Can Drug Abuse Accelerate Aging?

Older couple dancing

Drug abuse can have varying short and long-term effects on a person, depending on what type of drug was abused, for how long, and more. Short term effects may include changes to appetite, sleep patterns, heart rate, and blood pressure, to changes in mood, stroke, psychosis, heart attack, overdose, and death. Long term effects may range from heart or lung disease, development of a mental illness, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and more. Since drugs can indirectly affect a person’s eating and sleeping patterns, decision-making, hygiene and more, accelerated aging can certainly be a component of drug abuse.  

In 2014, Time Magazine showed pictures of how people have changed over time due to abuse of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, meth, and oxycodone. You can view this page here: As you can see, the effects are truly devastating. When a person ages normally, their appearance slowly changes over time as their cellular structure ages to common “wear and tear”; biomarkers such as wrinkles will appear steadily and will change to reflect the type of lifestyle that person has lived. When drugs are involved, however, this process can accelerate rapidly, with major changes taking place even within one single year.

There are several ways that drugs can accelerate aging:

  • Many drugs nearly deplete the body of calcium, leading to bone loss, bone deterioration, and even osteoporosis
  • Drugs can cause severe damage to a person’s brain structure and cognitive capabilities, causing memory loss, difficulty learning, and more
  • Some drugs can worsen inflammation for those already experiencing it, leading to worsened joint problems
  • Substance abuse can cause a person to neglect healthy eating habits and, when the body is missing these vital nutrients and minerals, hair loss can occur
  • Drug use can cause decaying, missing, rotting, or fractured teeth
  • Drugs can dry up the skin and, without proper hydration and nutrients, the skin can become more easily dry, sometimes with acne or blisters, and little energy to heal
  • Substance abuse can greatly damage the liver, kidneys, and other vital organs of the body

As a 2017 study published in the journal Behavioral Sciences emphasized, factors such as sleep, nutrition, exercise, socioeconomic and sociopsychological in addition to drug use can cause further damages such as stress on various levels of the body, cognition and behavioral damage, inflammation, and co-occurring disorders – which then lead down the road to brain decline in both volume and function, early onset of disease, damage to vital organs, and in many sad cases, premature death.

If you’ve been struggling with substance abuse, seek help today. It’s not too late, and your life is worth living.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer a variety of treatment options including hypnotherapy; call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.