A: Every single drug of abuse, including alcohol, can affect your personal appearance. In many instances, these changes to how you look can be permanent, shocking and embarrassing. Almost every single drug of abuse can cause someone to lose so much weight that they are malnourished and unhealthy.
Drugs can affect your skin by making you look much older than you really are. This is probably due to the combination of poor sleep, stress and poor nutrition. Many of our patients in our Addiction Clinic are in their 20s, but look 10 years older.
Drugs can also cause you to have very damaged teeth and gum disease. Users of methamphetamine have a much higher likelihood of gum infections, cavities and tooth loss than expected. This is called “meth mouth”.
In other areas of personal appearance, hair thinning and hair loss can be accelerated by using drugs and alcohol. And some drugs, such as anabolic steroids or alcohol, will cause shrinkage of reproductive organs (testicles) and excessive growth of breasts in men – two examples of highly undesirable outcomes in personal appearance.
A: DMT, formally known as N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, is a hallucinogenic drug that when ingested can cause users to experience visual, auditory and bizarre experiences such as seeing oneself from afar, mixing up of senses (hearing smells, seeing tastes). This drug affects the serotonin system, a chemical system in the brain that is responsible for controlling mood, attention and sensory processing. Synthetic DMT can be smoked, snorted or ingested. At this point, little is known about long-term effects of DMT use in humans, but animal research has shown that there may be damage to the brain areas that control mood, cognition and problem-solving. Clinically, I have seen several patients who have used DMT just a few times and they still struggle with depression, anxiety and concentration several months later.
A: Ecstasy, otherwise known as "X", is classified both as a stimulant and a hallucinogenic drug. It affects many different parts of the brain, especially areas that control pleasure, mood, emotional control and interpretation of sights, sounds and smells. The main neurochemicals that Ecstasy impacts are serotonin and dopamine. In a nutshell, the drug alters levels of these neurochemicals dramatically, causing the brain to radically change how it processes information and sensations. Ecstasy users report that many of their senses are intensified and heightened, as if the volume or the color control on the television were turned up to maximum. Some users report hallucinations, where they see or hear things that are not actually there. Others report having intense emotional experiences where they begin to laugh and cry without any particular reason.
Recent scientific work has shown that Ecstasy causes significant damage to the brain, even after just a few administrations. For this reason, many patients who are addicted to Ecstasy say that, even when they are sober, they just don't feel like that they have returned to normal. Those addicted to Ecstasy often have to deal with long-term psychiatric problems such as depression, impairments in learning, anxiety, insomnia and difficulty controlling anger. Although more research is needed in this area, scientists are pretty certain that Ecstasy can cause permanent damage to the brain, especially to areas of learning, memory, attention and mood. Knowing this is even more important for young adults because their brains are still growing (up until mid-20s!) and Ecstasy can and will dramatically affect brain growth and development.
A: Muscle building steroids are a Frankenstein-like mish-mash of synthetic chemicals meant to replicate natural occurring hormones. Most muscle building steroids are illegal, because they are poorly studied and have a wealth of negative effects while taking them, and when coming off of them. Most medical steroids are prescribed and managed by a physician because of their powerful effects on the body and potential negative side effects. Muscle building steroids are not managed by a physician, but can still have the same negative side effects. These substances alter most facets of human development, especially in teens, and can lead to cardiovascular problems, skin and acne concerns, stunted physical growth, abnormal development of reproductive organs, and even death.
Yes, there are negative withdrawal symptoms to steroids, depending on what is taken - the best way to avoid these symptoms is not to use them, or to stick with natural supplements and healthy eating habits.
A: Yes, depending on the concentration of smoke in the air, the size of the room you are in, and the amount of time you spend in the vicinity of someone else smoking marijuana, you can be affected by the second-hand smoke. Depending on your particular physical make-up, you may retain traces of marijuana in your system for up to 30 days.
A: The long-term effects of smoking marijuana can be divided up into physical and emotional consequences. In terms of physical consequences, smoking marijuana is linked to many of the same problems as tobacco smoking (such as cough, phlegm and wheeze). Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which further increases the lungs' exposure to carcinogenic smoke. Research has shown that the most common physical problems from smoking marijuana can be lung problems such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Some smokers report having chronic cough (an early sign of serious lung damage) just a few months after regular marijuana use.
Long-term emotional consequences can be highly variable. The most damaging one is probably the risk of developing a psychiatric illness such as depression, anxiety or other psychotic symptoms. Marijuana has never been shown to help these psychiatric problems over time and there is a mountain of research to show that if you smoke marijuana now, then your psychiatric problems are not likely to get better on their own - actually, they are more likely to get worse.
There is also clear evidence that smoking pot will affect your ability to learn, and function in school. Clearly this will have a huge impact on your life, from interfering with the kinds of jobs you want or getting into your first choice of college. From another perspective, marijuana can also cause you to reduce your motivation in life and to become more apathetic about things. In turn, this can also be just as damaging to life because it means missing out on important opportunities.
A: The scientific evidence shows that pot affects just about every part of your memory and the ability to learn. For instance, pot can make people more forgetful, have lower attention spans, and to show that marijuana use in high school or be less creative. There are now several studies college will result in lower grades and academic performance.
Additionally, those who smoke marijuana regularly are more likely to drop out of high school and also have alcohol-related problems. Marijuana is a powerful drug that can affect many different parts of the brain especially the parts that control learning and memory. Research has also shown that your brain is going through the most growth during the adolescent years - so if you smoke pot it can affect proper development of your brain, which could not only cause learning problems in high school, but also in the future.
A: Creatine is a dietary supplement that is popularly used by professional athletes and hopeful sports competitors who believe it is safe and will improve sports performance. Some research studies, mostly with young men, have shown that some individuals taking creatine for a short time can show improvement in specific types of exercise that use repeated short bursts of power. However, no studies have shown that creatine use improves maximal strength or aerobic exercise performance.
Keep in mind that just because something does not seem to have side effects does not guarantee it is safe. Although creatine is a natural product, this doesn't make it completely safe, since the large amount being used is not ?natural.' It is more natural to continue to rely on athletic ability, training, and dedication to determine sports performance.
Also keep in mind that creatine leads to noticeable weight gain within the first few days, probably from retaining water. Some research suggests that high-dose creatine use before or during exercise might have harmful effects on body fluid balance, so using creatine at these times is not recommended. People have reported creatine use to cause nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea, as well as decreased kidney function, high blood pressure, and muscle cramps.
A: When your friend gives some of his pills to friends, he is putting himself and his friends at risk. Adderall is a stimulant medication usually used in a long-acting form to help treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Your friend was probably prescribed Adderall to help him focus his thoughts and ignore distractions, so he can reach his full potential, but that is not happening when he gives his pills to someone else.
Teens often mistakenly believe that getting a medication by prescription means it is safe, so that it must also be safe to take for non-medical reasons or in larger doses. This is completely wrong and even that short-term high may be doing real harm to the brain and body.
A: One of the most common causes of death from drinking alcohol is alcohol poisoning. Binge drinking can be defined as drinking more than five standard drinks (four drinks for women) over two hours (A standard drink is usually thought as one beer, one shot of hard liquor, or one glass of wine).
Young adults who drink a lot a few times a year are just as likely to cause problems in their lives than those who drink everyday. Binge drinking especially puts people at risk to cause car accidents, sexual assaults, and other destructive behaviors. Teens who binge drink are also more likely to develop tolerance to alcohol (that is, they will need to drink more drinks to get the same effect).
Binge drinking also puts people at risk to develop alcohol poisoning. Many teens feel that alcohol is safe because it is legal and widely available. The truth is that over 100,000 people a year die from alcohol-related deaths. If people drink too much alcohol over one period they can die from it. The usual cause of death is brain damage to the parts of the brain that control breathing. Ask yourself: Is that how you want to end a fun night out?