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Health Risks

Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy SECTION III, HEALTH RISKS

Whether the drug of choice is alcohol, marijuana, a prescription drug or cocaine, the habit can lead to a change in habits. Some people may believe that drugs are harmless or even helpful. The truth is that drugs can have very serious, long-term physical and emotional health effects. If drugs are mixed, the impact is even more detrimental. The following is a partial list[1] of drugs and some of the consequences of their use. Only some of the known health risks are covered, and not all legal or illegal drugs are included:

ALCOHOLMost commonly abused substance among college students. It produces short-term effects that include behavioral changes, impairment of judgment and coordination, greater likelihood of aggressive acts, respiratory depression, irreversible physical and mental abnormalities in newborns (fetal alcohol syndrome) and death. Long-term effects include damage to the liver, heart and brain; ulcers; gastritis; malnutrition; delirium tremens; and cancer.
MARIJUANAAddictive drug, although many still believe that it is harmless. It impairs short-term memory comprehension, concentration, reaction time, and motivation. It may also cause paranoia and psychosis. Marijuana smoke contains more cancer-causing agents than tobacco smoke. The way marijuana is smoked enhances the risk of contracting lung disease and cancer.
COCAINE AND CRACKWhile cocaine and crack can speed up performance, their effect is short-lived. Some lasting risks are short attention span, irritability and depression, seizure and heart attack.
PRESCRIPTION DRUGSOften used to reduce stress. However, these are not safe, unless taken as directed. If abused, they can lead to sluggishness or hyperactivity, impaired reflexes, addiction, and brain damage.
OTHER DRUGSPCP, LSD, heroin, mescaline, and morphine, have a wide variety of negative health effects from hallucinations and mental confusion to convulsions and death.
TOBACCO (NICOTINE)Oklahoma’s leading cause of preventable death killing 5,800 Oklahomans each year; more than alcohol, auto accidents, AIDS, suicides, murders, and illegal drugs combined. Secondhand smoke exposure kills an estimated 700 Oklahomans each year.

Lasting Consequences

The use of alcohol or drugs may lead to abuse or addiction, causing psychological and/or physical dependence. They also can present a danger to the campus community when someone is performing a task under the influence or distributing to others.

[1] Further information about these and other substances is available at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website and at the US Drug Enforcement Administration website.

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