If you’re in your teens there is something you should consider if you’re thinking about using drugs. Your brain is undergoing a ‘renovation’ right now. There are pros and cons to this renovation or ‘re-wiring’. It’s a great time to master skills – your brain can cope with incredible amounts of learning and memory. On the downside, you’re at a time of life where you might start losing the skills you aren’t using. Use it or lose it, people!
So, what are drugs? Drugs are substances that change a person’s physical or mental state.
Types of drugs
Depending on the drug, thy can enter the body in a number of ways such as injection, inhaling, and ingestion.
- Hallucinogens– Hallucinogens can be divided into three categories: psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants. These drugs can cause changes to your perception, emotions, thinking, and consciousness.
- Head Shop Drugs– These substances are usually sold in Head Shops (a retail outlet specializing in paraphernalia used for consumption of cannabis and tobacco and items related to cannabis culture). They ca also be called ‘legal Highs’ and although they may not be illegal doesn’t mean they are safe.
- Opioids– Opioids are medications that decrease pain reactions and sensations. They can give someone a sense of well-being, but they also carry a lot of side-effects such as sedation, respiratory depression, severe withdrawal, and dependence issues.
- Over the Counter Painkillers– These are medications that can be sold over the counter in your everyday pharmacy. The can be used for pain relief, the flu etc. A prolonged use of these over the counter drugs ca lead to a dependence on them.
- Sedatives– Solvents can be inhaled and have the same effects as alcohol. They can make eople feel dizzy and uninhibited.
- Stimulants– These are drugs that are made to make people feel more awake, energetic, and alert.
Why do people do drugs?
It’s very important to understand why people may start using drugs in order to be able to deal with drug-related issues. The factors that may make people more likely to use drugs are called the ‘risk factors’.
- Environment– If the environment you are in is a place where drugs are easily accessible then that is a risk factor. If friends use drugs and if they are in trouble with the law then it is more likely that the young person will start on drugs.
- Family– It can be common for a young person to delve into the world of drugs if their parents use drugs, are in trouble with the law, or if there is any conflict. If the parents fail at disciplining the child or monitoring their activities, it can also be a factor.
- Own Lives– How a person goes about their lives can also be a factor. If the young person starts smoking, drinking, or being sexually active at a young age. If they have prior experience with drugs their addiction can get even worse.
- Personality– The personality of someone can greatly affect the way they live their lives and how they approach certain situations. If the person is stressed, aggressive, impulsive, or depressed they have a higher chance of getting involved with drugs. Also, if the person is looking for a ‘buzz’ they can try the use of drugs.
The effects of drugs on the body
Different drugs have different effects on the body because of the different chemical structures they have. These effects might only be temporary and others might have a more long-lasting effect that can even change a person’s body or brain after the person has stopped taking drugs.
The way a drug enters the body (injection, inhaling, ingestion) can impact the way a drug effects the body and brain. For example, injection can have more immediate effects while ingestion might take longer.
Drugs can contribute to illnesses, disabilities, and even death. In this day in age, 1 out of 4 deaths are the result of drug use because drug abuse leads to a higher risk of falling victim to unintentional injuries and accidents.
If a person is a drug abuser and has a high dependence on drugs, there is a higher risk for them to have health problems that can effect almost every organ in the body. Drugs can:
-Weaken the immune system.
-Cause cardiovascular conditions such as abnormal heart rates, collapsed veins, and infections of the blood vessels and heart valves.
-Cause nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
-Cause liver damage or failure.
-Cause strokes, seizures, and brain damage that can effect day-to-day life.
-Cause abnormal bodily changes such as breast development in men, increases in body temperatures, and fluctuations in appetite.
Drugs have shown to alter brain chemistry and the way that they function. Drugs can interfere with the way that someone thinks and makes decisions.
Drugs of abuse (cocaine, marijuana etc.) effect the ‘reward’ circuit of the brain. This can cause an unnaturally large amount of dopamine to flood the system which causes the ‘high’/euphoria associated with drug abuse.
Drugs can have serious effects on a person’s personality and behavior. People an often experience paranoia, aggressiveness, loss of self-control, addiction, hallucinations, impaired judgment, or impulsiveness.
Drugs cannot only effect the person taking them, but also the baby that they are carrying. Taking drugs while pregnant may pose various risks. It may cause the baby to be born prematurely or too small, withdrawal symptoms, birth defects, or behavioral problems. The woman also has a risk of engaging in behavioral problems that place the pregnancy at risk, like poor nutrition.