Drugs are insidious things. Most of us are told early on that drugs are bad for us, but the education isn’t always as clear and as persuasive as we might hope. The reality is that drugs and drug abuse affect millions of people in the United States, Canada, and beyond. The experiences that these people have with drugs and drug abuse can vary wildly and defy the most simplistic analysis. Still, there’s a lot that we can say broadly about the experience of drug use and what it does to a person’s health.
There are, of course, a lot of different types of drugs. Some, like marijuana, have relatively limited health drawbacks. Others, like heroin, are clearly and drastically unhealthy. But virtually all intoxicating substances can affect a person’s health.
Though other effects may seem more obvious and more dramatic, a loss of sleep is a crucial issue with many types of substances, explain the experts at a pulmonary and sleep medical practice in Bridgewater, NJ. Some drugs, like marijuana, may make it easier to sleep but will also result in less restful sleep. Others, like cocaine, will limit a user’s ability to get to sleep in the first place. Alcohol subjects its users to real problems in this department; staying out late drinking will deprive a user of sleep, while alcohol-fueled sleep is (like marijuana-fueled sleep) low-quality rest compared to sober sleep.
Drugs and alcohol make their users feel good by affecting some of the body’s most vital systems. Alcohol can damage the brain. The heart, too, is at risk: Cocaine and amphetamines, among other drugs, can hurt your most important muscle. Drugs can destroy everything from your lungs to your nervous system. The most dangerous changes to your body are best understood by examining the specific risks of certain substances; for instance, any list of alcohol’s dangers will include liver disease, liver failure, and other problems with the liver.
Dependence And Addiction
Addiction is a tricky thing to explain. It’s best understood as both a mental and physical illness, though it can sometimes feel like it’s neither to those who are affected by a loved one’s substance abuse problem. Despite the frustrating symptoms, dependence is not a choice.
Addiction lives in the brain’s chemistry, where giving into temptation is rewarded by the effects of a drug and/or a flood of dopamine from the brain itself. Addictions to gambling and sex are driven by the brain’s chemistry, while addictions to mind-altering substances are the result of both the brain and the drug. Dependence has a frightening logic to it. Cocaine, for example, works on the brain by flooding a persona with something that makes him or her feel good or energetic (technically, it blocks the naturally made dopamine from being taken back out of the equation when it should be, which means that it builds up). A brain on cocaine senses that it has an excess of the good stuff and stops making it, meaning that there’s suddenly not enough of the good stuff without cocaine there to help. The cycle continues, of course, making things worse and worse.
Sobriety And Recovery
Substances like the ones described here are rarely healthy even when used in moderation. Alcohol’s supposed health virtues, for example, are largely overrated and widely debated; some experts to believe that any amount of alcohol at all is bad for a person. Marijuana, though virtually harmless by the standards of other drugs, can still mess with a person’s sleep and concentration, harm a smoker’s lungs, and cause other issues. Moderate users of substances like these should try to cut back or, better yet, quit altogether.
Not everyone is a moderate user, though. In fact, substances like the ones we’re talking about tend to create heavy and dependent users. That’s why the smartest way to quit substances is with the help of the pros, explain experts at the Canadian Centre for Addictions. If you believe that you may have a problem with alcohol, drugs, or anything else that makes you feel like you can’t control your cravings or your own schedule, then you should turn to mental health professionals who specialize in addiction.