Alcohol consumption causes a number of marked changes in behavior. Even low doses significantly impair the judgment and coordination required to drive a car safely, increasing the likelihood that the driver will be involved in an accident. Low-to-moderate doses of alcohol also increase the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts including spouse and child abuse. Moderate-to-high doses of alcohol cause marked impairments in higher mental functions, severely altering a person’s ability to learn and remember information. Very high doses cause respiratory depression and death. If combined with other depressants of the central nervous system, much lower doses of alcohol produce the effects just described.
Repeated use of alcohol can lead to dependence. Sudden cessation of alcohol intake is likely to produce withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions. Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. Long-term consumption of large quantities of alcohol, particularly when combined with poor nutrition, can also lead to permanent damage to vital organs such as the brain and the liver.
Mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome. These infants have irreversible physical abnormalities and mental retardation. In addition, research indicates that children of alcoholic parents are at greater risk of becoming alcoholics than are other youngsters.
- Alcohol - Addiction, brain damage, cancer (mouth, stomach, throat), heart disease, liver damage, ulcers, gastritis, birth defects, malnutrition, loss of coordination and speech,
- Marijuana - Addiction (psychological), distortion of time perception, increased heart rate, bronchitis, lung cancer, infertility.
- Cocaine/Crack - Addiction, nasal erosion, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, hyperactivity, pupil dilation, respiratory arrest, stroke, convulsions, seizures, malnutrition, death.
- Stimulants (caffeine, speed, amphetamines) - Addiction, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, insomnia, malnutrition, acute psychosis, nausea, liver damage, headache, sweating coma, possible death.
- Depressants (Quaaludes, barbiturates, tranquilizers) - Addiction, depression of central nervous system, decreased coordination and motor skills, liver damage, malnutrition, irritability, sleep, confusion, convulsions, possible death.
- Narcotics (opium, heroin, codeine) - Addiction, shallow breathing, nausea, panic, insomnia, malnutrition, constipation, respiratory arrest, possible death.
- Hallucinogens (PCP, LSD, acid) - Addiction, mental depression, bizarre behavior, severe disorientation, memory and perception impairment, impairment of judgment and motor function, violence, hallucinations, psychosis, convulsions, agitation, increased heart rate, confusion, possible death.
- Inhalants (white-out, glue, gasoline) - Addiction, depression of respiration, nausea, light-headedness, nasal erosion, fatigue, forgetfulness, depression, kidney and liver damage, malnutrition, heart failure, violence, suffocation, possible death.