Diseases Caused by Drugs - Public Citizen - Worst Pills

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Cocaine is an appetite suppressant and a powerful stimulant drug that comes from the coca plant, from which it derives its name. Cocaine is typically used by injection into the bloodstream, snorting through the nose, or rubbing it into the gums. Sometimes it is processed and turned into a crystallized rock, otherwise known as crack, from which it is then heated and smoked. It is used for a variety of immediate effects that it produces, including delusions of supremacy, euphoria, increased energy, and alertness. As these effects wear off, restlessness, anxiety, and paranoia can set in, as well as higher body temperatures, an elevated pulse rate and blood pressure, and shortness of breath. Long-term usage of cocaine can not only lead to addiction but also dehydration and a dry mouth, which may result in damage to the teeth. Kidney failure, autoimmune diseases like lupus, severe bowel decay, a greater chance of contracting blood-borne diseases, malnourishment, strokes, and a greater chance of contracting blood-borne diseases are other risks that come with the prolonged use of cocaine. Cardiovascular risk involves stiffer arteries and thicker heart muscle walls. The increase in blood pressure alone caused by cocaine can cause a heart attack in some cases. In some instances, it can also cause an irregular heart rhythm, a problem known as arrhythmia, which can be fatal. Cocaine is especially damaging to the heart because it carries with it the risk of sporadic heart attacks in the small vessels of the heart. Additionally, it interferes with cardiac drugs such as beta blockers that doctors use to treat heart attacks.

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Rohypnol is a powerful central nervous system depressant that is commonly referred to as a "club drug" or "date-rape drug." These white tablets are also frequently referred to as "roofies." It is odorless and colorless and has been given the label of a date-rape drug because it can easily be slipped into a drink for the purpose of sexual assault. The effects of the drug can be felt within minutes and can last up to eight hours. The victim often has little, if any, recollection of the events. It is also used as a sedative to cause people to sleep and to reduce anxiety. It has many side effects, including difficulty breathing, slurred speech, headache, vomiting and nausea, mood swings, and memory loss. A person under the influence of Rohypnol will appear as though they are very drunk and will often lose consciousness within roughly two hours after the drug has been ingested. When combined with other drugs, particularly depressants, it can affect the heart by causing it to slow down severely resulting in potential heart failure. In extreme cases, Rohypnol may result in coma or death. Long-term effects of the drug, for those who use it recreationally, includes physical and psychological dependence. When detoxing the user will suffer withdrawal symptoms such as hallucinations, confusion, headaches, and possible seizures.

Heroin is an opium-based drug that is related to morphine but is two to four times stronger. In its various forms, this drug may be injected intravenously, snorted, or smoked. Short-term effects of heroin include euphoria and a relaxed state, which are what attract certain people to use it illicitly. Other short-term effects include dry mouth, slowing of cardiac function and respiratory rate, decreased mental state - frequently going between conscious and unconscious states - muscle weakness, skin infections, and scarring along veins due to repeated injections. Long-term effects of heroin use include addiction, collapsed veins, abscesses, decreased liver function, a high risk of kidney disease or failure, and increased risk of blood-borne pathogens and infections such as Hepatitis B, C, and HIV. This drug also impacts the body's immune system, leaving it more vulnerable to diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia. Chronic heroin users also run the risk of developing pulmonary edema and empyema. Cardiovascular effects include bacterial infections of the blood vessel linings and valves of the heart. Addicted users may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and pain in the muscles and bones when attempting to detox which can lead to relapse if not properly treated. The risk of overdose and death from heroin is fairly high. Death rates have climbed due to the recent resurgence in the popularity of this drug across the U.S. and worldwide.