The Emotional, Mental, and Physical Sides of Addiction

Understand how to make sense of all that comes with the weight of addiction.

Addiction is rarely as straightforward as it seems. It’s not just a strong urge to use alcohol or drugs. Instead, addiction can change the way a person feels, thinks, and acts. There are short-term and long-term emotional, mental, and physical impacts that many patients experience.

It’s crucial to keep all this in mind when choosing a rehab facility. Those that have an aftercare program are preferable because these programs create a sense of accountability instead of releasing a newly-treated former addict into the world without the keys they need to stay sober.

That said, let’s dive into the changes an addict will experience when abusing their substance of choice.

Emotional Impacts

Addiction causes many emotional issues, among them a decrease in self-esteem. The addict will often feel embarrassed of their behaviors as well as feeling bad about the changes in their relationships, home life, work life, and stability.

While some drugs cause a momentary emotional high, when these highs wear off, the addict may be left feeling depressed. Compounding that sadness is the fact that the addict typically only feels happy when using alcohol or drugs. They tend to experience little or no happiness elsewhere in their lives.

Over time, if the addict loses their family, job, and perhaps even house and car to their addiction, they will be more likely to grow destitute and emotionally shut-off.

Mental Impacts

According to, there were about 8.1 million Americans with a mental illness as well as an addiction to alcohol or drugs in 2015. While not every addict will have a mental illness, the overwhelming majority do. Sometimes this is depression, while other times it’s a more serious mental condition.

Certain drugs may be responsible for the development of mental illness, such as prescription stimulants, PCP, methamphetamine, LSD, kratom, inhalants, and cocaine. If an addict already has a mental illness, they may abuse alcohol or drugs to mute the symptoms of their mental illness.

Even if an addict has no prior mental illness, then addiction, withdrawal, and the lapses between a next hit can cause feelings of anxiety and depression.

Physical Impacts

Long-term alcohol and drug use also wreak havoc on the body. Strokes and heart attacks become more common when addicted to cocaine, for instance, according to Turnbridge. Even those on marijuana may be more susceptible to heart attacks due to the elevated heart rate from using this drug.

There’s a greater likelihood of experiencing cognitive and emotional issues when abusing methamphetamine, leading to memory problems. Kidney failure and hypothermia can occur with MDMA as the internal temperature within the body changes.  Of course, liver issues are common with those who abuse alcohol as well as heroin. Brain damage may happen with a heroin overdose as well as an overdose of other opiates.

Then there are the physical effects of withdrawal, which some addicts may attempt to do alone. These symptoms include:

Tremors and seizures

Teeth chattering

Slurred speech


Stomach cramps, vomiting, and nausea

Sweating or clamminess

Restlessness and night sweats

Changes in appetite

In severe cases, withdrawal can sometimes be fatal, which is why it’s recommended addicts never do it alone. Instead, detoxing should be done under medical supervision. Drugs to alleviate the symptoms should be handed out sparingly to avoid the getting the addict hooked on yet another substance.

The Importance of Aftercare Treatment

Addiction, as we now know, affects the entirety of a person. At Elevate Addiction Services, we work hard on repairing the emotional, mental, and physical aspects of addiction to get the addict back to who they once were.

Emotionally, our cognitive behavioral therapy and other therapy will delve into the cause of the addiction, whether that’s financial hardship, loss, or childhood trauma. Mentally and physically, our holistic care, such as art and music therapy, healthful eating, and a rewarding exercise regimen amongst the natural wonders of Northern California will renew the body and soul.

There are no 12-step programs here. We also don’t exclusively use drugs during the withdrawal process, so there are no further addiction risks. With our aftercare program, those who graduate the program are still held accountable, which gives them the incentive to stay sober.