People who abuse alcohol or drugs are at high risk of developing an addiction. Once addiction develops, people experience intense cravings to keep using drugs or alcohol despite all the negative consequences of doing so. Addiction is a debilitating illness that damages people mentally and physically. Some of the ways substance abuse can damage the body include effects on bones and joints.
Arthritis and Infections
Arthritis is a general term to describe inflamed joints. The condition is often subdivided into more specific conditions like septic arthritis. Septic arthritis is caused when harmful bacteria get into the fluid in joints. It is a very painful condition, and people who use needles to self-administer drugs are at high risk of developing it.
Because it is a bacterial infection, it may be possible to heal the condition through the use of antibiotics. It may also be necessary to have infected joints drained. However, people who suffer from long-term substance abuse already have weakened immune systems, and this makes recovery from septic arthritis more difficult. Even if the condition does clear up in response to treatment, the chances are high that they will become reinfected.
Osteomyelitis is a type of bone infection. The infection develops within the bone, and may also spread to surrounding tissue. One of the complications associated with osteomyelitis is swelling of the bone marrow. When this happens, the swollen marrow can constrict veins and arteries, and the blood supply to the bone can be cut off. Without a blood supply, the bone tissue cannot survive. People who use drugs intravenously are very susceptible to this dangerous and painful condition.
People who do not use properly sterilized needles before injecting drugs are at high risk of developing arthritis, bone infections and other health problems.1 Unfortunately, the craving to use drugs makes people ignore sensible precautions to preserve their health.
Osteoporosis is often called brittle bone disease. The bones become less dense, making them susceptible to fractures. Alcohol abuse has been identified as a factor in the development of this condition. Other types of drug abuse also put people at risk of developing osteoporosis as a direct result of poor nutrition and a weakened immune system.2
Seek Help Before the Damage is Beyond Repair
If you suffer from addiction, you will find it very hard to get sober without the help of professional addiction treatment. Your chances of getting and remaining sober are much higher if you use a high-quality rehab facility. The earlier you seek treatment, the better your chances of becoming and remaining sober, and the less likely you are to suffer permanent physical damage to your bones and joints.
The fight against addiction is not an easy one, but people can and do recover, especially when they turn to experts for help. The sooner you act to get yourself or someone you love into recovery, the better.