Drug abuse makes up an important part of substance abuse disorders wherein an individual becomes dependent on certain intoxicants. Substance abuse disorders have a marked impact on an individual’s physical and mental health and have both short and long term effects spreading out to almost every organ of the human body.
When it comes to drug abuse, it is important to keep in mind that different drugs impact the central nervous system. The three main classes of drugs are depressants, hallucinogens and stimulants.
Depressants are the most popular class of drugs and include gateway drugs such as marijuana and stronger drugs like heroin. These drugs send slow messages, sent and received by the brain, and lead individuals to feel relaxed and lower their inhibitions.
Hallucinogens distort an individual’s sense of reality and may lead an individual to perceive things that actually don’t exist. Some negative effects of such drugs include paranoia and nausea. Drugs of this class include LSD, Ketamine, etc.
The final class of drugs are stimulants that speed up messages sent and received by the brain, leading to feelings of alertness in the short term but causing anxiety and seizures in the long run. Drugs in this class include cocaine, ecstasy, etc.
Apart from the short term symptoms of drugs, as mentioned above, consuming drugs often leads to dependency, which can have devastating long term consequences. Prolonged drug use often leads to an alteration in human brain chemistry, which impacts an individual’s physical health and social life. Individuals engaging in long term drug use may often act impulsively and engage in poor decision making.
It is important to remember that there is no safe level of drug use and one must be cautious even while experimenting with them.
Drug users may also experience drug overdose, wherein the individual takes potentially life-threatening amounts of a particular drug/drugs. Some of the symptoms of a drug overdose include dilated pupils, unsteady walking, chest pain, difficulty breathing or cessation of breath, blue lips or fingers, nausea or vomiting, and abnormally high body temperature, aggressive behaviour and paranoia.
The worst possible outcome of a drug overdose is, unfortunately, death. 2,300 individuals died due to overdoses of drugs such as heroin and opioids between 2017–19.
The most important thing to remember is that substance abuse disorders can be overcome by using effective cognitive-behavioural or group counselling interventions. Thus seeking help at the right time can save lives.