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Consequences of Drug Use

Drugs are a leading cause of crime and death in the US. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2020 saw more deaths caused by drug overdoses (91,799) than by pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide.

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Mental and Physical Effects of Illicit Drugs

Drug abuse causes immediate effects like mania and euphoria, which are quickly followed by the downer effects of a crash. The cycle gets more intense as drug addiction spirals into physical and mental disorders. The mental and physical effects of illicit drugs include:

  • Euphoria or rush – Downer drugs (heroin, fentanyl) cause euphoria and numbness. Stimulant drugs (cocaine, speed, ecstasy) cause energy and mania. After the effects wear off, the user feels a crash, characterized by depression.
  • Withdrawal symptoms – Once addicted, the user will struggle with intense cravings and physical stress if cut off from his/her drug supply. Drugs become an all-consuming obsession for people in the throes of addiction.
  • Health problems – Drug addiction leads to health issues like liver disease, heart disease and problems with the lungs and central nervous system. Long-term drug abuse can cause brain damage. The physical signs of drug abuse include emaciation, rotting teeth and jaundice (yellowing of the skin).
  • Depression – People who engage in drug abuse are rarely happy. They get hooked on the high, yet the effects of the drug become less and less powerful because the body becomes tolerant. As the person increases his/her dosage to get the same effects, the drug impacts the organs. The spiraling habit leads to social isolation, job loss and poverty.

Illicit drug use leads to a downward spiral of physical and mental health problems, financial ruin and misery. It ruins the lives of individuals and devastates their loved ones. The drug epidemic brings crime to communities and renders neighborhoods dangerous.

Substance Abuse

People who engage in substance abuse — combinations of two or more illicit drugs and alcohol — put themselves in even more grave danger than regular users. The combined and contradictory effects of different drugs increase the risk factor of any one substance.

Combinations of opioids and stimulants have contradictory effects on the heart and mind. Party drugs like cocaine and ecstasy can cause arrhythmia while depressants like heroin, fentanyl and alcohol slow the heart. During the 2010s, US overdose deaths from combined opioid/stimulant use rose 450%.

Cocaine gives the user energy that obscures the effects of alcohol. When high, the drinker might not be aware of his/her intoxication and take the alcohol abuse to a dangerous extreme. Other drugs like heroin can double the depressing effects of alcohol.

Substance use disorder often follows regular alcohol and drug abuse. One drug can serve as a gateway for other drugs. The late-stage effects of addiction are hastened when people use many drugs at once.

Health Consequences of Drug Abuse

There are numerous harmful consequences of illicit drug use that amplify over time. Alcohol and drug addiction can cause infectious diseases, some of them chronic and lethal.

  • Liver disease – The liver is an integral part of the body’s immune system. It removes toxins from things that go into the body, including alcohol and ingested drugs. Liver damage occurs when it gets overwhelmed by too many harmful substances. The problem is even worse when the liver has a viral infection like hepatitis C.
  • Lung damage – Depressant drugs slow the respiratory system.  Tobacco, a legal yet harmful drug, causes lung cancer. Smoking marijuana can cause chronic bronchitis.
  • Heart attack – Depressant drugs also slow the heart. When people take two or more depressants in combination with alcohol, it can slow the heart to a stop. Prolonged substance abuse can cause heart disease. The conflicting effects of cocaine and heroin combinations (speedballs) can cause heart attacks.
  • Brain damage – Addictive drugs cause dopamine release and trigger the brain’s reward centers. Too much of this activity can cause cellular damage and inflammation in the central nervous system. When depressants slow breathing, it deprives the brain of oxygen.
  • Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) – Pregnant women who use drugs are liable to pass the addiction onto their children. NAS occurs when a newborn goes into withdrawal after birth. Symptoms may include tremors and seizures.
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders – This accounts for the long-lasting effects of prenatal drug exposure in children as they age. Symptoms may include impaired brain function, heart problems and physical deformities.

In many cases, substance use stems from a mental health disorder. Oftentimes, drugs provoke mental illness.

Drug use can cause numerous conditions, such as increased body temperature and abdominal pain. Anyone who experiences these or any other preventable health condition should get help immediately at a drug addiction treatment center.

Risky Behaviors of Drug Abuse

When intoxicated, there’s a higher risk that the individual will engage in dangerous behavior. People who’ve committed violent acts have often been drunk or high during the crimes in question. Examples of risky intoxicated behavior include:

  • Sharing needles – Injection sends drugs directly into the bloodstream, making the effects almost instantaneous. Addicted individuals often share needles to get their fix as soon as possible. Injection drug use is a major spreader of infectious diseases. During the late 1980s, intravenous drug users were one of the most at-risk groups for HIV infection.
  • Unprotected sex – Drugs and alcohol render people uninhibited. People are likelier to engage in unprotected sex with strangers while under the influence. This can spread venereal diseases and lead to unwanted pregnancies. 
  • Reckless spending – People are less aware of consequences when drunk or high. Addiction can ruin a family’s financial standing. Some people sink all their money into drugs just to fuel an addiction. A stoned or drunken man might give thousands to an OnlyFans findom for a single virtual sex session.
  • Unsafe driving – People are often fearless and unaware of distances when under the influence. Depressants and hallucinogens diminish a person’s physical stability and hand-eye coordination. This can spell grave danger when operating a firearm or motor vehicle.

Substance use can wreak havoc on communities. All it takes is one drug user to place everyone around that person at increased risk of violence and disaster.

Penalties of Illegal Drug Use

Illegal drug use can easily lead to trouble with the law. Some people engage in risky behaviors and end up with DUIs and fines. Possession can land a person in a state detention facility. When under the influence, people are more likely to commit property crimes and other felonies. The penalties of drug use include:

  • Termination – Many companies have employees sign a “no drugs” clause and submit to random testing. News or evidence of drug use can lead to instant termination and loss of income and health benefits.
  • Fines and lawsuits – Drug users do risky and often illegal things that most sober people would never do, such as theft and trespassing. Other people act out in public and get taken into custody for disorderly conduct.
  • Jail time – Drugs can land people in jail for months at a time. In serious cases, drugs land people in federal prison for years. If a user is connected to a violent, deadly drug deal, he/she could be looking at life in prison.
  • Criminal records – Once free and clear of legal penalties, a person still carries the stigma of a drug offender. The blemish will stay on that person’s criminal record. The person might be banished from his/her field due to the drug bust. No one will hire that person because of his/her record.

Alcohol and drug abuse lead to all types of trouble. People who succumb to substance use often lose everything in succession: friends, loved ones, livelihood, liberty and life itself.

Get Help for Drug Addiction

People suffering from drug and alcohol addiction need treatment for their physical dependencies and mental health issues. If someone you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol, get that person proper treatment from a nearby rehab facility. Call the addiction treatment centers in your area and ask about their programs.

Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

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