Drug abuse has become an epidemic in the United States. Substances like drugs and alcohol can cause serious harms to the body, from declining one’s physical health to deteriorating one’s mental health. The World Drug Report, released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), reported that about 5 percent of the adult population, or closely 250 million people aged between 15 and 64, have used at least one drug in 2014.
However, different drugs have different effect on the human body and brain. While drugs like cocaine and meth can lead to an abnormal release of neurotransmitters that disrupts the brain’s communication process, psychoactive substances like marijuana or lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) trigger their effects on the brain’s reward system and throng the circuits with dopamine.
The relationship between drugs and their varied short-term and long-term effects on the brain is complex. Usually, people suffering from an addiction also often tend to suffer from other mental or other physical health issues, such as depression, bipolar or anxiety disorder, kidney issue, heart problems or different types of cancer.
Here are some of the drugs and their short-term and long-term effects on the brain:
- Alcohol: According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), nearly 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related problems in the U.S. every year. Alcohol is one of the highly abused substances that can cause mental issues like depression, anxiety, personality disorders and schizophrenia. However, prolonged alcohol use can cause severe issues like blackouts and memory loss, as well as damages to the cerebral cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum.
- Prescription medications: The abuse of prescription medications like opioids, sedatives and stimulants has skyrocketed in the U.S., with more than 15,000 deaths due to overdose in 2015. Long-term opioid abuse can alter the brain’s chemicals and may likely to increase the risk of witnessing other issues, such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation and brain damage due to hypoxia, resulting from respiratory depression.
- Inhalants: These are the volatile substances found in several household products like cleaners, gasoline, spray paints, etc. These are generally the first drugs experimented by teens. These chemicals can induce mind-altering effects and may increase the risk to heart, kidneys, lungs and brain.
- Heroin: Heroin is a highly addictive and illegal drug that kills millions every day. The prolonged abuse of heroin can lead to the inflammation of the gums, weak immune system, menstrual disturbance in women, reduced sexual capacity and long-term impotence in men, depression, loss of memory and intellectual performance, and may even lead to a coma.
- Amphetamines: Amphetamines, including methamphetamine, are known to produce the extreme levels of euphoria and alertness. Their effects can be traced back to the World War II, where the Nazi soldiers were controlled using the heavy doses of the drug. However, these stimulants can be extremely harmful to the brain and their low to moderate dosage may cause shortness of breath, increased heart rate and blood pressure, hallucinations and paranoia, sleeping difficulties, increased body temperature, etc. in the short run. The consequences of higher dosages include blurred vision, tremors, irregular breathing, hallucinations, stoke, coma, etc.
- Psychoactive drugs: Psychoactive substances like marijuana, LSD and ecstasy are the mind-altering drugs that can directly interact with the brain’s receptors and produce hallucinogenic and delusional effects. However, long-term use of psychoactive drugs can impair memory and learning, ability to focus attention, coordination and may even cause psychosis.
Seek treatment for substance abuse
Besides triggering a number of physical and mental health problems for the user, exposure to addictive substances can also prove disastrous for infants, newborns and mothers. Moreover, there is a close relationship between substance abuse and mental disorders. Considering the above negative consequences of drug abuse, it is essential to seek treatment to ensure early recovery.
Long-term drug abuse can cause serious consequences to the brain and body. However, if you or your loved one is struggling to get rid of addiction to prescription drugs or other substances, get in touch with the Texas Substance Abuse Helpline to access information on the substance abuse treatment programs in Texas. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-971-2658 or chat online to get help in locating the finest substance abuse treatment centers in Texas.