In part one and two of this series, we looked at a number of health issues that affect individuals in recovery from addictions to substances such as alcohol and drugs. Many people assume that as soon as they stop drinking or taking drugs, they will feel instantly wonderful. However, the mind and body may take some time to recover from the damage that has been done from these substances. It is quite common for recovering addicts to suffer from a number of health problems, especially in the early days of recovery. The good news is that most of these problems will pass with time. Nevertheless, as mentioned before, it is important to seek professional advice if any of these health conditions persist or get gradually worse. They could be an indication of an underlying problem, so speak to your GP if you are worried.
Pain or soreness in the abdomen, particularly below the right rib cage could be an indication of liver damage or pancreatitis, especially if accompanied by a feeling of pressure. This is common among recovering alcoholics and will usually resolve itself over time once the person is no longer drinking. Nonetheless, see a GP if the problem persists or is particularly painful.
One of the main reasons recovering addicts suffer from acne is because of poor personal hygiene and nutrition while drinking or using drugs. Some experts say that hormonal changes in recovery can cause acne outbreaks, especially in younger recovering addicts. The problem with acne is that it tends to make the sufferer feel self-conscious, which is usually already an issue for those in recovery. If you are an affected individual, and you are worried about your image and/or are feeling depressed because of acne, speak to your GP; he or she may be able to prescribe a topical ointment to help. It is also a good idea to get some advice on the best diet, as this can really help to resolve the issue as well.
Bowel problems are common in early recovery, and diarrhoea is caused by irritation of the lining of the digestive tract; this is especially troublesome among recovering alcoholics. Those who suffer from diarrhoea may also experience nausea and vomiting, but these symptoms should pass within a week or two. If you find that these symptoms persist, contact your doctor, especially if you notice that your stools are dark and tarry. It could be an indication of internal bleeding caused by damage to the lining of the stomach or intestines.
You may begin to suffer from ringing, roaring or buzzing in your ears, especially if you had an addiction to drugs such as benzodiazepine. Some recovering addicts find that their sense of hearing is heightened while others notice a marked reduction in the ability to distinguish certain sounds. Most of these ear problems will resolve themselves during the first few months of recovery. However, you may also experience other problems such as itching or pain in the ear from changes in the immune system or from poor hygiene. It is important that you do not poke your ear to try to clean it out as this could damage the ear drum. If you continue to suffer after a couple of weeks, contact your GP, who may be able to prescribe ear drops. But if you have other symptoms such as fever or redness, contact your GP as soon as possible as this may be a sign of infection.
The above health problems should all resolve with time, so it is important to be patient and do not use these as an excuse to begin using or drinking again. Remember, your body has been through a lot while you were addicted, so it needs time to recover.