Drug addiction is not a simple matter which can be just divided in short and long term effects as there are hidden psychological, economic and social components to it. Addiction is described as the harmful effects of excessive reliance on drugs for pleasure and relief of tension. It means that the individual needs the substance at all costs and it is an intense craving. Various type of drug be it alcohol, nicotine or heroin have their own symptoms and consequences in the long run.
Drugs can be divided into two types – ones which stimulate, increase alertness and excite the body like marijuana. On the other hand, alcohol and other tranquilizing drugs cause tension reduction by depressed physical and psychological functioning.
The stimulant drugs cause agitation, hallucinations, delusions, convulsions and cause death by overdose in long term. These are amphetamines, heroin, LSD, and Marijuana. They can also lead to psychotic reactions and possible psychosis in the long run.
Drug consumption causes disorientation, loss of consciousness and death in cases when the levels of drug-released toxics are high in the patient’s blood. This happens due to differences in the ability to metabolize the poisonous elements or the innate differences in the central nervous system’s sensitivity to tolerate drugs.
People start drinking alcohol and turn to drugs in most cases to escape life stresses. This sets up a vicious circle as the more you go for drugs the worse the depression becomes. You lose the sense of time and day and drift further and further away from family and well wishers. The population of youngsters and women have gone up considerably in alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers, which is a sad trend for any nation.
When compared to men women have less of the specific stomach enzyme (alcohol hydrogenase) that neutralizes and breaks down alcohol. This means 30% more alcohol enters the woman’s blood stream hence the increased risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) during pregnancy. Alcohol leads to severe liver damage in the long run resulting in death due to bleeding and can also cause cancer. Drinking excessively thickens the blood and can lead to blood clots which in turn increase the risk of heart strokes.
Drugs cause the death of brain cells which in turn block effective memory formation and dull the five senses. The immune system is weakened and infection fighting cells are not able to function properly. In men, it changes hormone levels causing lower sex drive and enlarged breast. In women, menstrual cycle becomes irregular and causes ovaries to malfunction.
Long-term substance abuse causes changes in the chemical formations and systems of the brain as well. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that influences the reception ability and the faculty to learn. Drug abuse disturbs the proper concentration of glutamate leading the brain to attempt bringing back the lost pleasures which can impair cognitive function. Drug addicts gradually start losing the faculty to discriminate between reality and dreams and start hallucinating in ordinary circumstances. They become irritable, dull and dormant and soon lose the ability to focus, think in an organised manner and plan their actions constructively. They experience insatiable cravings when they see a place or person they associate with the memory of drug consumption.