Drug Abuse: It Affects Us All
Cost to Individuals and Families

Drug abuse impairs alertness and achievement by distorting sensory perception, interfering with memory, and causing a loss of self-control. Many abused drugs can cause long-lasting physical and psychological problems.

Marijuana smoke, which contains more cancer-causing agents than tobacco smoke, damages the lungs and pulmonary system. When smoked by pregnant women, marijuana also can create genetic problems leading to birth defects.

The liver damage, neurological problems and other dangers of alcohol abuse are well-known.

Cocaine not only affects the emotions, but also disrupts the brain's control of heartbeat and breathing and causes high blood pressure. Single or multiple uses have resulted in fatal seizures.

PCP (phencyclidine) can produce convulsions, coma and severe psychological disorders. Using PCP also can lead to heart and lung failure or ruptured blood vessels in the brain, any of which may be fatal.

Drugs can destroy an individual's ability to think and act responsibly and to perform well at school, at work or at home. When taking drugs becomes more important to the individual than dealing with reality, the continued drug abuse can destroy family relationships, friendships, outside interests, values and goals.

Many substances cause physical and psychological dependence. Regular drug abusers find they need to take larger doses to get the same effect. PCP, heroin and other drugs can alter the body's chemistry. When the user stops taking the drug, the body rebels with unpleasant and often painful symptoms of withdrawal.

There is no such thing as safe and responsible use of an illegal drug, or harmless misuse of alcohol or prescription medications. Abusing drugs can lead to lifelong consequences, such as loss of memory, high blood pressure, mental illness, heart failure, stroke, lung damage and coma. Drug abuse often can lead to death of the user.