The Effects of Drug Abuse

  1. Article SummaryPrint
  2. How Drugs Affect the Body and Brain
  3. Short- and Long-Term Effects of Alcohol
  4. Short- and Long-Term Effects of Hallucinogens
  5. Short- and Long-Term Effects of Opiates
  6. Short- and Long-Term Effects of Barbiturates
  7. Short- and Long-Term Effects of Inhalants
  8. Social Effects of Drug Abuse

Some people have the ability to use prescription and recreational drugs with little to no hazardous effects while others can become addicted to a particular drug after using it one time. The effects of drug abuse vary from person to person, particularly when individuals just start consuming certain drugs. However, after long periods of continued use, the majority of individuals who take both prescription and recreational drugs have a high likelihood of becoming addicted. Drug abuse and addiction can change a person's entire life within a very short time period. As a person begins to form a physical and emotional dependency on a particular drug, he or she feels a powerful urge to consume the drug regularly. The extent of an individual's vulnerability to his or her drug addiction depends on a wide variety of factors, including the person's genes, mental health, physical health, and environment. A person who is addicted to drugs will also have to deal with the physical drug addiction effects they will ultimately experience as a result of being addicted to drugs. If you or a loved one is suffering from a drug addiction, call our 24-hour helpline at 1-800-928-9139, or fill out a contact form on this page.

How Drugs Affect the Body and Brain

Different drugs affect the body in different ways, but all drugs chemically alter the brain. The drug effects that occur in individuals who consume drugs depend on how the brain processes the chemicals in each drug. The amount of drugs needed to cause certain effects vary as well. All of an individual's perceptions are controlled by the brain; therefore, the brain dictates the effects of drug abuse in individuals. What a person feels, hears, smells, tastes, thinks, and sees depends on what the brain is communicating to the individual's body. The brain and body have normal functioning patterns and operate according to very specific patterns when a person does not consume substances that cause any type of chemical disruption. However, when chemicals are introduced to the brain, the chemical messengers in the brain are altered, causing the brain to send a different set of signals to the body. Chemicals can cause individuals to see, think, and act very differently than they normally would, which is why drug abuse affects individuals and the world around them.

Short- and Long-Term Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol is a drug, and when a person consumes alcohol, it has an effect on many body systems. The effects begin to occur as soon as the alcohol enters the blood stream. Certain types of alcohol enter the bloodstream more quickly than others. Also, whether or not a person has eaten and how much he or she has eaten can affect how quickly the body absorbs any alcohol that is consumed. Individuals become addicted to alcohol because of the chemical and physical reactions that excessive alcohol use causes. These reactions can cause a person to crave alcohol. If you or a loved one has an addiction to alcohol and needs help, fill out a contact form on this page, or call our helpline at 1-800-928-9139. Representatives are available seven days a week to take your call.

Factoid:

Side Note Picture Carbonated alcoholic beverages, such as beer and champagne, enter the bloodstream more slowly than noncarbonated alcoholic beverages, such as whiskey and vodka.

Once alcohol enters the bloodstream, the breathing and heart rate of the individual consuming it immediately slows down. The individual will begin to feel drowsy and often starts to feel confused mentally. If a person drinks a large amount of alcohol, he or she will begin to feel intoxicated within five to 10 minutes. Those who consume small amounts of alcohol will not feel intoxicated so quickly; however, they will experience this effect if they drink continuously. As a person consumes more and more alcohol, he or she will experience mental confusion and drowsiness. The consumer will either fall asleep due to feelings of exhaustion, or the person will remain awake and begin to display behaviors that are very different from the behavior the individual normally displays. The person may also attempt to consume more alcohol due to intense cravings for it. As the alcohol begins to wear off, the person may feel shaky, irritable, and nauseous. He or she may begin to sweat and will often develop an intense headache. Individuals who consume large amounts of alcohol may eventually feel the urge to vomit even if they have not eaten.

Because large amounts of alcohol can be poisonous to the body, a person who consumes large amounts of alcohol will often become very sick. The urge to vomit will continue, and the individual may even break out in a fever or rash. The person's headache is likely to intensify, and the individual's body will remain sore until the alcohol wears off. Long-term alcohol abuse has physical, emotional, and psychological effects. Individuals who are addicted to alcohol generally have difficulties sustaining relationships or keeping a job. Most individuals facing this addiction need assistance in the form of rehabilitation in order to overcome their addiction and all of the traumatic drug addiction effects that they've experienced. If you suffer from alcohol addiction and need help, call our confidential hotline at 1-800-928-9139 and talk to one of our caring representatives, or fill out a contact form on this page.

Short- and Long-Term Effects of Hallucinogens

"Information travels through the brain at rapid speeds and is carried by chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. "
LSD, PCP, and Ecstasy are examples of hallucinogens, and these drugs have the ability to affect a person's perceptions dramatically. Information travels through the brain at rapid speeds and is carried by chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Hallucinogens interfere with the function of neurotransmitters, which interferes with the speed at which messages travel. Hallucinogens also alter the function of the nerve cells in the brain by destroying the brain's nerve fibers. These nerve fibers are called serotonin, which controls a person's mood and sleep patterns and also controls the heartbeat. Initially, a person who is addicted to hallucinogens will notice sudden mood changes, changes in his or her sleeping behavior, and inconsistencies in his or her heart rhythm. These problems will continue to worsen as the individual becomes more addicted to his or her drug of choice. When serotonin is damaged, it cannot grow back normally, according to scientists. Therefore, the effects of drug abuse for those consuming hallucinogens are irreversible. Individuals who abuse hallucinogens can also become extremely aggressive, making it difficult for them to sustain relationships. If you suffer from an addiction to a hallucinogen of any form, call our free helpline at 1-800-928-9139, or fill out a contact form on this page. Representatives are available seven days a week to answer your questions.

Short- and Long-Term Effects of Opiates

Opiates are extremely common and quite popular, and they come in many forms. Individuals can receive prescriptions for drugs containing opiates, or they can purchase recreational drugs containing opiates. Opiates are also referred to as narcotics. "Opiates also dramatically affect the function of the brain and body."Opiates are extremely addictive, particularly because of their ability to provide pain relief and their ability to cause the individual consuming the drug to experience intense feelings of happiness and euphoria. Opiates also dramatically affect the function of the brain and body. Individuals who consume opiates regularly have a high likelihood of becoming addicted to them because they are very addictive and very potent. It does not take long for the brain to form a dependency to opium. Opium changes the way the nerves in a person's brain works. Therefore, when a person uses opium continuously, he or she will eventually need to take opium in order for the brain to function.

Factoid:

Codeine, morphine, heroin, cocaine, and crack are made with opiates, which is the liquid from the poppy plant.

Opiates affect the nerve cells that operate the spinal cord, limbic system and brain stem. In fact, when these nerve cells respond to opiates, a signal is sent to the receptors that control the way the brain functions. As the drug begins to wear off, brain function will slowly shift back to normal. However, prolonged opiate use will cause permanent changes and a permanent dependency. If you struggle with opiate addiction and need help to overcome it, call our national helpline at 1-800-928-9139, or fill out a contact form on this page.

Short- and Long-Term Effects of Barbiturates

The effects of drug abuse for individuals who take barbiturates are very similar to the drug effects of consuming opiates. Like opiates, barbiturates change the way the brain works. However, instead of acting as a stimulus, barbiturates act as depressants. Barbiturates are typically prescribed by doctors. They are sedative drugs that have a dramatic effect on an individual's nervous system. In fact, consuming too many barbiturates can cause the nervous system to shut down. Barbiturates are both physically and psychologically addictive, and they are generally prescribed to individuals who are suffering from anxiety and depression and to individuals who have a history of seizures. Most antidepressant medications are barbiturates. When taken without a prescription, it is common for users of barbiturates to take the drug together with opiates or alcohol, which can be life threatening.

Barbiturates can be injected, swallowed, or used as suppositories. They cause users to become disoriented, making them sluggish and sedated. The individual consuming the drug will often experience slurred speech, and the person's breathing generally becomes shallow. The pupils of the user will begin to dilate, and he or she will have problems with coordination.

Factoid:

Prolonged use of barbiturates can cause sleeping disorders, respiratory problems, menstrual irregularities, and a lack of sex drive.

Like opiates, barbiturates have the ability to cause irreversible damage to the brain. The effects of taking barbiturates can last for many hours. It is not uncommon for an individual to experience the drug's effects for 10 hours or longer. While high on the drug, the user generally exercises poor judgment, cannot think clearly, and experiences respiratory depression. A person who uses barbiturates can build up a tolerance for the drug very quickly; it is possible to be addicted to barbiturates in less than one week. Users develop a strong psychological need for barbiturates as well, which is why many individuals who use this drug require extensive psychological counseling. If you are suffering from an addiction to barbiturates and need immediate help, fill out a contact form on this page, or contact our national helpline at 1-800-928-9139 to talk to one of our compassionate representatives.

Short- and Long-Term Effects of Inhalants

The effects of drug abuse for individuals using inhalants can cause a host of breathing and respiratory problems. There are a wide range of individuals who regularly inhale gasoline, paint, hairspray, and other everyday products for the sole purpose of getting high. These products usually have a very strong smell, and their vapors often contain a host of chemicals. Individuals who inhale drugs can get addicted very quickly. When individuals inhale substances, the substance being inhaled is absorbed into the blood, brain, fatty tissues, and nervous system. Once the substance enters the body, it stays there for a very long time. Inhalants also affect the nerve cells in a person's brain and spinal cord. When foreign chemicals begin to build up, the nervous system will become toxic and will begin to malfunction. Long-term use of inhalants can cause arrhythmia, which is a serious heart condition.

A common gas found in most inhalants is called butane, and this gas has chemicals that send messages to the brain. When inhaled, butane and other chemicals first go to the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain that controls movement. This can initially make the user clumsy and uncoordinated. Prolonged use of inhalants will cause permanent damage to the cerebellum and to the brain's frontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that allows individuals to plan schedules and solve problems. Inhalers also send messages to the brain that tells the heart to beat much faster than normal, placing a huge burden on the heart. Prescribed inhalants, such as asthma pumps, can also be addictive, and individuals who use these pumps too much can become both physically and psychologically dependent on them. If you suffer from an addiction to inhalants and need immediate help, fill out a contact form on this page, or call our free helpline at 1-800-928-9139.

Social Effects of Drug Abuse

Drugs not only have physical effects, but they have social effects as well. Drug abuse can cause individuals to isolate themselves, which can lead to depression. Drug abuse can negatively affect the relationships that individuals have with those whom they love, including their parents and children. Drug abuse can cause individuals to skip important events, miss work, and slack off pretty regularly. Drug abuse can also cause individuals to become aggressive, making it difficult for them to make and keep friends. A person addicted to drugs has a difficult time setting goals and often lacks confidence. Regularly using and abusing drugs can also cause the following:

  • Lack of motivation and drive
  • Feelings of anger and resentment toward others
  • Drastic changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Unwillingness to deal with personal problems, causing them to become worse
  • Emotional instability
  • Desire to experiment with various drugs