Addiction and Emphysema

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Gasping for Air

There is a relationship between addiction and emphysema. Emphysema is a serious lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. When you take a breath, the air travels through the windpipe into the bronchi.

Bronchi are passages that branch off into smaller passages called bronchioles in each lung. At the end of bronchioles are alveoli surrounded by tiny blood vessels. Meanwhile, carbon dioxide is being exchanged and released by the alveoli back into the bronchioles. Then the air is eliminated as you exhale.

Emphysema directly damages the alveoli inner walls preventing healthy oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange. Smoking is the number one cause of emphysema. The only thing you can do to prevent this disease is to stop putting smoke inside your lungs immediately.

Signs and Symptoms of Emphysema

Emphysema develops slowly. Many people do not know they have it until the late stages of the disease. The main symptom people experience in the early stages of emphysema is shortness of breath. It feels like you cannot take a full breath, or a heavy weight is on your chest.

You may have mucus while coughing and after eating. This mucus is your lungs attempting to rid itself of the pollutions from inhaling smoke. Emphysema patients often suffer from multiple lung infections.

Stages of Emphysema

Once emphysema has developed, there is no reversing the damage. There are four stages of emphysema. Many people go years before they seek help. Often they are in the 3rd and 4th stages at the time of diagnosis.

Stage 1 – At-risk

During the first stage of emphysema, breathing tests are normal. You may experience mild symptoms that include persistent cough with mucus production.

Stage 2 – Mild

Breathing test results show mild airflow blockage. Worsened cough and increased mucus production are noticeable. During this stage, you may not feel the effects of the decreased flow of oxygen.

Stage 3 – Moderate

At this stage, many people begin to seek help to alleviate their symptoms. The decline in airflow is notable in day-to-day activities. You may find yourself short of breath, even while seated.

Stage 4 – Severe

This is the last stage of emphysema. Supplemental oxygen is required, and any lung infections can be fatal. Breathing test results show resisted airflow. Patients at the end stage of the disease are often unable to complete day-to-day tasks.


The sign of emphysema typically shows up after 50% of the lung has been damaged. The outlook for those diagnosed with emphysema depends on how early treatment starts. You can slow the progression of the disease with medical care.

There is no cure for emphysema. While it is true that emphysema will shorten your life, many people can manage their symptoms. Getting early treatment helps you live a longer and more fulfilling life. Long-term outlook depends on early- or late-stage diagnosis of the disease.

How to Prevent Emphysema

If you have ever smoked in your life, you are at risk for developing this lung disease. When you have an addiction, your risk is even higher. Like an addiction, there is no cure for emphysema. You can only prevent emphysema by quitting smoking and treating the symptoms.

If you are concerned with developing emphysema, getting early treatment is vital. There are ways you can protect your lung health. If you have an addiction to smoking, you can find help in rehab centers. You must quit smoking. Early treatment is the only solution after diagnosis.

The Link Between Emphysema and Addiction

The lungs are your body’s filtration system. They take in air and add oxygen to your blood for circulation. Putting smoke in your lungs causes immediate damage. When you suffer from an addiction to substances, this damage keeps happening repeatedly. Dose, frequency, and duration are important aspects of smoke exposure, and limiting these is vital to maintaining healthy lungs. Emphysema attacks the lungs.

The worldwide circulation of COVID-19 is especially serious to anyone who smokes. People with opioid use disorder and methamphetamine addiction are particularly vulnerable because of the drugs’ effects on respiratory and pulmonary health.

Your Mental Health and Addiction

There is a connection between your mental health and addiction. The complexities of these issues make it challenging to get the correct diagnosis and treatment. Many mental conditions appear with substance use disorders.

Depression, bi-polar, anxiety, and schizophrenia are often dual diagnosed during addiction treatment. The answer is not entirely clear, but the connection works both ways. People with alcohol and drug addictions tend to develop mental illnesses. People with certain mental illnesses tend to develop substance abuse problems.

Emphysema and Addiction Treatment Challenges

Prevent emphysema by stopping the use of drugs. Withdrawing is especially hard if you have an addiction. Those who have an opioid use disorder face challenges to their respiratory health. If you are struggling with an addiction, a rehab center is a place to go for treatment and supportive care. Getting the right diagnosis is essential in addiction treatment.

Once you know your diagnosis, you can begin the road towards recovery. Your lungs are vital organs. Not having your lungs at full capacity makes life difficult. Treating addiction is an important step to stop further damage to your lungs due to the direct relationship between addiction and emphysema. Quitting drugs at any stage in emphysema is a good choice.

How Rehab Centers Work

There are many different levels of care when you enter drug rehab. The care you receive will depend on the duration of your use and frequency level. Addiction treatment is different for each person. The type of treatment required takes into consideration your history and substance abuse.

Choose a drug rehab that offers coordinated delivery of total health care that addresses your whole being. You may find yourself having more than one medical issue that needs supportive care. When you have a proper diagnosis, finding the path to recovery is possible.

Treatment for Emphysema and Addiction

It may seem overwhelming at first when you are diagnosed with emphysema. Today the most important thing to do is reach out for help. Many new techniques are helping thousands of people who live with emphysema.

A comprehensive treatment plan allows you to address your dual diagnosis. Medial detox and inpatient and outpatient care allow you to find lasting recovery. Getting early treatment is paramount to a successful outcome. Do not let fear stop you from living your best life.

Reaching Out for Help

If you think you have signs of emphysema, it is important to seek out medical care. When caught in the early stage, treatment can begin immediately. You can find the care you need to treat your addiction at Resurgence Behavioral Health.

Our rehab centers provide excellent services. We offer comprehensive care to meet your needs. We promote short-term healing and care that puts you on the road to long-term recovery.  Give us a call today, and start to breathe easier.

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