The effects of drug abuse depend on the type of drug, any other substances that a person is using, and their health history.
In this article, we discuss the impact of drug abuse and explain how to treat drug addiction.
Drugs are chemical compounds that affect the mind and body. The exact effects vary among individuals and also depend on the drug, dosage, and delivery method.
Using any drug, even in moderation or according to a medical prescription, can have short-term effects.
For instance, consuming one or two servings of alcohol can lead to mild intoxication. A person may feel relaxed, uninhibited, or sleepy.
Nicotine from cigarettes and other tobacco products raises blood pressure and increases alertness.
Using a prescription opioid as a doctor has instructed helps relieve moderate-to-severe pain, but opioids can also cause drowsiness, shallow breathing, and constipation.
Abusing a drug, or misusing a prescription medication, can produce other short-term effects, such as:
- changes in appetite
- sleeplessness or insomnia
- increased heart rate
- slurred speech
- changes in cognitive ability
- a temporary sense of euphoria
- loss of coordination
Drug abuse can affect aspects of a person’s life beyond their physical health. People with substance use disorder, for example, may experience:
- an inability to cease using a drug
- relationship problems
- poor work or academic performance
- difficulty maintaining personal hygiene
- noticeable changes in appearance, such as extreme weight loss
- increased impulsivity and risk-taking behaviors
- loss of interest in formerly enjoyable activities
Drug abuse, especially over an extended period, can have numerous long-term health effects.
Chronic drug useTrusted Source can alter a person’s brain structure and function, resulting in long-term psychological effects, such as:
- panic disorders
- increased aggression
Long-term drug use can also affect a person’s memory, learning, and concentration.
The long-term physical effects of drug use vary depending on the type of drug and the duration of use. However, experts have linked chronic drug use with the following health conditions:
Stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamines, can damage the heart and blood vessels.
The long-term use of these drugs can lead to coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, and heart attack.
Drugs that people smoke or inhale can damage the respiratory system and lead to chronic respiratory infections and diseases.
Opioids slow a person’s breathing by binding to specific receptors in the central nervous system that regulate respiration. By depressing a person’s respiration, these drugs can lead to slow breathing or heavy snoring.
A person may stop breathing entirely if they take a large dose of an opioid or take it alongside other drugs, such as sleep aids or alcohol.
The kidneys filter excess minerals and waste products from the blood. Heroin, ketamine, and synthetic cannabinoids can cause kidney damage or kidney failure.
Chronic drug and alcohol use can damage the liver cells, leading to inflammation, scarring, and even liver failure.
Taking too much of a drug or taking multiple drugs together can result in an overdose.