How Your Recreational Drug Habit Is Impacting Your Body

A recreational drug habit can have serious impacts on the body. Even alcohol— which many people forget is a drug— can affect the body in detrimental ways if it is abused. The regurgitated mantra of well-meaning parents, teachers, and those who have seen it all is “stay in school, drugs are bad”. While this trite piece of advice may make you roll your eyes every time you hear it, there is indeed some wisdom behind the old-hat expression. So, at the risk of sounding like another overbearing parent (sorry), here are some of the effects recreational drug habits can have on your body., not to mention how it can lead to addiction.

Your recreational drug habit may include these

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Alcohol

As the nation’s go-to social lubricant, alcohol has been responsible for countless cones on heads, beer goggle blunders, and late-night kebab binges. But excessive alcohol consumption can have serious effects on the body. These include:

Liver disease

In the long term, drinking too much alcohol can cause a potentially fatal kind of liver disease called cirrhosis. When the body breaks down alcohol, cells in the liver can become damaged by the chemical process that enables this breakdown.

As a consequence, the liver may become inflamed and scarred – or, in more scientific words, cirrhotic. If too much scar tissue builds up then the liver may cease to work properly, and this can have life-threatening consequences.

Erectile dysfunction

Although “alcohol” and “erections” aren’t typically mentioned in the same whiskey-scented breath, binge drinking can lead to short term erectile dysfunction (ED).

This is because drinking too much alcohol can cause a drop in blood pressure—making it more difficult to get hard enough for penetrative sex. Alcohol also lowers sexual sensitivity, meaning that it becomes harder to get aroused after necking one-too-many beers.

To read more about the long term effects of alcohol on erections, check out Numan’s article on the subject here.

Weight gain

Whether you call it a beer belly or a port pouch, excessive imbibing can cause you to pile on the pounds. This is because alcohol contains nearly twice the number of calories as carbohydrates (three beers have roughly the same number of calories as two burgers).

It is also an appetite stimulant, meaning that it makes you hungrier. This, coupled with the fact that it lowers inhibitions and causes you to make poorer food choices, means that those who drink alcohol regularly tend to eat calorie-dense food more often. Suddenly, the midnight dash to the nearest chippie at the end of a night out makes more sense.

Cocaine

Notoriously used by party-goers, truck drivers, and chefs alike, cocaine is the second most trafficked illegal drug in the world. Known for its euphoric effect, cocaine makes the user more mentally alert, energetic, and hypersensitive to external stimuli. However, cocaine abuse is likely to lead to addiction, and has negative impacts on the body such as:

Cardiovascular damage:

Cocaine can have an instant detrimental impact on cardiovascular health. Upon taking cocaine, the user may experience elevated blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and a narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain (as well as throughout the entire body).

In the long term, immoderate cocaine use may lead to a heart attack, blood clot, permanently high blood pressure, and/or an irregular heartbeat.

Damage to the nose

Snorting cocaine damages the mucous membranes in the nose. This damage makes the nasal cavity drier and reduces blood flow to the nose’s cells. As a result, the soft tissue inside the nose dies, exposing the cartilage that gives the nose its structure.

Once exposed, the cartilage begins to wither until a hole is formed in it. If the hole becomes large enough, the nose may collapse in on itself. Plastic surgery may then be needed to reconstruct the nose.

Brain Damage

As previously mentioned, cocaine narrows the blood vessels in the brain. This narrowing (known as vasoconstriction) can cause brain damage because it deprives the brain of oxygen.

Vasoconstriction also increases the risk of brain aneurysms because it can damage the delicate walls of the blood vessels feeding your brain. Cocaine abuse can also lead to mini-strokes, seizures, brain shrinking, and detrimental changes in brain functioning.

MDMA

MDMA (an alternative form of ecstasy) is a synthetic drug that acts as a stimulant and hallucinogen. It is known as the “love drug” because it makes the user feel more affectionate towards friends and strangers alike. The most commonly associated short-term side effect of MDMA is gurning (note: this won’t help you win gurning championships), however other side effects include:

Short-term mental perturbance

MDMA can induce feelings of anxiety, and paranoia, as well as trigger panic attacks.

Erectile dysfunction:

the term “pilly willy” is often used to describe the erectile dysfunction (ED) that can be caused by MDMA. This happens because MDMA kicks the sympathetic nervous system into action, which restricts blood flow to the penis.

Revelers keen to have a good time often attempt to combat their “pilly willy” with sildenafil (Viagra), a type of ED medication. However, mixing the two is inadvisable as MDMA is a vasoconstrictor and sildenafil is a vasodilator (it widens blood vessels). Thus, the two counteract each other and can cause cardiovascular problems if taken together.

Cognitive impairment

Long-term MDMA use has been associated with deficits in verbal reasoning, short-term memory, and visual memory.

Although we have only covered 3 areas of drug use in this article, it is important to remember that all recreational drugs can have a negative effect on your body, even just from one single-use, ranging from weight gain and high blood pressure all the way to more serious effects such as heart disease, long term mental health issues and brain damage.

There are no ‘safe drugs’ that you can take and our advice is to simply not take drugs, but if you still wish to recreationally use drugs we highly advise that you practice ‘safe sesh’, testing your drugs when possible with a service like The Loop, using them responsibly and in a safe manner to try to minimize any issues that could arise from their use. It is your choice if you want to use drugs, but it is your responsibility to make sure you take them safely.

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