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How Drugs Devastate Your Body

by Landmark Recovery

February 28, 2021
how drugs devastate your body

How Drugs Devastate Your Body

While no two types of drugs affect the body exactly the same way, it is well known how drugs can devastate your body. These effects are both physical and psychological.

Behavioral Effects

Drugs can distort your sense of reality, impair decision-making, cause mood swings and erratic behavior, and lower inhibitions. These effects combined may lead you to make poor or dangerous choices. Examples of these include driving while impaired, engaging in risky sexual behaviors, or becoming violent and aggressive.

Losing control over substance use is a precursor to addiction. Over time, drug users build up a tolerance to their drug of choice, so they have to take more to achieve the same effect. This makes them more vulnerable to accidental overdose, which can often be fatal.

Unfortunately, many drug users are also struggling with mental health issues; indeed, depression and addiction tend to be bi-directional. Many drug users find themselves deeply depressed or even suicidal with prolonged use.

Physical Effects of Drug Use

Drugs also have adverse long and short-term outcomes. Over time, your organs and other bodily systems become damaged. Long-term use and abuse can seriously impact the stomach, lungs, liver, throat, pancreas, brain, heart, and nervous system.

Stroke, heart attack, irregular heartbeat, blood clots, cancer, bone damage, and sudden death—from an overdose or otherwise—have also been linked to frequent drug use. Additionally, drugs of all kinds can cause internal damage and the external appearance of premature aging.

Some drugs, such as methamphetamine, cause temporary—or sometimes permanent— hallucinations and psychosis. Methamphetamine users have been known to describe a sensation of bugs crawling all over their skin, sometimes called “crank bugs.” This leads users to scratch and pick at their skin, causing lesions and scabs. Another associated phenomenon is known as “meth mouth,” where the mouth becomes parched, and users incessantly grind their teeth. This can lead to wear and tear on the jaw, bad breath, cavities, and gum disease.


As with tobacco use, inhaling any foreign substance, such as marijuana, methamphetamine, crack cocaine, nitrites or “poppers,” and even household solvents and aerosols can result in lung damage, bronchitis, asthma, and even cancer.


Using intravenous drugs can sometimes lead to dangerous behaviors. This could include sharing needles, water, filters, and dissolving containers. These behaviors have a high associated risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis C, and other bloodborne viruses. For those who use intravenous drugs regularly, there may also be visible needle holes or “track marks” in the arms and legs. Over time, injecting drugs can lead to collapsed veins.


Drugs in powder form, or crushed tablets, can be inhaled (snorted) through the nose to achieve a faster onset of the high. Examples include heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy, ketamine, and prescription opioids, among others. But snorting drugs can also severely erode the nasal membrane, causing nosebleeds, sniffling, loss of smell, and respiratory problems.

No matter what substance you choose, there is always a risk of mental, emotional, and physical harm. If you are battling addiction and want help seeking wellness, Landmark Recovery is here for you, and we genuinely care. Reach out today to start your journey or request more information.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.