Can Your Heart Heal From Drug Abuse? Recovery & Remedies

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Drug abuse takes an immense toll on the body and mind. The heart is no exception. Nearly half of all drug users in the U.S. report experience with cannabis and prescription stimulants. Over a third have used opioids and meth, and 15% have used heroin. According to the U.S. National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, the most commonly used drugs are:

Long-term substance abuse can lead to high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, and heart disease. The damage may be permanent, but the good news is recovery is possible.

This article will explore if your heart can heal from drug abuse, and what you can do to speed up the recovery process.

Many of the chemicals in recreational drugs impact nerve activity in your central nervous system, but their ingredients often block arteries in your heart, increasing your risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and even death.

What Drugs Do To The Heart?

Drugs do a number on your heart. Many of the chemicals in recreational drugs impact nerve activity in your central nervous system, but their ingredients often block arteries in your heart, increasing your risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and even death.

Common ways drugs damage your heart are:

  • Myocardial infarction (heart attacks): Cocaine, methamphetamine, and other stimulants constrict blood vessels, limiting oxygen to the heart.
  • Arrhythmias: Many drugs alter the heart’s electrical activity, causing abnormal heart rhythms like tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) or bradycardia (slow heartbeat).
  • Atherosclerosis: Drugs containing nicotine, like cigarettes, accelerate plaque buildup in arteries. Marijuana may also contribute to arterial hardening.
  • Cardiomyopathy: Long-term cocaine use can cause the heart muscle to enlarge, weaken and eventually fail. Other drugs like phencyclidine (PCP) and anabolic steroids may also lead to various heart muscle diseases.
  • Coronary artery disease: Narrowing of the arteries supplying oxygen to the heart. Cocaine, amphetamines, and nicotine are major contributors.
  • Hypertension: Many stimulants cause dangerous increases in blood pressure, as do some synthetic cannabinoids. High blood pressure kills.
  • Ischemia: Inadequate blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart. Cocaine, nicotine, and other vasoconstrictors are frequent causes.

Read more: What Is An Illicit Drug?

The good news is that quitting drugs can heal your heart over time.

Can Your Heart Heal From Drug Abuse?

The good news is that quitting drugs can heal your heart over time. One study found that stopping meth use, along with proper medical care, can reverse damage to the heart. Essentially, quitting is the first step to repairing your heart health.

While some effects of drug abuse are permanent, others will improve soon after you stop using and start healthier habits. For example, high blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms may go back to normal ranges within a few months of quitting. The heart muscles can strengthen again, and heart disease risks may be reduced by up to 60-70% after 1-2 years of sobriety.

Repairing Past Damage

Unfortunately, any scarring to the heart muscle from long-term drug use cannot be reversed. However, quitting can prevent further scarring and allow your heart to compensate. The heart may develop new blood vessels to bypass blocked arteries. The remaining heart muscle cells can get stronger and more efficient. Medications and lifestyle changes can also help manage any lasting damage.

The sooner you quit, the faster your heart health can rebound. But no matter how long or how much you used, quitting drugs and maintaining sobriety is critical for reversing and preventing life-threatening heart problems. A healthy diet, exercise, stress management, and medical follow-ups are also key.

Read more: 8 Ways To Get Through Severe Anxiety After Getting Sober

A balanced diet with many fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein will work wonders for your heart health.

Healthy Lifestyle Changes To Help Your Heart Heal After Addiction

Making healthy lifestyle changes can help repair your heart after overcoming addiction. Your heart has been through a lot, so it’s time to show it some TLC. Here are some steps you can take:

Eat A Heart-Healthy Diet

A balanced diet with many fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein will work wonders for your heart health. Focus on foods high in nutrients but low in saturated fat, sugar, and salt. Some great options include:

  • Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as chia and flax seeds, brussels sprouts, walnuts, and algae, perilla, and hemp oil.
  • Fresh or frozen vegetables like broccoli, spinach, carrots, and bell peppers
  • Fruits high in antioxidants, such as berries, citrus fruits, and melons
  • Whole grains like oats, brown rice, and quinoa
  • Lean and healthy proteins like tofu, chickpeas, tempeh, lentils, and legumes.
  • Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water is also important for your heart.

Get Regular Exercise

Exercise is the best medicine for your heart. Aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week. Walking, jogging, biking, and strength training are all great options. Start slowly and build up as you get into better shape. Exercise will help strengthen your heart muscle, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and release feel-good hormones that boost your mood.

Practice Self-Care

Managing stress and taking good care of yourself emotionally and mentally will aid your heart health recovery. Try relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, mindfulness, or deep breathing. Get enough sleep every night, limit alcohol, and avoid tobacco products. Connecting to a strong support system of people who care about your well-being can help you stay on track. Loving yourself and being kind to yourself will make the biggest impact.

Seek Help for Drug Addiction To Start Your Healing Journey

The road to recovery from drug addiction and healing your heart begins with seeking help. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you can repair the damage. The first step is connecting with professionals who can properly assess your condition and determine the best course of treatment.

Reach out to Launch Centers to explore your options. Inpatient or outpatient? Detox followed by therapy? Medication-assisted treatment? A customized plan will give you the best chance at success.

The road ahead won’t always be easy, but by facing your addiction and prioritizing your health, you can heal your heart from the effects of drug abuse. Help and hope are out there—you have to take that first courageous step. Call us at Launch Centers today to start your journey towards a healthier, happier life.

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

staff member drug alcohol treatment los angeles

Jess Beck, LCSW

Clinical Director

treatment team los angeles ca

Eric Chaghouri, MD

Psychiatrist

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Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

Family Program Manager

Our Testimonials

Clients and Professionals Share Their Experience

  • HO

    Launch provided care on multiple levels. The highly skilled therapist coupled with the focus on purpose and long-term goals refocused my recovery from what previous treatment centers pushed onto me. I went from believing that I needed years of treatment to believing I needed years happiness and success. I began to focus on what I wanted to accomplish with my life. I came to realize all the things my addiction and mental illness had taken from me, and I used my future goals as a reason to never pick up again. Due to the passion that Launch instilled in me, I have pursued my future with excitement and dedication.

  • Nicole

    This place changed my life! I’ve had good laughs, good cries, shared a lot of heart to heart moments and grew a loving bond with everyone at Launch Centers. I will always be grateful!!! I really do miss it time to time. I highly recommend Launch Centers!

  • Joey

    The staff and clinicians are amazing and make you feel right at home from the second you walk in the door. I would absolutely recommend this place for a family member or close friend.

  • Ben

    This treatment facility has changed my life. I have always struggled with my mental health and this young adult program provided me with the necessary skills to launch to adulthood. I commend anyone who struggles with mental health or substance use (which was not me) to try this program out. It will change your life.

  • Conner

    Launch Centers Treatment was a major help to me. The therapists and staff genuinely cared about me and truly helped me to make a plan for my future. My personal therapists helped me to discover where some of my deeper issues came from. All of the staff worked tirelessly with me to talk through my issues, or just about life, and offered realistic solutions to my current problems and situation. All of the staff went above and beyond and advocated relentlessly for me. I am very grateful that I was able to have such a wonderful experience with Launch.

  • Adam

    In no uncertain terms Launch Centers changed my life. The staff at Launch are professional, knowledgable and relatable. They keep the format diverse and interesting which kept me engaged in the process. The greatest thing we can do in life is seek to improve ourselves. Launch gave me a skill set I consider to be invaluable in the journey of becoming the best version of myself. I would implore anybody considering Launch to step outside their comfort zone and go, you will not regret it.

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