Famous for her role as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” franchise, actress Carrie Fisher died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 60. Fisher was an outspoken advocate about her experiences with alcoholism and addiction, primarily to cocaine. She wrote and spoke about living with bipolar disorder and how she struggled with eating disorders for many years. After being sober for many years, there were reports that Fisher had recently relapsed just a few months before her death. Immediately, her passing raised important questions about the long term effects of drug addiction and how the body might be permanently at risk for health issues. Primarily, the issue of concern is that even after years of recovery, the body cannot sustain due to years of severe abuse. Physical health practices which are detoxifying, restorative, and healing are essential to preventing as much issue in the future as possible. These are some of the body functions which can give way over time due to long term substance abuse and other mental health disorders


The kidneys are the waste removal system of the body, filtering out toxins and creating waste to get rid of it. Kidneys can be damaged through the abuse of alcohol and hard drugs like crystal meth and heroin. Kidney failure can result after surgeries, health complications, or as a solitary issue later in life.


The liver is responsible for aiding in many of the body’s functions and supporting emotional health. A healthy liver is a healthy life. Alcohol most strongly affects the liver, damaging it over time. Cirrhosis and liver disease can be long term issues. If health doesn’t change in recovery, even though drugs and alcohol are removed, the liver can weaken over time and eventually fail.


Addiction and alcoholism affect the brain. Alcohol can cause “wet brain syndrome” in which there is little chance of recovering normal cognitive function. Overtime, drug use can cause permanent psychosis and paranoia. Brain health is best supported by abstinence from drugs and alcohol in addition to a nutritious diet.


Stimulant drugs speed the heart rate up to dangerous high. Depressant drugs slow the heart rate down to a dangerous low. Alcoholism can increase blood pressure and clog the arteries. Eating disorders weaken the heart due to malnourishment. Poor health and nutrition choices which deprive the heart of nutrients are saturate it with too much fat can lead to heart failure.


Smoking drugs like cocaine, crack, heroin, synthetic drugs, opioid drugs, and crystal meth can lead to long term lung damage which can eventually cause lung cancer. Smoking cigarettes commonly accompanies alcohol abuse, which can cause cancer in the throat, mouth, and lungs.


Bone density can be affected by illness and a weakened immune system, which is caused by substance abuse. Fragile bones can mean more breaks and hospitalizations, which can lead to more sickness and disease. Inflammation of the bones can also cause heart problems.


Intravenous drug users destroy their veins. Long term damage to the veins can lead to problems with circulation, which can affect the heart, cause inflammation and serious health complications.

Avoiding Long Term Consequences

The best way to try to prevent long term consequences of substance abuse is to stop abusing substances and develop a healthy lifestyle through recovery.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and you don’t know what to do, Hired Power is here to help. Our recovery services are designed to help you focus on recovery one step at a time while we coordinate the details. Bringing recovery home is what we do. For more information, call us today at 1-800-910-9299.