Wisconsin's Public Liberal Arts College

Summary of the Health Effects of Drug and Alcohol Abuse


Campus Safety Office

Summary of the Health Effects of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

The following is a partial list of drugs and the consequences of their use. The effect is clear. The use of alcohol and other drugs is detrimental to the health of the user. Further, the use of drugs and alcohol is not conducive to an academic atmosphere. Drugs impede the learning process and can cause disruption for other students and disturb their academic interests. The use of drugs in the workplace may also impede the employees ability to perform in a sage and effective manner, and may result in injuries to others. Early diagnosis and treatment of drug and alcohol abuse is in the best interest of the student, employee, and university.

Marijuana and hashish are deleterious to the health and impair the short-term memory and comprehension of the user. Their use alters the sense of time, and reduces the ability of the user to perform tasks requiring concentration and coordination. It increases the heart rate and appetite. Motivation and recognition can be altered, making acquisition and retention of new information difficult. Long-term use may result in psychological dependence and can produce paranoia and psychosis. Because these drugs are inhaled as unfiltered smoke, they are damaging to the lungs and pulmonary system and they have more cancer-causing agents than tobacco.

Cocaine or crack stimulates the central nervous system and is extremely addictive. It can cause psychological and physical dependency on the drug, which can lead to dilated pupils, increased pulse rate, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite, paranoia, and seizures. It can also cause death by disrupting the brains control of the heart and respiration.

The use of other stimulants and amphetamines can have the same effect as cocaine use, causing increased heart rate and blood pressure which can result in stroke or heart failure. Symptoms include dizziness, sleeplessness, and anxiety. It can also lead to psychosis, hallucinations, paranoia, and even physical collapse.

Depressants and barbiturates can cause physical and psychological dependence that can lead to respiratory depression, coma, and death, especially when used in concert with alcohol. Withdrawal can lead to restlessness, insomnia, convulsions, and even death.

LSD, PCP, mescaline, and peyote are classified as hallucinogens. Hallucinogens interrupt the brain messages that control the intellect and keep instincts in check. Large doses can produce convulsions and coma, heart and lung failure. Chronic users experience persistent memory problems and speech difficulties for up to a year after their use. Because the drug stops the brains pain sensors, drug experiences may result in severe self-inflicted injuries.

Users of narcotics, such as heroin, codeine, morphine, and opium develop dependence and increase the likelihood of an overdose which can lead to convulsions, coma, and death.

Alcohol is chemically classified as a mind-altering drug because it contains ethanol and has the chemical power to depress the action of the central nervous system. This depression affects motor coordination, speech, and vision. In large amounts, it can affect respiration and heart-rate control. Death can result when the level of blood alcohol exceeds 0.40%. Prolonged abuse of alcohol can lead to alcoholism, malnutrition, and cirrhosis.


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