You may not feel that using drugs is a
problem. Maybe you feel that you are a casual user because you use drugs only
now and then. You may feel that you can stop using drugs at any time.
But drug use quickly can become a habit, and for many people it may lead
addiction. You may begin to use drugs without thinking
about how drugs can harm you and those you care about. Drug use may become part
of your routine, like a morning cup of coffee.
How do you become addicted?
Your brain links
pleasure with activities that help you live. For example, you need food to
live, so your brain tells you that eating feels good. Food becomes something
that you want every day.
Drugs target your brain's limbic system,
which allows you to feel pleasure. This causes your brain to release a lot of
dopamine and other chemicals that make you feel good.
Since the pleasure only lasts a short time, you crave more drugs to get the
good feeling back.
Over time, your brain adjusts to drugs by
making less dopamine and other chemicals. With less of these chemicals, your
brain can't function as well, and it becomes harder for you to feel pleasure.
You take drugs to get the good feeling back.
Drugs also affect
the parts of your brain that deal with judgment, decision-making,
problem-solving, emotions, learning, and memory. They change how the cells in
your brain send and process information.
These changes in your
brain make it harder to think and make good choices. You may be less able to
control your actions.
Drugs and your health
Drugs can cause you to have
health problems. These problems include:
Drugs also can lead to problems with thinking and
Different drugs harm your body in different
- Inhalants and other drugs can damage cells in your
brain and nervous system.
- Marijuana can cause learning and memory problems and
harm your lungs.
- Cocaine can lead to
heart, lung, and other problems.
- Ecstasy can lead to
thought and memory problems. Using it a lot could lead to liver
- Methamphetamine can affect blood vessels in the brain,
causing a stroke. It can make you think people are out to get you (paranoia) and
believe things that are not true (delusions).
- LSD can cause
psychosis. This means you may no longer know what is
real or be able to think straight. You may have flashbacks in which you
"relive" part of an LSD experience you had many years ago.
- Heroin taken with a needle (injections) can cause
infections of the blood vessels and heart and liver or kidney disease. Sharing
needles to use heroin can give you
hepatitis B or C or