Drug use can have a wide range of both short- and long-term, direct and indirect effects. These effects most often depend on the specific drug or drugs used, ways they are taken, quantity taken, the person’s health, and other factors. Short-term effects can begin from changes in appetite, wakefulness, heart rate, blood pressure, and/or mood to heart attack, stroke, psychosis, overdose, and even death. These health effects may happen after just one use.
Longer-term effects may include heart or lung disease, cancer, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and others. Long-term drug use can also result to addiction. Drug addiction is a brain disorder. Not everyone who uses drugs will get addicted, but for some, drug use can change how certain brain functions work. These brain changes interfere with how people experience normal pleasures in life such as food and sex, their ability to control their stress level, their decision-making, their ability to learn and remember, etc. These changes make it much harder for someone to stop taking the drug even when it’s having negative effects on their life and they want to stop.
Drug use can eqaully have indirect effects on both the people who are taking drugs and on those around them. This can include affecting a person’s nutrition; sleep; decision-making and impulsivity; and risk for trauma, violence, injury, and communicable diseases. Drug use can also affect babies born to women who use drugs while pregnant. Broader negative outcomes may be observed in education level, employment, housing, relationships, and criminal justice involvement.