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Just one pill.

19-year-old Tracy told herself that. She had learned about the efects of drug and alcohol abuse in school. But now her friend and neighbor Sam, offered her ecstasy. They had been drinking some tea in her home. The pandemic was really getting on her nerves. She was always very sociable but now  felt trapped and alone. Maybe the fancy pink pill can help. She’s healthy, anyway. Surely one pill won’t hurt.

Can just one pill hurt?

The sudden rush of energy, the great feeling she had after taking the pill wowed her. It gave her a unique feeling. She was able to finish a long project that was overdue. She even cleaned the house from top to bottom, and danced to wild music until she dropped.

Even though she felt tired, drained, and super thirsty the next day, she loved the feeling. It was, after all, something new!

What happened next:

That was three months ago, just a couple of weeks after the first lockdown in their area. The quarantine scared Tracy who was used to going out all the time. She had always liked to keep busy. She would work eight hours as a secretary. Then after that,  she would rush to her next job – a waitress in a small cafe. At night,  she and her co-workers would hang out in their favorite diner. They would end up talking until past midnight. 

Last week, Tracy was rushed to the hospital due to lung failure. She never made it.

What went wrong? Tracy just took one pill, right?

After two days, Tracy wanted the feel-good experience again. After two weeks, Tracy was taking ecstasy every day. When she couldn’t sleep, she’d take a downer. She also tried alcohol and other drugs – weed, ketamine, and amphetamines. Basically anything that could take away her boredom and fear of loneliness.

Tracy’s case is very common.  There are plenty of young and healthy people who die because of drugs. Why? It’s because one way or another, drug and alcohol abuse affect the different parts of the body.

 

How Drug and Alcohol Abuse Affect the Different Body Systems

 

  1. Nervous System: Drugs and alcohol interfere with the different parts of the nervous system. They can affect judgment, cause memory loss, among others. It’s because these drugs destroy brain tissues, damage brain cells, and weaken the signal between receptors.
  2. Cardiovascular System: The heart, along with the veins and arteries, are eventually affected by frequent drug and alcohol abuse. It can lead to incurable and even fatal diseases like arrhythmia, endocarditis, high blood pressure, heart attack, cardiomyopathy, heart failure, peripheral heart disease and stroke.
  3. Digestive System: Many drugs affect the digestive system. Frequent use of marijuana, for example, can lead to a rare condition called Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. Cocaine abuse, on the other hand, can cause abdominal pain and bowel tissue decay. Opioids can cause abdominal pain, acid reflux, and severe constipation. Other drugs that affect the digestive system are kratom, amphetamines, and MDMA.
  4. Endocrine and exocrine systems: The endocrine.and exocrine systems are interrelated. As such, both are affected when a person abuses drugs or alcohol. Benzodiazepines, for instance, damages the pituitary gland, affecting his metabolism, growth, and the fight-or-flight response. Cocaine damages the nose and throat and affects fertility. 
  5. Muscular: Frequent, uncontrolled use of drugs or alcohol can cause severe muscle cramping, muscle relaxation and overall muscle weakness.
  6. Renal System: The kidneys can suffer from constant, uncontrolled drug or alcohol use. These substances can cause various kidney diseases that eventually lead to kidney malfunction or failure.
  7. Reproductive: Drug and alcohol abuse can decrease libido and most often cause infertility. Women who are desperate to procure drugs sometimes become prostitutes, which makes them susceptible to different sexually transmitted diseases.
  8. Respiratory: Drugs can cause breathing to slow, block air from entering the lungs, and worsen the condition of people already suffering from respiratory diseases. It can also lead to bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma,and similar respiratory illnesses.
  9. Skeletal:  Drug and alcohol abuse can cause osteomyelitis, tooth decay, spinal conditions, and different forms of arthritis, leading to increased bone fragility and susceptibility to fracture.

( Ecstasys effect can vary. Ecstasy’s effects on the body may start to be felt within 20 minutes to 1 hour.  Some effects may last for approximately 6 hours.)

If you or a loved one is suffering from drug or alcohol abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Visit American Addiction Centers for a complete list of hotlines in the USA.

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