Thursday, April 25, 2019

Health Complications Affecting People in Recovery

addiction recovery health complications
Men and women who find addiction recovery have an opportunity to rebuild their lives. Millions of Americans in the United States and abroad are working programs of long-term recovery. Any person who is struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder can do him or herself an invaluable service by seeking assistance.

Prolonged, heavy drug and alcohol use takes a significant toll on the human mind and body. The longer a problem persists without intervention, the higher the likelihood of developing further complications. Researchers also associate addiction with a higher risk of experiencing co-occurring mental health disorders and physical health issues.

In previous posts, we mention that more than half of people living with addiction have a dual diagnosis. Common comorbidities include anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Co-Occurring Mental and Physical Health Disorders


Dual diagnosis cases require individuals receive simultaneous treatment for each condition. Treating the addiction, while ignoring the co-occurring disorder, is likely to result in unfavorable outcomes post treatment.

Those who seek professional assistance and begin working a recovery program must continue to monitor their mental health. They need to undergo regular physical health check-ups as well. This is especially true for men and women who find sobriety later in life.

While abstaining from drugs and alcohol and prioritizing mental health is of substantial benefit, there can be lingering damage. Many alcoholics and addicts fail to prioritize healthy eating and exercise when their disease is active. Extended periods of poor diet and minimal exercise can lead to a variety of health issues, such as diabetes.

Long-term alcohol use and IV drug use are associated with several life-threatening health conditions, diseases that must be monitored following addiction treatment. For example, liver diseases, COPD, and hepatitis C impact the quality of life for many people in recovery. These conditions require regular monitoring.

Burden of Disease in Addiction Recovery


Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital Recovery Research Institute analyzed the effect that recovery has on addiction-related illness. Medical News Today reports that some health conditions improve, but others will persist—despite the health benefits of sobriety. The research appears in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

"The prodigious psychological, social, and interpersonal impact of excessive and chronic alcohol and other drug use is well-characterized," said David Eddie, Ph.D., lead author of the study. He adds, "Less well-appreciated is the physical disease burden, especially among those who have successfully resolved a significant substance use problem." 

Of a sample of more than 2,000 adults in the U.S. who were in recovery, 37 percent had received a diagnosis of one or more diseases, according to the article. The conditions affecting the adults in recovery include, but are not limited to:
  • COPD
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV
  • Liver disease
  • Tuberculosis
If the listed diseases do not receive treatment while a patient is in recovery, they can affect quality of life and reduce life expectancy, the article reports. Dr. Eddie points out that the health industry must develop better measures to assist people with use disorders and mitigate the risk of disease. Eddie offers:

“The extent to which these diseases and health conditions continue to persist for the millions of Americans who achieve recovery remains to be clarified, but this study highlights the fact that these negative impacts may continue to affect quality of life, even when people achieve addiction recovery."

Addiction Recovery Improves Quality of Life


Men and women who begin the journey of recovery are encouraged to embrace healthier lifestyles. Eating nutritional foods and developing an exercise routine helps the mind and body heal from the harmful effects of drug and alcohol use. Prioritizing annual physicals can help patients identify any conditions that present following addiction treatment, allowing for early interventions.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, our clients benefit immensely from receiving care in our Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH). We can provide patients with programs and specialty services, as well as access to hospital-level diagnostic services and consultations from physician specialists.

HVRC’s unique environment allows clinicians to identify any co-occurring health disorders quickly. Our team can then administer concurrent, evidence-based treatments. Please contact us today to learn more.

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