The Effects of Drugs on the Body and Brain

Drugs, whether they’re the illicit or prescription kind, are designed to affect your brain and body in a certain way. However, aside from their primary effects, you also have to watch out for their side effects, especially when you abuse them and end up becoming addicted to them down the line. Actual adverse effects like permanent brain and bodily damage can also occur when you take drugs excessively and/or for quite a long period of time without breaks.

The symptoms and complications induced by abusing drugs can continue long after you’ve stopped taking them to boot, so user and buyer beware.

The Different Drugs and Their Effects on The Brain and Body

Here’s a table of the most common drugs or substances that people use that are a mix of legal, illegal, prescription, medicinal and/or recreational. It lists down their respective effects on your brain and your body.

Drug Effects on the Brain Effects on the Body
Alcohol Headaches, slurred speech, loss of inhibition, impaired judgment, and constant drinking to “feel normal”. Vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, liver damage, upset stomach, distorted vision and hearing, and breathing difficulties
Marijuana Mood problems, impaired memory, altered sense of time, delusions, hallucinations, difficulty with thinking and problem-solving, altered senses, and psychosis. Breathing problems, increased heart rate, impaired body movement, intense nausea and vomiting, and problems with child development during and after pregnancy.
Cocaine Mood problems, convulsions, stroke, seizures, headaches, auditory hallucinations, restlessness, paranoia, psychosis, and chronic headaches. Heart attack, sexual issues, heart disease, nosebleeds, runny nose, loss of smell, lung problems, and trouble swallowing.
Meth Hallucinations, paranoia, hyperexcitability, hyperactivity, seizures, panic, violent behavior, delusions, and psychosis. Nausea, irritability, convulsions, loss of appetite, dilation of pupils, increased heart rate, and disturbed sleep patterns.
Heroin Clouded mental function, tranquilizing effects, brain chemistry changes, withdrawal from social activities, and permanent brain damage risk. Nausea, vomiting, coma risk, dry mouth, drowsiness, flushed skin, severe itching, slowed heart rate, slowed breathing, and a heavy feeling in your extremities.
Morphine Confusion, poor coordination, decreased responsiveness, seizures, dizziness, and potential brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. Nausea, vomiting, constipation, lightheadedness, dizziness, drowsiness, increased sweating, and dry mouth.
LSD Delusions, visual hallucinations, sense of time and self changes, convulsions, disorientation, synthesia, LSD trip flashbacks, severe depression, and psychosis. Dilated pupils, flushed skin, increased body temperature, rambling and incoherent speech, bizarre comments, and poor appetite.

As you can see, various drugs naturally produced various effects on your brain and body, the most common side effects of which are nausea.

It makes sense since nausea seems to be one of the body’s many alarms to inform you that something is wrong aside from outright pain. Taking too much of any drug is poison to your body (and toxic to your kidney).

Primary Effects versus Side Effects

All people take drugs in order to experience some sort of primary effect. Even mild “substances” like coffee and tea have caffeine in them (among other ingredients) that give you a stimulating effect, although they’re many leagues below the stimulation offered by “biker’s coffee” (which is either another name for meth or coffee spiked with meth or amphetamine).

  • Side Effects Are Mostly “Unintentional” Byproducts: However, for every opioid painkiller or cocaine high you take come an accompanying volley of side effects that the drug isn’t “supposed to deliver and, in most cases, have adverse effects to your health. This goes double to drug users who abuse or excessively binge on their drug/s of choice.
  • Primary Effects Vary by Method of Delivery: There are multiple ways for a person to take any type of drug, the most common of which is by swallowing a pill. On top of ingestion, illicit drugs are usually injected or inhaled to get a faster high without your digestive system impeding the process. In primary effect terms, injection makes a drug more instantaneously potent and ingestion delays its effects.
  • Side Effects Also Vary by Method of Delivery: What type of side effects you go through is also affected by how the drug is delivered. For example, smoking cocaine can cause lung damage, snorting cocaine can cause nosebleeds and loss of smell, swallowed cocaine can cause bowel decay, and injected cocaine increases your hepatitis and HIV risk.
  • All Misused Drugs Have a Significant Impact on Your Brain: All misused or abused drugs have an effect on your brain and behavior that then translates to physical side effects, damage, and complications. The most common unifying effect of drugs on the brain is substance use disorder, which is also known as drug abuse or drug addiction. Rather, drug abuse can lead to drug addiction, which then results in more drug abuse like a feedback loop.
  • What Is Drug Addiction, Drug Abuse, or Substance Use Disorder? Drug addiction—clinically known as substance use disorder—is the natural conclusion or progression of increasingly worsening drug abuse. Meanwhile, drug abuse is when you use drugs so much that you’ve become desensitized to normal doses, which encourages you to keep using increasingly large doses until you’ve become literally dependent on the drug to “feel normal”.

The Effects of Drug Abuse on Health

Drug addiction and abuse are liked with a variety of health side effects that are both short-term and long-term. They differ depending on the type of drug you’re using, how much of it you’ve consumed, how often you’ve taken it, and your personal bill of health.

All in all, the effects of abusing drugs and being dependent on them can be quite far-reaching, to say the least.

Side effects of drug addiction may include the following.

  • Lung Disease: Drugs like tobacco or nicotine in vapes can lead to lung issues.
  • Rise in Body Temperature: Drug use can lead increases in body temperature.
  • Hormonal Changes: Hormonal changes can lead to breast development in men.
  • Immunocompromised: You have a higher risk for infection and illness due to a weakened immune system.
  • Live Strain: There’s increased strain on your liver that can lead to organ damage or outright organ failure when push comes to shove.
  • Mental Issues: Drugs can cause brain damage, mental confusion, and stroke. It can also induce problems with memory, attention and decision-making, which make daily living more difficult.
  • Nausea and Abdominal Pain: As discussed above, nausea is a common drug abuse symptom due to how toxic the condition makes your body, leading to a vomit reflex, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
  • Heart Conditions: You can also get various cardiovascular ailments ranging from abnormal heart rates to heart attacks. You can also end up with collapse veins and blood vessel infections from all the injections you’re putting your body through.
  • Death: The most severe health consequence of drug abuse is death. The sharpest rise in drug-related deaths comes from heroin and synthetic opioids. Every day, more than 90 Americans end up dying due to opioid overdose. Additionally, 1 out of 4 deaths come from illicit drug abuse.

Furthermore, more disabilities, illnesses, and deaths are linked with drug abuse than any other preventable health condition. In 2013, 12 million people have driven under the influence of drugs (including alcohol), while nearly 4,000 fatally injured drivers have tested positive for using drugs.

Introducing the Human Brain

Whatever complication happens to your body due to drug abuse will probably be caused first by your brain becoming addicted to drugs in the first place. With that said, what is the human brain and how does it work?

  • What Is the Human Brain? The human body’s most complex organ is the brain. It’s a 3-pound mass of white and gray matter that sits at the center of all human activity. It gives you a sense of identity and is needed for pursuits like creating an artistic masterpiece, enjoying a meal, driving a car, or breathing without thinking about it as well as breathing manually.
  • What Does the Brain Do? The brain is responsible for regulating your body’s basic functions. It also enables you to interpret and respond to everything you experience or to “external stimuli”. It also shapes how you behave. In other words, your brain is who you are. It’s your soul. Your brain experiences everything that you think and feel; your body is merely its container.
  • How Does The Brain Work? The brain is like a supercomputer and it’s probably many times more complex than the most powerful supercomputer in existence. Instead of silicon chips and electric circuits that controls every operation, the brain is composed of billions of brain cells known as neurons that are organized in circuit-like networks. Each neuron serves as a switch for information flows.
  • Every time a neuron receives enough signals from other neurons, it fires off its own signal to other neurons. This interconnected circuitry from different parts of the brain to the spinal cord and nerves from across the body—work as a team to accomplish various tasks, from coordinating your blood flow to rewarding you with a chemical known as dopamine to make you feel pleasure and euphoria when on the verge of accomplishing something.

Effects of Drug Addiction on the Brain

Addiction and dependency concept as a human brain being lured and surrounded by fishing hooks as a risk symbol and metaphor for a drug addict or the danger of alcoholism gambling and drug abuse smoking as a mental health problem.

All drugs in existence—from nicotine to cocaine, marijuana to opioids, and so forth—affect the brain’s “reward” circuit that’s part of the limbic system. They cause a flood of the dopamine chemical, which is responsible for regulating movement, emotions, and feelings of pleasure. A torrent of dopamine causes you to feel euphoria or a “high” as though you just aced a test or got a raise even though you just snorted a coke line.

If you abuse a drug long enough, your body will start having a hard time functioning without it since it has already changed your brain chemistry. After all, drugs interfere with your ability to make choices or control your impulses. Here are `important things to keep in mind:

  • One of the Main Causes of Drug Addiction: Yes, the high you get from the dopamine flood in your brain is one off the main causes of drug addiction. Why? It’s because it feels so good that you can’t get enough of it. It’s designed to be that way because dopamine helps regulate constructive behavior and actions for your survival or ego boost. You’re likelier to be motivated to achieve your dream through that dopamine rush.
  • From Voluntary to Involuntary: Everyone starts off using drugs voluntarily. It’s a commodity that’s as in-demand as good food and real estate because of the things it makes us feel. However, once you’ve used drugs often enough, you might end up craving it involuntarily the same way thirst pushes you to drink water or hunger pushes you to eat. Taking drugs regularly “normalizes” drug-taking to an involuntary level.
  • How Drugs Change Brain Chemistry: The alterations in your brain from drug use are natural consequences of usage since humans have evolved to be adaptable. You tend to acclimatize to anything you do regularly, including drug use that turns into abuse. What’s worse is that drugs tend to interfere with your ability to make choices, thus turning you into a zombie that only has drugs in your mind to a compulsive degree.
  • The Most Addictive Drugs Around: No, drug abuse doesn’t only refer to excessive usage of illegal drugs on your own accord. It also refers to the habitual taking of any highly addictive substance, which can include legal regulated substances like alcohol, marijuana (sometimes used for medicinal purposes), and opioids (mostly used as prescription painkillers).
  • Drug Addiction Is a Disease: Substance use disorder is a disease rather than a crime people willingly commit like stealing or grand theft auto. It should be treated like a disease instead of merely prosecuted in court for jail time and court-mandated rehab. This condition does a number on your self-control because they usually cause a flood of dopamine to swirl inside your brain, giving you a misplaced sense of accomplishment.

Drug-Induced Effects on Your Behavior

suicide, depression and overdose concept - dead man with bottle of alcohol and pills lying on table at night

Drug addiction or substance use disorder can lead to various behavioral problems rooted upon the changes each drug can do to your brain the more you take them. Most deal with self-perpetuating abuse to ensure addiction, such that the more you take a drug the higher your risk of taking more due to the body’s natural ability to tolerate and reduce the effects of anything it consumes for a long time period.

There behavioral disorders can be either short-term or long-term. They also commonly include the following issues across the board.

  1. Addiction: Across the board, one of the dangers of using any drug is the risk of developing an addiction to it due to some people trying to bypass the tolerance or desensitization cycle of drugs wherein they use more of the drug instead of less as their body gets used to its potency.
  2. Paranoia: Drug-induced paranoia is common in drugs like cocaine and meth. A paranoid person might come to conclusions quickly and have confusing or unsettling feelings you can’t easily explain, triggering your flight-or-fight instinct.
  3. Aggressiveness: Drugs like meth can cause aggression that can then lead to outright violent acts. They might alter the neurotransmitters of serotonin, gamma-aminobytyric acid (GABA), norepinephrine, and dopamine in order to induce more aggressive behavior.
  4. Hallucinations: Drugs like LSD, meth, and cocaine can also cause hallucinations. The thing with meth and cocaine is that hallucinations are a side effect or byproduct of theirs. In the case of LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs, they’re instead the primary effect or intended use.
  5. Impaired Judgment: Alcohol (removes inhibitions and distorts perception) marijuana (decreases attention and impairs short-term memory), cocaine (makes you euphoric, anxious, and moody), prescription stimulants (makes you more anxious, hostile, and paranoid), prescription depressants (makes you sleepy), and opioids (clouds your thinking) can all impair your judgment.
  6. Impulsiveness: As you start developing substance use disorder, you will not only start craving for more of a given drug you’re using. You will also start exhibiting impulsive behavior. Drug-induced impulse control disorders can lead you to follow impulses, even harmful ones, without constraint. It also involves an increase of impulsive feelings or reckless behavior on your part as an addict.
  7. Loss of Self-Control: Not to be confused with impulsiveness, loss of self-control is different because someone can feel more impulsive than usual without necessarily giving in to his or her impulses. Once your drug addiction has gone from bad to worse, all self-control keeping you from stopping using the drug will be gone even as it ruins your quality of life.

There are serious consequences to being a drug addict. You might end up missing work, committing punishable offenses due to poor impulse control, or getting into trouble, accidents or injuries. Drug addiction and alcoholism are partly to blame for 80 percent of offenses that lead to jail time in the U.S.A. Such offenses include property damage while intoxicated, driving under the influence, and domestic violence.

Know the Facts About Drugs and Their Effects


At present, more than 7 million Americans suffer from drug addiction to various illicit substances and many more are addicted to prescription drugs like opioids and benzodiazepines. For a 12-month period from 2015 to 2016, 212,000 people aged 12 years old and older have used heroin for the first time. People who are addicted with drugs also have a higher risk of domestic violence incidents, accidents, and unintentional injuries. Alcohol also causes about 16 percent of all car crashes.

However, there’s good news! Substance use disorders or drug addiction is perfectly treatable. Try out drug rehab tourism in places like Clarity Rehab in Thailand in order to have a wellness vacation towards sobriety today

Travel to Clarity Rehab Now and Treat Drug Problems to the Brain and Body

The effects of drugs on the body and brain are devastating to say the least. The worst drugs can make permanent changes to your brain chemistry or make you so paranoid and delusional, you might become violent altogether. If you wish for a rehab center that will give you a safe place to heal throughout your whole month or two of Thai wellness vacation then you won’t go wrong with Clarity Rehab.

Call Clarity Rehab’s toll-free number for more info. They’re available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Go to Clarity right now in order to help your body and mind heal from the ravages of drug abuse.

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