Health Complications Associated with Illicit Drug Abuse

Health Complications Associated with Illicit Drug Abuse

Street drugs like cocaine, meth and heroin are heavily abused today and unfortunately they take a major toll on the body. Not only do users risk developing addiction to these drugs with repeated use, they can seriously affect a person's mental and physical health when they're abused.

Cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin are very powerful drugs and they're highly addictive, so it's not hard for a user to get hooked if they continue to abuse any of them.

Abusing Cocaine

There are two forms of cocaine that are abused and they're both extremely powerful, addictive and can cause serious health complications with repeated use. The powdered form of cocaine is either snorted or injected and crack is the form of cocaine can be smoked but no matter how the drug is administered, the user risks sudden death if a toxic amount of the drug is absorbed within the body.

Cocaine use causes the pupils to dilate, blood vessels to constrict, body temperate to increase, blood pressure to rise and increases heart rate. Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant and high doses of the drug can lead to very violent and unpredictable behavior. Cocaine doesn't just produce pleasant feelings of euphoria when it's abused either because some cocaine users have reported symptoms of irritability, anxiety, restlessness, panic and even paranoia.

Serious health complications associated with cocaine abuse include headaches, seizures, heart attacks, strokes, and coma. Although rare, the use of cocaine can cause sudden death to occur at any time, even with first time use. The risks involved with injecting cocaine include allergic reactions and blood-borne diseases like HIV and hepatitis C.

Abusing Meth

Street meth is also a stimulant that's extremely powerful and addictive and because the illicit drug can be easily produced in smaller quantities today, many meth users are even producing the drug themselves. Meth can be ingested, snorted, injected or smoked (crystal meth) but no matter how the drug is abused, the user can develop addiction very fast with frequent use.

Meth is a powerful stimulant and it doesn't take much of the drug to increase energy, alertness, breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. The use of meth also decreases appetite, and can cause hyperthermia because it raises body temperature when high doses are abused. The use of meth could cause the body to overheat to the point where the user actually passes out or possibly dies.

The first time a person abuses meth they can experience such a pleasurable rush of euphoria they can't wait to repeat their experience again. It's very easy for some people to get hooked on meth because with repeated use they have to increase their dose to achieve their initial experience. Meth is a very destructive drug and unfortunately has a serious impact on the mind and body with repeated use.

Long Term Effects from Chronic Meth Abuse

  • Weight loss possibly severe
  • Changes in brain structure
  • Loss of memory
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Mood disturbances
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Violent behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions thoughts of bugs crawling under the skin
  • Very severe dental problems

Abusing Heroin

Heroin is a highly addictive opiate that's steadily increasing in use throughout the United States. Not only are heroin users getting younger, people from all walks of life are abusing the illicit drug anymore and becoming addicted. Heroin can be injected, snorted or smoked and is usually sold in powder forms which are white or brownish in color or as a sticky black substance known as black tar heroin.

The risks associated with heroin use are even worse today because purer forms of the drug are available and users aren't always aware of the potency, this can lead to an overdose very easily which could be fatal. Heroin overdose rates are rapidly increasing throughout the U.S. and sadly many of them have been fatal because the users weren't able to receive medical attention in time.

There's also a lot of heroin circulating that's combined with other drugs or poisons which puts users at a high risk of a fatal overdose as well. Many of the recent heroin related overdose deaths throughout the country have been caused from high purity levels, contaminants or because another powerful opiate like fentanyl was combined in the drug.

The abuse of heroin can also lead to other very serious medical complications too. Many heroin users inject the drug which puts them at risk of developing HIV and hepatitis C. Chronic heroin users that inject the drug can also have problems with collapsed veins. Chronic use of heroin can lead to respiratory problems, pneumonia, and can even damage major organs due to clogged blood vessels. Poisonous chemicals or additives are commonly combined in street heroin and these toxic substances can clog blood vessels that lead to the brain and other vital organs and the damage could end up being permanent.

National Institute on Drug Abuse

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