Drugs and Aging
Drugs and Aging
Over the years, the medical world has conducted various studies and researches about the effects of drug abuse on health. Drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, opium, morphine, and heroine are just some of the most commonly abused drugs that could also cause serious health problems such as heart attacks, brain damage, cancer, liver disease, impotence, and even HIV/AIDS. Apart from these conditions, substance abuse can also greatly affect an individual’s aging process (Anderson 432). According to studies, drugs have a great effect on a person’s aging process.
It particularly targets and damages important body organ such as the heart, brain, and liver. Researches also suggest that drug abuse also alters and impedes the function of these organs which in turn exacerbates the aging process. The aging however, dies not stop with the internal organs. Instead, it also manifests on the person’s physical or outer appearance. Almost all drugs produce a certain side effect on the body’s aging course. However, substances such as nicotine, cocaine, and alcohol are three of the most abused drugs that deteriorate the body’s natural vitality (Anderson 432).
Nicotine is said to be one of the top substances that rapidly ages and harms the body. It is a type of alkaloid found in the Solanaceae plant family. It is present and widely taken in the form of cigarettes and tobacco. When smoked, this substance blends in with the blood which in turn passes through the lungs and the brain. It only takes a few seconds before its chemicals such as acetylcholine, arginine, dopamine, beta-endorphine, norepinephrine, and vasopressin stimulates and then relaxes the body. According to users smoking cigarettes gives them a feeling of calmness, relaxation, as well as alertness (Late 1).
Despite of its soothing and stimulating effects, nicotine can also cause damaging consequences to the body particularly in its aging process. It harms the lungs, brain, and the heart. According to researches, nicotine has very powerful effects on the body’s arteries. It raises the blood pressure and constricts the arteries. This condition makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood. Apart from this, nicotine is also responsible for increasing the risks of blood clot and clogging. Aside from the heart, nicotine also has aging effects on the brain.
The chemicals inside this substance affect and slowly deteriorate brain functions. When nicotine is introduced to adolescent brain, it may cause a long-lasting damage or consequence to the developing brain. This includes the higher addiction risk to other substances and even mental conditions and ailments (Late 30). The aging effect of nicotine also has an irreversible consequence on the skin. The effects are primarily roots from the nicotine chemicals which cause the cells in the body to act and behave erratically.
The substance itself restricts blood flow which then prevents the skin from receiving important nutrients and anti-oxidants. The result is a dry, dull, and grayish skin. Chronic smokers also develop deep wrinkles around the eyes and mouth which causes them to look ten to twenty years older (Smoking and Skin Aging 6). Cocaine is also a harmful drug that easily ages the body. It is regarded as one of the most abused stimulant in the United States. This highly addictive drug is usually taken in by injection, smoking, swallowing, or snorting.
It has a euphoric effect which makes the user calm, and even happy. However, cocaine also presents numerous negative health consequences. It slowly damages the heart, brain, and lungs. Its effects on the brain is particularly damaging as it alters its responsiveness. Studies also show that cocaine abuse causes seizure which can also lead to erratic or bizarre behavior. This substance also ages the heart as it increases the heart rate as well as the blood pressure. This causes the arteries to constrict which in turn, blocks the blood supply in the heart.
Cocaine abuse can also trigger an abnormal heart rhythm. The strong effects of cocaine chemicals force the body’s organs to work twice as hard. This does not only cause the organ to age abruptly, but it also increases the risk of organ damage and even breakdown (Teen Drug Abuse 1). Alcohol is also another substance commonly abused by millions of people worldwide. It is found in almost every alcoholic beverages and liquors such as wine, beer, and spirits. When consumed in moderation, alcohol can be easily processed by the body. However, abuse of this substance can age and damage the body.
A reason behind is largely due to the fact that the body requires a certain amount of time before it can properly absorb and dispose alcohol. Constant drinking and intake will automatically force the body to function abnormally, thus resulting to organ damage and infection (Aging and Alcohol Abuse 3). Alcohol affects crucial organs such as liver and the brain. Once alcohol is ingested, it becomes diffused in almost every tissue of the body. The liver, for instance, functions by breaking down the alcohol. It exactly takes one hour before the liver can process an alcoholic drink.
However, constant use of this substance will eventually lead to liver cirrhosis and liver degeneration. The brain is also affected by excessive alcohol in take. It slows down major brain activities which can lead to forgetfulness and confusion. Often times, alcohol drinking affects an individual’s judgment which leads to erratic and even violent and aggressive behavior. Heavy drinking can also permanently cause damage to the central nervous system primarily because it impairs the function of the brain receptors (Aging and Alcohol Abuse 2).
Aside from the liver and the brain, alcohol also causes the body to age physically. It dehydrates the body which causes the skin to look dry and dull. In some cases, this lack of moisture from the skin results to wrinkles and even skin cracks. This substance also affects the skin by depleting the body of all the essential minerals and vitamins. It especially impedes the absorption of Vitamin A which makes the skin look radiant. Thus, frequent and heavy drinkers exhibit a lifeless and dull looking skin. Some chronic drinkers also note that their skin color sometimes change into a yellowish or gray tone.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 23 September 2016
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