Sample Health Care Essay Paper on Illicit Drugs and their Effects

Drug use and abuse, especially of illicit drugs, is a problem in the American society. Illegal drugs in their totality are a danger to the society especially to the youth from both advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds. Illegal drugs are especially dangerous given their potential adverse effect on the health and well-being of its users. Unintentional death, mental and behavioral disorders, and infectious diseases among other effects are just the few among the many effects that come with illegal drug use (Muhuri and Gfroerer 155). While there have been campaigns on awareness of the dangers of illegal drug use, recent legalization of some illegal drugs such as marijuana in Colorado in addition to debates on legalization of some illicit drugs in different states is worrying. This is especially in view of the adverse effects the drugs have on human health and the message such legalization would send to not only the youth in America, but the world as a whole.

Illicit drug users are generally individuals who use illegal drugs including cocaine, marijuana, opium, LSD, and designer drugs among other illegal drugs (McGeary and French 154). The delivery system of the drugs is as varied as the drugs themselves with some user smoking (marijuana), injecting (heroin), sniffing (cocaine), and swallowing (designer drugs) the drugs. While the goal of the users is to get a “high,” the effects that come after regular use of the drugs are far more dilapidating that the high.

Perhaps the more reason for the youth to avoid illicit drugs is the effects that come with the use of the drugs. Regular use of the drugs leads to dependence and addiction to the drugs, to a point where the individual is unable to function properly without a “hit” or a “fix”. Especially addictive are drugs such as cocaine, heroin and LSD, whose dependence completely immobilizes an addict in the event that he/she has not had a fix (Louria, Hensle and Rose 5). It is relatedly the idea of immobilization and dependence on the drug that often times drives users to violence and crime. Petty theft, burglary, pickpocketing and sometimes robbery, rape and even murder all emanate from the addicts desire to have enough to buy a fix. Fueling the dependence on illicit drugs is an expensive affair to both the user and the society, given its relation to crime and violence.

While death and violence affect the society, death as a result of drug use, as an effect of illegal drug use, affects the user. Muhuri and Gfroerer inform that meta-analysis of reports indicate a close relationship between illegal drug use and half-a-dozen modifiable behavioral risk factors, which contribute to mortality in the United States. Specifically, the estimates indicate that 95 percent of unintentional poisoning deaths yearly in the U.S. have illegal drugs to blame (Muhuri and Gfroerer 155). The deaths come from unintentional poisoning and overdose, which have been increasing since 1970. Overdose, is especially the leading cause of deaths, with drugs extensively involved in the deaths including cocaine, heroin and opioid pain medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone (Muhuri and Gfroerer 155).

Apart from death from poisoning and overdose, diseases are yet effects of illegal drug use. According to McGeary and French, illicit drug users are at risk of contracting AIDS, particularly IDUs (intravenous drug users). The sharing of the needles and other piercing instruments makes them vulnerable to contracting infectious diseases such as vital hepatitis B & C and HIV (McGeary and French 154; Muhuri and Gfroerer 155).

Yet the infectious diseases are not the last of the worries for illicit drug users as the use of drugs makes them vulnerable to other diseases as well. Other chronic health effects from illicit drug use include pulmonary complications, cerebrovascular disease, hepatic dysfunction, duodenal ulcers, and endocrine abnormalities (McGeary and French 154). Furthermore, illicit drugs, especially cocaine, have an association with seizures, stroke, and neurological disorders.  Far more concerning in relation to the effect on the health of the users is crack cocaine, which has adverse effects on the central nervous, circulatory, and respiratory systems (McGeary and French 154).

Illegal drug use among expectant women also has its effect on the future of the unborn child and the mother. There are high chances of developing pregnancy complications, low birth weight, and shorter pregnancy periods from the use of drugs (Muhuri and Gfroerer 155). On top of the risks to the baby and the mother are the health costs of illegal drug use. As of 1988, health consequences related to drug use had reached $58.3 billion in addition to the extensive use of ER services (McGeary and French 155).

Recent developments in the legal atmosphere are bound to have great impact in the use of illegal drugs. In Colorado, Amendment 24 passed in 2012 legalized the retail sale, purchase and possession of marijuana for residents and visitors above 21 years (Monte, Zane and Heard 241). While the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and the debate for its legalization in states such as Washington may present an opportunity for studying the positive effects of the drug by scientists, it also opens the gates for its indiscriminate use (Monte, Zane and Heard 242). Worse is that its supply chain may offer an opportunity for sale of other illegal drugs through lacing the drugs with marijuana to provide different variants or “flavors” of marijuana. Furthermore, in the years after the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, there have been increases in hospital visits from marijuana intoxication across all ages from marijuana edibles (Monte, Zane and Heard 242). The increase points to the lack of confinement of the effects to people 21 years and above, but to those below the legal threshold of marijuana use.

The best protection against drug use for the youth is keeping away from the drugs, in view of the effects that come with the use of illegal drugs. Education on drugs and alcohol is perhaps the most important weapon. Having the best and correct information enables one to sift throw the chaff of myths and conceptions on the internet and among friends, which the friends use to initiate one into using the illegal drugs. It is altogether even healthier to avoid or cut ties with friends who are drug users. Connecting with both peers and adults who have a positive influence on one’s life is far more helpful and positive than connection with friends whose only focus is on drugs. Moreover, it is important for one to have an active life; getting involved in the school or community, speaking out against drug use and abuse planning one’s life helps in steering off the path of illegal drug use and addiction. More important is being a brother’s keeper through getting help for anyone who is struggling with illegal drug use.

Works cited

Louria, D. B., Hensle, T. and Rose, J. “The Major-Medical Complications of Heroin Addiction.” Annals of Internal Medicine, vol. 67 no. 1, 1967, pp. 1-22

McGeary, Kerry, A. and French, Michael. “Illicit Drug Use and Emergency Room Utilization.” HSR: Health Services Research, vol. 35, no. 1, 2000, pp. 153-169

Monte, Andrew, A., Zane, Richard, D. and Heard, Kennon, J. “The Implications of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado.” JAMA, vol. 313, no. 3, 2015, pp. 241-242

Muhuri, Pradip, K. and Gfroerer, Joseph, C. “Mortality Associated with Illegal Drug Use among Adults in the United States.” The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, vol. 37, 2011, pp. 155-164