It is a well-established fact is that drugs are chemicals which can affect the brain and body in various ways. In fact, some drugs can alter a person’s brain and body in such a way that even after stopping intake of these drugs, the effect can be permanent. Depending on a drug, it can get into the human body in different ways such as injection, ingestion, and even inhalation. The method of taking the drugs can impact the body on how a drug affects a person. For instance, injection of drugs indirectly into the bloodstream can provide an immediate effect while indigestion of the drug requires it to pass through the digestive system which delays its effects.
Most of the abused drugs target the brain’s reward system directly or indirectly, by flooding the brain circuits with dopamine which is a neurotransmitter present in different regions of the brain. This neurotransmitter regulates emotion, cognition, movement, motivation and even feelings of pleasure. When a drug enters the brain, it can change the performance of the brain in accomplishing its jobs. These changes can lead to compulsive drug use which can turn into an addiction.
Drug abuse can lead to various behavioral problems such as paranoia, hallucinations, addiction, loss of self-control, impaired judgment, impulsiveness, etc.
Although the initial usage of drugs can be voluntary, the drugs alter brain chemistry which interferes with the ability of an individual to make a decision and can often lead to compulsive need, craving, and use. In turn, it becomes substance dependency.
Certain drugs are beneficial for the humans as they help them in coping various illness such as chronic pain, mood swings, etc. However, the overuse of prescription drugs has increased in the US. The opioid epidemic or increased usage of prescription drugs is rapid increasingly. From the beginning of the late 1990s to first two decades of 2000s, the abuse of opioids has increased significantly. Opioids are a wide range of moderately strong painkillers such as oxycodone, Vicodin, and even strong painkillers such as fentanyl. The potency as well as the availability of these substances despite their inherent characteristics of the high risk of addiction as well as overdose, have made them quite popular in not only formal medical treatments but also in recreational drugs. Due to the sedative effects of these drugs on different parts of drugs which regulates breathing, opioids taken in higher doses can lead to respiratory depression and can even cause respiratory failure and death.
Another chilling statistics is that about 4 percent of pregnant women in the US are currently using illicit drugs such as cocaine, Ecstasy, marijuana, amphetamines, and heroin. Other illicit drugs also pose different risks for not only the pregnant women but their babies too. Some of these drugs can even cause physiological changes in the baby who can born too small or too soon and even have withdrawal symptoms along with birth defects such as learning and behavioral problems. Also, illicit drugs which are prepared with impurities can even be harmful to a pregnancy too.
According to recent research conducted, the overdose deaths due to prescription drugs and heroin have now reached epidemic levels. The most alarming fact is that half of all opioid-related deaths in the year 2016 were due to prescription opioids. By 2015, the annual overdose deaths due to heroin alone crossed deaths from both guns and car accidents. Other opioid overdose deaths is also in the rise, at an alarming rate.
The impact and effect of drug abuse and its dependence can be devastating. It affects almost all organs of the human body. It can weaken the immune system of the body which results in increased susceptibility to infections. It can also cause cardiovascular conditions such as abnormal heart rate and even heart attacks. Injected drugs can even lead to collapsed veins as well as infections of heart valves and blood vessels. It can also cause nausea as well as vomiting and even abdominal pain.
Another drastic effect of drugs is that it can cause the liver to work even harder which may cause significant damage to the liver and even cause its failure. Drugs can also lead to seizures, stroke and even extensive brain damage which can impact and affect various aspects of daily life. It can cause memory problems, adversely affect attention and decision-making of the brain such as sustained mental confusion and even permanent brain damage. It can also lead to different complications like breast development in men, drastic change in appetite and even increased body temperatures which can lead to various health-related complications.
All these instances and detailed discussion on the effect of drugs clearly reveal that drugs can be quite damaging to a person’s health. It can significantly affect the health condition of a person and state of the mind and body. It can affect life expectancy and quality of life by a significant margin.