Your circulatory system is literally the lifeblood of your body. It includes your heart, blood vessels and blood. The cirulatory system pumps blood throughout the body, which delivers nutrients and oxygen to the different parts of the body. When addiction affects your circulatory system, the results can be serious and life-threatening.
Research has shown that the abuse of most drugs adversely harms the cardiovascular and circulatory systems. Injecting drugs is especially harmful to the body, causing problems like collapsed veins and bacterial infections of both the blood vessels and heart valves. Enlarged hearts and heart attacks are also caused by substance abuse. Let’s review what certain drugs can do to the body’s circulation system.1
Severe circulatory system complications can happen with cocaine use. The most commonly seen are cardiovascular-related, such as disruptions in heart rhythm and heart attacks, strokes and coma. Many cocaine-related deaths are due to cardiac arrest.
The medical consequences of injecting heroin include scarred and collapsed veins, as well as bacterial infections of the blood vessels and heart valves. Many of the chemicals mixed into heroin typically include substances that don’t dissolve in the bloodstream. This causes blood vessel clots and blockage of blood flow to the lungs, liver, kidneys or brain. These clogs may result in infection or cause areas of these vital organs to die.
Taking methamphetamine can cause a wide range of cardiovascular and circulatory problems. These include rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat and increased blood pressure. All of these put people who use meth at a high risk for heart attacks.
Prescription stimulants are widely used for conditions like Attention Deficit Disorder and to promote alertness. Brand names that are commonly prescribed include Ritalin, Metadate and Concerta.2 Prescription stimulant abuse can cause an individual to experience dangerously high body temperatures as well as an irregular heartbeat. There is also the potential for cardiovascular failure or seizures.
Ketamine is a drug normally used for anesthesia purposes by veterinarians. When taken by a human, it has a hallucinogenic effect that causes the user to feel detached. It is commonly injected, snorted or smoked. The possible health effects of ketamine on the circulatory system include raised blood pressure, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
LSD is also a hallucinogenic drug. The effects on the circulatory system from high doses of LSD include physical distress from dangerous changes in blood pressure and heart rates that could lead to death.
MDMA, also known as ecstasy, is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. Once it is circulating in the body, it interferes with the body’s ability to break down the drug. This causes many individuals to take more of the drug to feel its effects. Taking high doses of MDMA can worsen its cardiovascular effects, such as heart failure.
Substance Abuse Treatment
If you or a loved one suffers from addiction, seek professional help as soon as possible to prevent any serious circulatory system complications or other medical issues.