Many people know of the emotional and mental toll addiction can have on people. However, the physical effects of addiction are often overlooked. There are short-term and long-term physical effects that can occur when someone has an addiction. It is important to know about these effects in order to better identify and manage addiction.
Physical effects of addiction
One of the defining qualities of addictions is tolerance to a particular substance. Drugs, alcohol, even food trigger the release of neurotransmitters and hormones that bind to certain receptors. These receptors are responsible to causing the effect of the substance.
For example, cigarettes contain nicotine which binds to nicotinic receptors in the brain and other cells. Nicotine is responsible for the lightheaded or “buzzed” feeling people get when using tobacco and nicotine-containing products. However, nicotine is addictive and can cause people to crave it. Over time, more nicotine is needed to get the same effect. This eventually leads to dependency.
If you use tobacco or nicotine-containing products and find yourself using more and more, it is a sign you have become dependent. The same goes substances like drugs and alcohol.