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Risks of using

Even a single use of any psychoactive substance (drugs, alcohol) carries risks. They can be related to:

  • the very psychoactive substance – its type, amount, manner and frequency of intake and the way it affects you;
  • the person herself or himself – the physical and mental state in which they are;
  • the environment (the surrounding), where the person is located at the time of use.

The use of drugs and alcohol can affect both the body and the psyche, and the social functioning of the person.

Especially bad risk is the combination of two or more psychoactive substances.

Each of these substances presents its own risks for the user. Upon combining them, the risks increase, as the effects of the substances reinforce each other and can sometimes be unpredictable.

The body and the risks from a single use

  • One of the biggest risks from a single use is the risk of an overdose, which consequences can be fatal.
  • Often, people who have used a substance can become victims of dangerous incidents. In these moments, the user can lose track of time and space, suffer from delayed reactions or even lose consciousness, or enter a state where they do not have touch with reality. In such cases, typical accidents and injuries can occur, from falling to risks from handling machines and weapons, even possible suicide.
  • Even a single intravenous drug use carries the risk of infection with blood-transmitted infections such as AIDS, hepatitis B and C, syphilis.
  • People who suffer from certain diseases (e.g. cardiovascular) are especially at risk. Even the single use of certain drugs can make their condition much worse.
  • An additional risk to bear in mind are the possible impurities. In most cases, drug, sold on the street are mixed with other substances to obtain a larger amount. No one can know with certainty what those impurities are and whether they are potentially dangerous.
  • Due to the presence of impurities, we can never know with certainty how pure the substance you bought is. If its purity is higher than usual, you can easily overdose.
  • There are many cases in which the substance is not at all what we believe is being sold to us. One example is the sale of PMA and PMMA instead of Ecstasy. These two substances are extremely dangerous and their use can have fatal consequences.
  • The risks for women are greater. Usually, women have a lower body mass and a smaller liver in proportion to their body weight, as well as a higher percentage of fat. This effectively means that a given amount of psychoactive substance (including alcohol) will have a stronger impact on women than on men.
  • On the street and on the Internet today you can buy a very large number of new (designer) drugs. The vast majority of them have never been tested or applied on humans before their sale to begin with. Their use presents various unpredictable risks including the risk of death.

The body and the risks from regular use

  • With regular use, different drugs cause different damages to the organ systems – the brain and nervous system, liver, lungs, stomach, kidneys, heart, circulatory system.
  • With regular use, the risk of overdose or an accident increases.
  • The possibility of contamination and infections increases.
  • There is the danger of deepening and exacerbation of pre-existing physical and psychological diseases.
  • The regular use of certain psychoactive substances can lead to severe physical dependence.

Psyche

  • Psychoactive substances act directly on the brain and can cause damages, sometimes irreversible, leading to long-term disorders of the mind and psyche.
  • The use of some psychoactive substances can lead to depression, paranoia, psychosis, aggressive behavior.
  • Difficulties with concentration, memory, abilities, good judgment and decision-making can arise.
  • In some people, there is a danger of developing mental illness.
  • In people who already suffer from a mental illness, the use of psychoactive substances can worsen the symptoms.
  • Many drugs can lead to severe psychological dependence.

Social functioning

  • Even a single use can lead to some problems with family, friends, at work or at school, or problems with the law.
  • Regular use of and dependence on psychoactive substances usually leads to significant changes in lifestyle and deterioration to the quality of life.
  • There is a risk of limiting one’s circle of friends only to other users.
  • Users may experience difficulties in communicating with family and close friends, or even break all contact.
  • Often, problems arise in all social contacts.
  • Difficulties with work, school, university, etc. usually arise.
  • There is a risk of clashes with the law.
  • In addicts, there is a big risk of loss of the ability to communicate with people who are not using drugs, and general isolation from society.