Self-medicating with any sort of drug without consulting a medical professional is never a good idea, but there are drugs that are more dangerous than others. The most dangerous drugs are either easy to become addicted to or taking them can wreak irreversible damage on the body or the mind. In many cases, both things are true.
A drug is any substance that a person ingests that either changes how their body functions or changes their mental state. Because of this, there are thousands of substances that can be called drugs. On top of this, their effectiveness and potency depend on how they’re taken. A drug that may have a mild effect if it is ingested can be fatal if it is taken intravenously. Whether a person develops a tolerance to the drug also affects how it behaves.
Here is a list of the most dangerous drugs for recreational use or as self-medication:
The opioid epidemic ravaging the United States in 2018 is a testament to how addicting opioids are. People who were prescribed opioids for relief of temporary discomfort such as post-surgical or back pain were appalled to find themselves addicted to their medication. Opioids bind to natural receptors in the central nervous system and produce a sense of well-being and euphoria as well as reduce pain. Over time the person needs to take more and more of the opioid to get the same affect. If they stop suddenly, they experience the extremely unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal. People addicted to opioids sometimes go to great lengths to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes they turn to street drugs that may contain an opioid such as heroin that has been “cut” with anything from corn starch to rat poison. Their addiction can have devastating effects on their social, family and work lives as well as their health. Indeed, in 2017, nearly 30,000 people died of opioid overdose. Opioids include:
It must be said that alcohol is a dangerous drug. What makes it different from other dangerous drugs is that it is legal to buy and use for people over a certain age. As with other drugs, problems arise when the person becomes addicted. Moreover, the legality and ubiquity of alcohol can make an addiction harder to quit than addiction to other drugs.
Like opioids, alcohol depresses the nervous system, which is why many people become drowsy after an hour or so of drinking. It is also why combining alcohol with another central nervous system depressant is dangerous. Even non-narcotic pain relievers such as NSAIDs are best not taken with alcohol, for they can irritate the stomach and, in the case of acetaminophen, damage the liver.
Speaking of the liver, this large organ has to work hard to remove the by-products of alcohol from the body. In the liver,a alcohol is broken down by an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase, or ADH. This produces acetaldehyde, which is further broken down into acetate. Alcohol also has an effect on neurotransmitters such as dopamine and GABA. Alcohol abuse can actually cause the brain to shrink, which impairs brain functioning in areas such as:
• Problem solving
Alcoholism famously damages the liver, whose job of metabolizing alcohol stresses it. Alcohol is also damages the pancreas, leads to high blood pressure and can increase the risk of some cancers. The deleterious effects of alcohol abuse are seen earlier in women and puts them more at risk for domestic violence and sexual assault.
Unlike alcohol and opioids, methamphetamine is a stimulant. It comes in pill or powder form and can also be bought in rocks that look like glass fragments. It is smoked, snorted, swallowed or injected.
The effects of methamphetamine depend on how it is taken. Smoking or injecting it brings a brief but incredibly strong rush, while eating or snorting it brings a high that is less intense but longer lasting. Scientists believe this is the result of the body releasing floods of the neurotransmitter dopamine into the pleasure centers of the brain.
Over time, methamphetamine addicts start exhibiting behavior that includes:
• Hallucinations that can be visual or auditory
The cells in the brain that produce dopamine become depleted and damaged.
Feel You Have an Addiction and Need Help?
If you feel you are becoming dependent on these most dangerous drugs and are ready to get help, don’t hesitate to call now. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day, so call 844-639-8371.