Top 10 Different Types of Drugs and Their Effects
Different Types of Drugs
A drug can be described as any substance that is capable of altering the body’s functions either psychologically or physically when taken into the body. Drugs can sometimes be categorized as soft, hard, legal, illegal, and psychoactive. For example, psychoactive drugs are those drugs that alter your behaviors, feelings, and perceptions. They work by altering a chemical reaction in the brain, thereby affect feelings, behaviors, and thought.
Many of these drugs cause different types of dependence that have adverse effects on the users. These effects are evidenced by today’s visible results in the society such as tolerance, violence, crime, withdrawal symptoms, untimely death, and much more.
This content will discuss mainly on different types of psychoactive drugs, their effects on brain, users, as well as the problem causing in the society at large. Before we proceed, let’s quickly have a glance at psychoactive drugs and their categories.
What are Psychoactive Drugs?
Psychoactive drugs are those drugs that influence the central nervous system and change a person’s behavior, mood, and thinking. In a normal sense, psychoactive drugs are usually used to balance the body in a view to escape from life’s dealings which often result in cravings for more and producing withdrawal symptoms. They can be divided into various categories. They are:
- Stimulants: These are categories of drugs that increase the brain activity to enhance the state of the body’s arousal. Examples are nicotine, amphetamines, cocaine, caffeine, ecstasy, and methylphenidate.
- Depressants: Theses are categories of drugs that impede the activity of the central nervous system to lower body alertness. They have the ability to produce sluggishness and lethargic behaviors. Examples of depressants are alcohol, heroin, flunitrazepam, methaqualone, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, GHB, and analgesics.
- Hallucinogens: These are other categories of psychoactive drugs that alter feelings, perceptions, and can result in hallucinations such as hearing or seeing imaginary things. Examples of hallucinogens are psilocybin (known as magic mushrooms), LSD, ketamine, mescaline (or peyote), and PCP (angel dust).
- Others: Some other psychoactive drugs are found in other categories such as a combination of two or more categories discussed above. An example of this category is cannabis which has the combination of stimulant, depressive, and hallucinogenic properties.
Different Types of Drugs
Having categorized the psychoactive drugs, below are the common types of drugs that have effects on brain, personality, and can affect the users in many ways:
- And much more
These different types of drugs will be discussed in-depth one after the other to know their effects on the brain and body.
Cocaine is a stimulant type of psychoactive drug that affects the central nervous system by boosting the brain activity to reduce fatigue and increase alertness. It is made from coca plant leaves which usually grown in South America region. Coca plant is naturally harmless and useful, but when it is refined into cocaine, it can result in serious responses that can be catastrophic.
Cocaine is known to cause high blood pressure as well as rapid heart rate which can be sometimes deadly. It is commonly come in fine powder form and usually inhaled or sniffed through the nose. Cocaine is highly stimulated and can lead to talkativeness, euphoria, and excess of energy.
Continuous involvement in cocaine consumption generates many effects that lead to addiction. The body becomes tolerance to this drug and more and more are needed to reach the usual level of “high” as the users must continue taking more every time to obtain the equivalent levels to feel its effects. As a result of this dependence, the brain finds it difficult to function in this new level without it.
Effects of Cocaine
Cocaine acts directly on one of the brain chemicals called “dopamine,” a chemical referred to as “feel good” chemical, and it is responsible for the feeling of euphoria and happiness. Cocaine effects do not last long unless taking in a significant amount. However, when it is addicted, the users usually take it in large amount to reach the same levels of high to maintain the feelings.
Below are the short-term and long-term effects of cocaine:
- Sense of overconfidence with exaggerated energy
- Increase blood pressure
- Rapid heart pulse rate
- Suspiciousness, anxiety, and irritability
- High body temperature
- Enlarged pupils
- Loss of appetite
- Increased alertness
- Abdominal cramping
- Stroke and heart attack if taking in excess
- Tolerance and addiction
- Psychosis periods
- Feelings of emotional disturbances
- Violent or aggressive behaviors
- Weight loss due to malnutrition and loss of appetite
- Loss of immunity
Other Related Effects
Apart from all these effects, there are also harmful effects which have been connected to the method of use of cocaine. For example, snorting can cause severe damage to the membrane of the fragile mucous in the nasal passages by producing sores and burns on the internal membranes of the nose.
Cocaine injection has also been associated with blocked blood vessels that can lead to significant damage to the organs of the body, blood poisoning, bacterial infections, inflamed abscesses and blood vessels which may harm the heart valves, causing vein collapse, injuries at the point of injection, and much more.
Effects of Cocaine on the Brain
Cocaine has been researched to cause brain damage, especially when it is abused. It affects the structures of the brain by causing the release of a brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for controlling of feelings of happiness and pleasure leading to euphoria feelings known as “high.”
However, the effects of cocaine can only be felt for about 15 – 20 minutes and the high wears off; after then, the user starts craving for more. This leads to abuse and can cause much other lasting damage to the body and society. Cocaine addict can cause other brain-related disorders such as depression, psychosis, anxiety, bipolar, paranoia, and other mental problems.
Social Effects of Cocaine
Surrounding family and friends of the cocaine addict tend to suffer many consequences arising from their loved one under the influence of cocaine. Below are the symptoms and effects on the surrounding family:
- Swift anger outburst: The family and friends of a cocaine addict experience sudden anger outburst from the user. A cocaine user displays antisocial behaviors, paranoia or anxiety which easily results in a poor anger management, subjecting the family and friends to sudden anger outburst unannounced.
- Hostility from spouse or family: As a result of cocaine addiction, a married couple may face disaffection which may lead to divorce based on the degree of destruction. An addiction to cocaine can lead to spouse or family mistreatment and avoidance due to health risks and other related problems resulting in total relationship breakdown.
- Work and financial problems: Apart from its physical and medical symptoms, the use of cocaine has been studies to cause a massive set setback to professional workers as they cannot function effectively at work. The family also suffers this financial problem as the user leaves expensive habit and affecting the family budget. Cocaine addiction systematically affects the performance of the user’s work such as absenteeism, mistakes, and may lead to loss of employment. In this case, if the victim happens to be the family’s breadwinner, the dependents tend to suffer much.
- Adverse effect on the children: Children are expected to be raised in a caring, and warm environment as whatever they learn at this stage has effects on their future and the society as a whole. However, living with a family member or parent who is struggling with cocaine addiction may have an adverse effect on the children. They may be subjected to abuse verbally, mentally, or physically from the cocaine user. Some may even be convinced that it is a real way of living life. Apart from children, other family members may also be inflicted to regret, shame, disgrace, embarrassment, guilt for not be able to curtail their family member from deteriorating to that level of destruction.
Heroin is a depressant type of psychoactive drugs that influence the central nervous system of the body such as heart and breathing rate by impeding the activities of the particular neurotransmitters or brain chemicals. It is a deadly and addictive drug made from poppy plant resin.
The process involves refining opium taken from poppy plants into morphine and further refined into heroin. It is usually refined into brown or white powder as well as a sticky tar-like substance which can be taken in various ways such as sniffing, injection, or smoking.
Heroin can also be cut with poisons, sugar or powder milk, and hides as ingredients in many drugs and powder. Heroin injection has the higher rate of “high” compared to snorting and smoking. Heroin users commonly experience “rush” when the drug is taken and this result in a euphoric sensation.
The experience is quicker when injected as the user feels it immediately. The craving for more to achieve the usual level of high makes the body addicted to it, and withdrawal symptoms become severe if the user does not take it.
Effects of Heroin
The effects of heroin are varied in the individual and range from a high degree of dependence, valves, heart lining infection, pneumonia, abscesses, collapsed veins, fatal overdose and much more. However, heroin consumption has both short-term and long-term effects, and they are as follows:
Short-term Effects of Heroin
Short-term effects include those effects that happen immediately heroin is taken, and they are:
- Dry mouth
- Warm skin flush
- Ultimate feeling of heaviness
- Slow breathing and heart rate
- Muscular weakness
Long-term Effects of Heroin
Long-term effects of heroin are long lasting effects of heroin use, and they are:
- Drug dependence and tolerance
- Gums inflammation and bad teeth
- Respiratory illnesses
- Women menstrual weakness
- Sexual dissatisfaction in both men and women due to inability to achieve orgasm
- Loss of sexual capacity in men which can lead to long-term impotence
- Partial paralysis
- Cold sweats
- Loss of appetite
- Acne on the face
Other Related Effects
However, there are also treacherous effects associated with the way heroin is used. Injecting, which is the most dangerous can lead to blocked blood vessels and cause serious damage to the organs of the body, blood poisoning, abscesses, bacterial infections, and cause blood vessels inflammation.
Snoring can also affect the membrane of the fragile mucous in the nasal passages, leading to the membranes burns and sores.
It has been studied that those people who use heroin or addicted to heroin also take other drugs with it. However, heroin has been stated to be harmful to the health; taking heroin with other drugs such as benzodiazepines, alcohol, or other depressants can boost the chances of harmful effects on the heart, subjecting the heart to sudden failure.
Effects of Heroin on the Brain
Heroin is acknowledged to cause an alteration in the brain chemistry and performance. Continuous abuse of heroin leads to medial temporal lobe damage which causes rapid brain aging.
Chronic use of heroin causes severe damage to the brain by affecting cognitive functions, causing anti-social personality disorder, irrational thinking, and depression.
It achieves all these damages by tampering the brain region called prefrontal cortex (PFC) which is directly involved in judgment, logical thinking, impulse control, planning, and other related functions. Damaging the prefrontal cortex impairs the user’s cognitive ability to control his or her impulses and reason irrationally based o his or her judgments.
Effects of heroin abuse on the medial temporal lobe and PFC increase the rate of brain aging process and cause cognitive skills deficits such as pattern recognition, verbal fluency as well as inability to regulate and shift focus from a particular task to another.
Due to their impaired brains, heroin users are characterized by clouded thinking which incapacitates them to handle tasks that are challenging and required high-level of thinking.
Social Effects of Heroin
There are many devastating social effects of heroin abuse which can impede smooth relationships with friends and related associates as well as the society as a whole. Some of these problems range from child abuse, loss of friendships, financial problems, broken marriage, domestic violence, and loss of a child. Below are some of the leading social impacts associated with the use of heroin:
- Transmission of sexual diseases: Use of unsterilized and sharing of needles to inject heroin expose the users to the risk of sexually transmitted diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, and as well spread the diseases to sexual partners and related members as applicable.
- Broken relationships: When a member of the family is eroding with heroin, friendships, marriages, family bonds can break down due to user’s ability to maintain disciplines and control his or herself. The mood change and harmful behaviors exhibited by the heroin user subject the family and friends to physical and emotional distress which make them discontinue their relationships with the users.
- Financial issues: Heroin addicts always struggle with finances as their incomes cannot withstand their craving for heroin thereby making their family and dependants experience low budget for their upkeep.
- Unemployment: Heroin users are at the risk of jeopardizing their chance of getting a job for a living, as many of the employers out there are in the habit of subjecting their intending employees to a drug test prior hiring them. A professional worker who uses heroin also performs below average in discharging his or her assigned duties and affects the overall output. A heroin addict may suffer setbacks at work through the following:
- Disciplinary problems
- Low productivity
- Frequent late coming
- Using business hour to high
- Get fired.
Crack is a subset of cocaine. It is the name of cocaine formation that is refined with the addition of ammonia or baking soda to make more potent and rock formations that can be smoked. Crack finds its popularity due to its pleasure to drug users looking for a fast stimulant, ultra-potent, and inexpensive drug.
The name “crack” was generated from cracking sound produced by a smoked and heated rock. Crack cocaine usually occurs in yellow, pink, or white color based on the addition of any form of contaminants and different methods of production.
Crack cocaine is a potent stimulant that can bring out rapid and euphoric high. It affects the body by accelerating various physical and mental processes, aimed to enhance focus, attentiveness, and boosts energy. There are various ways of taking crack cocaine namely; smoking, snorting, and injection.
It is commonly smoked through a water pipe or hand pipe, and its effects are immediate and more intense as it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream from the lungs to travel faster throughout the whole body and brain.
Injecting and snorting method of use is less common. A combination of crack cocaine with marijuana, heroin, and other psychoactive drugs has been reported to create more severe effects in addition to crack cocaine effects. Cocaine is highly stimulated; however, crack is the riskiest and dangerous form of stimulant substance. Other street names of crack cocaine are jelly beans, rocks, dice, nuggets, cookies, gravel, piece, and base.
Effects of Crack Cocaine
Use of crack cocaine has both short-term and long-term effects as well as impacts on the brain. The following are the short-term and long-term effects:
When the vapors of crack cocaine are inhaled into the lung, the effects are felt immediately and last for about 5 – 15 minutes. When the feelings subside, the users start craving for more, and this can result in dependence after their initial hit. Below are the most common short-term effects but can vary from one person to another:
- Dilated pupils
- Increased heart rate
- Intense euphoria
- Inhibited blood vessels of the peripheral
- Increased blood pressure
- Reduction in appetite
- Paranoia and anxiety
- Intense craving for more
- Aggressive behavior
- Sudden death – only one use or overdose can cause death
Continuous abuse of crack cocaine can result in many long-lasting effects, and they are as listed below:
- Addiction and tolerance
- Severe depression
- Brain seizures
- Psychosis or delirium
- Mood disturbance and irritability
- Touch and auditory hallucinations
- Men and women sexual dysfunction as well as reproductive damage
- Paranoid behaviors
- Respiration failure
- Infertility in both men and women
Crack Cocaine’s Effects on the Brain
Crack cocaine affects the brain by stimulating the central nervous system and interferes with the neurotransmitter in the brain; causing an excess amount of the brain chemical called “dopamine.” This brain chemical is responsible for feelings of movement and pleasure, and when crack cocaine alters it, the psychological effects can be amplified. The user’s rapid craving for crack cocaine alters the brain chemistry’s reward system and impedes the optimal function of the cognitive faculty.
Social Effects of Crack Cocaine
Crack cocaine use not only affects the user, but family and friends are also at risk in one way or the other. These effects are ranging from violence, abuse, crime, accidents, unplanned pregnancy, promiscuity, financial, divorce, and much more. The governments at different levels spend a huge sum of amount every year on drug regulation and control through prevention, prosecution, treatments, and prisons. Crack cocaine and other drug-related health care system are costing government billions of dollars every year; just to mention but a few.
Below are some of the social effects of crack cocaine as they are related to family, friends and the society at large:
- Domestic violence: The stability of the household is at stake in a family where someone is struggling with crack cocaine use as the users become more violent and prone to anger now and then. The immediate family, children, and spouses become the focus of rage when withdrawal symptoms set in or during a crack binge.
- Financial issues: The family suffers financial problems as crack user spending on crack cocaine to satisfy his or her urge for the drug; thereby affecting the family budget. In this case, if the crack cocaine user happens to be the breadwinner of the family without anyone to support him or her, the dependents tend to suffer much.
- Babies born addicted: Studies have shown that more than ten thousand babies are born in the U.S every year that has been subjected to crack cocaine in the womb. These babies may be delivered prematurely as well as being at risk of some withdrawal symptoms upon birth. Apart from being at risk of crack cocaine abuse from their parents or caregivers, these affected children are also exposed to other problems such as congenital disabilities, mental retardation, high rate of premature death in their first month after birth, brain damage, and other related problems.
- Lack of adequate care: The children of crack cocaine addicts lack proper care especially if the user is a woman. The children are forced to be placed under a foster care, and this has over the time contributed to home environments dysfunctions.
- Loss of employment: Crack cocaine addicts usually suffer job loss as their acts cost the employers occupational accident, loss of resources and power. They are characterized by absenteeism, loss of efficiency, lateness to work, domestic violence, mistakes, and much more. These made them get sacked after a lot of queries and warnings.
Out of many psychoactive drugs to be discussed, this paper has covered only three namely; cocaine, heroin, and crack cocaine. All these drugs have been shown to have short-term and long-term effects as well as having a huge influence on the neurotransmitters in the brain which affect the brain function leading to many brain disorders.
Family and society as a whole also suffer from this careless life of the addicts. However, there is much available support and treatment to help the abuser and addicts; tapping into the opportunity will go a long way in putting our society and the generation to come on a right path.