How Substance Abuse May Damage the Heart

Substance abuse impacts two vital organs, the brain, and the heart. Some substances cause irreparable harm on the first try such as heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine. 

Other substances can take time to cause damage unless individuals couple them with existing conditions such as diabetes and mental health issues.

Here we focus on the heart.

We outline seven ways how substance abuse may damage the heart.

1. Disrupts the Neurotransmitters

It’s a toss-up on whether the heart outranks the brain or vice versa as the most important vital organ. Nonetheless, they need each other.

The heart pumps blood throughout the body. If the organ can’t do its job properly, it disrupts the neurotransmitters. 

Neurotransmitters help an individual walk, talk, and carry out daily activities. When the disruption occurs, the individual starts losing their ability to complete simple tasks.

The human body consists of water, muscles, and vital organs. It also has chemicals. Opioid prescription drugs cling to the natural opioids found in the body. The binding makes them more powerful and addictive.

Therefore, consuming synthesized chemicals disrupts a person’s processing power.

To learn more about the damages that substance abuse causes, inpatient programs provide educational sessions to patients.

2. Abnormal Heart Rate

Think of your body as a vehicle. Vehicles wear out from old age and high mileage.

The same happens to the human body.

For adults, the resting heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. Most people live to the age of 80 in the United States. Their heart helps them get there. Individuals who increase their heart rate through chemicals can shorten their lifespan by at least four months.  

Overworking the organ damages it.

3. Collapsed Veins

Individuals who inject substances risk collapsing the corresponding veins. Habitual injections damage them. Plus, in the fog of a high, it’s not always easy to find the best place to inject.

Most people have experienced a nurse-in-training who can’t find a vein. The trainee pricks more than once to draw blood. Moreover, trained medical technicians know that some individuals have hard-to-find veins. 

Without medical training, an individual is likely to cause harm to their person.

Once veins start collapsing, the blood’s pathways become obstructed. If enough veins collapse, it starts to damage the heart.

4. Endocarditis

Endocarditis results when the lining of the heart becomes inflamed from bacteria. Individuals who inject drugs put themselves at risk for a host of issues including endocarditis.

Those who share needles or reuse them risk injecting bacteria into their veins. The bacteria travel through the bloodstream. Eventually, the bacteria finds its way to the heart.

The result is a bacterial infection that damages the organ and could lead to death.

5. Stroke

A stroke results when the brain does not receive enough blood flow. Two types exist, ischemic and hemorrhagic. In addition, strokes have a high relapse rate.

Individuals who have a genetic disposition to experience a stroke or live a lifestyle that puts them at risk should stay away from illicit drugs.

A stroke doesn’t damage the heart. Instead, it exposes heart issues, and drugs make it worse.

6. Heart Attack

Heart attacks differ from strokes. An attack of the heart occurs when the organ does not receive enough blood flow.

The Centers for Disease Control has found that the number one cause of heart attacks is coronary artery disease. Another cause is spasms that stop the blood from flowing to the heart.

While substance abuse might not cause a heart attack, it does serve as a catalyst. Susceptible individuals exacerbate the condition with illicit chemicals that weaken the body’s vital functions.

Those who recover from a heart attack live with a weaker one after the episode.

7. Death

The number of drug-induced overdose deaths has increased in the United States entering 2022. 

Moreover, the leading cause of death for individuals under the age of 45 is accidental overdoses. 

An overdose causes the vital organs to enter overdrive or it shuts them down. The damage to the heart is permanent as it can’t handle the chemicals. 


Continued drug use has several negative effects on the body. These chemicals alter the brain’s chemistry and heart’s rhythm. Substances overwork or slow down the organ. In both cases, the result is damage. Keep in mind that help is available to those who seek it.

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