Indiatoday : 4 Types Of Drugs And What They Do To Your Body: Heroin, Cocaine, Meth and LSD


With the release of the film Udta Punjab, the issue of drug abuse has come into the limelight.

Some drugs make you feel invincible, some make you forget your worries and troubles and others 'pretend' to enhance your creativity. The only thing they have in common is that their high is short-lived. Another thing they have in common is that they all have harmful long-term effects. You can successfully trick your brain into feeling ecstatic and blissful for a short while, but if you are exposed to an overdose, it could lead to serious complications and even death, in many rather most cases.

We got in touch with Dr Balbir Singh Kohli, MBBS and consultant, Healthenablr India, to understand the effect of drugs on one's body and mind.

Dr Balbir said, "Most drugs that are abused for recreational or illegal purposes are actually used in surgical procedures such as anaesthesia or used as painkillers. Therefore, abuse of such substances is injurious to life and hazardous to health."

Breaking down the four most common types of drugs further, we tell you what they do to your body.

Heroin: This drug is derived from opium from the poppy plant before it is refined to morphine, then further chemically modified to become heroin.
Your Body's reaction: When heroin is ingested into the system (orally, injected or via smoking), it converts into morphine that binds the Opioid receptors of the brain. The affected nerve cells then release dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for mediating feelings of pleasure.
Effects:
This sensation of pleasure is what causes a user to get addicted. Frequent usage of this drug causes collapsed veins and infections of the blood vessels and heart valves. Other side-effects of long-term heroin abuse include tuberculosis and arthritis.

Cocaine: Medically, a form of cocaine is used as a topical anesthetic. It is commonly ingested by snorting through the nose or rubbing it on the gums. In certain cases, addicts either smoke it or inject it after dissolving it in water for it to react faster.
Your Body's reaction: Cocaine steadily increases the dopamine levels in the brain without allowing it to reset. This continued release disrupts the normal brain and sensory communication causing an extreme state of pleasure.
Effects:
Short-term side effects include extreme mental alertness, nausea and paranoia, irritability, restlessness, and hypersensitivity to any kind of light, sound or touch, increased heart rate, rising blood pressure, muscle twitching and jitters. Long-term effects include deterioration of the respiratory tract, permanent damage to the organs, cardiac arrests, strokes etc. When swallowed through the mouth, it permanently damages the bowels due to lack of blood flow. Increased chances of contracting infectious diseases and also HIV during needle exchange are also real problems.

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD): This drug is available in the form of tablets or gelatin squares and is derived from the ergot fungus that grows on grains like rye. It has no medicinal use. LSD creates a bizarre state of hallucinations causing the user to lose touch with reality.

Your Body's reaction: Once ingested, LSD is responsible for constraining consciousness and it stimulates the serotonin receptors in the brain, causing an increase in brain activity, leading to an overactive imagination.
Effects: This can lead to severely impaired judgment and the person loses the ability to comprehend physical sensations and environment correctly. These conditions can cause terrors and panic attacks and send the user into a state of shock.

Crystal Meth: This drug is highly addictive and is a powerful central nervous stimulant. Crystal meth is the illegally manufactured, crystalline form of methamphetamine.
Your Body's reaction: The drug travels through the blood stream to the brain and stimulates the release of dopamine, that is three times more than that produced by cocaine and six times more than what the body can produce naturally.
Effects:
The high can cause hyperactivity, making the user push their body beyond its limit and resulting is a severe crash once the effects of the drug have worn off. Other short-term side effects include extreme weight loss, disturbed sleep patterns, nausea, increased aggressiveness and irritability. In some cases, use can cause convulsions that lead to death.
Long-term effects include damaged blood vessels in the brain, leading to strokes, cardiovascular collapse or death, and liver, kidney and lung damage. Addicts also suffer from brain damage, memory loss and those who recover usually suffer from memory gaps and extreme mood swings.

Dr Balbir added, "These short-lived stimulations can in no way compare to the direct consequences of taking drugs. Thus, staying away from drugs is the best alternative. Make healthy life choices. Setting concrete goals in life is the first step in avoiding the temptation of using drugs. Spending time with people you love or just your own hobbies can prove as a much healthier relaxation process than seeking the aid of hallucinogens and dealing with the after-effects of drugs."