Consequences of Drug Use: Physical, Psychological, Economic

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 4
Words: 1064
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: Master

Drug use has a number of negative effects for individuals on a personal level. The most apparent category in this discussion is the physical signs. Most people define and understand the effects of drugs through how they physically manifest. Although different types of drugs can affect the body in their own ways, the effects are generally harmful and unpleasant. Outcomes facilitated by drug use are serious and oftentimes irreversible. Being on drugs correlates with higher amounts of risky behavior, such as reckless driving, destruction of property, accidents of various kinds. Being in an altered state of mind also puts the person at a higher risk of suffering from sexual assault or committing it themselves. Trouble sleeping or staying asleep is also common, with many additionally facing cognitive difficulties. Long-term outcomes of drug use are also significant, able to affect the body even when the person has been through the recovery process. Physical deterioration of various organs, such as the throat, lungs, liver, stomach, heart, brain, or pancreas may be noted. The habitual use of illicit drugs is also likely to increase one’s chances of developing cancer. The risk of suffering from infectious or sexually-transmitted diseases, such a Hepatitis B, syphilis, HIV/AIDS is also high, due to the unsafe practices of needle-sharing and unprotected sexual activities. If the drugs are injected or cause the person to be more irritable, long-lasting damage to the skin tissue is also expected, with collapsed veins and needle marks being especially prominent. Hormonal disbalance and unstable hair growth are the symptoms of drug use as well.

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Phycological effects of drugs on one’s self are also severe. Drugs have differing effects based on their types. Various types of drugs have unique effects on the way the human mind functions, feels, and behaves. Drugs can be mainly categorized into depressants, hallucinogens, and stimulants. The first type, Depressants, slow down the functions of the central nervous system, impeding its functionality. In small doses, depressants can make an individual feel less agitated and anxious. The primary symptoms also include impaired judgment, memory loss, decreased inhibition, and panic attacks. In larger amounts, however, they can be deadly, slowing one’s breathing or heart rate to a dangerous level. The body’s response to stimuli is impeded, and the brain takes longer to process or respond to information. Opiate drugs and benzodiazepines are some of the major examples of illicit depressants.

Hallucinogens are another type of drug, largely well-known in the illegal category. These substances distort the way a person perceives the world around them, warping their sense of self and reality. The process can include both audio-visual hallucinations and symptoms such as euphoria, paranoia, panic, distortion of perception, and confusion. Drugs of this type can affect the person’s sight, sense of touch, hearing, and even time perception. Hallucinogenic stimulants include Ketamine, PCP, LSD, and varying types of mushrooms.

Stimulants, as the final category for this section, concerns itself with increasing and stimulating the response of the nervous system. These types of drugs increase the speed of signal delivery between neurons, often used by people to feel more “aware”. The main aftereffects are mostly of the physical nature, but reduction in appetite, loss of sleep, and agitation can also be noted. In larger quantities stimulants can also serve as the cause of paranoia, severe depression, delusions, and persistent anxiety. Stimulants include such substances as amphetamines, cocaine, MDMA, and some others.


Drug use has been a serious problem not only on an individual but the national level as well. The government’s lack of significant initiative in regards to active preventative efforts inflates the costs for treating drug users. Health evaluations, hospital visits, and other necessary procedures become the responsibility of the hospital. Excessive drug use also has a positive correlation with crime, meaning that an increase in drug users leads to an increase in crime levels. Crimes under the influence of drugs and crimes committed with drugs being the motivation are the main affected areas. Labor loss and non-participation among the citizenry is another important detriment drug abuse introduces to the economy. The psychological effects of drug use, coupled with the physical side effects make people unable to perform their jobs and serve as the workers of the global economy. The reduction in human resources means that companies produce less money and fuel economic growth at a reduced rate. According to a study, the approximate cost of drug use in the United States of America in 1991 can be estimated to be 76$ billion dollars. The number includes emergency room expenses, various medical costs, the heightened rates of HIV/AIDS, an increase in criminal activities, and the loss of productivity all attributed to drug use. According to the source, the costs have risen since the examination 6 years prior, and the U.S spends approximately 6700$ per drug user.


Social consequences for drug abuse are also severe, although some of them might not be apparent at first. The social sphere can be broadly separated into three categories: family, work, and legal matter. Illicit drug-related activity is considered to be a type of anti-social behavior and carries with it a large negative stigma. A person’s friends who do not share the same habit can find it hard to meaningfully continue the relationship. The individual’s drug-induced behavior may also make them unstable or dangerous to be around, further alienating them from their friend group. The isolation also affects family members and loved ones, who often sever ties with drug users. Addiction itself impedes normal bodily functions and makes it harder for people to participate in social situations. Casual hobbies and work both become impossible to accomplish, preventing possible interventions from third parties.

The inability to work also limits a person’s income and contribution to society, making them vulnerable to poverty. Risky and illegal behaviors facilitated by drug abuse, such as stealing or lying can endanger an individual further. Substance use creates social problems not only for the individual, but also the society they live in. Drug abuse is often responsible for worsening pre-existing conditions and affecting suicidality, all of which is a major issue for society. Incarceration, homelessness, and housing instability are social problems also perpetuated by drug use, forcing the government to allocate more funds to remedy them. People suffering from a substance use disorder are also more likely to depend on government support like welfare or unemployment benefits.

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