The Harmful Effects of Drugs and Alcohol

pill bottle and alcohol on table with sick man behind
Before making the decision to abusing drugs and alcohol, you should be aware of the harmful effects this can have on you.

It should come as no surprise that drugs and alcohol can have negative effects on your life.
Although sometimes it may be difficult to imagine, the abuse of these substances can change everything from your body to your bank account. This can include anything from altered brain chemistry, health complications, infections, legal issues, financial problems, accidental injuries, and even death.

Sure, you may have already heard about these side effects of abusing drugs, but how much do you really know? Understanding the full effects that these substances can have could change your life for the better. You may think that your drinking habits aren’t destructive, or your drug use is “just for fun” but this usually isn’t the case.

The fact is, that while it may seem that drugs are making you feel better, they’re actually causing long-term damage, and you’re likely better off without it.

So before you reach for that bottle or that pipe, don’t forget about these harmful effects of alcohol and drugs.

Brain Chemistry

The human brain is the most complex organ in the human body. Although it may weigh less than 3 pounds, it somewhat mysteriously controls both your thoughts and the physiological processes that keep you alive. Drugs and alcohol change the way you feel by altering the chemicals that keep your brain working smoothly.

Let’s get into the science of things. When you first use drugs, your brain releases a chemical called dopamine that makes you feel euphoric and want more of the drug. After all, it’s only natural to want more of the thing that makes you feel good right?

Over time, your mind gets so used to the extra dopamine that you can’t function normally without it. Everything about you will begin to change, including your personality, memory, and bodily processes that you might currently take for granted.

Health Complications

Drug and alcohol use impacts nearly every part of your body from your heart to your bowels. Substance abuse can lead to abnormal heart rates and heart attacks, and injecting drugs can result in collapsed veins and infections in your heart valves.

Some drugs can also stop your bones from growing properly, while others result in severe muscle cramping and general weakness. Using drugs over a long period of time will also eventually damage your kidneys and your liver.

Infections

When you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may forget to engage in safe sex practices. Having unprotected sex increases your chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Sharing the needles used to inject certain drugs can give you diseases like hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV. You can also spread common colds, the flu, and mono from sharing pipes and bongs.

Legal Consequences

Drug and alcohol abuse not only has negative effects on your health but can also have legal consequences that you’ll have to deal with for the rest of your life. Many employers require that you take a drug test before offering you a job—many of them even conduct random drug tests even after you become an employee. Refusing to give up drugs could end up making you unemployed, which comes with even more issues.

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lead to a suspended driver’s license, usually for 6 months to 2 years. You’ll also need to pay heavy fines and may even spend some time in jail.

Financial Problems

Drugs and alcohol are expensive, especially when you’re using a lot and constantly. Substance abuse also impacts your productivity and success at work and in school. The time spent searching for, using and recuperating from drugs can be better spent learning new skills to advance your career.

The legal issues tied to drug use will increase your bills as well. Your car and health insurance rates may increase and you will have to find a way to pay for arrest warrants, DUIs, and legal counsel.

Injuries and Death

If you use drugs and alcohol, you’re more likely to experience physical injury or be involved in car accidents. Even worse, you also have an increased risk of death through both suicide and homicide.

These drug-related deaths are on the rise, doubling since the early 1980s. Alcohol specifically results in 5.2 million accidental injuries and 1.8 million deaths each year. It’s estimated that 1 out of every 4 deaths is caused by drugs and alcohol, according to the World Health Organization.

Sources

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse.

New Jersey State Bar Association. (n. d.). Legal Consequences of Substance Abuse.

World Health Organization. (2007). Alcohol and Injury.