Health Risks

Health Risks of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse

The following is a brief summary of information regarding the health risks associated with the abuse of alcohol and the use of illicit drugs. There are several sources of additional information available to employees through the EAP and events on campus sponsored by Human Resources and/or Counseling & Health Services both of which offer educational programs throughout the year at campus-wide events. The library and Instructional Media Center have additional educational material and resources.

Alcohol—beer, wine, liquor

  • Dependence Potential: yes.
  • Possible Effects: muscle relaxation, impaired motor control, memory and judgment, depression, intoxication.
  • Common Complications: severe impairment of all physical and mental functions, risk of choking or injury from falls or accidents, loss of consciousness, respiratory failure, coma, death due to anesthesia of brain centers controlling breathing and heart rate.

Cannabis—marijuana, hashish, hashish oil

  • Dependence Potential: yes.
  • Possible Effects: altered sense of time and visual perception, euphoria, memory, depression interference, reduced coordination and reflex response capacity.
  • Common Complications: fatigue, reactions ranging from mild anxiety to panic and paranoia, confusion, disorientation, hallucinations and distortion of sense perceptions.

Sedatives – barbiturates, tranquilizers, methaqualone, other depressants

  • Dependence Potential: yes.
  • Possible Effects: drowsiness, slurred speech, disorientation, impaired motor coordination.
  • Common Complications: shallow respiration, weak and rapid pulse, coma, possible death from depression of central nervous system functions.

Hallucinogens—LSD—acid, psilocybin, peyote, mescaline, many other natural and synthetic hallucinogens

  • Dependence Potential: yes.
  • Possible Effects: altered sense of time, space and visual perception, disorientation, hallucinations, nausea, dilated pupils, cross sensory perceptions, dizziness, increased temperature, blood pressure and heart rate, sweating and chills.
  • Common Complications: impaired judgment leading to impulsive actions, paranoia, rapid mood swings, “bad trip”—fear, anxiety, paranoia, panic and hallucinations to match, exhaustion after use, depression, fears—often of death, of their mind not working right or of flashbacks.

Narcotics—heroin, codeine, opium, morphine, Percodan, Percocet, Fentanyl, Oxycodone

  • Dependence Potential: yes.
  • Possible Effects: euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, respiratory depression.
  • Common Complications: shallow and slow breathing, dizziness, vomiting, sweating, convulsions, coma, and possible death.

Steroids—anabolic steroids

  • Dependence Potential: yes.
  • Possible Effects: acne, aggressive behavior, anger management problems, cholesterol imbalance, impotence, psychosis.
  • Common Complications: aggressive behavior, psychosis, reduced fertility, stroke, liver damage, increased cancer risk.

Stimulants—cocaine, crack, speed, amphetamines, and methamphetamines

  • Dependence Potential: yes.
  • Possible Effects: increased alertness, increased pulse and blood pressure, euphoria, pupil dilation, insomnia, loss of appetite.
  • Common Complications: agitation, irritability, dizziness, confusion, fatigue, depression, seizure, convulsions, tactile or visual hallucinations, possible death. 

Nicotine—cigarette, cigar, pipe smoking, vaping (e-cigarettes) chewing tobacco

  • Dependence Potential: yes.
  • Possible Effects: increased heart rate and blood pressure, irritation of the eyes, nose and respiratory tract, shortness of breath, decreased sensitivity of taste buds, depression.
  • Common Complications: increased risk of: heart attack, cardiovascular disease, mouth, throat and lung cancer, and other pulmonary disease

Information about Moderate Drinking

If you are making a choice to drink alcoholic beverages, there are some strategies to consider adopting that will lessen the chance of a negative consequence occurring. You are encouraged to:

  • Plan ahead, and set a limit before you start drinking
  • Consider how you will get home, plans for next day
  • Be aware of your health and mood
  • 1 drink means 12 oz. of beer, 4 oz. of wine, or 1 oz. of spirits
  • Pour your own drinks, and measure them
  • Keep track of how much you drink
  • Eat some food before you drink (something that isn't salty!)
  • Sip, instead of gulp, your drink (make it last awhile!)
  • Substitute or alternate nonalcoholic drinks
  • Do NOT mix energy drinks with alcohol
  • Space your drinks (i.e., No more than 1 per hour)
  • Try to resist pressure to keep up with your friends, or join in drinking games
  • Be aware of cues that can influence you to drink more: (i.e., people, places, emotions, thirst, and stress)

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