Chemicals found within many illegal substances can impair your process of thinking, damage your body and lead to dangerous situations. Despite potential risks, many will take drugs either because of addiction or because of environmental exposure, such as peer pressure. The use of illegal drugs contributes to 53,000 deaths annually, the American College of Emergency Physicians states.
Illegal drugs will alter the composition of your brain, especially if you take them frequently. Methamphetamine not only causes psychosis, it can lead to brain damage similar to Alzheimer's disease, the ACEP notes. Club drugs, including Ecstasy or MDMA, can cause depression, anxiety and paranoia, Kids Health indicates. Cannabis in users can lead to heightened paranoia, especially in those suffering from mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. Perpetual cannabis users may develop a dependency on the drug. The use of cocaine can cause bizarre and erratic behavior when taken in large amounts.
Cocaine use can cause cardiovascular disturbances such as heart palpitations and increased heart rate. In rare occurrences, cocaine has caused sudden death after first time use, the National Institute on Drug Abuse notes. Cardiac arrest and respiratory arrest can also result from cocaine abuse. Overdosing from heroin can cause convulsions, coma and death. Ketamine, or Special K, which is used for human anesthesia and veterinary medicine, can cause fatal respiratory failure when taken in high doses. Tolerance to a drug can occur, leading to taking more and more of a drug in order to produce a high. Developing a tolerance for a drug can lead to accidental overdose.
Illegal drug use can put your fetus at risk for developing dependency, as well as serious health risks. The Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford asserts that nearly every type of drug can transfer to the fetus via the placenta. Marijuana use during pregnancy can result in behavioral issues for the child. If you use cocaine during your pregnancy, your infant has a higher risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome, the Packard Children's Hospital reports. Babies born from mothers addicted to opiates, such as heroin, can develop withdrawal symptoms and also have a risk for SIDS and apnea.
Long-term use of opiates can damage your veins, heart and lungs. Sharing needles to inject drugs can put you at risk for developing diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. Illegal drug use can impair your judgment, leading to injury or death if you drive. The mixing of drugs can cause undesirable effects on your body. For example, the combination of alcohol with drugs such as cocaine can cause confusion, respiratory failure and coma.