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Drugs and Health Risks
1. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Short term effects of excessive alcohol intake may include impaired judgment and coordination, distorted vision, slurred speech, nausea, and blackouts. Death from alcohol poisoning begins to be a possibility if the blood alcohol level reaches .30. The long term health risks of heavy drinking include hypertension, stroke, cirrhosis of the liver, heart problems, brain and nerve damage, sexual dysfunction, and stomach ailments.

2. Tobacco contains nicotine which is both a stimulant and a sedative to the central nervous system. It is known to be a very addictive substance. Smokers can become physically and psychologically dependent. The long term health risks of smoking cigarettes include emphysema, heart disease, stroke, and cancer of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, lungs, pancreas, cervix, uterus, and bladder.

3. Marijuana contains THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) which accounts for most of its psychoactive or mind altering effects. The short-term effects of using marijuana include sleepiness, memory and concentration problems, impaired motor coordination, increased heart rate, dry mouth and throat, and decreased social inhibitions. The long term effects of using marijuana include impaired lung functioning, sexual problems, breast tissue development in men, and possible immune system damage.

4. Stimulants increase the activity of the central nervous system. Examples include amphetamines, methamphetamines, cocaine, and crack which cause short term elevations in mood, self-confidence, energy, heart rate and blood pressure. Potential difficulties associated with the more powerful stimulants such as these include possible physical addiction, psychoses, severe depressions, and anxiety syndromes such as panic attacks and obsessions. Additional health risks include seizures and cardiac arrest.

5. Hallucinogens are substances that distort perception of reality. The most well known hallucinogens include phycyclidine (PCP), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), mescaline, and psilocybin. Under the influence of these drugs, the senses of direction, distance, and time become disoriented. They can produce unpredictable, erratic, and violent behavior in users that sometimes lead to serious injury and death. At high doses, LSD can cause convulsions, coma, heart and lung failure, and even death.

6. Sedatives/Tranquilizers are drugs used to reduce anxiety and tension. In some cases, they are used as sleep aids as well. Like alcohol, these drugs are central nervous system depressants. Examples include barbiturates such as Amytal, Nembutal, and Seconal, as well as benzodiazepines such as Activan, Halcion, Librium, and Xanax. Rohypnol, a date rape drug, also falls into this category. Although specific effects may vary according to the particular drug, these drugs typically induce a state of relaxation and drowsiness. At high doses, dizziness, slurred speech, impaired coordination, and amnesia may occur. Health hazards include risk for addiction and coma and/or death from overdose.

7. Narcotics are painkillers or analgesics. These drugs include morphine, heroin, codeine, and Dilaudid, all of which are derived from opium. Synthetic narcotics include drugs such as Demerol, Percodan, and Darvon. These drugs tend to reduce sensory feeling and sensitivity of all kinds, to pleasure as well as pain. In large doses, they induce drowsiness, mental clouding, lethargy, and even sleep. They are highly addictive. Overdose risks include convulsions, coma, and death.

8. Anabolic Steroids are synthetic derivatives of the male hormone testosterone. These derivatives of testosterone promote the growth of skeletal muscle and increase lean body mass. The long-term, high dose effects of steroid use are largely unknown. Major side effects of anabolic steroid use include liver tumors, jaundice, fluid retention, high blood pressure, acne, and trembling. Aggression and mood swings as well as other psychiatric side effects may result from their abuse.
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