All drugs can leave lasting, permanent damage – if taken often enough. Addictive drugs usually cause the most damage in any given society because, unlike, say, heart medication, taking a drug like heroin compels you to take more of it, until you feel like you can’t live without an ever-increasing dose of the stuff. And as with all drugs, it’s ultimately the dosage that makes the poison.
When given in miniscule amounts, even heroin won’t kill you. The body can process it better than it processes alcohol, and aside from the fact that it’s heavily addictive, there are few dangerous side effects to a low dose of heroin. But the fact that most heroin is illegally-sourced and mixed with other ingredients, injected often through shared needles, and eventually taken at dosages that are likely to kill you, it very quickly becomes a dangerous and unreliable drug. Like heroin, most addictive drugs can hurt us – and some leave lasting, permanent damage.
Why Do Drugs Hurt Us?
All drugs are designed and sold to have a certain effect. Some drugs are synthetically put together specifically to mimic naturally-occurring chemicals, with the express purpose of eliciting a specific reaction, for medical or recreational purposes. Other drugs are derived from bacteria and plants, studied, and applied in medicine after decades of rigorous testing and experimentation. But in effect, all drugs leave a lasting mark on an individual – it’s what they’re meant to do.
Most drugs sold today are explicitly on the market because their benefits heavily outweigh their drawbacks. Heart medication may decrease the natural clotting effect in the body’s blood, creating thinner blood that more easily passes through a person’s veins, in order to improve oxygen delivery throughout the body’s tissue despite a weak heart or constricted blood vessels. However, this comes with a series of side effects, most notably the fact that less clotting means longer healing, as the body struggles to fix cuts and bruises.
Some drugs have drawbacks that far outweigh any benefits. When German chemists first discovered an even more potent analgesic by studying and experimenting with morphine, they dubbed it heroin, and sold it as a less addictive, more powerful analgesic and anesthetic under the Bayer brand. Soon, heroin was found to be an even more potently addictive drug than other existing opioids, and in the late 19th and early 20th century, it was banned for medical use in various regions throughout the world.
Drugs and the Body
Illegal drugs can generally be split into four categories: stimulants, depressants, opioids, and hallucinogens. Some stimulants and depressants have hallucinogenic properties, but hallucinogens are in a grey area medically. Other than PCP, they’re not strictly-speaking physically addictive, and while they do affect the brain, no evidence shows that their effects are permanent. However, they’re still illegal, and dangerous to use. Stimulants, depressants and opioids on the other hand are generally addictive, with the more potent drugs usually being more addictive.
Taking too much of these drugs or reacting violently to them due to individual differences from person to person or counter indications with other medicines can leave lasting damage in the body, including organ failure, paralysis, blindness, and more.