Drug Use And The Damage On Lungs

01/10/19: Addiction \ Addiction Recovery
Substance abuse is an issue that people all across the world deal with. It is a habitual taking of addictive or illegal drugs. People that struggle with this develop a mental and physical dependency on the drugs they’re abusing. More often than not, these individuals are more worried about law enforcement convicting them for their use of illegal substances. What they fail to consider are the possible side effects the constant substance abuse may have on their health. Most drugs will have side effects, no drug is without them. Some minor drugs may cause nausea, dizziness, or vomiting. Other more dangerous drugs can cause serious side effects like accelerated heart rate, respiratory issues, or even death if too much of a particular drug is taken. The more extreme side effects are often seen in cases of drug abuse. However, most illegal substances have a significant impact on one of the most vital organs in your body, the lungs. Respiratory problems are something that people with addictions struggle with. Though cigarettes are not illegal, the side effects of habitual smoking are just as serious when compared to illegal substances. Smoking has been found to be a major cause of bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer. However, smoking cigarettes is not the only drug use that can cause severe respiratory issues. Smoking marijuana has gone to show some major side effects on the lungs alongside cigarettes. In this day-and-age, people are becoming more inclined to smoke marijuana, especially since it is becoming legal in many states. However, people do not realize smoking marijuana can be just as bad as smoking cigarettes. One of the biggest issues habitual marijuana smokers may run into is chronic bronchitis. Another illegal substance that causes respiratory problems is cocaine. The people that abuse this substance often run into problems like severe lung damage and even respiratory failure. Lastly, opioids are one of the most easily abused substances in the world due to their highly addictive properties. People who abuse opioids often have issues like breathing too slow, air is blocked from entering the lungs, or even increasing symptoms of asthma. The side effects on an individual’s lungs come mainly from the inhalation of smoke, vapor, fumes, or some sort of powder. The three most common illicit drugs that are taken in these ways are marijuana, crack cocaine, and some opioids. Marijuana is inhaled to the lungs through vapor or smoke. Cocaine is either inhaled through the nasal passage, which directly affects the lungs. Opioids like heroin are often smoked through a pipe, causing effects on the lungs. When these illicit substances are gaining passage to vital organs, like your lungs, they’re directly affecting them. Let’s take an in-depth look at these drugs and see exactly how they affect the lungs.


Cocaine is a substance that acts as a stimulant. This drug has been around for over 1,000 years and it was originally used for medical purposes. However, in the last couple of decades, it has been added to the ever-growing list of drugs people abuse. Now, people inhale this drug in a powder form through their nose or they smoke it in its solid form. Though this drug is powerful, its effects do not last long, this encourages abusers to use more and more to keep a continuous high. Though many cocaine users inhale the substance through their nasal passages, most users use the substance in it’s ‘crack cocaine’ form. This form of cocaine is inhaled through a pipe as a vapor or smoke, directly coming in contact with a person's lungs which is where the respiratory problems come from. First-time users may experience a cough after they use the substance. Long-time users may experience more severe effects like short/slow breathing, wheezing, or even respiratory failure.


Like tobacco, marijuana is a substance that is typically smoked. Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is a substance that was originally used for its therapeutic effects in the 19th Century. However, the substance is harmful if it is smoked. The substance comes into direct contact with the lungs when it is inhaled like a cigarette and this is never a good thing. The last thing the lungs need is to be filled up with smoke. Marijuana not only affects the lungs, but it can cause a person to cough and have irritation in their throat. This substance is similar to tobacco in the way that it is filled with volatile chemicals and tar, which are major factors in lung disease and cancer. Though many people say marijuana is good for you, studies have gone to show that smoking the substance has some less than desirable side-effects. Regularly smoking marijuana can lead to large airway inflammation, increased airway resistance, lung hyperinflation, and chronic bronchitis.

Opioids (Heroin)

Opioids have become a huge issue in the United States and heroin is one of the worst ones. Heroin is a substance that is either injected or smoked out of a pipe. People that abuse heroin often run into respiratory diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis. Some heroin users may even experience blocked blood vessels that lead to vital organs, like the lungs. The people that abuse this substance are not typically the best at keeping their health up to par, which may decrease their immunity system, only to increase the chances of other chronic respiratory complications.

What Next?

Not only can substance abuse affect a person's mental and emotional health, but also a person’s physical health. Lungs are a huge target when it comes to substance abuse. Most substances that are abused are taken through the respiratory system. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and many other drugs can all be smoked and inhaled directly into the lungs. Substances come in direct contact with a person’s lung. There is no denying that there are horrible effects that substance abuse has on a person’s health. Substance abuse can result in many physical, mental, and emotional health problems. There are no benefits to addiction, it only results in harm. Addiction is a disease that requires treatment. Rehab facilities across America are certified to help a person fight against addiction. Admitting addiction is the first step in becoming sober and living a healthy life, getting the right help is the next step. Content for Arizona Addiction by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment and technology. Advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best. www.cohn.media

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