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The Effects of Drug Use on Students

Effects of Drug Use on Students

Are you aware that abuse of drugs can affect your brain? It is a well-established fact that the brain develops until the age of 25; hence anything that affects the development —including substance—will affect how your brain develops. How does it happen, you begin to wonder? In this perspective, this article will tell you what drug abuse is, and how it affects you as a student, the main reasons that induce people to consume these substances.

What is drug abuse?

Drug abuse is a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain: they change its structure and its works. These changes can last a long time and lead to the dangerous behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs.

Types of drugs

Drug use and trafficking are some of the main problems present in contemporary society. Increasingly, manufacturers reformulate the composition of drugs and synthesize new substances even more harmful to health. With that in mind, we will present the most common types of drugs. See what they are:

  • marijuana;
  • cocaine;
  • ecstasy;
  • crack;


According to the conclusion of the World Drug Report, recently released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODOC), marijuana was the most consumed drug in the world in 2016. The main groups exposed to using marijuana are adolescents and young people, who occupy most of the student population.


Cocaine has been established to be responsible for many deaths worldwide, though it comes as a surprise that students are the biggest users of this substance. Among the most serious effects of cocaine are brain damage, loss of sensitivity of nasal mucous membranes, and destruction of teeth. When this drug is rubbed on the teeth or gums, a chemical reaction occurs between cocaine and saliva. Then, the formation of an acid destroys the enamel of the teeth, leaving them weak and brittle.


This substance is widely used in rave parties or university meetings. It is part of the group of synthetic drugs, the use of which occurs orally. It causes brain changes in a few minutes. Its effect causes a false feeling of happiness, euphoria, and increases libido.


This drug is derived from opium and can be synthesized from morphine. Its form of use is injectable, and its effects are immediate since the brain quickly absorbs it. Opiate drugs alter the functioning of the digestive system and the central nervous system. Also, they cause dizziness, nausea, and intense hallucinations.


This is one of the drugs that are very quickly addictive. During use, smoke easily reaches the lungs and from there to the brain. Upon reaching the brain regions, crack destroys neurons, resulting in serious injuries. Crack is a widely accepted drug due to its low price. Due to its easy availability, it is quite common among street dwellers and teenagers and young people, mostly students.


The effects of alcohol on the body can cause serious or irreversible injuries, especially in the liver and brain areas responsible for controlling motor skills. Alcohol addiction also affects memory, reasoning, and concentration.

Factors responsible for drug abuse

To improve understanding of the subject, it is necessary to be aware of the conditions that push people into drug usage. Check them out below:

Childhood trauma and adversity (abuse and neglect)

One of the factors that most influence adolescents and young people and make them more prone to illegal substances is the history of trauma or abuse in childhood. Children who have suffered abuse, been neglected by their parents, or have had a very difficult life have a strong tendency to fuel these traumas and become angry.

Some of these individuals become inmates in themselves, unable to express their feelings, and as they get older, the situation gets even worse. Therefore, these adversities can be considered the pillar for early involvement with addiction.

Mental disorder

Mental instability is one of the problems that motivate people to look for drugs. Above all, individuals in the most vulnerable social condition, such as homeless people, tend to seek relief from suffering in these substances. However, even among the most privileged classes, there are people with mental or emotional illnesses that lead to drug abuse. The greatest danger is that the association between drugs and mental illness generates a vicious cycle: the disease is seen as a cause and a consequence of drugs in these subjects’ lives.


Free access to drugs occurs everywhere and exposes society to the risk of negative impacts resulting from this problem. However, in regions inhabited by poor people, the spread of this habit is much greater.

Other structural issues – such as hunger, unemployment, and lack of family structure – also make the situation worse. Emotional imbalance also stimulates adherence to addiction, a condition that can lead to violence and aggression.

Use by colleagues

In addition to the availability of drugs, another motivating factor for consumption is living with people or groups of users. Students who live near the places where drugs are accessed or live with addicted people become more vulnerable to addiction.

Children of drug users

Children affected by their parents’ use of illicit substances have a strong tendency to exhibit higher levels of emotional tension and other symptoms related to this issue. Many of them end up getting involved early with the toxics.

Most of the children of drug users have cognitive impairment and motor and physical development. They are also more susceptible to respiratory diseases – such as asthma and bronchitis in addition to allergic reactions or food intolerance.

Plunged into the drug underworld, many parents neglect the care and education of their children. This results in numerous problems throughout the life of those who grow up in these hostile environments. During childhood, they show irritation, aggressiveness, and attention deficit. They are also more prone to behavioral deviations and have a lot of learning difficulties.

During adolescence, hyperactivity disorder and some characteristic features of the antisocial personality are often common. As adults, emotional instability leads to diseases such as depression, panic syndrome, and schizophrenia.

Effects of drug abuse

The consumption of these substances generates alterations that can be very dangerous. Some of the consequences that the abuse of these substances can bring are:

Neurochemical imbalances in the brain

Drug use produces permanent neurochemical and functional changes in the brains of addicts. It causes problems with motivation, memory, and cognitive control. Studies show that neuronal loss, neurodegenerative problems, decreased acid proteins, and other consequences that directly affect the brain also occur.

Altered mood

Mood alterations are common with drug use. In the long term and the short term, a person can relax to feel irritated and aggressive in a fleeting way. In the long term, many people’s personalities can be altered with the use of psychoactive substances.

Family, relationship, and social problems

Problems at the family level are quite frequent, regardless of the type of drugs that are consumed. Social problems can also occur when a person is a regular user of these substances and can lose friends and even work. The person who uses drugs may show a loss of interest in hobbies and other favorite activities. Economic problems are also associated with drug addiction behaviors.


Addiction is one of the main consequences of drug use. In hard drugs, addiction can cause a person to do whatever they can to get the substance they want and need, even stealing or having sex for money or a dose.

Cardiovascular problems

Cardiovascular problems are common with prolonged use of the vast majority of drugs, as these substances alter the heart’s normal functioning. While some drugs cause a very high activity of this organ, others do the opposite. In both cases, there is a variation in blood pressure.

Abusing drugs can lead to heart attacks, blood vessel infections, and other cardiovascular problems.

Weakening of the immune system

Studies show that most drugs weaken the immune system. Many drugs, such as opiates that work as pain relievers cause a series of negative reactions in the immune system, which causes users to be more susceptible to diseases and infections of all kinds.

Behaviors associated with drug use can also cause other diseases, such as AIDS or Hepatitis, to inject heroin and lead to reckless behaviors that can cause other types of harmful consequences.

Respiratory problems

Drug use causes a greater risk of respiratory diseases such as pneumonia. Side effects of some drugs include chest and lung pain or respiratory depression. Additionally, drug use, such as tobacco or cocaine, can cause serious lung health problems.

Antisocial behaviors

Drug abuse makes users stop practicing activities they previously enjoyed, and they are also more likely to have problems at work, such as poor performance and even abandonment or dismissal.

In the case of young people, performance in school, or dropping out of the study is one more manifestation than evidence of using this type of substance.


Isolation can be a direct consequence of drug use. On the one hand, young people can isolate themselves from family or work. In severe cases such as heroin use, the drug addict can isolate himself on a social and even personal level, ceasing to worry about his physical appearance and hygiene. Consumers can live by and for the drug.

Anxiety and insomnia

It is very common for people who use drugs frequently to suffer from anxiety and sleep disturbances. Some individuals acknowledge that they are unable to go to bed without using marijuana once they get into the habit of doing so. Drugs such as ecstasy or cocaine can alter the quality of sleep, causing night-time anxiety or nightmares.

Other psychological disorders

The problems of anxiety, insomnia, and depression are psychological problems that drug users can experience. In other cases, also, they may suffer more serious disorders such as schizophrenia or paranoid disorder.


Drug use is dangerous and can cause irreparable damage to the health of people who use these substances. There are many cases in which the doses that are consumed are excessive, which causes serious problems for the person. In some cases, overdose can make you have a hard time, causing nausea, vomiting, headaches, and even hallucinations.


In many cases, the abuse of psychoactive substances can lead to hospitalization, coma, and even death.

Check out some tips and strategies for drug prevention in school

The school plays a fundamental role in human formation; therefore, it needs to be open to discuss and debate important issues. With a pedagogy focused on the student, it is possible to approach topics considered delicate to encourage each one’s critical capacity. For the specific case of drug prevention, it is essential to be prepared.

The question should not be presented as a factor that instigates students’ curiosity for the use, but rather for knowing the effects caused on the individual’s health and emotional. Check out a few tips below on how to go about preventing drug abuse:

Align the speech with those responsible

Issues such as preventing drug use require alignment between the school and the family. It is essential to have an open, frank, and honest dialogue to learn how the topic is discussed within the students’ homes. Often, legal drugs are part of the daily lives of family members. Students are used to seeing relatives drinking drinks at parties and celebrations from a young age, for example. Therefore, it is essential to know these families’ reality and call them for dialogue at school.

In this sense, the ideal is to escape moralistic discourses: the approach must be reflexive. Invite family members to talk about how often they are behavioral mirrors for their children. In this sense, it is important to propose to family members reflections on their behaviors that naturalize ​​consuming these products and their consequences.

Start by addressing alcohol and tobacco

As we said, licit drugs are more susceptible to being in students’ daily lives. It is quite common, for example, to see children accompanying parents or guardians in supermarkets and, in the cart, among the goods, there is a crate or bottle of alcohol. As these products end up being part of students’ lives from an early age, they should be the first to be addressed within the classroom. However, it is important to avoid extremist discourse, as it will be difficult to create a direct relationship between the approach and students’ reality. The work must be much more informative than threatening.

Ideally, the teacher should work on consumption based on the effects caused by the user’s body and mind. Thus, it is possible to show the incompatibility between using such products and having a healthy life.

Empower the student

Discussing sensitive topics in an imposing way is not the best way out. Usually, this posture can cause a feeling of escape. Students do not become fully involved with the explanation and confront the information presented by the teacher. Therefore, themes that involve human individuality, such as drugs, need to be worked on from the standpoint of autonomy. In other words, the teacher must be open to students’ doubts and questions at any time.

The discussion of this topic will hardly be limited to a class, so it is necessary to be constantly attentive and prepared to talk to students about the effects of consumption and the importance of having a healthy life.

Besides, it is important to develop a pedagogical plan throughout the year. The teacher can create projects and invite students to make presentations, discussions, and debates about the effects of drug use.

Finally, as we can see, working on drug abuse in school requires preparation and openness. It is also important to bring the family and the school together to discuss all possible spheres.