5 Effects of Illegal Drugs on Health

 22nd Jun 2016

DeDrugsspite stringent laws in place in many countries across the world on the consumption and ownership of illegal or ‘street’ drugs, the use of these substances is still a pressing issue.

For many people, it can be easy to overlook the plethora of negative aspects related to these drugs, irrespective of the extensive research conducted into this area.

However, the majority of illicit substances are known to cause a range of detrimental side effects and these have the potential to be incredibly damaging to a person’s physical and mental wellbeing.

The following are just a small selection of these:

  1. Psychosis

Substances such as marijuana and cocaine can induce many different elements of psychosis, especially after prolonged use.

Psychosis encompasses a number of different symptoms including hallucinations where the user experiences scenarios or stimulants which other people around them cannot relate to.

  1. Paranoia and Anxiety

Whilst these two symptoms are not necessarily one and the same, they are both related to one another in the way they cause those affected to become abnormally apprehensive by otherwise normal day-to-day activities.

As with all symptoms, these can occur with varying severity and can range from mild worrying thoughts to intense anxiety which can be harmful to a person’s wellbeing by making social interactions increasingly difficult.

Paranoia and anxiety can be manifested in all manner of forms including distorted experiences of taste, obscure sounds and even the perception of objects and people which others will agree are simply not there.

  1. Flashbacks

LSD is one drug which is particularly well known for causing some users to undergo ‘flashbacks’ whereby they will relive previous moments in their history in their mind.

Many users may experience flashbacks of unpleasant experiences and the feeling of losing control can be incredibly unsettling for those concerned as they become unable to escape their thoughts.


Flashbacks can occur during the consumption of LSD and other street drugs, and there have even been reports of these happening long after the user has regained sobriety – in some cases, many years later.

  1. Addiction

Whilst addiction is a prevalent issue in many areas of life (including drugs, food, alcohol and even behaviour) it is a unanimously serious problem for people who find themselves exposed to illegal drugs on a regular basis.

Addiction can be harmful to a person’s life in a huge number of aspects, many of which are often intertwined with one another.

For instance, increasing the frequency and quantity of consumption will inevitably require the user to spend considerable amounts of money to fuel their habit which can obligate them to neglect other areas of their life including friends and family, hygiene and diet.

In addition to the many socioeconomic problems associated with addiction, users also become increasingly susceptible to the development many of the negative health effects associated with the drugs they are taking.

Those suffering from addiction will often increase the dosage of drugs they are taking in order to experience the same desired sensation and this can make it far more likely for them to endure panic attacks, overdoses and other extreme side effects.

  1. Brain Damage

Often irreversible, brain damage has been known to occur from substances such as cocaine and MDMA (ecstasy) to name just two.

Depending on the individual case, brain damage caused from the consumption of drugs can have profound repercussions on a person’s life and can create difficulties with decision making, focusing and understanding as well as affecting vision, hearing and other senses.

In addition, brain damage can also lead to repeated instances of seizures, severe chronic fatigue and even paralysis in the worst cases.

As illustrated in this post, the use of illicit drugs can create damaging and sometimes devastating effects in the life of the user and, due to their unpredictable nature, individuals can be affected even after just a few uses.

This, combined with their unreliable composition and multitude of interconnected symptoms, make the use of street drugs an often exponentially dangerous road to travel on.

Encompass are a registered charity who provide a range of professional care services to help improve the lives of people living with both mental health illnesses and learning disabilities.

To find out how our caring team can help you or a loved one, click here.

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