How drugs affect your body
Different types of drugs affect your body in different ways, and the effects associated with drugs can vary from person to person. How a drug effects an individual is dependent on a variety of factors including body size, general health, the amount and strength of the drug, and whether any other drugs are in the system at the same time. It is important to remember that illegal drugs are not controlled substances, and therefore the quality and strength may differ from one batch to another.
Drugs can have short-term and long-term effects. These effects can be physical and psychological, and can include dependency.
You may act differently, feel differently and think differently if you have taken drugs. And you may struggle to control your actions and thoughts.
You might begin to use drugs without thinking about any harm to your body. You might think drugs won't become a problem because you are only a casual user. The more you take a drug, the more likely you are to build up a tolerance to its effects. This can lead to the need to take larger doses to obtain the effects of the drug. For this reason, evidence suggests that after prolonged use, many drugs can cause dependence. Drug dependence can quickly begin to affect your psychological and physical health, and can also affect your work and social life.
It is important to remember that there is no safe level of drug use.
Different drugs, different effects
Drugs affect your body's central nervous system. They affect how you think, feel and behave. The three main types are depressants, hallucinogens and stimulants:
- Depressants slow or 'depress' the function of the central nervous system. They slow the messages going to and from your brain. In small quantities depressants can cause a person to feel relaxed and less inhibited. In large amounts they may cause vomiting, unconsciousness and death. Depressants affect your concentration and coordination, and slow your ability to respond to situations. It is important to not operate heavy machinery while taking depressants. Alcohol, cannabis, GHB, opiates (heroin, morphine, codeine) and benzodiazepines (minor tranquillisers) are examples of depressants.
- Hallucinogens distort your sense of reality. You may see or hear things that are not really there, or see things in a distorted way. Other effects can include emotional and psychological euphoria, jaw clenching, panic, paranoia, gastric upset and nausea. Ketamine, LSD, PCP, 'magic mushrooms' and cannabis are examples of hallucinogens.
- Stimulants speed or 'stimulate' the central nervous system. They speed up messaging to and from the brain, making you feel more alert and confident. This can cause increased heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature, reduced appetite, agitation and sleeplessness. In large amounts stimulants may cause anxiety, panic, seizures, stomach cramps and paranoia. Caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines (speed and Ice), cocaine and ecstasy (MDMA) are examples of stimulants.