Health Risks from Drug and Alcohol Abuse (Facts About Drugs)
(used with permission of Parlay International)
- ALCOHOL/How It Can Hurt You: Memory loss. Hypothermia. Decreased sex drive, impotence, menstrual problems. Liver and kidney damage. General stomach and intestine damage. Lack of ability to feel pain, coma, susceptibility to alcohol-related diseases, anxiety, insomnia, socially unacceptable behavior. Brain damage, affected walk. Depletion of vitamins and nutrients.Death from inability to breathe, heart failure, severe withdrawal effects, interaction with other drugs, driving while under the influence, suicide. Aspiration of vomit leading to asphyxiation or pneumonia is not uncommon.
- MARIJUANA/How It Can Hurt You: Heart related effects. Asthma, bronchitis, damage to respiratory system and tissue. Reddening of eyes, change in sex drive, infertility. Changes in body temperature, hallucinations, slowed reaction time. Delusions, panic, toxic psychosis, activation of latent schizophrenia which may continue indefinitely. Amotivational syndrome, memory loss with possible permanent brain damage.Death of self and others due to driving under the influence, especially when combined with alcohol. Dependence can develop as a psychological craving. Unborn children of mothers who use cannabis may develop congenital defects or experience delayed development after birth.
- COCAINE/How It Can Hurt You: Shaking, muscle twitches, seizures, severe anxiety, compulsive repetition of movements. Paranoia, psychosis, heart related effects, nausea, and vomiting. Changes in breathing, increase in body temperature, cold sweat, dramatic mood swings. Hallucinations, sensation of insects crawling under skin and other continuing psychotic effects. Eating and sleeping disorders, impaired sexual performance, destruction of nose tissue, ongoing respiratory problems, needle infections such as endocarditis, hepatitis and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).Death from overdose and heroin combination, suicide, homicide, fatal accidents while under the influence. Snorting can be fatal.
- CRACK COCAINE/How It Can Hurt You: Shaking, muscle twitches, seizures, severe anxiety, compulsive repetition of actions with no meaning. Paranoia, psychosis, heart related effects, nausea and vomiting, changes in breathing, increase in body temperature. Cold sweat, dramatic mood swings, hallucinations, sensation of insects crawling under skin and other continuing psychotic effects. Eating and sleeping disorders, impaired sexual performance. Extreme social problems can develop from irritability, depression, and financial difficulties.Death from overdose is common, as are suicide, homicide, fatal accidents while under the influence. Snorting can be fatal in itself. Breathing is often stopped when combined doses of cocaine and heroin are taken. Lethal doses vary by individual and are not predictable. Dependence occurs as a psychological craving and physical withdrawal process. Unlike other drugs, intense psychological dependence is developed with even occasional low doses. Street purchases are commonly substitute or diluted drugs. The unsuspecting buyer risks having no knowledge of what he or she is taking or what the effects may be.
- HEROIN/How It Can Hurt You: Drowsiness may progress to coma. Irregular breathing and heartbeat, respiratory and cardiac arrest. Slowed breathing may lead to oxygen starvation and brain damage. Needle infection may cause collapsed veins, tetanus, hepatitis, endocarditis or AIDS.Death results from overdose which brings on lung and heart complications. Overdose can result from purchase of impure and/or unpredictable street drugs. Dependence develops even when “chipping” (that is, using heroin infrequently and in low doses). The tolerance which develops causes progression to higher doses. Fear of withdrawal creates dependence in itself. Withdrawal and abstinence reduce tolerance for only a brief period. Psychological dependence can be prolonged after withdrawal with depression, anxiety, inability to sleep, lack of appetite, restlessness, and craving for the drug.
- PCP-ANGEL DUST/ How It Can Hurt You: Loss of sense of pain, psychic experiences, states of panic and fear of death lasting for several days. Bizarre, compulsive and violent behavior, involuntary eye movement, rigid muscles, loss of gag and corneal reflexes. Arching of the body, coma, alternating high and low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, irregular breathing, severe nausea and vomiting, alternating high and low body temperature. Loss of memory and thought processes, ongoing speech problems, depression, toxic psychosis as aggressive and assaultive behavior, hallucinations.Death from stopped breathing, convulsions, brain hemorrhage, kidney failure, drug combinations, fatal accidents. Murder, suicide, self-mutilation, and drowning from swimming under the influence to enhance floating sensation. Dependence arises as tolerance develops. Use is often in “runs” of two or three days with disorientation and depression after withdrawal.
- SPEED-AMPHETAMINES/How It Can Hurt You: Chronic sleep problems, nervousness. Nutritional deficiency, skin rash, high blood pressure. Paranoia, chronic amphetamine psychosis, decreased emotional control, severe depression. Needle related hepatitis, infection. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), collapsed and blocked blood vessels, overwork of body systems.Death from suicide induced by psychic depression, collapse of blood vessels in brain, heart failure, extreme fever, violent accidents, and murders. Dependence arises from tolerance and cross-tolerance, and taking additional drug to stop withdrawal effects, risking return of psychosis.
- DOWNERS-BARBITURATES/How It Can Hurt You: Anxiety, restlessness, depression. Psychotic episodes. Impaired memory, judgment and thinking. Worsening of preexisting emotional disorders. Hostility, chronic fatigue from sleep disturbance or insomnia. Slurred speech, limited motor coordination. Changes in eyesight. Vertigo, impotence, reduced sex drive, irregular menstruation, breathing disorders.Death can come from stopped breathing, suicide, combination with other CNS depressants (such as alcohol), severe withdrawal reactions. Craving continues after pleasurable effects disappear and drug use is stopped.
- HALLUCINOGENS/How It Can Hurt You: Many illegally manufactured hallucinogens are sold on the street as substitute drugs, creating unpredictable risks for buyers. Effects are individual to each user. Psychic and physical reactions are not predictable. Depression can be mild or severe. Psychosis can last for months. Flashbacks can recur anytime.Death can result from convulsions, poisonous dose levels, bizarre accidents and murder, suicide, driving under the influence, fatal effects of substitution or alterated manufacture of drugs, lethal effects of combination drugs. Unborn children of mothers who take hallucinogens may be aborted, born with abnormalities, or experience delayed development.
- INHALANTS/How It Can Hurt You: Toxic effects of inhalation of combined substances. Bizarre behavior. Severe depression, toxic psychosis. Pains in chest, muscles and joints, hangover, amnesia. Coma, seizures, brain damage, paranoia, nerve damage, liver and kidney damage, respiratory tract damage, accumulation of body lead levels. Bone marrow deterioration, blood abnormalities, tremors, sleep disorders. Fatigue, loss of appetite, bronchial tube spasm, “glue sniffer’s rash” (sores on nose and mouth). Nosebleeds, nausea, diarrhea, eye/nose irritation, glaucoma, blood cell damage.Death can come from “SSD” (sudden sniffing death), plastic bag suffocation, bizarre and reckless behavior, driving under the influence, poisoning of users and small children, suicide or respiratory depression. With fluorocarbons, death may be caused by “airway freezing” suffocation.
- DESIGNER DRUGS-MICROCHIP DRUGS/How It Can Hurt You: Muscle rigidity, depressed breathing, extreme toxic effects, MPTP induced immobility, alteration of speech, loss of body control, tremor, drooling, flattened facial expression and other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, depression, anxiety.Death from stopped breathing due to powerful toxic effects. Dependence develops with tolerance and craving for “rush.” Unborn children may be affected when pregnant women take designer drugs. Ingredients and potency are unpredictable.
- TRANQUILIZERS/How It Can Hurt You: Lack of coordination. Altered speech, confusion, coma. Withdrawal effects. Tremors, altered speech, rapid heart rate, blood pressure drop, headache. Mood swings, tension, nightmares, nausea, rash. Loss of sexual function, apathy, increased toxic effects in combination with other CNS depressant drugs.Death from effects of combinations of tranquilizers and other drugs such as alcohol, or from driving under the influence.
- NARCOTICS/How It Can Hurt You: Impurity of street drugs, dangers of needle use (including infection and AIDS), withdrawal effects, limited vision, reduced drive, menstrual irregularity, chronic constipation, mood swings, breathing problems, heart problems, tremors, muscle twitches, hyperactive reflexes, nervousness, restlessness, seizures, toxic psychosis. Dependence develops with tolerance and cross-tolerance of other drug effects, and fear of withdrawal.Death from malnutrition, overdose, combination effect of barbiturates and other sedative/hypnotic drugs. Unborn children of dependent mothers absorb the drugs and experience a life-threatening withdrawal process after birth. Methadone infant withdrawal is especially severe.
- ECSTASY (XTC): Many problems users encounter are similar to those found with the use of amphetamines and cocaine. Psychological difficulties can include confusion, depression, sleep problems, severe anxiety, and paranoia. Physical problems can include muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating. Use of the drug has also been associated with increases in heart rate and blood pressure, a special risk for people with circulatory or heart disease. Recent research also links Ecstasy use to long-term damage to those parts of the brain critical to thought, memory, and pleasure. (Taken from the National Institute on Drug Abuse Home Page.)