It's not hard to find drugs, and sometimes it may seem like everyone's doing them — or wanting you to do them. But as with anything that seems too good to be true, there are downsides (and dangers) to taking drugs.
Drugs are chemicals or substances that change the way our bodies work. Some are medicines that help people when doctors prescribe them. Many have no medical use or benefits.
When taken (usually by swallowing, inhaling, or injecting), drugs find their way into the bloodstream. From there, they're transported to the brain and other parts of the body. In the brain, drugs may intensify or dull the senses, change how alert or sleepy people feel, and sometimes decrease physical pain.
Because of the way drugs work on the brain, they affect the ability to make healthy choices and decisions. Even drinking makes people more likely to get involved in dangerous situations, like driving under the influence or having unprotected sex.
How drugs affect people depends on lots of things:
Although substances can feel good at first, they can do a lot of harm to the body and brain. Drinking alcohol, smoking or using tobacco, taking illegal drugs, even sniffing glue all damage the human body.
Just as there are many kinds of drugs available, there are as many reasons for trying or using them. People take drugs for the pleasure they believe they can bring. Or maybe someone else talked them into it, making them think they'll have a better time if they take drugs. Often people try to talk friends into taking drugs just because they don't want to be the only ones doing them.
Many people use drugs because they're depressed or think drugs will help them escape their problems. But drugs just mask feelings and problems, they don't solve them. People find that when a drug wears off, the feelings and problems remain and might even be worse. This can put people on the hamster wheel of chasing a high just to feel better.
Commonly abused drugs include:
Several kinds of treatment are available for drug addiction. The two main categories are behavioral (helping a person change behaviors) and pharmacological (treating a person using medicine).
In behavioral treatments, an expert in drug treatment teaches people how to function without drugs — handling cravings, avoiding situations that could lead to drug use, and preventing and handling relapses.
As with any addiction, it can be difficult to stop without professional help and treatment. Overcoming an addiction is not something that can be done alone — everyone needs support. The experts who help people with addictions are trained to help, not judge. To find a drug treatment center in your area, search online, check out the SAMHSA Treatment Locator, or ask a counselor for advice.
Reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD
Date reviewed: January 2012
|Alcohol and Other Drug Information for Teens This informational page by the National Children's Coalition offers facts about drugs and alcohol, teen recovery groups, and a drug and alcohol resource center.|
|National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) NIDA offers a science-based drug abuse education program for students, news, information, and resources.|
|Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) SADD is a peer leadership organization dedicated to preventing underage drinking, other drug use, impaired driving, and destructive decisions.|
|American Council for Drug Education The ACDE is a prevention and education agency against substance abuse. This website includes a helpful list of symptoms associated with specific drugs.|
|Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) AA's primary purpose is to carry the message of recovery for alcoholics. AA also lists symptoms of specific drugs and offers literature on sobriety and drinking.|
|Narcotics Anonymous (NA) NA is an international, community-based association of recovering drug addicts. Call: (818) 773-9999|
|Coping With an Alcoholic Parent Alcoholism causes anguish not only for the person who drinks, but for everyone who is involved with that person. But there are things you can do to help cope with the problems alcoholism creates in families.|
|Date Rape About half of people who have been raped know the person who attacked them. This article explains what date rape is, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you've been raped.|
|Prescription Drug Abuse Why do people abuse prescription drugs? Some think that because a doctor prescribed them they must be stronger. Others believe they're safer and less addictive than street drugs. But there are many downsides to experimenting with prescription drugs.|
|Binge Drinking The definition of binge drinking in the United States is the consumption of five or more drinks in a row by men – or four or more drinks in a row by women – at least once in the previous 2 weeks. Surprised? Find out more.|
|Understanding Medications and What They Do Medicines can cure, stop, or prevent disease; ease symptoms; or help in the diagnosis of certain illnesses. This article describes different types of medications and offers tips on taking them.|
|Study Drugs Some people use certain medicines without a prescription because they think these meds help with focus and concentration. If you've heard of "study drugs" and wonder if there are any risks, find out in this article for teens.|
|Dealing With Addiction Find out what you can do if you think you or a friend has a drug or alcohol addiction - from recognizing the warning signs to suggestions to help you stay clean.|
|I Think I May Have a Drinking/Drug Problem. What Should I Do? Find out what the experts have to say.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.