ComplicationsBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Drug use can have significant and damaging short-term and long-term effects. Taking some drugs can be particularly risky, especially if you take high doses or combine them with other drugs or alcohol. Here are some examples.
- Methamphetamine, opiates and cocaine are highly addictive and cause multiple short-term and long-term health consequences, including psychotic behavior, seizures or death due to overdose.
- GHB and Rohypnol may cause sedation, confusion and memory loss. These so-called "date rape drugs" are easy to give someone without his or her knowledge or consent and are known to impair the ability to resist unwanted contact and recollection of the event. At high doses, they can cause seizures, coma and death. The danger increases when these drugs are taken with alcohol.
- Ecstasy or Molly (MDMA) can cause dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and complications that can include seizures. Long-term, MDMA can damage the brain.
- One particular danger of club drugs is that the liquid, pill or powder forms of these drugs available on the street often contain unknown substances that can be harmful, including other illegally manufactured or pharmaceutical drugs.
- Due to the toxic nature of inhalants, users may develop brain damage of different levels of severity.
Other life-changing complications
Dependence on drugs can create a number of dangerous and damaging complications, including:
Dec. 05, 2014
- Getting a communicable disease. People who are addicted to a drug are more likely to get an infectious disease, such as HIV, either through unsafe sex or by sharing needles.
- Other health problems. Drug addiction can lead to a range of both short-term and long-term mental and physical health problems. These depend on what drug is taken.
- Accidents. If you're addicted to a drug, you're more likely to drive or do other dangerous activities while under the influence.
- Suicide. People who are addicted to drugs commit suicide more often than people who aren't addicted.
- Family problems. Behavioral changes may cause marital or family strife and custody issues.
- Work issues. Drug use and dependence can cause declining performance at work, absenteeism and eventual loss of employment.
- Problems at school. Drug use can negatively affect academic performance and motivation to excel in school.
- Legal issues. These are very common for drug users and can stem from buying or possessing illegal drugs, stealing to support your drug addiction, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or disputes over child custody.
- Financial problems. Spending money to support your drug use takes away money from your other needs, could put you into debt, and can lead to illegal or unethical behaviors.
- Family checkup: Positive parenting prevents drug abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Weaver MF, et al. Substance use disorder: Principles for recognition and assessment in general medical care. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Substance-related and addictive disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Information about NA. Narcotics Anonymous. http://www.na.org/?ID=ResourcesforProfessionals-content. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- For those in treatment. Narcotics Anonymous. http://www.na.org/?ID=ResourcesforProfessionals-content. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Commonly abused drugs chart. National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs/commonly-abused-drugs-chart. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Commonly abused prescription drugs. National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs/commonly-abused-prescription-drugs-chart. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Drug facts: Understanding drug abuse and addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Akram Y, et al. Family-based interventions for substance misuse: A systemic review of systematic reviews — Protocol. Systematic Reviews. 2014;3:90.
- Hales RE, et al. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 6th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2014. http://www.psychiatryonline.org/resourceToc.aspx?resourceID=5. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide. National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Alcohol and drug addiction happens in the best of families. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. http://store.samhsa.gov/product/Alcohol-and-Drug-Addiction-Happens-in-the-Best-of-Families/SMA12-4159. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Intervention — Tips and guidelines. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc. http://www.ncadd.org/index.php/for-friends-and-family/intervention. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Karpyak VM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 27, 2014.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 23, 2014.
- Synthetic drug threats. National Conference of State Legislatures. http://www.ncsl.org/research/civil-and-criminal-justice/synthetic-drug-threats.aspx. Accessed Sept. 19, 2014.
- DrugFacts: Spice ("Synthetic marijuana"). National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/spice-synthetic-marijuana. Accessed Sept. 19, 2014.
- DrugFacts: Synthetic cathinones ("Bath salts"). National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts. Accessed Sept. 19, 2014.