Drugs are poisons and when consumed, they affect the body in numerous ways. When someone is addicted to a drug, this means that he or she is using the drug in high amounts, and putting them into the body constantly. Although a tolerance is normally built up with constant drug use, this doesn’t mean the body is tolerant of the continual abuse. The body and its organs gradually fail to operate normally.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse outlines the long-term effects of the various substances that are abused today. They know what they are talking about when they list out the horrific effects of illicit drugs.

Marijuana (Cannabis)

The long-term health effects that have been associated with marijuana abuse: depression, anxiety, bronchitis, chronic cough

When combined with alcohol: heart irregularity, blood pressure elevation; impaired thinking and coordination


The long-term health effects: restlessness, anxiety, panic attacks, irritability, mood disturbances, insomnia, paranoia, difficulty swallowing (when snorting cocaine), GI problems, HIV; with high doses can come violent and erratic behavior

When combined with alcohol: great risk of overdose and sudden death

Prescription Stimulants

When prescription stimulants are abused, the short-term health effects can be dangerous: dangerously high body temperature, irregular heartbeat, potential cardiovascular failure, seizures

Long-term health effects:  hostility, anxiety, paranoia, psychosis

When combined with alcohol: jitters, possibly increased blood pressure, hides alcohol’s depressant action increasing the risk of alcohol overdose

Prescription Sedatives

When prescription sedatives such as Valium, Xanax and the like are abused the long-term health effects are: tolerance (meaning more and more is needed), physical dependence and addiction

When combined with alcohol: slowed heart rate and respiration (possibly fatal)


When inhalants are abused, the short-term health effects can be quite dangerous: nausea, confusion, lack of coordination, dizziness, hallucinations or delusions, heart failure, convulsions or seizures, coma, sudden death

Long-term health effects: muscle spasms, tremors, possible permanent motor impairment, kidney or liver damage, sometimes addiction

When using nitrites with alcohol: adverse cardiovascular effects, dangerously low blood pressure


Long-term health effects: memory loss, impaired thinking, anxiety, irritability, weight loss, insomnia, aggression, violent behavior, confusion, mood disturbances, paranoia, hallucinations, organ damage (kidney, liver, lung), dental problem, heart and brain damage, HIV, Hepatitis


Hallucinogens such as PCP, LSD, and Ketamine each have their own devastating effects on someone’s health.


Long-term health effects for LSD: perception disorders, flashbacks, with high doses can come paranoia, feelings of despair, panic and fear of going insane or dying


Long-term effects with high doses are visual hallucinations and altered perceptions, other effects similar to LSD


Short-term effects are better known with this drug which include: hallucinations, altered visual perceptions and mood, emotional swings, sweating


Long-term effects with high doses are feelings of invulnerability, seizures, coma, hyperthermia

Ketamine (similar to PCP)

Long-term health effects: impairment of thinking and memory, loss of coordination, blurred vision, and with high doses can come distortions of visual and auditory perceptions, hallucinations, memory problems, feelings of being separate from body or environment

When combined with alcohol there is increased risk of all above effects

MDMA (Ecstasy)

Even the short-term effects are dangerous: increased or irregular heartbeat, chills, dehydration, sweating, impaired thinking, loss of motor function, muscle cramping, sometimes hyperthermia and death.

Long-term health effects of Ecstasy: irritability, sleep disturbances, anxiety

Street Opioids (Heroin, Opium)

Long-term health effects: collapsed veins, infection of the heart, arthritis, HIV, Hepatitis C

When combined with alcohol: dangerously slowed heart rate and respiration, coma, death

Prescription Opioids

When prescription opioids are abused, the effects are not just long-term. Increased risk exists of depressed respiration, coma and death. Overdose is often occurring in conjunction with use of alcohol and other drugs, leading to depressed respiration and heart rate, coma or death. Opioids are addictive.

Looking to the future and the health risks associated with drug abuse is not considered by most addicts while addicted. They don’t have this on their mind while cravings for more drugs drive them to do things they never would have dreamed of before becoming dependent. It is up to family and friends to work with anyone who is knowledgeable to get the person to realize he or she is setting themselves up for a miserable future, if they have a future at all.

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