When abused, drugs hijack the brain and lead to addiction.
Drugs also create serious health problems.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more deaths, medical complications, and disabilities are the result of drug use than any other preventable health condition.
How Alcohol Affects the Body
Alcohol affects all areas of the body including the brain and mental performance.
It depresses the central nervous system and leads to coordination problems, dizziness, and mental confusion.
Alcohol also affects the part of the brain that regulates breathing and heart rate which causes sleepiness, unconsciousness, or death.
Heavy drinkers often experience blackouts and depression. Over time, alcohol shrinks the brain, and the risk for dementia increases.
Long term drinking can cause high blood pressure, heartbeat irregularities, and stroke.
The liver and pancreas are damaged by alcohol leading to cirrhosis, fibrosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and pancreatitis.
The risk for many cancers is increased with alcohol use — mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, and breast.
Recent studies show that women who drink more than two drinks a day increase their risk of breast cancer by more than 50%.
How Marijuana Affects the Body
Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that changes how the brain works.
Short term consequences of marijuana use are impairment of judgment, coordination, learning, and short term memory.
It also increases the heart rate and can lead to depression and psychotic episodes.
The chronic use of marijuana affects motivation and critical life skills, especially if other mental disorders are present.
Some vulnerable individuals have a risk of schizophrenia-like disorders.
The toxic mix of gases in marijuana smoke is harmful to the lungs and leads to respiratory problems.
There are 70% more irritants and carcinogens in marijuana smoke than with tobacco.
How Cocaine and Methamphetamine Affect the Body
Cocaine and methamphetamine are highly addictive stimulants that reconfigure the reward center of the brain.
Blood vessels in the brain are constricted which causes memory and learning difficulties.
These drugs trigger restlessness, anxiety, irritability, and paranoia and can lead to bizarre, erratic, or violent behavior.
They also cause increased blood pressure and heart rate.
Serious medical complications involve abdominal pain, nausea, heart attacks, strokes, seizures, headaches, and coma.
Cocaine-related deaths are the result of cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory arrest.
Methamphetamine users often have significant weight loss, severe tooth decay, and skin sores.
There may also be a connection between Parkinson’s disease and past methamphetamine use.
How Heroin and Opiates Affect the Body
Heroin rapidly enters the brain after injection or inhalation.
It then converts to morphine and binds with natural opioid receptors in the brain.
After the initial “rush,” there is nausea and vomiting, severe itching, and difficulty with mental functioning.
The central nervous system is depressed which causes a decrease in the heart rate and breathing. This often results in death.
Physical dependence and addiction develop after long term abuse of heroin and prescription opiates.
There can be symptoms of withdrawal if the drug is not taken for a few hours. Withdrawal symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, and muscle and bone pain.
Other health issues involve HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, bacterial infections, and abscesses.
There can also be collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining, and long-lasting arthritis and rheumatologic complications.
How Inhalants Affect the Body
Medical consequences of inhalant abuse can be devastating.
When inhaled, these highly concentrated chemicals quickly reach the brain.
They cause damage to brain cells, as well as disrupting new cell growth in the brain’s memory centers.
Memory loss, learning problems, depression, personality changes, and violent behavior can result from inhalant use.
Vision, hearing, and coordination are also affected.
A healthy individual can die after one session of prolonged inhalant use. Inhaled toxic chemicals are capable of causing heart failure within minutes.
This syndrome is called sudden sniffing death.
Other organs damaged by inhalant use include the lungs, kidneys, and liver. Inhalants also increase the risk of reproductive complications and leukemia.