Not Ready to Quit Drugs or Alcohol Yet? Five New Reasons to Quit
When you’re trapped in the throes of addiction, it’s easy for sobriety to feel like the most distant and painful destination you could ever start walking toward. Many addicts simply give up, believing they’re too far gone, too worthless, or just too addicted to quit. Nothing could be further from the truth. Addiction is a disease that specializes in lies, forcing you to lie to yourself and convincing you that your health, your recovery, your well-being, and even your family aren’t as valuable as drugs or alcohol. If you’re looking for an additional reason to quit because you’ve fallen into self-loathing, look no further. Here are five little-known ways your addiction affects the world around you.
1. Drugs and Pollution
Environmental concerns are increasingly a part of the public health debate, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum. Drug use contributes to litter and pollution, since many drug users prioritize disposing of drug paraphernalia covertly rather than safely. The result is runoff of drug residue in drinking water, an overall increase in landfill garbage, needless pollution, and a smoggier environment – particularly when drugs are smoked. One recent study, for example, found that levels of Ecstasy had spiked to environmentally threatening levels in a river near a popular music festival.
2. The Drug-Terrorism Connection
Some drugs help directly fund terrorism. Virtually all illegal drugs play some role in organized crime, since the only way to access these drugs is through criminal networks. And in many cases, these organized crime networks trace directly back to foreign or homegrown terrorists operations.
Abuse of opiates – most notably heroin – is most closely connected to terrorism, since opiates are a key cash crop in Afghanistan, as well as other countries with a history of connections to terrorism. When you buy these drugs, you may be directly or indirectly funding terrorist cells. One recent government study found that reducing the demand for illicit substances could reduce terrorist funding, thereby potentially reducing terrorism. Using drugs doesn’t just harm you or your family; it also harms your country and the larger international community.
3. Decreased Immunity
Addiction isn’t the only consequence of drug abuse. When you abuse drugs, you also render yourself vulnerable to serious immune system problems. This can inhibit your ability to fight off everyday infections such as the cold and flu, as well as more serious conditions such as cancer and HIV/AIDS.
While decreasing the effectiveness of your immune system is always a dangerous gamble, the risk becomes even more salient when you’re addicted to drugs, since drug use exposes you to a host of illnesses. Intravenous drug users may contract or spread lethal blood-borne infections. Addicts who snort drugs expose themselves to a host of chemical toxins, as well as the risk of ongoing sinus problems. Addicts who smoke their drug of choice are vulnerable to infections and lung problems.
If you think illegal and prescription drugs are the only addictions that decrease immunity, though, think again. Alcohol can be just as problematic. One recent study found that regular binge drinking altered the effectiveness of the immune system, rendering binge drinkers more vulnerable to serious illnesses and infections.
4. Economic Consequences
You probably already know that drug and alcohol use can undermine your own financial well-being by creating on-the-job conflict, diminishing your motivation, and causing you to mismanage your own finances. It’s not just your personal economy that suffers, though. Addiction costs the U.S. economy $559 billion dollars each year, and the figure is steadily rising. Of that figure, $181 billion is spent on health care costs. The remaining costs are lost to decreased worker productivity, financial mismanagement, workplace problems, and corporate difficulties.
When you abuse drugs or alcohol, your addiction can affect your employer. Depending upon where you work, these effects can spread far and wide. For example, an on-the-job error in a factory has the potential to endanger every consumer who buys the defective product. Decreased productivity in a service-oriented profession can harm people who desperately need your help. For instance, a public defender who is unable to manage a large caseload may be poorly equipped to help destitute and struggling clients.
5. Relationships, Family, and Friends
One of the most pervasive and cruelest lies of addiction is that you don’t harm the people you love the most. Addiction, though, is a family disease. Even if you sever contact with your family – a choice that, in itself, can be deeply harmful and permanently traumatic – your family may still suffer. Research suggests that children of addicts are 200% to 400% more likely to develop an addiction, and the difference can’t be fully explained by genetics; instead, the chronic stress and maladaptive patterns of addiction can make substance abuse feel “normal” for kids who grow up in households where addiction is an issue.
Addiction changes your behavior, and can cause you to behave abusively toward loved ones. In a moment of desperation, you might steal from those you love most – even your children. Perhaps worst of all, the denial that so often coincides with addiction can convince you that your loved ones, and not drugs or alcohol, are the problem. When you’re struggling with addiction, you can’t believe anything you think about the people you love the most because your addiction colors your perceptions. And this means that your family and friends are deprived of the “real” you. It’s highly likely that they spend a significant portion of time wondering about how to get the person they love back.
Addiction is a challenging illness that can be hard to tackle, but recovery is always possible, no matter how bad things get. Sometimes addicts don’t care enough about themselves to get clean, but recognizing the effects your addiction has on your loved ones, your long-term health, and the larger society may give you the final push you need to pursue a lifetime of lasting sobriety.
Northpoint Recovery is a private, highly specialized drug and alcohol detox and rehab treatment center located in Southwestern Idaho. We specialize in helping adults, adolescents and families affected by substance use who require inpatient and detox services. We accept most forms of insurance, credit cards and private payment. For More information, please visit us at www.NorthpointRecovery.com