Effects of street drugs on mental health

Street drugs are the highly addictive and dangerous drugs that can be obtained illegally from the streets and are used for their mood-altering and sedative effects. The streets are in fact, flooded with illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, meth, MDMA, ecstasy etc. which can be detrimental to an individual’s physical and mental health. As drugs can alter one’s perceptions, it leads to several issues related to the body and the mind, such as hallucinations, delusions, muscle spasms, etc. According to a 2014 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately eight million American adults battled with co-occurring disorders, including both a substance use disorder (SUD) and a mental health disorder at the same time.

The global market for illicit drugs has been rising dramatically. Street drugs, such as krokodil, scopolamine, speedball, cocaine, heroin, ketamine, flakka or whoonga can cause debilitating mental health issues, like anxiety, mood swings, depression, delusions, memory loss, schizophrenia etc. These drugs can cause permanent physical and psychological damages and death even on the first shot.

Consequences of using street drugs

Street drugs have the potential to disturb the neurotransmission process and alter the pathways of the brain. As the neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, glutamate, serotonin, etc., are associated with different functions of the body, any imbalance can affect both the body and the mind immensely. While dopamine is the reward chemical responsible for regulating motivation and pleasure, serotonin is responsible for maintaining mood balance, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function.

In some cases, the consumption of street drugs causes long-term mental health problems, such as depression and schizophrenia. Several other factors determine the consequences of street drugs, such as type of drug, used in combination with other drugs or not, dosage of the drug, current mental status, etc.

When a drug enters the body, it affects the brain by enhancing or interfering with the activities of the neurotransmitters and receptors within the synapses of the brain. Different neurons are responsible for producing different neurotransmitters that depend on each other to function effectively. However, when a drug disrupts the pathway of one neurotransmitter, it can affect other neurotransmitters as well.

Street drugs disrupt communication in the brain

Drugs interfere with the brain’s communication system and alter the process of sending, receiving or processing information. Drugs like marijuana and heroin can activate the neurons and mimic like a natural neurotransmitter. However, these drugs do not activate the receptors like a natural neurotransmitter; rather they transmit abnormal messages through the route.

Stimulants like cocaine and amphetamine primarily target the neurotransmitter dopamine. These drugs target the brain’s reward system, leading to an abnormal increase in the level of dopamine. The overstimulation of dopamine can lead one to a euphoric state, thereby inhibiting the normal production of these brain chemicals.

Depressant drugs like heroin, benzodiazepines or barbiturates act on the neurotransmitter gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) that can suppress other neurons. These drugs can activate the inhibitory chemical messengers of the brain. A person who abuses drugs tends to stay in the vicious cycle of tolerance and addiction, as he or she feels lost and depressed in the absence of the drug or higher dosages of the drug needed to achieve the same pleasurable effects every time.

Road to sobriety

Since different parts of the brain play a crucial role in the coordination and performance of a range of functions, it is high time to look out for an effective means to curb the ever-expanding epidemic caused by different street drugs. Discussing about your addiction issues to a health practitioner is a great way of getting rid of the dependence or addiction.

If you or your loved one is suffering from co-occurring disorders, contact the Dual Diagnosis Helpline to understand the condition better and get assistance in finding the best dual diagnosis centers. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-981-6047 or chat online with one of our representatives to know about the various dual diagnosis rehab centers across the U.S.

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