From Dr. Jennifer Haythe, M.D. Cardiologist for the Center for Advanced Cardiac Care and Co-Director of the Women’s Center for Cardiovascular Health at New York-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center.
Let’s be clear from the start – there is no health benefit to the use of drugs and alcohol. Is there some conflicting data that red wine increases HDL (good cholesterol) and through that mechanism may reduce risk of CHD? — possibly. Will 1-2 drinks a week hurt you? — probably not. BUT, in general, the best practice is to abstain from drugs and alcohol to maintain the healthiest and fittest body possible.
Different drugs can effect your body and brain in variable ways. In general, illegal substance and alcohol have the following short term effects on your body systems:
- Slowed reaction times
- Trouble with balance and walking, accidental injury
- Increased impulsivity and lower inhibitions
- Mood swings, emotional lability
- Poor memory and difficulty concentrating
- ‘Blackouts’ (can’t remember what happened)
- Slurred speech
- Blurry vision
- Fast/slow heart rates and palpitations
- High blood pressure
- Inhibition of respiratory drive
Over time, chronic exposure to drugs and alcohol can have deleterious and lethal consequences to the body/brain.
Long-term effects of drugs/alcohol:
- Cardiomyopathy – alcohol and certain drugs like cocaine can cause heart failure
- Coronary artery disease and heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Cancers: mouth, throat, lungs, liver, bladder, pancreas and more – the list is very long
- Dementia, cognitive impairment
- Severe vitamin and nutrient deficiency
- Increased risk of STD exposure and long term consequences of HIV, Hepatitis, HPV, Syphilis etc
- Low libido, impotence, early menopause, infertility
I always tell all of my patients that illegal substances/drugs are a hard NO. No ifs, ands, or buts. There is no benefit and the side effects and risks are too high. Alcohol can be used in moderation, 1-2 drinks a few nights per week is fine. If you are having trouble managing your alcohol, tobacco, or drug intake, please speak to your doctor about programs that may work for you. Get help and get on the road to a healthier, happier, more energetic you.