We all know drugs are bad, right?
And yet, many of us still end up using anyway.
"Just this once," we say. Or, "it won't happen to me." Or even, "I can quit any time I want to."
If you're using, you might feel like you don't have a problem. You're still in control.
But that is a dangerous misconception.
In this article, we'll look at the effects of drug abuse that even "casual" users need to know.
Drug Addiction is a Physical Illness
Some believe that drug addiction is only a psychological issue.
That's simply untrue.
When you use drugs, your body develops a chemical dependency. After you introduce these chemicals into your system, your body craves them in order to function properly.
When you don't use, your body doesn't get the chemicals it has come to rely on. This causes your body to have a violent reaction: withdrawals.
The symptoms of withdrawal vary depending on the severity of your drug use, but none of them are pleasant. You might experience heart palpitations, tremors, nausea, or trouble breathing.
In serious cases, you may even suffer hallucinations, seizures, or cardiac arrest.
For many, withdrawal symptoms are so bad that they would rather keep using than continue rehabilitation.
The Effects of Drug Abuse on Brain Chemistry
Chemicals not only affect your body, the effects of drug abuse vastly alter your neurochemistry as well.
The brain is made up of millions of cells called neurons. These neurons transmit information to one another through electrical and chemical signals.
Drugs can have a profound impact on the way neurons communicate with one another.
Some drugs may "trick" your neurons into thinking they are receiving a certain message. Others may amplify those signals far beyond natural limits.
Recreational drugs most typically overstimulate the brain's pleasure centers, releasing dopamine in double or triple the normal levels. This is what creates that euphoric high that drug users chase.
Overloading of the pleasure centers is also what causes addiction.
Your brain is programmed to repeat behaviors that cause dopamine to be released. But after a while, your brain begins to release less dopamine to "turn it down" in a sense.
As a result, you need more of the drugs in order to get the same high.
And that can have disastrous results.
Even Short Term Use can have Long Term Effects
The dangerous effects of drug abuse aren't limited to overdose or dangerously altered behavior. They can also pose serious health problems in the long term.
For example, cocaine can cause blood vessels and arteries to harden. This causes a whole host of cardiovascular issues even decades after you stop using.
Even methadone, which is used to ease withdrawal in opiate addicts, can cause serious health issues when used for long periods of time.
In addition to physical ailments, drug addiction can cause long term mental illness. The drugs damage your brain's ability to produce and transmit dopamine, which can cause depression and anxiety.
Ready to Get Out?
Even if you are currently using, it's not too late to get out.
Don't wait another day. An addiction free life starts right now.