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Different types of drugs affect your body in different ways, and the effects associated with drugs can vary from person to person.


Drugs interact with chemicals in the brain and body to make you feel a certain way.

Drugs for medical benefit

While drugs can be helpful in regulating moods, helping you sleep, and managing pain, they can also have serious complications when misused. They increase the odds that you will get hurt or make bad decisions that can have lasting consequences.

Drug use can have serious medical complications. Among people under age 50 in the United States, drug overdose is the one cause of accidental death, the Drug Policy Alliance publishes. Regular and repeated drug use can also damage internal organs, lead to the onset of several serious diseases and complications, cause poor mental health, and increase the odds for addiction. Drug addiction can ificantly and negatively impact every part of your life, creating social and family relationship issues, problems with work production and finances, criminal and legal complications, and a poor medical and mental health state.

Ultimately, drug use can have severe consequences in both the short and long term.

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Drugs for Medical Benefit Drugs can have many medical and mental health benefits when used as directed under medical supervision. If you suffer from a medical or mental health condition, medications are often an important part of your treatment and wellness plan.

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Drugs like hydrocodone Vicodinmethadone, morphine, oxycodone OxyContinand fentanyl are all powerful prescription narcotics that are dispensed to treat moderate to severe pain. They are deed for short-term relief. Sedatives, hypnotics, and tranquilizers are often prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders — to help people relax and combat insomnia.

Medications like diazepam Valiumalprazolam Xanaxand lorazepam Ativan are commonly prescribed benzos, dispensed for the short-term management of symptoms. Mood-stabilizing drugs are helpful to regulate brain chemistry, and there are several different types to choose from. Medications like duloxetine Cymbaltaparoxetine Paxilfluoxetine Prozacand sertraline Zoloft are prescribed to decrease depressive symptoms and regulate moods and emotions.

This disorder can make it hard for a person to concentrate, settle down, and focus on tasks.

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Stimulant medications can help to improve academic and occupational performance and regulate brain chemistry. Stimulants can also be prescribed as diet aids and for narcolepsy. All of these drugs have the potential for misuse.

The effects of drugs on the human brain

Any use of one of these medications outside of the parameters of a real and necessary prescription is drug abuse, which can have serious consequences. The top classes of drugs that are misused include stimulants, opioids, and central nervous system depressant drugs, such as hypnotics, sedatives, and tranquilizers, NIDA further explains. When you take a drug outside of the bounds of its prescribed purpose and use, it is considered recreational drug use. This can quickly lead to addiction. The American Society of Addiction Medicine ASAM explains that addiction is a chronic disease involving brain chemistry that le to compulsive drug use that is out of your control.

When you keep taking drugs in a way that is not medically necessary, you run the risk of drug addiction. They can change the way you think, act, and feel. Abusing drugs can make you feel invincible, excited, and euphoric. You may behave in a way that is not normal for you, cause you to become hostile, paranoid, or even violent.

Psychotic side effects like hallucinations and delusions are also a possibility from drug abuse. These behaviors can be erratic or unpredictable, which could result in getting yourself into a situation that can have real consequences. While it might make you feel good temporarily, drugs can also lower your inhibitions and make you more likely to take bigger risks that can lead to injuries or possibly even legal or criminal consequences.

People often take illicit drugs to get high, to cause that euphoric release.

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The high can be hard to manage, however. Even taking a drug only a few times can have negative consequences. NIDA warns that drug abuse greatly increases the risk for contracting a potentially incurable viral infection that is transmitted through bodily fluids or blood.

Drug use can also lead to overdose, which can cause coma, brain, damage, and death. An overdose happens when drugs build up in your body and have toxic effects, which can happen in as little as one dose. A drug overdose may not always be fatal.

If you seek immediate medical attention, it may be reversible. Drugs interact with the way your brain sends chemical messages throughout the central nervous system, which tells your body how to react. Brain chemistry is disrupted through drug use, and repeated use changes the way your brain works.

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When you take a drug repeatedly, your brain will learn to tolerate it. Eventually, it will begin to depend on the drug and will no longer work the same way to balance itself without the drug present. When your brain is physically dependent on a drug after chronic use, you can suffer from ificant physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings when the drug wears off.

This can lead to compulsive drug use to keep this from happening. Loss of control over drug use is one of the hallmarks of addiction. NIDA explains that long-term drug use interferes with normal brain functioning.

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Some of the impact of drug use on the brain may be reversible, but some of it may not be. NIDA warns that chronic drug use can cause these major issues:. Long-term dangers of specific drugs are outlined below. Heroin is a fast-acting drug that quickly binds to opioid receptors in the brain, causing a quick burst of euphoria. Heroin is highly addictive with few uses.

How drugs affect your body

It can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, including flu-like symptoms, extreme depression, insomnia, and anxiety. NIDA reports that regular heroin use can actually damage the brain and deteriorate its white matter. It changes brain structure and function, which can then impact mood regulation, sleep functions, the way you respond to stress, your actions and behaviors, and your ability to make decisions. Heroin use can lead to ificant imbalances in the hormonal and neuronal systems that may not be entirely reversible. Cocaine Cocaine is a stimulant drug that ificantly interacts with brain chemistry, creating a flood of dopamine.

This causes a very big high, which can then result in a major crash as it wears off. Not only is cocaine majorly addictive, regular use can cause you to experience psychotic and negative side effects when you take it, such as paranoia, anxiety, panic, irritability, tremors, and hostility.

The health risks of drug addiction

NIDA publishes the following possible long-term side effects of cocaine use:. Like cocaine, methamphetamine meth is a highly addictive stimulant drug that causes extreme highs and lows.

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Regular use can cause violent behavior, confusion, insomnia, anxiety, paranoia, and mood disturbances, as well as hallucinations and delusions. Even after stopping meth use, these side effects can persist for a year or more, NIDA reports.

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Parts of the brain responsible for verbal learning, emotional regulation, memory, and motor speed are all impacted by repeated and chronic meth use. This can have ificant cognitive and psychological impact. The brain can recover some of its function and structure with prolonged abstinence, however. Oral surgery and ificant dental work may be needed to try and correct it. Marijuana Marijuana has been legalized for medicinal and even recreational use in many states throughout the country, but regular and prolonged use of this drug is not without risk and possible consequences.

What are the effects of drug abuse?

The New England Journal of Medicine publishes that a little under 19 percent of people who use it regularly will struggle with addiction. This goes up drastically if the drug is consumed in adolescence. Additionally, using marijuana before the brain is fully developed in early adulthood can potentially lead to lower satisfaction and achievements in life, poor academic performance, a lack of motivation, memory and thinking problems, a higher likelihood of dropping out of school, and altered brain development.

Marijuana use can also cause schizophrenic symptoms to appear in someone who is predisposed to the condition. Regular use of marijuana may cause you to experience psychotic side effects and paranoia instead of the mellowing and pleasant high that is normally desired. Long-term side effects of marijuana can include a possible increased risk for heart attack and testicular cancer as well as cardiopulmonary issues, such as chronic bronchitis, Forbes reports.

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NIDA publishes that long-term chronic marijuana use can lead to cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, which can cause you to experience cyclic episodes of nausea, vomiting, and dehydration that often require medical care. Ecstasy is a synthetic and man-made stimulant and hallucinogenic drug, MDMA 3,4- methylenedioxymethamphetamine.

It impacts serotonin levels in the brain to make you feel empathetic, happy, and stimulated. The drug can be highly unpredictable. Long-term regular use can damage serotonin neurons, brain chemistry, and function in a way that may not be completely reversible, NIDA warns. With long-term use, you may struggle to feel pleasure, regulate emotions, and remember things. Alcohol Alcohol is one of the most used psychoactive and addictive substances in the world, and most of the time, it is used responsibly. Moderate drinking is typically considered safe, but drinking too much on a regular basis can have many negative consequences, including addiction and serious mental health and medical complications.

Alcohol can ificantly damage many internal organs, including the liver, pancreas, brain, heart, and nervous system.

Frequently asked questions

The liver, which processes toxins out of the body, can be drastically impacted by chronic alcohol use. When you drink alcohol, the liver can accumulate fat. Repetitive drinking can lead to progressive liver disease, ranging from steatosis to alcoholic hepatitis to alcohol-related cirrhosis, the American Liver Foundation ALF reports.

The first two forms of alcoholic liver disease can be reversed with prolonged sobriety, but cirrhosis causes irreversible scar tissue.

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Drug use can have a wide range of short- and long-term, direct and indirect effects.


Drug misuse, abuse, and addiction can all lead to both short-term and long-term health effects.


Our brains consist of different centers that control various bodily functions, enable thinking and reasoning, elicit emotional responses, and more.


As a powerful stimulant, methamphetamine, even in small doses, can increase wakefulness and physical activity and decrease appetite.