Description of Health Risks

Serious health and personal risks are associated with the use of illegal drugs and abuse of alcohol. They may include temporary or permanent physical or mental impairment, injury, or death. Use and abuse of such substances may also give rise to conduct which causes injury, death, or damage to the user/abuser or to the person or property of others, resulting in criminal or civil prosecution and liability. Use and abuse of such subĀ­stances may also lead to unsafe and/or nonconsensual sex, unwanted pregnancy, and may cause defects, injury, or death in unborn children. Consequences also include temporary or permanent loss of educational or employment opportunities.

Drugs and the Body

Narcotics (Heroin):

  • Initial euphoria followed by drowsiness and nausea
  • Constricted pupils, watery eyes, dazed look
  • Overdose may produce slow, shallow breathing, clammy skin, loss of appetite and weight, and possible death

Depressants (Barbiturates, Tranquilizers):

  • Relaxed muscles, calmness, drowsiness
  • Confusion, disorientation, slurred speech
  • Overdose may produce shallow breathing, clammy skin, weak and rapid pulse, coma, and possible death

Stimulants (Cocaine, Methamphetamine):

  • Increased heart and respiratory rate, elevated blood pressure, decreased appetite
  • Blurred vision, dizziness, insomnia, anxiety
  • High doses can cause physical collapse, irregular heartbeat, stroke, and possible death

Hallucinogens (LSD, PCP, Mushrooms):

  • Illusions and hallucinations
  • Confusion, panic, anxiety, depression, and poor perception of time and distance
  • Respiratory failure, death due to careless behavior

Cannabis (Marijuana, Hashish):

  • Increased heart rate, bloodshot eyes, dry mouth and throat, and increased appetite
  • Interferes with memory, speech, coordination, and perception of time
  • Increases risk of lung cancer, weakened immune system, and affects reproductive system

Alcohol and the Body

  • Impairment of brain function, judgment, alertness, coordination, and reflexes
  • Attitude and/or behavioral changes, such as uncharacteristic hostility, or increased risk taking, such as driving recklessly
  • Alcohol taken with other drugs can intensify the effects of the drug, alter the desired effect of the drug, cause nausea, sweating, severe headaches, and convulsions
  • Addiction or chemical dependency
  • Memory blackouts
  • Uncharacteristic family, school, work, or legal problems
  • Health problems such as cirrhosis of the liver
  • If used during pregnancy, birth defects and mental retardation in users’ unborn children may occur