Drug Abuse

Short and Long Term Effects of Alcohol, Marijuana and Cocaine Abuse on Human Body

Drug abuse is one of the major health concerns in United States today. Drugs affect various parts of human body and impair their normal functioning. People know that drug abuse is very dangerous, but many of them don’t know its exact effects. It is very important to understand the short and long term effects of drugs and alcohol abuse on human body to stay away from them. Here we will discuss about some of the effects of commonly abused drugs such as Alcohol, Marijuana and Cocaine.

Before discussing about the short and long term effects of these drugs, here is a brief overview on each drug.

Alcohol is among the most abused drugs in America. According to National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than half (51.9 percent) of Americans or 130.6 million people, aged 12 years or more were current alcohol drinkers in 2009. Alcohol is legal but a dangerous central nervous system depressant. It can be as potent as many other illicit drugs of abuse. The main problem with alcohol is that many people often do not realize that they are getting addicted to it.

Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in America. NSDUH states that there were 16.7 million Marijuana abusers in 2009. It has similar effects as stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens. Marijuana smoke contains more carcinogens than tobacco smoke, creating a higher risk of lung diseases.

Cocaine, a strong stimulant to the central nervous system and is highly addictive. In 2009, there were 1.6 million current cocaine users aged 12 years or old.

Short term effects
Alcohol: Alcohol intoxication causes behavioral changes, impairs brain function and motor skills, alters ability to learn and remember and reduces sensitivity to pain. Alcohol intake also affects vision, narrowing down the visual field, reducing resistance to glare and decreasing the sensitivity to colors. Very high doses of alcohol can cause death. Alcohol if taken with other illicit drugs can produce life threatening effects.

Marijuana: Short term effects of Marijuana include substantial increase in the heart rate, bloodshot eyes (reddening of eyes), dry mouth and throat. Marijuana use also increases body temperature, appetite and drowsiness. Marijuana impairs the ability to drive a vehicle or work on a machine as it affects concentration, reaction time and coordination.

Cocaine: Immediate effects of Cocaine use include elevated blood pressure, dilated pupils, stuffy nose, heart and respiratory problems. Crack, a freebase form of Cocaine causes dilated pupils, increased pulse rate, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite, hallucinations, paranoia, and seizures. In some cases, Cocaine use can lead to death by cardiac arrest. Cocaine user may experience anxiety, restlessness, twitches, tremors, spasms, coordination problems, chest pain, nausea, seizures, respiratory arrest, and cardiac arrest. In some rare cases, first time use of cocaine can also cause sudden death.

Long term effects
Alcohol: Consuming large quantities of Alcohol for longer periods can lead to permanent brain, liver, pancreas and stomach damage. It may also lead to malnutrition, high blood pressure, lower resistance to diseases and gastro-intestinal problems. Heavy alcohol can cause cancer to vital organs such as esophagus, stomach, liver and pancreas.

Marijuana: Long term Marijuana abuse can reduce short term memory and ability to perform tasks requiring concentration and coordination. It can cause respiratory problems, lung damage, and even cancer.

Cocaine: Long term Cocaine users risk heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, nausea and abdominal pain, irregular heartbeat, chest pain and headaches.

Apart from causing harm to one’s health, drug abuse impacts abusers’ interpersonal relationships, deteriorates financial condition and reduces the ability to work. Therefore, it is very important to stay away from drugs.

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