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What Are the Effects of Narcotics Addiction?

The effects of substance abuse reach far and wide. Not only can drug addiction cause significant harm to individuals, but also society as a whole (source: Christians Drug Rehab). This results from an inability to control the consumption of a substance despite the apparent damage it causes. So, what exactly are the consequences and how can you identify unhealthy drug use in those around you?

In this guide, we will explore the effects of addiction to prevalent narcotics including cocaine, marijuana, and synthetics, as well as the substances responsible for the current opioid epidemic. Before we begin, let’s look at the common signs and symptoms of drug abuse.

Recognizing Addiction

There are several behaviors that may point to the presence of substance abuse disorder in an individual. If you suspect that someone you know is experiencing an addiction problem, it’s usually wise to avoid immediately accusing them. An exhausted adult or moody teenager, for instance, is not necessarily using drugs and might simply be emotional.

It’s therefore appropriate to consult an expert or collect more evidence before taking further action. That said, here are a few key indications that a friend or family member could be suffering from narcotics addiction:

  • Regularly missing and having problems at school or work
  • Physical health issues such as tired eyes and weight loss
  • Lack of interest in grooming and maintaining appearance
  • Becoming more secretive and changing social relationships
  • Financial issues and sudden requests for more money

Since the effects of drug addiction vary significantly between different substances, we will explore each of them on their own in the sections that follow.


In addition to cocaine, stimulants include amphetamines, namely methamphetamine, along with prescribed medications such as Concerta and Ritalin, which are known as methylphenidates. Adderall is also classified as a stimulant.

These substances are typically misused for their ability to increase concentration and energy, and (temporarily) improve performance. Another reason why stimulants are used is to control appetite and speed up weight loss. Of course, the negative effects far outweigh any seemingly positive ones. Here are the signs and symptoms of recent stimulant use:

  • Aggression or paranoia
  • Anxiety and insomnia
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Dilated pupils and red eyes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nasal congestion and mouth sores
  • Tooth decay from smoking (known as meth mouth)


While cannabis is slowly becoming legal in certain parts of the world, it nonetheless has addictive potential and can lead to numerous health complications when used excessively. It’s often the first drug that people try and is typically smoked, eaten, or vaporized.

You might already know a few signs and symptoms of recent marijuana use from depictions in the media. They include:

  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Dry mouth and red eyes
  • Decreased reaction time
  • Impaired coordination and memory
  • Marijuana odor and yellow fingertips
  • Exaggerated food cravings and weight gain

The most harmful effects of cannabis come with long-term (chronic) use. An individual who has smoked marijuana on a regular basis over an extended period can suffer from declined cognition, poor performance at school or work, as well as social difficulties as friends and interests tend to change for the worse.


There are two groups of synthetics, namely cannabinoids and cathinones. Both are illegal in most regions and come with dangerous, often unpredictable effects as the ingredients are not specified. There are also no control procedures in place for quality, making synthetics such as spice and bath salts all the more harmful.

In this category, substances are typically used for their ability to boost mood and induce a sense of euphoria. However, what goes up must come down, which is why the after-effects of synthetic drugs include intense anger, depression, and paranoia. Here are a few more potential consequences of addiction to these narcotics:

  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Delirium and hallucinations
  • Psychotic behavior
  • Loss of motor control and involuntary movements
  • Heavy breathing and reduced blood pressure


The strongest painkiller, opioids are produced synthetically and sold as medication such as codeine, while opiates come from opium and are predominantly in the form of heroin. Morphine, methadone, and oxycodone are also opioids. It’s these substances that are causing the rise in addiction to prescription pain medications. Here are the effects:

  • Agitation and drowsiness
  • Constricted pupils
  • Confusion and depression
  • Impaired awareness and memory
  • Slurred speech
  • Problems with coordination

Along with the aforementioned signs and symptoms of drug addiction, a key indication of opiate use is injection marks. You might also notice the individual having sinus problems and marks on their nose in cases where the drug is snorted.

It should be clear at this point that the effects of narcotics addiction are not to be underestimated. Those who suffer the problem generally desire assistance but are reluctant to seek it alone. A carefully planned intervention can provide the push they need to get proper help and return to a healthy lifestyle.

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