Most often, people start experimenting with drugs due to the influence of such factors as depression, anxiety, tumultuous family history, and childhood abuse. The risks associated with drug experimentation vary from one drug to another. Potential dangers and risks of drug experimentation are best understood by examining the effects of a drug being used (Harrington, et al. 2011).
Most drugs, such as tranquilizers heroin, or alcohol have a sedative effect on the user, which slows down brain and body activity. These drugs cause drowsiness and affect brain coordination if taken excessively, and become fatal if taken in large quantities. Another major risk of using sedatives is addiction, which makes users become physically dependent on the drugs they take, so when they try to quit, they experience serious withdrawal symptoms and severe pain (Lyons, 2003). Stimulants drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamine, ecstasy, and crack stimulate the brain and provide individuals with energy; however, the same drugs cause panic attacks and anxiety. Other drugs commonly taken by young people are LSD and cannabis. These usually cause hallucinogenic effects by changing the way an individual sees, feels, tastes, smells or hears (Cohen, 2003). Excessive use of these drugs causes users to suffer from disturbing hallucinations, which leads to dangerous, erratic behavior and mental instability.
The risks associated with drug experimentation depend on various factors, such as quantity, frequency of use, combinations used, and the way a certain drug is taken. An excess of sedatives leads to fatal overdoses. Stimulant and hallucinogenic drugs on the other hand lead to psychotic behavior and to the loss of the sense of reality. Besides, constantly increasing doses lends to drug tolerance: the user needs to take more of the narcotic substance to achieve the desired effect. High tolerance levels also prompt overdose and even death – this especially refers to heroin. Most of the cases of drug overdoses which have been reported involve combinations of tranquilizers, opiates, and alcohol (Lyons, 2003).
The manner in which a drug enters into the body influences the effect it has on the user and determines possible dangers. Injectable drugs produce an intense and quick effect; at the same time, it often leads to infection, especially in cases when equipment is shared between multiple users. HIV infection takes the lead in terms of infection followed by Hepatitis C and B (Lyons, 2003). Inhaling drugs has a quick but reduced effect. The types of drugs which are inhaled include solvents, such as gases, glues and aerosols. In serious cases, inhaling solvents leads to suffocation. Inhaling butane or aerosols is fatal because the fumes freeze the airways. Substances like cocaine or amphetamine regularly damage nasal membranes.
The risks and effects of drug experimentation are extremely diverse. Personality factors and how the drug is used are important in assessing both the effects and the risks (Cohen, 2003). Most people experimenting with drugs are usually unsure about their actions and what can be the consequences, and lack experience. This lack of experience and ignorance themselves can be as dangerous as the drugs. The psychological and mental state of drug users influences the dangers and effects of drug use (Harrington, et al. 2011).
Cohen, A. (2003). Dangers of Drug Experimentation (4th ed.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Harrington, M., Robinson, J., Bolton, S., & Sareen, J. (2011) Longitudinal Study of Risk Factors for Incident Drug Use in Adults: Findings From a Representative Sample of the US Population. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, New York: Palgrave Press.
Lyons, R. (2003). Youth and Drugs Wellington, New Zealand: Huia Publishers.