Many people who consider themselves in recovery count themselves among the lucky. After all, getting clean and sober is a massive change in life. It garners many rewards. Unfortunately, long-term drug use can cause health issues and serious diseases no matter who you are.
The research, done by the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Recovery Research Institute, shows that more over a third of people who identify as in recovery from a substance use disorder don’t necessarily recover their health.
Of course, when people go to detox, they feel sick and run down as they go through withdrawal. Initial medical screenings may show the person’s tests as a regular part of withdrawal. Unfortunately, people in recovery from addiction often continue to suffer from diseases. There are a lot of common chronic conditions for people in recovery.
It may sound scary to have to cope with chronic diseases alongside recovery. Just like recovery from addiction, many chronic diseases can be managed with education and determination.
What Diseases Are Common for People in Recovery?
Certain diseases are considered prevalent for people in recovery from addiction. The research followed the health information from 2,000 U.S. adults describing themselves as in recovery alcohol, cannabis, opioids, stimulants or other drugs. Thirty-seven percent of these people were diagnosed with severe disorders and diseases.
Most commonly, people in recovery were diagnosed with “liver disease, tuberculosis (TB), HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), cancer, hepatitis C, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease and diabetes.”
Many people in recovery did not take care of their health when they were in active addiction. Some people used alcohol and drugs as a way to self-medicate. Drugs and alcohol often cause people to take risks they usually wouldn’t take. And for most people using drugs and alcohol, there’s no great urge to see a doctor for check-ups.
In Recovery? Take Care of Yourself
One of the first things that a person who is getting clean and sober should do when it comes to self-care is getting a checkup. Your doctor will take a blood sample that will help screen for liver or kidney problems. You can also take an STI and HIV test at your visit. These tests are usually covered under the Affordable Care Act if you have insurance.
If a doctor finds something, it’s good to note that most diseases can be managed in a way that reduces symptoms. STI’s are curable, and most infections are treatable. Just makes sure to follow your doctor’s suggestions. Take a friend or family member with you to your visit if you’re nervous. Answer all of the doctor’s questions honestly; this will help her help you better. And if something feels strange about your body, don’t hesitate to make an appointment to get it checked out.