Marijuana: This mild hallucinogen derived from the Cannabis sativa plant is the most commonly abused illegal drug in the U.S., according to National Institute of Drug Abuse. When used, usually through smoking, Marijuana acts as a central nervous system stimulant. It speeds up the heart rate and raises blood pressure. Marijuana can dull memory, making it harder to concentrate or remember things. Habitual use can lead to heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. The smoke also contains many carcinogens.
Cocaine: A powerful addictive stimulant, cocaine gives the user a euphoric feeling when ingested, which depending on the person may or may not actually feel good. The euphoric feeling is short lived, lasting anywhere between 30-45 minutes. Cocaine constricts blood vessels and speeds up the heart rate. Sudden death is not uncommon.
Opiates: These drugs which include both street drugs like heroin and pharmaceutical pain killers like morphine and codeine, act on the body, stimulating the brain which controls pleasurable feelings. In high doses, opiates can cause some of the brain’s critical functions, like breathing, to slow down or stop. Since heroin is commonly injected, users are at risk of HIV and hepatitis.
Methamphetamine: Usually a white powder that is smoked, snorted or injected, this powerful stimulant is highly addictive. It can speed up the heart rate as well as cause hyperthermia. When used over a long period of time can cause anxiety, insomnia and hallucinations. Severe dental problems can also occur as the drug is acidic and can wear down teeth over time.
Alcohol: Alcohol has short-term health effects. Since alcohol is a depressant it can slow down motor skills and impair the user’s ability to make clear judgements. For long term, having more than one alcoholic drink per day for women or anyone over 65 can increase a person’s risk of developing medical conditions like pancreatitis and liver and heart disease.