Nicotine, alcohol and drugs are addictive substances that can affect mood, increase concentration, reduce anxiety, and more. Apart from addictive substances, there are also certain behaviors, such as gambling, that can stimulate excitement and lessen anxiety. Many people use addictive substances or repeat certain behaviors in order to take advantage of these effects, which are usually temporary. This behavior is generally harmless when done occasionally.
However, it is important to emphasize that the consequences of using addictive substances depends, to a large extent, on which substance is used, the manner of use, the dosage consumed, the health of the user, and various other factors.
For example, there are certain substances whose use, in extreme situations, can be life threatening even if used only once. For example, cocaine can trigger heart arrhythmias, and driving under the influence of alcohol increases the risk of being involved in a car accident.
What about the use of addictive substances over time?
Over time, the risk of injury and damage increases. Frequent use may have negative and harmful short-term effects, including decreased appetite and alertness, increased feelings and symptoms of anxiety, and other adverse health effects. High frequency use, especially in people with risk factors, increases the likelihood of developing an addiction, and of suffering from its correlated harmful effects. These adverse effects, which can be difficult and prolonged, fall into three main categories: Medical effects – Increased incidence of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, liver disease, lung disease, and psychiatric disorders. Psychological effects – Increased incidence of depression and anxiety, frequent mood swings, diminished self-efficacy and enjoyment of daily activities. Social effects – Damage to relationships, decline in academic and job performance, increased exposure to traumatic and violent events.