Safe Driving: Effects of Alcohol and Drug Abuse on Teens and Adults
Alcohol, Drug, and Substance Abuse
Alcohol, drug or substance abuse is defined when a person actively seeks out a drug or alcohol to get high or drunk. They will develop a tolerance to that drug and will need an ever-increasing dose to get the same high. Teens are the most at risk to become addicted and dependent on drugs or alcohol. The federal government regulates 5 types of controlled substances: depressants, stimulants, narcotics, hallucinogens, and steroids. Most of these drugs can produce dependence by the user.
Effects on Teens
Alcohol will affect teens more than adults because of their growing bodies and their livers cannot process alcohol as efficiently as adults. Teenagers go through many important changes, especially in the brain. The brain will develop until age 20 and this is why teenagers are more impaired compared to older adults when they drink and drive. Alcohol can affect the cognitive abilities of teenagers more than adults but teenagers are less likely to become drowsy, stumble while walking or lose balance when intoxicated. This doesn’t mean they are less impaired and may result in teenagers binge drinking or drinking large amounts of alcohol in short periods of time.
Effects on Adults
Although Alcohol and Drugs have more affect on teens, adults are still affected. Many people start using drugs to cope with stress or pain and this can create a vicious cycle where the user will use drugs and alcohol anytime they need to cope with stress or pain. There are a lot of psychological effects of drug addiction:
- Wild mood swings, depression, anxiety, paranoia, violence
- Decrease in pleasure in everyday life
- Complication of mental illness
- Psychological tolerance to the drug’s effects creating a desire to do ever-increasing amounts of the drug
- Desire to engage in risky behaviour
Short-term effects of drugs on mental health include:
- Drug-induced anxiety disorder: have periods of very severe anxiety when heart rate increases with trembling, sweats, shortness of breath and fear of losing control
- Drug-induced psychosis: causes delusions or hallucinations.
- Drug-induced mood disorder: feel depressed, sad, restless, irritable, tired, loss of pleasure or manic
Long-term effects of drugs on mental health include:
- Depression: Ecstasy can cause your brain to release higher amounts of serotonin (happy hormone) than usual. Over time your natural stores of serotonin may drop so much that you never have the same levels as you had before you started using drugs.
- Schizophrenia: This is a severe mental illness, which may cause you to hear voices in your head and believe other people are trying to control or harm you. Using cannabis may increase your chances of triggering an episode of schizophrenia. Using cannabis as a teenager may also risk many aspects of your mental health because your brain is still developing.
Physical Effects of Drug and Alcohol Addiction & How They Affect Driving
Physical effects of drug and alcohol addiction vary by drug but can be seen in all systems of the body but can affect the brain the most. Drug addiction affect babies of drug abusers and children born to drug using mothers can be cognitively affected throughout their life. 1 in 4 drug user related deaths are caused by their drug addiction and other physical effects of drug addiction include:
- Contraction of HIV, hepatitis and other illnesses
- Heart rate irregularities, heart attack
- Respiratory problems such as lung cancer, emphysema and breathing problems
- Abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea
- Kidney and liver damage
- Seizures, stroke, brain damage
- Changes in appetite, body temperature and sleeping patterns
Alcohol and drugs can impact your driving ability and put you at a risk of causing an accident or highway injury. Safe driving requires the ability to concentrate, make good judgement and quickly react to situations. Click here for more information on how alcohol and drug abuse affects safe driving.