Understanding the Effects of Illegal Drugs on the Body

Effects of Illegal Drugs on the Body

21.5 million adults have battled with substance abuse at one point in their lives. It’s no secret that drug use is detrimental to your health, but many people don’t realize just how much substance abuse can negatively affect your body. But it’s important to note that different drugs affect the body in different ways. There are certain things to consider when discussing the effects specific drugs will have on your health. Read on to learn more about the different types of addictions and what health complications they cause.

Individual Factors

 illegal drugs are so dangerousDifferent people can react very differently to the same amount of the same drug. The reaction to a specific drug depends on the person’s size, weight, and overall health. The strength of the drug also plays a role. One of the reasons why illegal drugs are so dangerous is because they are not controlled substances, which means that there’s no way of knowing the strength or exact ingredients that a drug contains. You must also consider if the person has any other drugs in their system. This can sometimes be determined using a drug test but there’s no telling how one drug may interact with another, making the use of illegal drugs extremely dangerous and unpredictable.

Certain drugs have long-term effects, while others are more short-term. Different types of drugs cause different physical reactions including:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Sweating
  • Shaking/Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Uncharacteristic behaviors

These are only a few of the serious physical side effects of different drug use. Users are often not in control of their feelings, thoughts, or actions, which can lead to risky and potentially dangerous behavior.

Understanding Addiction

Don’t be tricked into believing that using illegal drugs occasionally is okay or that you are immune to becoming an addict. The more you use a drug, the less effect it has on your body. This means you’ll need larger amounts of the same drug to achieve the same feeling you once did. Prolonged use of these addictive drugs can cause your body to become dependent on them. Dependency is when your body needs a certain substance to function and perform at normal levels. This can quickly turn into an addiction.

Your body craves this drug, out of dependency. In order to feel “normal”, your body needs more of this drug. You can become both physically and psychologically dependent on an illegal substance, which leads to a long list of other complications, not only to your health but your overall social life and wellbeing. This includes isolation from family and friends, losing or quitting your job, and even stealing or pawning jewelry and other belongings to financially support your habit.

Different Drugs Have Different Effects


paranoiaHallucinogens are categorized as any type of drug that alters or distorts your sense of reality. People taking hallucinogenic drugs often see images and people that aren’t really there. Some individuals will see a distorted or warped version of what’s in front of them. Other side effects of these types of drugs include stomach upset, nausea, paranoia, clenched jaw, and emotional and psychological euphoria. Examples of these types of drugs include mushrooms, LSD, ketamine, PCP, and cannabis.


Stimulant drugs stimulate, or speed up, your body’s nervous system. Messages from the brain are delivered at a more rapid pace, leading to feelings of confidence and alertness. The physical effects of stimulant drugs include sleeplessness, increased heart rate, a rise in body temperature, reduced appetite, high blood pressure, and irritability. Long-term use of stimulant drugs may result in paranoia, anxiety, seizures, and stomach cramps. Illegal stimulant drugs include cocaine, ecstasy, speed, and ice. Caffeine and nicotine are also classified as stimulants.


Depressant drugs have the adverse effect of stimulants. Instead of making you alert and energized, depressants slow down your central nervous system, depressing its function. This means messages to and from the brain travel at a slower pace. Depressants cause people to feel relaxed and less uptight but they can also induce vomiting and unconsciousness. When people use depressants they lack coordination and have trouble focusing. This may slow your reaction time. Common depressants include alcohol, opiates like morphine and codeine, as well as mild tranquilizers. More serious, illegal depressant drugs include heroine and cannabis.

Common Drugs and Effects

Effects of Illegal Drugs on the BodyBelow you’ll find a list of the most common illegal drugs that often lead to addiction and are accompanied by some serious side effects. Here is a list of some of the long and short-term effects of the following substances.


  • Altered perception
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty concentrating and learning new things
  • Reduces fertility
  • Anxiety and paranoia


  • Confident, energetic, alert
  • Agitated and aggressive
  • Reduced appetite
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis


  • Alert and energetic
  • Dry mouth
  • Teeth grinding
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased heart rate and breathing
  • Increased sex drive
  • Damaged nasal passage (when snorted)
  • Risk of infectious diseases (when injected)


  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Death
  • Insomnia
  • Overstimulation of the nervous system and heart
  • Seizure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Tingling of hands and feet
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Headaches


  • Increased risk of mental illness
  • Alter your perception of pain (leading to injury)
  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Stroke or heart attack
  • Miscarriage during pregnancy
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Increased energy

The Aftermath


Illegal drug users must consider the after effects of the substances they take. These effects are what happens after you come down off the initial high. Different drugs can cause different reactions. Other factors that determine the level of after effects include age, gender, and tolerance. Many people feel exhausted and depressed following their high. Other aftermath effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating
  • Trembling

The duration and severity of these side effects varies from person to person based on the amount of drugs taken, the mixture of drugs, as well as the other factors mentioned above. Because illegal drugs are so unpredictable, there’s no way of telling how they will react with your body and individual genetic makeup. Some people suffer from substance abuse for years while others overdose after just one use. Don’t risk your health and wellbeing by experimenting with illegal drugs.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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