“Drugs are chemicals. Every drug is different, but generally, drugs interfere with your nervous system’s basic functions. They work by tapping into the brain’s communication system and interfering with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Some drugs, such as marijuana and heroin, can activate brain neurons because their chemical structures act like natural neurotransmitters that are found in the brain. This similarity in structure “fools” receptors and allows the drugs to lock onto and activate the nerve cells. Although these drugs mimic brain chemicals, they don’t activate nerve cells in the same way as a natural neurotransmitter, and they lead to abnormal messages being transmitted through the network.
Other drugs, such as amphetamines or cocaine, can cause the nerve cells to release abnormally large amounts of natural neurotransmitters or prevent the normal recycling of these brain chemicals, which is needed to shut off the signal between neurons. This disruption produces a greatly amplified message, ultimately disrupting communication channels. The difference in effect can be described as the difference between someone whispering into your ear and someone shouting into a microphone.”
This is what causes the user to feel different — the signals coming and going from the brain have been altered from the way that they naturally function, leading people to have unfamiliar sensations. This can cause temporary euphoria. But it can also cause hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia, and uncontrolled behavior. It can also affect your muscles and how they function because the signals from your brain that control your movements can be altered. This can cause your respiratory (lungs) and cardiovascular (heart) systems to malfunction or fail.
Some abused substances, such as glue or butane, can cause immediate death. Cocaine, ecstasy, and methamphetamine can give even a healthy person a heart attack on the spot.
In addition to these mental, behavioral, and health-related effects, drugs also have social consequences. These can include lying to and losing the trust of friends and family; performing poorly in school; quitting academic, athletic, or social activities; losing self-control, making bad decisions like drugged or drunk driving; getting pregnant; becoming violent or placing yourself at risk to be a victim of violence; and abandoning old friendships in order to be around people who also use drugs.