Commonly Abused Substances and Their Long-Term Effects

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There are numerous behavioural and health problems associated with substance abuse. These effects are both long term and short term. The long-term effects vary depending on the type of drug abused and the duration of exposure. This article discusses the most popular drugs and their long-term effects.

Addiction

Addiction is a long-term effect of almost all drugs. It develops due to one’s tolerance to specific drugs. When one takes a particular drug frequently, the brain gets used to the effects the drug produces. The person must now use a higher dose of the drug to achieve the same level of satisfaction. When a drug addict is unable to take the drug they are addicted to, they might develop withdrawal symptoms such as depression, insomnia, and fatigue.

The following are the long-term consequences of addiction and abuse of different drugs:

Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most abused drugs in the world. This is because it is cheap and readily available. While millions of people across the globe are in need of an alcohol detox program, very few are able to seek treatment for their addiction. Alcohol abuse has severe health effects. It is one of the main causes of lifestyle-related deaths in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its long-term effects include

  • Heart disease and high blood pressure

  • Damage of the nervous system

  • Low immunity to infections

  • Pancreatitis, ulcers along the digestive tract, and stomach inflammation

  • Increased risk of liver and breast cancer

  • Sexual dysfunction and low libido

  • Pregnancy complications and birth defects

Cannabis

The recreational use of marijuana is now legal in some states in the USA. This will likely increase the intake of the drug. Cannabis is mainly a depressant. Besides that, it has stimulant and hallucinogenic qualities. Its long-term effects include

  • Respiratory disorders such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema

  • Increased risk of lung cancer

  • Memory and concentration loss

  • Decreased learning ability

  • Irregular hormone production

  • Increased risk of mental health problems in young people

  • Low sex drive

Cocaine

Cocaine is illegal, expensive, and very addictive. It is manufactured from the coca plant and used as a stimulant. Its long-term effects include

  • Reduced immunity to diseases

  • Malnutrition, weight loss, and loss of appetite

  • Psychosis and paranoia

  • Emotional disturbance

  • Irritability and violent behavior

  • Convulsions and restlessness

Heroin

Heroin is a depressant. It slows down the functions of the central nervous system by inhibiting the activity of some brain chemicals. Heroin has the following long-term effects.

  • Loss of appetite

  • Impotence and infertility

  • Irregular menstruation

  • Heart, bronchial, and chest infections

  • Chronic constipation

Ecstasy

Ecstasy is the common name for methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). Sometimes, ecstasy pills contain substances such as caffeine and aspirin besides MDMA. It has both hallucinogenic and stimulant effects. Long-term effects of Ecstasy are

  • Loss of concentration

  • Insomnia

  • Loss of appetite

  • Depression

  • Drowsiness

  • Aching muscles

  • Irritability and violent behavior

PIEDs

PIEDs stands for Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs. There are both natural and synthetic PIEDs. These drugs are mostly used by athletes and bodybuilders. Their long-term effects include

  • Urinary tract infections

  • Insomnia

  • Heart, kidney, and liver damage

  • Cancer and acne

  • High blood pressure

  • Low immunity to infections

  • Reduced sperm count and shrinking testicles in males

  • Irregular menstrual cycle and reduced breast size in women

Amphetamines

This refers to a group of drugs that excite specific chemicals in the brain. Common examples of amphetamines are amphetamine sulfate, methamphetamine, and dexamphetamine. Methamphetamine is a popular and powerful amphetamine. It is also referred to as meth, crystal, rock, or ice.

The long-term effects of amphetamines are

  • Irritability and violent behavior

  • Mood swings

  • Delusional thoughts

  • Weight loss and malnutrition

  • Reduced immunity

  • Periods of psychosis

Hallucinogens

This is a group of drugs that produce hallucinations. Examples include lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), Meshies, and Mescaline. Their long-term effects include

  • Impaired memory

  • Increased risk of mental infection

  • Flashbacks

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