Have the Effects of Drugs or Alcohol Taken Their Toll?

Below you'll find information on the various ways drugs and alcohol affect our brain, body, and lives. If you or someone you know is battling drug addiction, prescription drug abuse, or alcoholism there are plenty of options for getting help.

Browse our directory of drug rehabs and alcohol rehabs as a first step to getting clean and sober for good.

Alcohol The most widely used and abused drug of all. Approximately 100 million in the US use it, and 10 million abuse it. Pharmacologically, alcohol is in the sedative-hypnotic class of drugs, but because of its vast usage it is set apart from them.
Observable Effects Smell of alcohol, slurred speech, incoordination, disturbed judgement, shifts in personality and mood. The most common minor withdrawal symptom observed in alcohol addicts is tremor in the hands
"street info" Very addictive; though an alcohol overdose is rare because the person usually passes out first unless they drink too fast (down a whole bottle). However, a common overdosing combination does occur when used with other drugs-(ie downers, narcotics, etc) it POTENTIATES the effects of both drugs, meaning the experience is more than double-it can triple, quadruple or more when used in combination; and can become extremely dangerous. Alcohol is commonly dangerous when used to control a stimulant high, or to help sleep when taking stimulants.
There are numerous alcohol addiction treatment options to consider if you or a loved one are displaying the signs of alcohol abuse. The price of entering an alcohol rehab center is minor compared to the cost the long-term effects of alcoholism can bring about.
Inhalants Solvents: glues, paints, aerosol, kerosene. By inhaling fumes, a short 'giggly' high. Inhalants destroys the body faster than ANY other drug. The effects are systemic, causing body-wide destruction. Never a physical addiction, since chronic use results in death or serious injury.

Amyl/Butyl nitrate: Used to treat angina; it is a very potent, fast dilator. It gives a quick rush of blood to the head. Amylnitrate is only available by prescription, but butylnitrate is sold in headshops as "rush" or "locker room" deodorizer. It's rare to have chronic use of this. It carries a risk of glaucoma.

Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas): Mild relaxant anesthetic. Whipped cream propellant. Known as whippets. Gives a silly, giggly high, and causes people to do very stupid things when high. It has a very cold temperature. Injury is usually caused by users forgetting to take an inhalation mask off which causes brain death.

More Info: Dangers of a "Huffing" Addiction, Rehab Costs
Barbiturates (Nembutal, Seconal, Phenobarbital) are similar to alcohol in their action and effect: they are central nervous system depressants that induce drowsiness and sleep and sometimes euphoria. Barbiturates have a high potential for both psychological and physical dependence, leading to withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, weakness, anxiety, and tremors. Used together, alcohol and barbiturates act synergistically: they multiply in power and effect on the body and have greater effect than if used separately. The combination can cause death.

Benzodiazepines (Valium, Librium) and other tranquilizers are also capable of producing tolerance and dependence but to a lesser extent than barbiturates. Used mainly to relieve anxiety, Benzodiazepines are also helpful as muscle relaxants and sleep promoters.

Observable Effects Impaired judgement, incoordination and unsteady gait, personality and mood shifts, irritability, loquacity, and slurred speech.
Narcotics The natural members of the opiate family are opium, morphine, heroin, and codeine. They are derived from the unripe seed pod of the opium poppy. Synthetic narcotics work like the natural opiates and include meperidine (Demerol) and methadone. All narcotics are central nervous system depressants that provide an analgesic (pain relieving effect). All have considerable potential for psychological and physical dependency.
Observable Effects Pinpoint pupils, euphoria or dysphoria, apathy, needle marks, unsteady gait, slowing of mind and body, impaired attention and memory, passivity while under the influence.
Amphetamines The amphetamines are a group of synthetic drugs including dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), methamphetamine (Methadrine), and amphetamine (Benzedrine). These drugs are stimulants to the central nervous system and are useful medically in the treatment of obesity, Parkinsonism, narcolepsy, fatigue, and depression. Intoxication with amphetamines can result in violent behavior, delusions, and hallucinations.
Observable Effects Agitation and exhilaration, increased energy and alleviation of fatigue, decreased appetite, anxiety, volatile emotions, loquacity, paranoia, perspiration or chills, possibly dilated pupils.
Cocaine Similar to synthetic amphetamines, cocaine is a stimulant derived from the coca leaf of South America. It is usually sniffed, snorted, smoked, or injected, and tolerance and dependence develop rapidly. The most potent anti-fatigue agent known, cocaine cancels hunger while giving the feeling of great physical strength and increased mental ability. Users greatly overestimate their abilities, make poor judgments, and may get into fights. Cocaine addiction treatment options can be costly, with the price of an inpatient cocaine rehab facility ranging from a few thousand to $30,000 or more for a month. The cost of a fatal cocaine overdose however, is clearly much higher.
Observable Effects Low doses may produce agitation, rapid speech, grandiosity, paranoia, loquacity, and quick mood swings. With high doses, the user slurs speech, is sleepy, and has droopy eyelids. Pupils may dilate. Needle marks are possible.
Hallucinogens The hallucinogens include lysergic acid diethylamine (LSD), dimethyltryptamine (DMT), psilocybin mushrooms (shrooms) and catecholamine (mescaline). Perceptual changes are the most common characteristic, including hallucinations, usually visual, and intensification of perceptions.
Observable Effects Dilated pupils, blurred vision, tremors, poor coordination, paranoia, poor judgement.
Depending on dosage, PCP may have the effect of a stimulant, analgesic, anesthetic, or hallucinogen. Since the buyer on the street cannot know the strength or purity of his purchase there is particular danger in PCP use. Whereas mild doses can produce a pleasant experience from some, higher doses can result in hallucination, psychosis, or death.
Observable Effects Euphoria, agitation, anxiety, grandiosity, disturbed judgment, impulsiveness, combative or bizarre behavior.
Marijuana The most widely used illicit drug, marijuana is usually smoked but may also be mixed in food. Because it is stored in the body's fat cells, marijuana can remain in the body for months. While there is little, if any, evidence to suggest it is physically addictive, frequent users can become psychologically addicted to marijuana fairly easily. The cost of marijuana drug rehabs is similar to that of other drugs.
Observable Effects Vary with dosage and person and may include euphoria, intensified perceptions, apathy, nausea, anxiety, paranoia and disorientation. A person under the influence should not drive or use machinery.
Tobacco This legal drug is responsible for more than 300,000 deaths per year from cancer and coronary and respiratory disorders. Tobacco's most potent ingredient, nicotine, is an extremely toxic substance that has value as an insecticide.
Observable Effects Sometimes stimulant, tranquilizer, or depressant, depending on the person, mood, and situation. Nicotine stained fingers can be a correlate of alcoholism.

For extensive substance abuse information, you may wish to Visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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