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Substance Abuse Glossary


Wine, beer, and liquor enter the bloodstream through the stomach. As this occurs, sensory functions are numbed while brain activity and reflexes are impaired. The consumption of alcohol may eventually create a desire for further substance abuse. An increased tolerance, lack of self-control, and alcohol dependence follow. The liver, heart, and brain are most affected by the abuse of alcohol.


Cocaine creates a sense of elation, numbs the senses and can dramatically change the central nervous system. As a result of cocaine abuse, a person can experience behavioral changes and mental delusions. Crack is a form of cocaine that can be smoked and can cause permanent damage to brain cell activity and shrink blood vessels. Crack can damage major organs as the blood vessels stop transmitting normal bodily signals, which can lead to death after consuming the highly addictive drug.

Crystal Meth

Also known as crystal methamphetamine, crystal meth is often produced using homemade methods, which makes it extremely dangerous. Meth can be taken through the nose (snorting) or by injection. It creates side effects that can damage the central nervous system and destroy the brain’s neurotransmitters.


Psychedelics, better known as hallucinogens, can cause severe side effects to the brain as they alter the sensory and perceptual processes. Hallucinogens increase blood pressure, and panic and heart attacks can also be caused by hallucinogens.


Chemical inhalation, such as the inhalation of glue or aerosol, alters the mind and numbs the nervous system. Amyl and butyl nitrate are the two main chemicals and that cause mind-altering experiences during inhalation. Similar to cocaine, the numbing of the central nervous system can lead to death when vital organs stop working.


When ingested, typically through smoking, marijuana releases 1,600 chemicals into the body. Marijuana produces a “high” through the Delta9-THC chemical, which numbs the nervous system. Users will suffer from reduced ambition and a lowered sense of responsibility. THC is stored in the fatty portions of the body, which means as the body burns fat, more of the chemical is released into the body. THC can remain in a person’s system for an extended period of time and can affect the liver, reproductive system, and the brain.

Painkillers & Opiates

Opiates are typically found in painkillers, such as Oxycontin and Percocet, as well as heroin. Opiates were initially used medicinally to cure pain and digestion issues, but have recently become a common source of addiction. Even when consumed infrequently, opiates can lead to a dependency. With prolonged use, opiates can cause severe infections and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Prescription Drugs

Prescription medications can cause a prolonged dependency, even when taken as medically recommended. As the body adapts to treatment through prescription drugs, a dependency on the drug is created. When the person attempts to stop using the medication, the original issue comes back, often with greater intensity. This results in a cycle of treating the issue and attempting to break free from dependency. Breaking this cycle often involves professional help and may require medical detox and longer-term treatment.

Other Drugs

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