The word drugs applies to a variety of substances. It can mean over the counter pills, prescription medication, banned substances like cocaine and heroin, and legal substances like nicotine and alcohol. Drugs taken strictly in compliance with the prescribed or recommended dosage can save lives. When drugs are abused, however, they can destroy lives.
Short Term Effects
Drugs are chemical substances that alter the mind and body. The immediate effects of a drug on the body depend on what type of drug it is. All drugs distort sensory perceptions and affect how individuals think and feel.
A person taking a stimulant, such as cocaine, may start to feel excited and experience an increased heart rate. Stimulants give individuals a heightened sense of awareness, which can sometimes lead to paranoia. The person generally feels good and experiences a “high,” an altered state, often accompanied by feeling of euphoria, achieved once the individual is completely under the drug’s spell. While under the influence, a person may start behaving differently, become visibly agitated, shaky and erratic. The individual’s movements may be jerky and spastic. Other short term effects include appetite suppression, insomnia, increased blood pressure, constricted blood vessels and dilated pupils.
Unlike stimulants, depressants, like alcohol or heroin, decrease heart rate. They lower blood pressure and induce a calm, relaxed state free of inhibitions. Depressants may cause drowsiness, confusion and disorientation as to time and place. A person under the influence of alcohol may become incoherent and physically incapacitated. Speech may be slurred and movement may be slow and unstable. A person on heroin may feel extreme heaviness in the hands and legs.
Long Term Effects
Continued drug use leads to dependency. Because people feel good initially after taking a drug, they keep taking it. They can quickly become addicted and unable to function without it. Experts from many addiction rehabilitation centers say that over time, people develop tolerance to a drug, meaning they must take increasing amounts to achieve the same high. The body gets so used to the drug that it reacts negatively without it, causing withdrawal symptoms like pain, nausea and depression.
• Physical Deterioration
Drug use can damage the heart, lungs, liver and other major organs of the body. They can eliminate the desire for food and cause alarming weight loss. They damage the body’s cells, cause skin problems and lead to premature aging. They can cause hair and teeth to fall out. They can ultimately cause early death.
Drug abuse can have catastrophic effects on a person’s physical and mental health. Drugs alter the chemical structure in the brain, alter a person’s perception of reality and can cause permanent damage to the body. Prolonged drug use can destroy the body’s organs and result in untimely death, but even one use can lead to death from an overdose.