How drugs can contribute to an early death

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Drugs can cause significant changes in the brain, some of which may be permanent

Opioid users' blood pressure can drop suddenly and significantly, leading to stroke

CNN  — 

Can drug use contribute to a person’s earlier-than-expected death, even if they stopped using long ago? Undoubtedly, yes.

Although each drug causes unique physiological and neurological effects, all drugs overlap in one important way, said Dr. Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief for psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital, New Hyde Park in New York. All drugs cause changes in the brain, some in ways that may be long-lasting or even permanent.

These brain changes can have significant effects on mood and cause depression, ultimately lessening a person’s ability to lead their best and healthiest life.

Or, as the website of the National Institute on Drug Abuse describes: Once addicted, the brain is literally changed.

Your brain regulates all the body’s basic functions, including every breath and each heartbeat, while enabling you to interpret and respond to experience. It shapes thoughts and emotions and determines your behavior.

Despite some commonality, the short- and long-term health effects of drugs are distinct, with each one potentially affecting life spans in a different way.