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Article Summary

What are the Short Term Effects of Drug Addiction?

The short term effects of drug addiction vary depending on the drug that is being used. Some effects of drug addiction might include increased blood pressure, hyperactivity, and an initial rush or high. Addictions can occur from using heroin, cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana, among other legal and illegal drugs. Here are some of the most common drugs of abuse and their short term effects of drug addiction:


Heroin is a highly addictive opiate (like morphine). Brain cells can become dependent (highly addictive) on this drug to the extent that users need it in order to function in their daily routine. While heroin use starts out with a rush of pleasure, it leaves the user in a fog for many hours afterwards. Users soon find that their sole purpose in life is to have more of the drug that their body has become dependent on.


Cocaine, both in powder form and as crack, is an extremely addictive stimulant. An addict usually loses interest in many areas of life, including school, sports, family, and friends. Use of cocaine can lead to feelings of paranoia and anxiety. Although often used to enhance sex drive, the physical effect of cocaine on the receptors in the brain reduces the ability to feel pleasure (which in turn causes the dependency on the drug).


Alcohol is no safer than illegal drugs. It impairs judgment and leads to memory lapses. It can also lead to blackouts. Alcohol distorts the user’s vision, shortens their coordination, and can damage the user’s brain and every other organ in the body.


The parts of the brain that control emotions, memory, and judgment are affected by marijuana.  Smoking it can not only weaken short-term memory, but can block information from making it into long term memory. It has also been shown to weaken problem solving ability.


Known on the street as meth, speed, chalk, ice, crystal, and glass, methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant that strongly activates certain systems in the brain. User’s find they are compelled to use meth for extended periods (days at a time) known as a “run”. Once they stop, they “crash” and feel terrible while they sleep of the drug’s negative side effects.


Extended use of this amphetamine causes difficulty differentiating reality and fantasy, and causes problems concentrating. Studies have found that ecstasy destroys certain cells in the brain.  While the cells may re-connect after discontinued use of the drug, they don't re-connect normally. Like most drugs, this one impairs memory and can cause paranoia, anxiety, and confusion.


This drug is often prescribed to treat attention deficit disorder. It is becoming an illicit street drug as well. Drug users looking for a high will crush Ritalin into a powder and snort it like cocaine, or inject it like heroin. It then has a much more powerful effect on the body. It causes severe headaches, anxiety, paranoia, and delusions.

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