Addiction takes a real toll on the person addicted, no matter what the substance is – mentally, spiritually, and physically. The physical ramifications of addiction can make addiction recovery more challenging, and it’s important to know what to expect, and what they may have to deal with, once they have shaken themselves free of their habit.
Addiction and Organ Damage
Many addictive substances can do serious damage to some of the human body’s most important organs. Some of them may take time to really have an effect, while others only need short term abuse to inflict lasting, even life-threatening problems. Starting with the most well-known, alcohol is widely recognized as being a major cause of liver damage. Heavy drinking, or long-term but less extreme alcohol abuse, can lead to a slew of liver problems, not limited to fatty liver, cirrhosis or outright liver failure, that can ruin or outright end a life. Even if it’s not deadly, a lifetime of poor liver function is miserable, limiting, and painful. This is not to mention the heart and head problems that can come with alcohol abuse.
Delving into harder substances, many illegal drugs have even harder-hitting, faster-acting consequences. Cocaine, for example, puts the entire system of the user under tremendous strain from the burst of activity it induces – increasing the heart rate, constricting blood vessels, causing insomnia and often leading to seizures, or even a stroke. Longer-term effects include losing the sense of smell or even parts of the internal structure of the nose.
Heroin and methamphetamines are also well known for their extreme physical side-effects. The former is associated with, but not limited to, sickness and vomiting, loss of appetite, damage or collapsed veins, kidney disease, immune system damage, and infection from shared needles.
The latter has a similar effect on the nervous system – increasing heart rate, decreasing appetite, strain on the heart and other vital organs, as well as the loss of teeth and even skin through sores and scratching.
Even drugs that are considered “safe”, those given on prescription, can have severe consequences when they’re abused. The increasing push for the legalization of marijuana has seen many people downplay the serious consequences it can have, such as a loss of drive or concentration, impact on short-term memory, obesity, and respiratory infection.
All of the above are purely physical, and a severely truncated list of just some of the effects of addiction. This is not to mention the disturbing psychological toll of many of these, and other substances.
Physical Addiction Recovery
So, with all of the potential damage done by addiction, how can you take care of your body, as well as your soul, during addiction recovery? Thankfully, with the willpower and discipline to resist temptation, there are some fairly simple steps that can help your body recuperate.
Nutrition is important to everyone, and recovering addicts are no different. Part of your addiction recovery is making sure you’re eating enough,and eating the right food. Make sure you’re eating regular meals, and that the food you’re eating is healthy – fruit and vegetables, lean meat, fish, fiber, and vitamins are all essential to fixing both body and soul. You should also be mindful of some of the lasting effects of your addiction, and not make too many changes too suddenly.
You can look at addiction recovery as an opportunity to reinvent yourself in the image God intended. The damage done by addiction can be immense but, with care, much of it can be repaired. Getting into a specific type of fitness or exercise – team or otherwise – has a tremendous benefit, and the healing properties of physical activity cannot be overstated. Teen Challenge USA encourages physical activity and we use it as part of our addiction recovery programs for a reason – it works! Take it slow and build up, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.