Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on the Human Body

By Skyler White

Many people commonly abuse drugs and alcohol, although others may use these items recreationally. A moderate intake of alcohol is relatively harmless to the human body, while drugs may cause more severe issues depending on the type and strength. Both drugs and alcohol can lead to a variety of health complications over time or even immediate consequences including death, according to TeenHealth They both affect the human body in different ways but can both cause problems independent of the other.

Liver Disease

Chronic drinkers and alcohol abusers will often experience liver disease due to the excessive amounts of alcohol consumption, according to MedlinePlus. Genetic factors, personal susceptibility to alcohol and toxicity of alcohol the liver all play a role in the development of liver disease, according to MedlinePlus. Symptoms usually stay dormant until the final stages of the condition, which can cause abdominal pain and tenderness, fever, jaundice, appetite loss, mental confusion and unintentional weight gain. Alternate symptoms may occur in tandem with these symptoms or separate of them, including hallucinations, agitation, rapid heart rate and vomiting of blood. Liver disease requires the immediate cessation of alcohol since the liver can heal if liver cirrhosis has not yet occurred, MedlinePlus says. However, if it already has, patients will need to undergo further treatment to manage any complications or require a liver transplant.

Elevated Heart and Breathing Rates, Blood Pressure, Body Temperature and Withdrawal Symptoms

Drugs such as cocaine, crack, amphetamines and heroin can cause a distinct spike in regular bodily function. The heart and breathing rate, blood pressure and body temperature notably increase while taking this drug, which requires the injection, snorting or inhalation of the narcotic. Since these drugs are highly addictive, a mere one use can catapult a user into a downward cycle of addiction, TeenHealth warns. Often, first-time users stop breathing or suffer fatal heart attacks. The psychological and physical dependency to these types of drugs makes it exceedingly difficult to stopAmphetamines in particular are psychologically addictive in which users experience heightened degrees of aggression, anxiety and mood swings during withdrawal periods.


The most dangerous mixture of drugs and alcohol is mixing a depressant with excessive alcohol, according to TeenHealth. Depressants such as tranquilizers and barbiturates calm the nerves and relax the muscles. When mixed with alcohol, they greatly reduce the heart rate, which can lead to shallow breathing and stopping of the heart altogether. Depressants are both psychological and physically dependent as is alcohol. According to the University of Rochestor, mixing narcotic drugs can increase the possibility of a fatal overdose.

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