxins out leading, to severe kidney damage and renal failure. Both injectable drugs such as heroin and non-injectable such as opioids also reduce the oxygen levels of the body, which is another factor for kidney damage.
TB spreads via airborne bacteria, from person to person. It was found that TB was one of the diseases drug addicts suffer from. One CDC study found that almost 11% of the new TB cases were occurring in drug addicts, and non-injecting addicts had a higher chance of contracting this disease caused by substance abuse, in many areas on the body, not only just the lungs.
Other dangerous infections
There is a high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, genital herpes, trichomoniasis, Chlamydia, syphilis, etc, especially among the users of crack cocaine and the high-risk behaviors associated with it. Unfortunately, whatever the kind of drug abuse that causes addiction, addicts often attempt anything to finance their habit, including sex for drugs. This exposes them to being infected by people who have contagious infections, spread by the exchange of body fluids.
Other diseases that drug addicts are prone to are skin infections due to the frequent skin damage caused by needles. Skin ulcers, botulism, lung tissue destruction, tetanus and heart valve infections are also seen in addicts.
Methamphetamine abuse has been associated with high-risk sexual behavior, as the drug increases the libido. Heroin addicts, already suffering from HIV, and who start using meth as well have to face the conditions such as cognitive impairment and neuronal injury, thus increasing the chances of developing AIDS.
Mental illnesses too are among the diseases drug addicts can suffer from. The prolonged use of opioids might have permanent effect on the brain, including the parts which control emotions. Thus, the emotional functions degrade gradually over a period of time causing depression, constant or intermittent anxiety, anger/ aggression problems and bipolar disorders.
In female addicts especially, hormonal imbalances occur, such as low libido and irregular menstruation. More serious hormonal damage is also observed, such as infertility and birth defects and OPIAD or Opioid Induced Androgen Deficiency.
Long time users of crack or cocaine can develop this condition, wherein the lungs get filled with fluid. Inhaling the smoke of crack/cocaine reduces the effectiveness of the one or both lungs, which causes breathing difficulties and reduced air circulation. Pulmonary edema is one of the serious diseases drug addicts can contract, as it can lead to death.
This is the term which is used for the various respiratory disorders which might occur 48 hours after smoking crack or cocaine. These disorders vary from being minor to major, and symptoms are chest pain, difficulty in breathing, severe bouts of coughing, spitting out blood, fever and lung failure.
Intestinal gangrene which causes sepsis, infection of nasal passageway, brain damage and cardiovascular problems are other diseases that drug addicts are prone to. Trying to get rid of the addiction is a solution to have better health, and if an individual finds it difficult to quit on his/her own, then there are many rehab centers which can help them get over the addiction.