Excessive drug and alcohol use can have negative consequences and impacts on a person: physically, mentally, and within our community.
Outlined below is a list of drugs and their health risks taken from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration website. For more information view the complete resource guide provided by the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration.
Alcohol (beer, wine, or liquor) has a high potential for physical and psychological dependence and increased tolerance. Possible effects include impaired memory, slurred speech, drunken behavior, vitamin deficiency, and organ damage. Overdose may result in vomiting, respiratory depression, loss of consciousness, and possible death. Withdrawal may include trembling, anxiety, insomnia, vitamin deficiency, confusion, hallucinations, and convulsions. 8 Females who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Fetal alcohol syndrome causes brain damage and growth problems. The problems caused by fetal alcohol syndrome vary from child to child, but defects caused by fetal alcohol syndrome are not reversible. The severity of fetal alcohol syndrome symptoms varies, with some children experiencing them to a far greater degree than others. Signs and symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome may include any mix of physical defects, intellectual or cognitive disabilities, and problems functioning and coping with daily life.
Narcotics (including heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, and others) have a high potential for both physical and psychological dependence and increased tolerance. The possible effects of using narcotics include euphoria, drowsiness, respiratory depression, constricted pupils, and nausea. Overdose may result in shallow breathing, clammy skin, convulsions, coma, and death. Withdrawal may include irritability, tremors, panic, nausea, chills, and sweating.
Other depressants (including GHB or liquid ecstasy, valium, Xanax, Ambien, and barbiturates) have a potential for both physical and psychological dependence and increased tolerance. The possible side effects include slurred speech, disorientation, appearance of intoxication, and impaired memory. Overdose may result in shallow respiration, clammy skin, dilated pupils, weak and rapid pulse, coma and possible death. Withdrawal may include anxiety, insomnia, tremors, delirium, convulsions, and possible death.
Stimulants (including cocaine, methamphetamine, and methylphenidate) have a possible risk of physical dependence and high risk for psychological dependence. Tolerance can develop in all stimulants. The possible side effects include increased alertness, excitation, euphoria, increased pulse rate and blood pressure, insomnia, and decreased appetite. Overdose may result in agitation, increased body temperature, hallucinations, convulsions, and possible death. Withdrawal may result in apathy, long periods of sleep, irritability, depression, and disorientation.
Hallucinogens (including MDMA, LSD, Phencyclidine, and others) are less likely to result in physical dependence, except for phencyclidines and analogs, and vary in terms of psychological dependence, ranging from none to moderate (MDMA) to high (phencyclidine and analogs). Tolerance can develop. Possible effects include heightened senses, teeth grinding, and dehydration (with MDMA and analogs) and hallucinations, altered perception of time and distance in other types of hallucinogens. Overdose may result in increased body temperature and cardiac arrest for MDMA and more intense episodes for LSD. Some hallucinogens may result in muscle aches and depression when in withdrawal (MDMA) or may result in drug seeking behavior.
Cannabis includes marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and hashish or hashish oil. All may result in moderate psychological dependence with THC resulting in physical dependence. Tolerance can develop 9 in all forms. Possible effects include euphoria, relaxed inhibitions, increased appetite, and disorientation. Overdose may result in fatigue, paranoia, and possible psychosis. Withdrawal may occasionally result in insomnia, hyperactivity, and decreased appetite. Anabolic Steroids Anabolic steroids (including testosterone and others) may result in psychological dependence. Less is known as to their potential for physical dependence and increased tolerance levels. Possible effects may include virilization, edema, testicular atrophy, gynecomastia, acne, and aggressive behavior. Effects of overdose are unknown. Withdrawal may include depression.
Inhalants (including amyl and butyl nitrite, nitrous oxide, and others) vary in their level of psychological dependence, with less known about their potential for physical dependence and tolerance. Possible effects may include flushing, hypotension, and headache, impaired memory, slurred speech, drunken behavior, vitamin deficiency, and organ damage. Overdose may result in methemoglobinemia, vomiting, respiratory depression, loss of consciousness, and death. Withdrawal may result in agitation, trembling, anxiety, insomnia, vitamin deficiency, confusion, hallucinations, and convulsions.
Nicotine is readily absorbed into the bloodstream when a tobacco product is chewed, inhaled, or smoked. A typical smoker will take 10 puffs on a cigarette over a period of five minutes that the cigarette is lit. Thus, a person who smokes about 1 ½ packs (30 cigarettes) daily gets 300 “hits” of nicotine each day. Upon entering the bloodstream, nicotine immediately stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline). Epinephrine stimulates the central nervous system and increases blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. Like cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, nicotine increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which affects the brain pathways that control reward and pleasure. For many tobacco users, long-term brain changes induced by continued nicotine exposure result in addiction—a condition of compulsive drug seeking and use, even in the face of negative consequences. Studies suggest that additional compounds in tobacco smoke, such as acetaldehyde, may enhance nicotine’s effects on the brain. When an addicted user tries to quit, her or she experiences withdrawal symptoms including irritability, attention difficulties, sleep disturbances, increased appetite, and powerful cravings for tobacco.