Damage from substances we take Essay

                                                Damage from substances we take.

            There are several substances that are used by different people in day to day life. Some of the substances are legal whereas others are illegal. Legal substances include drugs used for different treatments and even vaccines. Illegal substances include heroin, cocaine and other hard drugs. These substances may cause serious damages.

            There are several non steroidal drugs (NSAIDS) that have been used for a long time without knowing their effects on the body. Drugs such as aspirin normally irritate the lining of the stomach wall and subsequently lead to development of ulcers in such patients. Prolonged use of NSAIDS predisposes an individual to ulcers. Ulcers lead to continuous bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, perforation of the walls and obstruction of the lumen due to the extensive scarring from the wound. The obstruction eventually leads to vomiting since food is not able to pass. Such individuals therefore end up loosing weight. These drugs can be bought by anyone since they do not require any prescription from a physician (The American College of Gastroentology Para 1). Most of them have an effect on the gastrointestinal tract and it is important to ask for advice before taking the drugs. Therefore, though the drug is effective in the reduction of pain, its prolong use can cause serious problems (The American College of Gastroentology Para. 3).

            Heavy alcohol use has serious effects on almost every organ system such as the brain, liver and heart. Alcohol impairs the brain function of an individual. Such an individual will behave awkwardly and also looses balance. It causes psychological problems and the person may become violent. It might lead to accidents in the roads since such an individual’s motor centers in the brain have been impaired. It leads to the development of peripheral neuropathies manifested by numbness of the legs and the arms. Long term consumption of alcohol has an effect on the liver. It damages the liver and leads to liver cirrhosis. Liver is an important organ in the body whose main function is to get rid of toxins in the body. Its damage, therefore, causes these toxins to accumulate in the body. This in turn affects the entire organs of the body such as the pancreas (leading to pancreatitis). Chronic alcoholism leads to the development of ulcers (peptic ulcers), gastritis, gastric cancers, varices and malabsorption. It also has an effect on the reproductive system leading to testicular atrophy and impotence. Other diseases which occur as a result of alcoholism include hepatitis and heart disease (E-Medicine Health Para. 4).

            Cigarettes have several chemicals that affect our health. Some of these chemicals include; nicotine, tar, cadmium and carbon monoxide that is released in the environment. Cigarettes smoking leads to several deficiencies in the body such as; vitamin E deficiency, vitamin B deficiency, among other vital vitamins that the body needs. People who smoke cough continuously and may also develop cataracts. Smoking leads to damage through oxidative process. When this occurs in the eyes, the end result is formation of cataracts. Smoking also leads to problems of the heart (heart disease), cancer of the lungs and stroke. These usually result into death and are considered the major cause of deaths in the many countries (E-Medicine Health Para. 6).

            Marijuana use is considered illegal in the United States. It contains more harmful chemical substances than cigarettes. It highly irritates the lungs and predisposes the person to lung cancer. Other common effects include loss of memory and in-coordination. It has been established that it contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the major intoxicant. Hashish (found in marijuana) has a higher percentage of THC. It has also been established that individuals who smoke marijuana usually end up using more dangerous drugs such as cocaine (E-Medicine Health Para. 8).

            Cocaine, which has been abused for along time in the U.S., has both short and long term effects in the body. It is an illegal substance which can be smoked, swallowed or injected. The drug can also be snorted. Their short term effect includes development of stroke due to constricted vessels in the brain. Cocaine also leads to serious depression and heart problems. When used for a long period of time, the drug causes extensive damages in the lungs, kidneys, brain and the lungs (E-Medicine Health Para. 9).

            Heroin is an illegal substance which is addictive and may result in to death of the user.  Intoxication by heroin makes the person to feel drowsy, diarrhea and have abdominal pain. It also slows down the rate of breathing and this is the major cause of death. Most persons who inject themselves with heroin do so with one needle. These are shared among the rest of the people and this is a potential way of spreading HIV/AIDS and other blood borne diseases. Other drugs such as methamphetamine have serious effects. This drug is used in the same manner as cocaine. It is a dangerous drug which potentially causes an increase in the blood pressure and development of stroke. Most of its effects are the same as cocaine (E-Medicine Health Para. 11).

            Pregnant mothers need to keep off drugs unless it is very important to take them. During pregnancy, most drugs might have serious effects on the developing fetus and even harm it. It has been reported that most women (about 90%) use drugs such as tobacco, illegal drugs and alcohol. Most birth defects in the fetus are mainly due to these drugs (The Merck Manuals Para 1).

            Thalidomide, for example leads to defects in many organs of the fetus such as legs, arms, heart, intestines and vessels in infants born to mothers who used it when they were pregnant (The Merck Manuals Para 5).

            Other drugs that cause effects include isotretinoin which has been used in the management of skin condition. Even if its use is stopped and pregnancy occurs within two weeks, the defects may still occur (The Merck Manuals Para 7). Antihypertensive drugs (such as thiazide diuretics) that some pregnant women use may end up affecting the normal functioning of the placenta. This is due to the fact that these drugs may sometimes have a rapid effect in lowering the pressure in the mother and subsequently that of blood flowing to the placenta. Other group of drugs which may lead to serious effects include; antianxiety drugs such as diazepam, antibiotics, anticonvulsants, anticoagulants, sex hormones and vaccines. Chloramphenicol (antibiotic) results in to Gray baby syndrome. This mainly occurs in the women who have a hormone deficiency (glucose-6-phoshate dehydrogenase). Other antibiotics may also lead to deafness as a result of damage to the ears, hemolysis of the red blood cells and even death (The Merck Manuals Para 9).


            These substances therefore lead to serious damages in the body of the persons using them. They affect several organs either directly or indirectly. It is important to be informed of the consequences of such drugs and other substances which affect our health. Some of the effects are short term whereas others are long term.

                                                           Works cited

E-Medicine Health. Substance abuse.2010. Retrieved on 7 May, 2010 from             http://www.emedicinehealth.com/substance_abuse/article_em.htm

The American College of Gastroentology. The Dangers of Aspirins and & other NSAIDS. 2010.             Retrieved on 7 May, 2010 from http://www.gi.org/patients/women/asprin.asp.

The Merck Manuals. Drug use during pregnancy.2010. Retrieved on 7 May, 2010 from             http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec22/ch259/ch259a.html