Effects of Drug Use

Drugs

Are natural and synthetic chemical substances that affect the body and its processes, the mind and nervous system, and behavior and emotions.
Potential consequences of drug use include:

  • illness
  • accidents
  • increased tolerance to the drug
  • physical and psychological dependence
  • legal problems
  • sexual assault and violence
  • increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV
  • increased risk of transmission of HIV from shared needles

Five basic kinds of drugs are:

  • stimulants
  • depressants
  • hallucinogens
  • narcotics
  • cannabis

Stimulants

Known as "uppers," speed up the nervous system.
Amphetamines ("speed," "beanies," "pep pills," "whites"):

  • increased heart rate and blood pressure, loss of appetite, increased activity
  • heightened alertness or self-confidence, sometimes followed by depression
  • hallucinations, paranoia, and temporary mental derangement as a result of heavy doses

Hazards of abuse include:

  • physical exhaustion
  • increased tolerance, leading to physical and psychological dependence; withdrawal from the drug can result in suicidal depression
  • heart problems, infection, malnutrition, and death

Cocaine

("coke," "snow," "flake") is legally classified as a narcotic. "Crack" or "rock" is a highly potent cocaine that has been processed for smoking. It is just dangerous as other forms of cocaine and is extremely addictive.
Some effects include:

  • quickened pulse and circulation, sharpened reactions, restlessness
  • feelings of well-being, alertness, overconfidence, confusion, anxiety, and depression
  • paranoia, nervous exhaustion, or hallucinations as a result of heavy doses

Hazards of abuse include:

  • destruction of nasal tissues
  • lesions in the lungs as a result of smoking the drug
  • tolerance and psychological dependence
  • convulsions, respiratory paralysis, and death

Depressants

Known as "downers," slow down the central nervous system.
Barbiturates ("barbs," "goofballs," "blues") may cause:

  • slowed heart rate and breathing, lowered blood pressure
  • slowed reactions, confusion, weakened emotional control, distortion of reality, reduced awareness, and intoxication

Tranquilizers may cause:

  • slowed heart rate and breathing, lowered blood pressure
  • relaxation, drowsiness, confusion, loss of coordination, intoxication, and changes in personality

Methaqualone ("soapers," "quads," "ludes") may cause:

  • slowed heart rate and breathing, lowered blood pressure
  • sleepiness, feeling of well-being, loss of coordination, dizziness, impaired perception, confusion; and hangover later

Hazards of abuse include:

  • tolerance and physical and psychological dependence with long-term use
  • car crashes and other serious accidents due to slowed reactions, confusion, weakened emotional control, distortion of reality, reduced awareness, intoxication
  • coma, respiratory arrest, convulsions, and/or death resulting from overdose
  • dangerous withdrawal symptoms requiring medical attention

Hallucinogens

Cause changes in perception and consciousness.
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide ("LSD," "acid") may cause:

  • increased heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar
  • irregular breathing
  • euphoria, loss of ability to separate fact and fantasy, distortion of senses, hallucinations, paranoia, panic, and violence

Phencyclidine("PCP," "angel dust") is legally classified as a depressant. Its effects include:

  • unpredictable mental states, such as euphoria, distorted perceptions, depression, hallucination, confusion, drowsiness, loss of coordination, and irrational behavior

Other hallucinogens include mescaline, MDA, DMT, STP, and psilocybin. The effects of these drugs are similar to those of LSD.

Narcotics

(heroin, morphine, opium, codeine, meperidine, methadone) lower one's perception of pain.
Their effects include:

  • shallow breathing, reduced hunger, thirst, decreased sex drive, drowsiness
  • euphoria, lethargy, heaviness of limbs, apathy, loss of ability to concentrate, and loss of judgment and self-control

Hazards of abuse include:

  • tolerance and psychological dependence
  • coma, convulsions, respiratory arrest, or death resulting from overdose
  • possible malnutrition, infection, and hepatitis from long-term use

Cannabis

(marijuana, hashish, hashish oil) alters one's mood, thinking, and behavior. Marijuana is made from the leaves and flowers of the Indian hemp plant; hashish is also made from the hemp plant but is more concentrated than marijuana and has more intense effects.

Marijuana's effects include:

  • increased heart rate, lowered body temperature, stimulated appetite, loss of coordination
  • heightened feeling of well-being, intoxication; possible confusion, distortion of reality
  • depression or panic
  • possible hallucinations from large doses

Hazards of abuse include:

  • tolerance, psychological dependence resulting from long-term use
  • paranoia or a psychosis-like state resulting from overdose
  • chronic lung disease and possible lung cancer associated with long-term use

Mixing Alcohol and Drugs

The combination of two drugs can have unexpected, dangerous results. One drug can intensify the effect of another, and a combination can produce totally different effects than either drug taken alone. Even a simple cold remedy taken with alcohol may be dangerous.

Depressants taken in combination, such as a mixture of alcohol and barbiturates, are very dangerous--they can cause coma and death.

Sharing needles with someone who is infected with the HIV virus (human immunodeficiency virus) can result in the transmission of HIV, eventually causing AIDS.