The Affect of Drugs on the Body


Cocaine/Crack--In addition to irritability, mood disturbances, restlessness, paranoia, and auditory hallucinations, cocaine/crack can cause several dangerous physical conditions. It can lead to disturbances in heart rhythm and heart attacks, as well as chest pain or even respiratory failure. In addition, strokes, seizures, and headaches are not uncommon in heavy users.

Cocaine use has been linked to many types of heart disease. Cocaine has been found to trigger chaotic heart rhythms, called ventricular fibrillation; accelerate heartbeat and breathing; and increased blood pressure and bodily temperature. Physical symptoms may include chest pain, nausea, blurred vision, fever, muscle spasm, convulsions, and coma.

Different ways of using cocaine can produce harm. Regularly snorting cocaine, for example, can lead to loss of sense of smell, nosebleeds, problems with swallowing, hoarseness, and an overall irritation of the nasal septum, which can lead to a chronically inflamed, runny nose. Ingested cocaine can cause a severe intestinal infection (called “gangrene”), due to reduced blood flow in the digestive tract. And people who inject cocaine may also experience allergic reaction, either to the drug or to some additive, which can result in death. Because cocaine often causes reduced food intake, many chronic cocaine users lose their appetites and can experience significant weight loss and malnourishment. It is important to note that the mixture of cocaine and alcohol is the most common two-drug combination that results in drug related death.

Heroin--Chronic heroin abuse can result in scarred and/or collapsed veins, bacterial infection of the blood vessels and heart valves, abscesses (boils) and other soft-tissue infections, and liver or kidney disease. Lung complications (including various types of pneumonia and TB) may result from the poor health condition of the abuser as well as from heroin’s depressing effects on respiration. Sharing needles can lead to some of the most severe consequences of heroin abuse- infections with hepatitis B and C, HIV, and many other blood-borne viruses, which drug abusers can then pass on to their sexual partners and children.

Methamphetamine--Methamphetamine can cause many types of cardiovascular problems, including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and irreversible stroke-producing damage to small blood vessels in the brain. Chronic meth abuse can also result in inflammation of the heart lining and, among users who inject the drug, damage blood vessels and skin abscesses. Psychotic symptoms can sometimes persist for months or years after use has ceased. Also, research indicates that Meth abuse during pregnancy may result in prenatal complications, increased rate of premature delivery, and altered neonatal behavioral patterns, such as abnormal reflexes and extreme irritability.”