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Drug Effects

Drug effects vary depending on what type of drug is taken, who is taking it, how much is taken, etc. The method of administration also impacts the drug effects on the user. For example: injection takes the drug directly into the blood stream, providing more immediate effects; while ingestion requires the drug to pass through the digestive system, delaying the effects.

Physical Factors of Drug Effects:

  • Person's weight and age . The amount of physical mass a drug must travel through will have an outcome on the drugs effect on the body. Also, the aging process affects the manner in which the drug exerts its effects on the body.
  • Individual biomedical/chemical make-up . Each individual tolerates substances differently. For example: a person's physical condition as well as hypersensitivity (allergies) or hyposensitivity (need for larger doses to gain the desired effect) will influence the total drug effects on the individual.
  • Rate of metabolism . Each drug metabolizes or processes within the body at a different rate. The drug remains active in the body until metabolism occurs. For example: certain medications require dosages to be taken every four, twelve or twenty-four hours, depending on the duration and rate at which the drug is metabolized.
  • Food . Food in the body slows absorption of the drug into the body by not allowing it to pass directly through the digestive process without first being processed by the digestive system. A slower process occurs, since the body is digesting food in addition to the substance or drug utilized by the person.

Emotional Factors of Drug Effects:

  • Emotional state . A person's specific emotional state or degree of psychological comfort or discomfort will influence how a drug may affect the individual. For example: if a person began using alcohol and was extremely angry or upset, the alcohol could intensify this anger or psychological discomfort. On the other hand, if alcohol was being used as part of a celebration, the psychological state of pleasure could be enhanced by the use of the drug.
  • Anticipation/Expectancy . The degree to which a person believes that a given drug will affect them, may have an effect on their emotional state. If a person truly believes that by using a substance, they will experience a given drug effects, then their expectations may cause a psychological change in the manner in which the drug effects them.

Drug-Related Factors of Drug Effects:

  • Tolerance . Tolerance refers to the amount of a given substance necessary to receive its desired effect.
  • Presence or use of other drugs . The presence or use of other drugs such as prescription, over-the-counter, nicotine, and caffeine also influence the rate of absorption and metabolism of drugs in the body.
  • Method of administration . A drug injected directly into the blood stream will affect an individual at a greater rate, since it will be directly absorbed through the blood stream and presented to various organs. If a drug is snorted or inhaled, the drug effects may be enhanced, due to the fact that the sinus cavity is located in close proximity to the brain. On the other hand, if a drug is ingested, the effects may be slower due to the fact that they must pass through the digestive system.
  • Physical dependence (addiction) . If a person is physically addicted to a drug, then more of a given substance may be necessary and the effects on the body will differ from those seen in a non-dependent individual.
  • Elimination . Drugs are eliminated from the body primarily through the liver. The liver and kidneys act as a body's filter to filter out and excrete drugs from the body. The liver metabolizes ninety percent of alcohol in the body, while ten percent is excreted through the lungs and sweat. Also, the liver metabolizes drugs in a fairly consistent manner. For example: alcohol is removed at the rate of one 12 oz. can of beer, one 5 oz. glass of wine, or 1 1/2 oz. shot of whiskey per hour.

Drug Effects: Marijuana

  • Increases in heart rate, body temperature, and appetite.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Dryness of the mouth and throat.
  • Reddening of the eyes and reduction in ocular pressure.

Drug Effects: Cocaine

  • May cause extreme anxiety and restlessness.
  • May experience the following medical conditions: twitches, tremors, spasms, coordination problems, chest pain, nausea, seizures, respiratory arrest, and cardiac arrest.

Drug Effects: Sedative Hypnotics (Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines)

  • Short-term effects can occur with low to moderate use.
  • May experience moderate relief of anxiety and a sense of well-being.
  • There may be temporary memory impairment, confusion, and impaired thinking.
  • A person could be in a stupor, and have altered perception and slurred speech.

Drug Effects: Opiates (Morphine, Heroin, Codeine, Opium)

  • Include drowsiness, dizziness, mental confusion, constriction of pupils, and euphoria.
  • Some opiate drugs, such as Codeine, Demerol, and Darvon, also have stimulating effects.
  • Stimulating effects include: central nervous system excitation, increased blood, elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, tremors, and seizures.

Drug Effects: Amphetamines

  • A person may experience a loss of appetite, increased alertness, and a feeling of well-being.
  • A person's physical condition may be altered by an increase in breathing and heart rate, elevation in blood pressure, and dilation of pupils.