Under the Influence
Drug use has been a rampant issue in this country long before the 1980s and, unfortunately, it is still a very real problem today. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 28 million Americans use some illicit drugs. This statistic does not even include marijuana, which is still recreationally illegal in many states as well as federally. That’s a lot of people who are regularly putting themselves directly in the path of consequences that could ruin their lives.
Many people do not know the full scope of the risks that are associated with taking drugs. It goes far beyond the severe health risks, although those should be enough of a reason not to take illicit drugs. When under the influence of drugs, people also open themselves up to participate in high-risk behavior. Here is a breakdown of what drug users put themselves at risk for every time that they use drugs.
Overly Engaged Pleasure Center
This might not sound like a problem, because how could being too happy be a bad thing. However, drug use changes the traditional way our brain’s pleasure center works and intensifies it to a point where it affects our ability to function as we normally would.
The main reason for this is a chemical called dopamine. This essential chemical is present in everyone’s brain and is responsible for making people feel happy. It occurs naturally when an individual does something they enjoy, like eating chocolate. Under normal circumstances, our brains are equipped to handle the average level of dopamine that is released during these activities. However, it becomes a much different story once drug use is involved.
It has been shown that drugs can release as much as 2-10 times the amount of dopamine in a person’s brain than eating chocolate would. When this happens, our minds can’t handle the increase and become overloaded. When the brain gets flooded with dopamine, it becomes dependent on the higher levels of the chemical. Once the levels drop back down, the brain desperately craves more of it. This results in the individual experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as severe mood swings and uncontrollable urges.
Sharing Drug Paraphernalia
Our parents taught us to share as kids, but the one area where no one should ever share is with drug paraphernalia. Not only is this unsanitary, but it is also unsafe and puts the individual at a very high risk of developing diseases. By using the same needles as someone else, even if the needle isn’t reasonably old, the individual opens themselves up to contracting HIV as well as hepatitis B and C. All of these are diseases that are transmitted through blood and carry serious health risks.
Dangerous Sexual Behavior
This is one of the most dangerous consequences of drug influence because it has the potential to harm not just the person using the drugs but other people as well. When someone who is under the influence of illicit substances gets into any social situation like a party, the sexual drive is usually increased far beyond its average amount. This is due to the drug use and can cause them to put themselves in risky sexual situations.
This is especially bad in teenagers, many of which are already engaging in unsafe sexual activity. About 40 percent of teenagers have had sex by the time they turn 18, and only a little over half of them use condoms.
This is quite an alarming statistic considering that the vast majority of those cases do not even involve drug use. So when teenagers are under the influence of drugs, they are also more likely not to use protection during sex. This opens them up to some life-changing consequences such as STDs and unwanted pregnancy.
What is even more terrifying is that the majority of people with certain STDs are not aware that they have it. That is why it is always a good idea to get tested today to provide that much-needed peace of mind.