Alcohol and Other Drug Health Risks

The use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs can cause a number of problematic changes in behavior and physiology. Alcohol or substance dependence occurs when a person continues their use despite recurrent social, interpersonal, physical and/or legal consequences.


The use of alcohol can impair memory, coordination, alertness, academic performance, and lead to consequences such as sexual assault, life-threatening medical conditions, and even death.

Cannabis (Marijuana, Hashish)

The use of marijuana may impair or reduce short-term memory and comprehension, alter sense of time, and reduce coordination and energy levels. Its effect can last for more than 4-6 hours after being used. Contrary to popular belief, marijuana is both physically and emotionally addictive.

Prescription Drugs (i.e. Anti-depressants, Pain Suppressants, Stimulants, and Tranquilizers)

Prescription drugs should ONLY be used when prescribed under the supervision of a licensed physician. If abused, they can lead to sluggishness or hyperactivity, impaired reflexes, liver and kidney damage, addiction, and nervous system damage.

Hallucinogens (LSD, Ecstasy, and PCP)

Hallucinogens can cause panic, confusion, suspicion, anxiety, hallucinations and loss of control. Delayed effects can occur, including ongoing loss of concentration and memory. Frequent use can cause permanent loss of some mental functions.

Cocaine/ Crack

The immediate effects of cocaine include dilated pupils, elevated blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature, followed by depression. Crack can cause delirium, hallucinations, blurred vision, severe chest pain, muscle spasms, and even death. These drugs cause a temporary feeling of power, impairing judgment and decision-making.

Amphetamines (Crystal, Speed, Crank, and Meth)

Amphetamines are highly addictive stimulants, which can cause one to "rush" around and appear stimulated. Amphetamines can also cause rapid or irregular heartbeat, loss of coordination, collapse, and even death. Continued stimulant abuse can lead to mood swings, irritability, depression, sleeplessness, and even altered personality and paranoia.


Heroin causes the body to have diminished pain reactions and is highly addictive both physically and emotionally. It can cause disinterest in relationships, personal productivity, and workplace safety. The use of heroin can result in coma and death. Commonly used intravenously, heroin use is associated with a wide range of physical health problems (i.e., HIV, hepatitis).