Effects of Drugs: How They Appear with Time

Drugs are chemical substances and abusing them can lead to a host of health problems, both physically and mentally. Most people do not take drugs with the intention of becoming addicted, but unfortunately for some, the short-term effects of drugs can provide temporary relief. This means they may continue to abuse drugs before developing an addiction that becomes almost impossible to beat.

There are both short- and long-term effects of drugs, which vary depending on the actual drug taken and the way in which it is abused.

Short-Term Effects of Drugs

Drugs are typically split into three categories: stimulants, hallucinogens, and depressants.

Stimulants such as ecstasy, cocaine, speed, and mephedrone tend to make the user feel energetic, alert and full of confidence. Hallucinogens include drugs such as LSD and magic mushrooms, and these give users a distorted perception of the world around them. Depressants include heroin, cannabis and alcohol and these substances make the user feel relaxed and happy.

Stimulant drugs can also have negative short-term side effects that can include panic attacks and anxiety. These drugs are particularly dangerous for those with high blood pressure or heart problems as they work by overstimulating the nervous system and the heart.

Since hallucinogens affect the way the users experience the world around them, they can lead to disturbing thoughts. Hallucinations and delusions can frighten the user and make him/her act in a bizarre manner. Individuals that react badly to hallucinogens have been known to put themselves and others in danger while under the effects of the drug.

Sedative drugs such as heroin can cause respiratory failure, and those who take too much are at risk of overdose and even death.

Long-Term Effects of Drugs

Those who abuse drugs over an extended period are in danger of developing a number of mental and physical health problems. The type of health problems a person experiences will depend on a number of factors but can include depression, psychosis, paranoia, schizophrenia, anxiety, weight loss, malnutrition, sleep problems, lung disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, hepatitis, HIV, and AIDS.

Factors that Influence Severity of Side-Effects

Not everyone will experience side-effects of drugs to the same extent. Some factors will determine the short- and long-term effects of particular drugs, such as how much of the drug is taken and how often.

Those who take larger doses of certain drugs are more likely to suffer from a number of mental and physical side-effects than someone who takes the drug in smaller doses. The type of drug also plays a role. Some drugs are cut with other harmful substances, which can make the likelihood of side-effects higher.

How Different Drugs Affect the User

Each drug can cause different effects to those who use them, both in the short- and long-term. Below are a few examples of the short- and long-term effects of specific drugs:


Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that produces feelings of happiness and euphoria. Those who take the drug will feel confident, and often arrogant. This can lead the user to take unnecessary risks and can lead to aggression. However, the effects of cocaine do not last for very long, and the comedown can be particularly unpleasant. This often results in depression and a general feeling of being unwell.

Long-term use of cocaine can lead to heart problems, which may result in stroke or heart attack. It is a very addictive drug that may give rise to various lifestyle problems such as financial hardship, job loss, and relationship breakdown.


Heroin is a depressant drug that makes the user feel sleepy and relaxed. It slows down the body’s systems, and the effects can last for several hours. It can also cause nausea and vomiting, and those who take it may experience a slow heart rate and low body temperature. Long-term effects include severe chronic constipation, malnutrition, damaged skin due to scratching, damaged immune system, sleep problems, poor oral health, liver damage, and kidney damage.


Cannabis makes users feel relaxed and content, but it can also result in paranoia and anxiety. Long-term users of cannabis are at risk of drug addiction as well as mental health problems including depression and psychosis. Because cannabis is often smoked with tobacco, those who use it over an extended period may be in danger of developing physical health problems such as lung cancer.


Ecstasy is a powerful stimulant drug that makes the user feel happy and talkative. Those who take the drug often feel very affectionate to those around them, and it can also make colours seem more vivid and sounds more intense. Nevertheless, ecstasy can also cause paranoia, confusion and anxiety in the short-term. The long-term effects of ecstasy include psychosis, depression, and problems with memory.


Probably one of the most destructive drugs available today, methamphetamine is highly addictive, and abuse of this drug results in severe mental and physical health problems. The short-term effects include alertness and vigour but also aggression, confusion, and paranoia. Those who take methamphetamine tend to eat and sleep very little, which can have a dramatic effect on their physical health and appearance.

Long-term use of methamphetamine can lead to strokes, cardiovascular disease, lung damage, liver disease, kidney disease, and memory problems. It is also common for methamphetamine users to suffer from extreme mood swings.

New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)

Until May 2016, NPS were also known as legal highs as they were legally available to purchase on the high street or online. These drugs are made to act like other illegal drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy, but they are extremely dangerous. NPS can cause a host of physical health problems including coma, seizures, and even death. The reason these are so dangerous is that they often contain harmful chemicals, but it is impossible to know exactly what is in them. This makes it harder for medical professionals to treat those who have an adverse reaction to them.

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