Illicit drugs are categorized that way because of the damage they do to the human body and mind. No matter what drug you’re on, it’s dangerous to your health. Documented cases of people overdosing the first time they ever took a drug are reported everywhere. And if you’re one of the many who have been able to handle drug use consistently, the long-term effect on your body is already taking place.

You only have one health; what you do today impacts your future. As much as you probably don’t want to hear it, you should learn the long-term effect of drug use on your body. This guide is a quick, non-sugar-coated explanation in basic terms to help you see what’s going on under the surface.

Factors That Affect the Severity of Symptoms

Before you start the process of learning what’s going on in your body, let’s first clarify that there are different levels of severity. These factors will usually, but not always, play a role in how much of each symptom you can expect to deal with:

  • How long you’ve been on the drug, including previous periods of use when you quit but restarted
  • Other drugs that you’ve used in addition to or in place of your current addiction
  • How frequently you use or have used the drug
  • The type of drug (some drugs do more damage to your brain and body than others)
  • The legitimacy of the drug (“street” drugs are often laced with chemicals that make them even more dangerous than their untainted counterparts)
  • The method of consumption of the drug (smoked, snorted, injected)
  • The typical dosage consumed per use
  • Your individual makeup, including your mental health, family history, diet, age, and previous drug history

These factors all play a huge role in how your drug use will impact your body. The sooner you get into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, the less severe long-term consequences you’ll likely have.

Long-Term Effects

Not including the permanent damage that the drugs are doing to your brain and mental health, the long-term effects of drug use are serious.

Your body will undergo symptoms that range from mild and annoying to severe and life-threatening. Almost every organ and system in you ends up affected by drug use, including:

  • Cardiovascular issues that affect your heart and result in long-term cardiovascular disease. Heart failure is especially common in injectable drug users.
  • Respiratory system problems, making it difficult for your lungs to do their job. Emphysema, lung cancer, and other respiratory diseases can be deadly.
  • Kidney failure, which can be life-threatening. Your kidneys are necessary to cleanse your body of toxins. These pile up when the kidney is damaged, and dozens of chronic medical conditions can be the result.
  • Liver damage, usually the result of heroin or opioid use, is made worse with alcohol abuse. Liver failure can be life-threatening.
  • Stomach and intestine problems happen in the gastrointestinal system. While these aren’t always life threatening, they can be painful, resulting in acid reflux and constipation.

The sooner you’re able to quit using drugs and alcohol, the faster your body can work on repairing itself.

Without the toxins and harmful chemicals that you’re putting into your system with drug use, your body can work magical changes. Over time, though, the long-term effects are too far gone to fix, even with magic.