PSY 352 Topic 6 Discussion Question 2:
Dr. Hansen’s Guide to Health and Wellness answers questions about the effects of illegal substances on the body along with legal substances. The toxic substances chart shows that while illegal substances are often connected to health problems, a lot of people can use legal substances in moderation without experiencing any health complications or learning disabilities at a young age. The chapter topics include important details, visual summaries, and warnings to avoid long-term health effects. The most prominent substances discussed are tobacco, alcohol, heroin/opiates/opioids, meth/amphetamine (speed amphetamine), marijuana/cannabis, diet pills/legal stimulants, caffeine/stimulants, cocaine/crack cocaine, inhalants, steroids/bodybuilding supplements and impure synthetic street drugs.
The media is flooded with stories about the dangers of illegal drug use. News stations report alarming statistics, label drugs as “addictive” and “deadly,” and label users as “criminals.” Viewers don’t hear the whole story. The health effects of illegal substance use are only half of the story. Our culture held the false assumption that all substances generate disease. For example, a recent study found that alcohol was even more toxic to laboratory rats than cocaine (Johanson et al. 2007). Does this mean alcohol is more deadly? What effects does it have on health? Could we be giving alcohol more attention for potential health effects?
Substance use is widespread among college students, with more than half reporting use within the last year. However, not all substance use is illegal. Many legally available substances can be just as dangerous as illicit drugs and have the same effects on users. Just because a product is legal, it does not necessarily mean it is safe. This video explores the health effects of both illegal and legal substances through interviews with experts in the field of substance use including doctors, addiction specialists, pharmacists, laboratory directors, and others.
Many people use illegal drugs to create health-related benefits, such as a high, altered state of mind, or a boost in confidence. However, the list of helpful substances continues to grow, adding legal substances to the equation. Each substance can generate positive mental and physical effects on the body.
Our study is concerned with the effects of the following legal substances: Caffeine, used for centuries to keep workers alert and healthy; Nicotine, which has addictive properties but has been shown to have some positive effects on health; Alcohol, which acts as a depressant but is often consumed in large quantities; and Marijuana and other drugs, which are often stigmatized as illegal and harmful despite little evidence that they present more health risks than legal drugs.
Authorities report that 6,000 of the more than 11,000 annual drug overdose deaths in the United States are linked to prescription opioid pain relievers (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2013). Many more people use these drugs for non-medical purposes outside of prescription processes. The abuse and misuse of these substances compromises the health of many individuals who are under the influence. However, there is another side to illegal substances. Alcohol also has harmful effects on behavior and can lead to injury or death if abused.
Legal drugs can be just as harmful as illegal ones. Alcohol, it turns out, is especially harmful and results in more deaths than illegal drug overdoses. But what do legal drugs do to the human body?
Research has shown that changes in the structure, functioning, and chemistry of the human brain occur with continued substance abuse. In addition to these health problems, brain damage persists even after long periods of sobriety. Drugs can exacerbate a person’s existing mental illness or create a new one. Each substance abuses different neurochemical systems found within the brain, which are responsible for cognitive function, learning, memory, impulse control, and mood regulation.
Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol are all legal drugs. However, each of these substances can also be used illegally. How do illegal drugs differ from legal ones in terms of their health effects? Illicit drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine, for example, are used to get high or alter the mind’s state of consciousness. Illegal drugs can be smoked, snorted, injected intravenously (IV), or inhaled. They often contain additives designed to enhance their “high” effect or to protect from spoilage. In contrast, both nicotine and caffeine are found naturally in products that are not illegal and were first introduced as medicines by early civilizations. Interestingly, each substance has addictive potential and can be linked to some degree of negative health consequences even when consumed as intended. For example, according to WebMD smoking cigarettes increases the risk for a variety of cancers including lung cancer, oral cancer
Ease into a healthy student life with Alda. Preventative and interventional health care products for the invisible student are now accessible over your university’s portal. As a student, it is your responsibility to keep on top of your health. The more you are informed about improving and maintaining your health, the more likely you are able to reach your full potential. We at Alda aim to be the ally to students striving for a better quality of both mind and body, while promoting public health and safety.
Explore the health effects of illegal substance use with legal substances. Do all substances generate health problems? Why or why not?