The Impact of Drugs on Heart Health

It should come as no surprise that drugs and alcohol can be very hard on the body. They affect virtually every organ and can lead to some damaging consequences. Over the years, various studies have shown potential benefits of certain substances, like red wine, in reducing risk of some cardiovascular problems. However, it truly varies from person to person, and the risks often outweigh the potential benefits. Drugs in particular can take a toll on heart health. February is American Heart Month, and a wonderful time to review the impact of drugs on cardiovascular health.

Depending on the type of drug used, the impact on the heart can vary. For instance, stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine speed up heart functions. They can lead to:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increased adrenaline
  • Constriction of blood vessels

In combination, these effects can put a strain on the heart and increase risk of having a heart attack. When blood vessels are constricted, it reduces the flow of blood through the body. Blood carries oxygen to the heart and muscles and carries carbon dioxide and waste away. Individuals who misuse cocaine can experience an even greater risk of heart attack due to how the drug thickens cardiac muscles, stiffens arteries, raises blood pressure, and increases clotting of the blood.

On the other hand, opioids such as heroin, oxycodone, or hydrocodone have an opposite effect. They actually slow heart rate and lower blood pressure but can also contribute to irregular heartbeat. When the heart isn’t beating fast enough or circulating enough oxygen, that can also wreak havoc on one’s health.

Furthermore, drugs that are injected, such as heroin or crack cocaine, can increase risk of infection reaching the heart, known as endocarditis. This can be potentially life-threatening. Injecting drugs can also contribute to collapsing of veins and bacterial infections.

Promoting Heart Health

In addition to a healthy diet and regular exercise, receiving treatment for addiction can promote better heart health. Quitting cold turkey and trying to detox and rehab on one’s own can be not only dangerous, but also result in relapse. Participating in a professional addiction treatment program such as Crossroads can help clients to overcome addiction more safely and effectively.

Detox is overseen by medical professionals to provide a safer and more comfortable experience. They can help clients push through withdrawal symptoms and begin the road to better health. Once the body is free from any drugs or alcohol, the recovery process can continue through residential or outpatient care.

Crossroads offers individualized, gender-responsive treatment programs that support clients in better understanding addiction and recovery and developing healthier routines to reduce risk of relapse. Once substance use ceases, the body can begin to recover, and heart health may improve. By continuing with a drug-free lifestyle, clients can enjoy better overall physical and mental health. It is not too late to turn things around and overcome addiction.

[cta]Take steps to turn your health around by overcoming addiction with help from Crossroads. Call today to learn more.[/cta]