The Effects of Alcohol and Drugs

By Lester Long          

Effects of Alcohol

Ethyl, Alcohol or Ethanol is present in many different types of beer, wines, and distilled liquors such as whiskey, gin, vodka, and rum. The effects of these substances often have different effects on individuals depending on their body weight and structure. However, for most people when one consumes alcohol, the stomach and intestines rapidly absorbs it. From there the alcohol travels in the blood through the entire body affecting every tissue. Moderate and high doses of alcohol depress the functions of the central nervous system, including the brain. The higher the levels of alcohol travel through the blood system the greater the impairment.

As the blood passes through the liver, enzymes breakdown into harmless bi-products which are eliminated from the body six to eight hours later, but the rate at which alcohol accumulates in the body may be faster that the rate at which the body eliminates it. This results in the alcohol remaining producing intoxicating effects hours after the last drink. Large amounts of alcohol inhibit or depress higher thought processes, bolstering self-confidence and reducing inhibitions, anxiety, as well as feelings of guilt. Speech becomes loud and slurred. When consumed at high amounts impaired judgement develops often leading to unconscious behaviors such as physical reflexes as well as affecting muscle coordination. Continued drinking causes complete loss of physical control, ending in a stupor and possibly death. One of the major diseases’ alcohol causes is cirrhosis of the liver. This is because alcohol is a primary disease. A primary disease is different from a secondary disease because the primary disease endorses and causes the secondary disease. Withdrawal from alcohol is dangerous. Withdrawal generally causes vomiting, tremors, insomnia, deliriums, as well as may cause one to have convulsions and/or seizures that can lead to strokes and even death.

The Effects of Crack Cocaine

The effects of Crack Cocaine are extremely detrimental to the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of the drug user’s life. Crack Cocaine can be felt as soon as the drug enters the body.

Short Terms Effects

The short-term effects of Crack Cocaine are short burst of energy, decreased appetite, increase temperature, mental anxiety, and constricted blood vessels and increase heart rate. The feeling of euphoria gained by crack fades much more quickly than the painful aftereffects. As Crack Cocaine use continues, the effects become much more severe and get worst and worst and the user’s tolerance level increases.

Long Term Effects

The long-term use of Crack Cocaine may result in emotional problems such as resentment, mood changes, irritability, restlessness, discontentment, as well as during use the one may experience  audio and visual hallucinations. People who use Crack will begin to experience extreme such cravings for the drug, compulsive and obsessive seeking behaviors to obtain the drug as their tolerance levels increase. Crack related deaths are generally the result of cardiac arrest and/or seizures followed by respiratory arrest.

The Effects of Opioids

This class of drugs derived from opium includes such drugs as morphine, heroin, and Oxycodone and OxyContin. It is also developed into synthetic substitutes such as methadone. Opioids are pain relievers although morphine was once used as a cough suppressant and was legal to use commercially in the United States up until the 1920s and 30s. Heroin introduced in 1898 also as a cough suppressant was consider less addictive than Morphine and was widely used. However, the addictive potential of Heroin was soon recognized and was later prohibited in the United States, even for medical proposes. Heroin produces a rush or high immediately after being taken. It produces a state of indifference and decreases or increases energy depending on the state of the individual. Symptoms of withdrawal from opiates include: kicking movement in the leg, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, sweating, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. However, despite how this causes one’s body to respond opioid withdrawal does not in itself cause death. However as most know overdose does.

The Effects of Stimulants such as Amphetamines and Cocaine

Amphetamines were introduced in the 1930s for the treatment of colds and hay fever. They were late found to affect the nervous system. For a while, people who had been trying to lose weight commonly used them as an appetite suppressant. Today they are used for primarily to treat Narcolepsy and sleep disorders. That suddenly attack during the day. Also, hyperactivity in children in this case they provide a calming effect. For adults, however, amphetamines have rightly earned the name speed and/or in the case of the crystalized use ICE (Crystal Meth). This drug is known to heighten alertness, elevate mood, decrease fatigue, and the need for sleep. In addition, as mention above reduces appetite. When it comes to drugs in the Stimulant family both Cocaine and Amphetamines cause, after prolong use psychosis like acute schizophrenia. Tolerance increased levels for both drugs develop rapidly which are the result of individuals desiring their euphoric feeling. Both Cocaine and Amphetamines cause increase heart and can lead to both cardiac arrest and a stroke. Withdrawal from Amphetamines, particularly when injected produces depression so unpleasant that they are compelled to keep using until he or she collapses.

The Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana is one of the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.1When smoked, it begins to affect users almost immediately and can last for one to three hours. When it is eaten in food, such as baked in brownies and cookies, the effects take longer to begin, but usually last longer.

Short-Term Effects

The short-term effects of marijuana include:

  • Distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch)
  • Problems with memory and learning
  • Loss of coordination
  • Trouble with thinking and problem-solving
  • Increased heart rate

Sometimes marijuana use can also produce anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic.

Effects on the Brain

The active ingredient in marijuana, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, acts on cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells and influences the activity of those cells. Some brain areas have many cannabinoid receptors, but other areas of the brain have few or none. Many cannabinoid receptors are found in the parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement.

When high doses of marijuana are used, usually when eaten in food rather than smoked, users can experience the following symptoms:

Effects on the Heart

Within a few minutes after smoking marijuana, the heart begins beating more rapidly and the blood pressure drops. Marijuana can cause the heartbeat to increase by 20 to 100% and blood pressure is slightly reduced.

According to a review published in 2017, marijuana users’ risk for a heart attack ranges from four to five times higher within the first hour after smoking marijuana, compared to their general risk of heart attack when not smoking.4

contribute to loss of bone density. Heavy users were defined as those who had smoked more than 5,000 times during their lifetime.5

However, another study published in 2017, looked at survey and health information for almost 5,000 adults and didn’t find any association between decreased bone density and marijuana use.6

Effects on the Lungs

Smoking marijuana, even infrequently, can cause burning and stinging of the mouth and throat, and cause heavy coughing. According to a review published in 2019. scientists have found that regular marijuana smokers can experience the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers do, including:

Most marijuana smokers consume a lot less cannabis than cigarette smokers consume tobacco, however, the harmful effects of smoking marijuana should not be ignored. Marijuana contains a similar number of carcinogenic hydrocarbons as tobacco smoke7and because marijuana smokers typically inhale deeper and hold the smoke in their lungs longer than tobacco smokers, their lungs are exposed to those carcinogenic properties longer, when smoking.

What About Cancer?

According to a review published in 2015, one study found that marijuana smokers were three times more likely to develop cancer of the head or neck than non-smokers, but that study could not be confirmed by further analysis.8

Because marijuana smoke contains three times the amount of tar found in tobacco smoke and several carcinogens, it would seem logical to deduce that there is an increased risk of lung cancer for marijuana smokers. However, researchers have not been able to definitively prove such a link because their studies have not been able to adjust for tobacco smoking and other factors that might also increase the risk.


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