What effects does drug abuse have on young people?

A chemical reaction occurs within the brain when a person uses drugs. A user may experience an intense wave of euphoria, which is caused by a surge of dopamine, the “happy” hormone, depending on the drug. Or, the drugs mimic the natural neurotransmitters in the brain and alter the body’s ability to process information. This may result in a variety of effects, including intense sensory experiences, feelings of relaxation, hallucinations, and shifts in perception or sense of time. Additionally, it may elicit negative reactions such as paranoia and panic, elevated body temperature, heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, and incoordination. Depending on the substance, drug use will have different short-term effects. However, abuse drugs share a few characteristics: They may have long-term effects on a person’s mental and physical health. This is especially true for young people, whose brain development is at an important point.

You might be curious about the long-term effects of drug abuse right now and whether or not it actually puts your health or the health of someone you care about at risk. You might be worried about your teen or young adult’s “recreational” drug use because you think it could lead to more serious consequences. It is essential to comprehend the effects of drug abuse on adolescents and the ways in which it can affect a person’s health and well-being in the long run, regardless of their situation. Everything will be broken down for you in this guide.

The effects of drug abuse on young people 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that substance abuse can have an effect on how young people’s brains develop and grow. It can also contribute to a number of serious mental and physical health issues as well as risky behaviors like driving while intoxicated. Adolescent drug abuse can also make someone more likely to overdose or cause problems with drug use in the long run.

Naturally, users will react differently to various drugs. Opioids, for instance, are drugs that can cause respiratory depression. In the meantime, stimulants like cocaine can lead to strokes and heart attacks. On the other hand, marijuana may cause memory and learning problems. These are just a few examples of the dangers and long-term effects that drugs typically pose. 

The following are typical effects of drug abuse on young people.

Physical Effects of Drug Use on Young People

 Again, the effects of drug use on the body vary from substance to substance. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, cites the following as typical drug-related health effects:

Stimulants’ Physical Impacts:

Irregular or palpitating heartbeats, paranoia, heart attacks, strokes, seizures, and dangerously high body temperatures

Actual Impacts of Narcotics:

Physical Effects of Depressants: Drowsiness, nausea, slowed breathing, respiratory depression, and hypoxia

Slurred speech, shallow breathing, fatigue, disorientation, and lack of coordination are symptoms of marijuana withdrawal.

Hindrance in memory, learning, fixation, and critical thinking

Mind flights


Psychosis sometime down the road (related with early use)

Mental Effects of Drug Use on Poor Judgment in Young People: 

Teens under the influence of drugs will exhibit poor judgment, which is a short-term effect. This is because drugs have an effect on the brain. Personal decisions and interactions with others may be impacted by a person’s lack of judgment.

Academic Performance Declines: 

Teen substance abuse frequently results in poor academic performance. People who use drugs frequently don’t go to school, have trouble staying focused, or have trouble remembering information quickly or easily. Teens who use drugs are also less motivated, according to studies, which can affect how well they do in school overall.

Utilization of Drugs: 

Youth who use drugs at a young age, specifically before their brains are fully developed, are more likely to become dependent on drugs, according to research. This is due to the fact that the brains of adolescents and young adults are not fully developed. Drugs hinder the development of the brain when introduced at a young age. They change the substance cosmetics, and regularly will make a feeling of reliance on medications to work or feel significantly better. Teens who use drugs frequently are more likely to become addicted to drugs later in life.

Disorders of the mind: 

In a similar vein, individuals who are exposed to drugs when they are still young run the risk of developing mental health issues. “Mental health problems such as depression, developmental lags, apathy, withdrawal, and other psychosocial dysfunctions frequently are linked to substance abuse among adolescents,” according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Teens who use drugs are also more likely to have behavior issues, engage in violent behavior, have suicidal thoughts, attempt to kill themselves, and engage in self-harming behaviors.

Other Long-Term Dangers of Drug Use by Teenagers

 Drug use can have a number of negative effects on a young person’s life, including physical and mental effects. The brain’s ability to reason, control impulses, and make decisions is altered when drugs are used. A person can’t make good decisions because of it. As a result, teens are more likely to act impulsively and disregard the consequences in the long run. The following negative effects are more common in drug-using adolescents.

Drugs’ Legal Effects:

Criminal records that cannot be expunged: accidents caused by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; assault charges;

Drugs’ effects on society:

Damaged relationships with friends and family as a result of drinking and using drugs Withdrawal from loved ones, friends, and once-popular activities Sexually transmitted diseases as a result of unprotected sex Unplanned pregnancies as a result of unprotected sex

Drugs’ Impact on Professional Life:

Negative attitude toward work, school, or other responsibilities Wasted academic opportunities Delayed or postponed career opportunities Skipping work and school responsibilities Dropping out of school and other discipline issues Financial loss and distress for drug addicts

Although this guide is intended to highlight just a few of the numerous adverse effects that drugs can have on adolescents and young adults, the effects of drugs that are discussed in this blog are by no means exhaustive.

Most importantly, substance use can have fatal consequences, especially when done at a young age. “Disproportionate numbers of youth involved with alcohol and other drugs face an increased risk of death through suicide, homicide, accident, and illness,” the Office of Justice Programs stated. 

Know that the consequences can be severe and life-threatening if you or a loved one is using drugs or is thinking about using drugs. You have a responsibility to educate yourself, seek assistance, and make a difference. Please do not hesitate to seek assistance if you are concerned about your loved one’s drug use, particularly its development into a mental health or addictive disorder. Your loved one’s health and well-being may greatly benefit from early intervention. It’s never too late to get help, but sometimes it is.

Children’s healthy development can greatly benefit from the support of their parents. If you’re a parent, the best thing you can do to support your teen right now is to start a conversation about it openly at home. Discuss with your teen the risks of drug use and its effects on their health. Ask your teen if they have ever tried drugs or if any of their friends do. Parents and their children can develop a sense of trust by answering these candid, non-judgmental questions. When your child needs you the most, this can help you become better support, alliance, and advocate for them.

Helpful Resources

Structured Outpatient Addiction Treatment

Addiction Treatment Center in NH

Alcohol Abuse Treatment 

Treatment Centers for Addiction in Texas

Sober Living Homes

Drug and Alcohol Treatment