People abuse drugs for many different reasons. Some may abuse them in order to experience the pleasant sensations that a drug creates, others may do so to relieve or lessen pain, and some may even abuse them unintentionally, especially when they are part of a doctor-prescribed medicinal regimen. But regardless of a person’s motivation for abusing drugs, the reality of drug abuse is that it can have both positive and extremely negative effects. These effects, especially the physical ones, can be both unpredictable and life-threatening. It’s therefore necessary to consider these negative physical effects before abusing any drug.

Physical Effects of Drug Abuse

Most drugs have both short-term and long-term effects on the body, which can range from mild to severe. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) lists the following common short-term physical effects of drugs:

  • Change in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Decreased muscle control
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Increase or decrease in digestive functioning
  • Increased sexual desire and activity
  • Nausea
  • Relaxation or increase in energy and alertness
  • Rise in body temperature
  • Seizures
  • Slurred speech

The NIDA also lists several possible long-term physical effects of drug use:

  • Permanent damage to body systems, especially the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and lungs
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Increased risk of exposure to diseases transmitted through bodily fluids, especially HIV and hepatitis
  • Physical dependence, which occurs when the body needs the drug in order to function normally
  • Violent behavior

These effects are not the same for every person, though. They can vary widely depending on a variety of factors, including:

  • The amount of drug consumed
  • The specific type of drug consumed
  • How the drug interacts with other consumed drugs
  • The drug user’s age, gender, size, current health condition, family history and previous experience with drug use

Risk of Drug Overdose

But even these factors cannot always predict how a person’s body will respond to a drug. Even if a person has used a drug several times in the past, she will not necessarily be able to tell what her physical reaction will be in the future. One of the most dangerous physical effects of drug abuse is overdose, which occurs when the person takes more of the drug than is recommended. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that in 2011, drug overdose was the number one cause of injury-related death, with 41,340 deaths from drug overdose. Within the age group of 25 to 64 years-olds, more people died from drug overdose than from motor vehicle accidents. Additionally, drug overdose accounted for over 2.5 million emergency room visits.

Complications Related to Addiction

Another potentially dangerous effect of drug abuse is addiction, which a person can develop at any point in her drug use. The Mayo Clinic details several possible complications related to addiction, including:

  • Unconsciousness, coma and sudden death
  • Accidents
  • Suicide

Drug abuse is extremely harmful to the body, and can cause many different types of damage, some of which might be irreversible. Every time a person uses drugs, her body attempts to adapt to the changes that the drug causes. This adapting puts a lot of stress on the body, and makes it harder for it to function normally, sometimes even after the drug use has ended. Because of these physical problems related to drug use, it’s best to avoid drug abuse altogether.

Get Help with the Negative Physical Effects of Drug Abuse

If you or a loved one has recently engaged in drug abuse, or if you are struggling with drug dependence or addiction, give our toll-free helpline a call. We are available 24 hours a day, and our admissions coordinators are always ready to talk more with you about the dangers of drug abuse. We can also discuss ways to treat drug abuse, dependence and addiction, and can help you find a treatment program that works best for you. Call us right now to find out more.