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The Health Effects of Other Drugs

Drinking and Drugging Compounds Health Problems


Updated June 02, 2014

Alcohol and Drug addiction
Lyle Leduc Collection/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
Many alcoholics today who find their way into recovery bring with them addictions to other drugs, which may have compounded their health problems due to chronic use.

In the early days of the recovery movement, alcohol was not only the main problem, it was usually the only problem. But with the advent of the 1960's and the popularization of recreational drug use, today's alcoholics are more likely to find themselves "cross addicted" to other substances.

Combined with the adverse effects of chronic drinking the use or abuse of other drugs, be they legal or illegal, can create a wide variety of mental and physical health problems. Here's a look at some of the more "popular" drugs of choice and how each can effect the user. Click on the names to find even more detailed information.

Health Effects

Stimulants or Amphetamines

    (Dexedrine, Methamphetamine or "Crystal", "Crank", and "Speed") increase alertness and physical activity. Amphetamines increase heart and breathing rates and blood pressure, dialate pupils and decrease appetite. Side-effects can include sweating, dry mouth, blurred vision, insomnia, loss of appetite, and dizziness. In addition users can feel restless, anxious and moody, become excitable and have a false sense of power and security.

    Using large amounts of these drugs can result in a condition known as amphetamine psychosis -- which can result in auditory, visual and tactile hallucinations, intense paranoia, irrational thoughts and beliefs, delusions, and mental confusion.

    Amphetamine overdose can also cause cardiac arrhythmias, headaches, convulsions, hypertension, rapid heart rate, coma and death. Amphetamines are psychologically and physically addictive.


    Pot has more than 400 different chemical compounds and contains even more cancer-causing agents than are found in tobacco, according to some studies. Even low doses or pot can interfere with coordination, perception of time, reasoning and judgment, -- making driving under its influence extremely dangerous.

    Marijuana use causes short-term memory loss, decreases sperm and testosterone production in men, and may disrupt the menstrual cycle and cause miscarriage and stillbirth in women.


    These are all extremely addictive stimulants. Because the intense euphoria these drugs produce is very short-lived, users typically use again and again trying to recapture that initial "high." Physical effects of cocaine include increases in blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and body temperature. Snorting cocaine can severly damage nasal membranes over time.

    Continued use produces insomnia, hyperactivity, anxiousness, agitation and malnutrition. Overdoses can be lethal.


    Heroin, Opium, Morphine, and Codeine are used legally by the medical profession to relieve pain. But they are abused due to their mood-altering effects. All narcotics are extremely physically and psychologically addictive. Medical problems can include congested lungs, liver disease, tetanus, infection of the heart valves, skin abscesses, anemia and pneumonia. Death can occur from overdose.

More Drug Health Effects

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