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Understanding the Impact of Drug Abuse

Published March 11, 2020 by ADRAS & ALTIG, Attorneys at Law
A woman struggling with drug addiction in Vegas

Drug abuse is the use of illicit drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, or others prohibited for use by the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. It can also include the use of prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) drugs for purposes other than those for which they are intended. Drug abuse can also refer to using drugs in larger amounts or more often (binging) than prescribed or recommended.

Physical Health and Mental Health

Drug abuse may cause a host of physical, mental, and social problems. Drug abusers often have associated health issues, such as stroke, heart disease, cancer, or mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. The country is currently in the grips of a tragic opioid epidemic.

Opioid abuse can lead to overdose and death. Methamphetamine, or crystal meth, can cause severe dental problems. Inhalants may destroy nerve cells in the brain and the nervous system. And those are just a few examples. Studies show that drug abuse clearly increases the risk of contracting infections like HIV and hepatitis C.


Addiction is a disease characterized by drug use that is very difficult to control, despite the adverse consequences. Drug abuse can, over time, lead to brain changes that interfere with their ability to resist the urge to use drugs. Because brain changes can be persistent, addiction is a “relapsing” disease. Those in drug recovery are at high risk for returning to drug use after a period of abstaining from using the drug.

As with other chronic diseases and health conditions, drug treatment needs to be continual and should be modified and adjusted according to how the patient responds. Drug addiction treatment plans need to be reviewed and customized to match the patient’s changing needs.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infects the body’s immune cells (T cells), whose purpose is to fight infections. HIV lowers the number of T cells in the body, making it harder to fight off diseases and infections. HIV can cause acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), chronic, possibly life-threatening condition in which the body loses its ability to fight disease and infection.

Drug abuse can worsen the progression of HIV and AIDS. Research has shown that drugs can make it easier for HIV to enter the brain and cause nerve cell injury. This can lead to various cognitive problems and memory loss. Drug and alcohol abuse can damage the liver, heightening the risk for chronic liver disease and cancer among those with hepatitis B or hepatitis C.

Prenatal Effects – If you are pregnant and want a healthy baby, it’s critical to avoid drug use. It’s not just illicit drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine that can pose danger to infants, even abuse of OTC drugs can have harmful long-term effects on an unborn child.

Drug-abusing moms often give birth to “drug babies” – infants who have many developmental issues. Studies show that using drugs during pregnancy has a direct impact on the fetus. If you drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, consume caffeine, use marijuana or methamphetamines, so does the fetus and your fetus will experience the harmful effects of these drugs. Taking drugs during pregnancy also increases the chance of birth defects, premature babies, underweight babies, and stillborn births.


Drug addicts often have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships with others. Drug addicts are typically focused solely on getting and using drugs. Since relationships don’t typically give a drug user the same euphoric experience of the substance they’re addicted to, the drug user will usually devote less time and energy toward maintaining the relationship.

Someone who begins abusing drugs may not be very open about their use due to feelings of guilt, shame, and fear of judgment. They may believe others will not accept the situation they’re in, which creates the tendency to be secretive with a significant other, friends, and family members. Drug users may lie about where they are, who they are with, and why money is gone, among other things.

Secrecy can escalate to the point to where the drug abuser becomes isolated, putting great strain on any type of relationship. Drug addicts Man charged with drug possession in Vegasoften lie and deceive others, causing their significant others to develop trust issues due to the perceived lack of honesty and loyalty. When trust breaks down in a relationship, you see an emergence of a number of relationship-damaging issues like anger, jealousy, and resentment.

Financial and Job Stability​​​​​​​

The economic burden of drug addiction is more than twice that of any other neurological disease, according to research. While buying drugs can, of course, be costly, there are other expenses in regard to the associated healthcare, legal fees, and other costs. Those who abuse drugs may end up with a significant loss of income.

Drug abuse can be particularly costly for people who have few financial resources to start with. If a heavy substance abuser is at or below the poverty level, they may be spending over half their income on drugs.

Drug abuse can lead to lower productivity levels. Someone with a drug problem may call in sick to work more frequently, and when they do go to work, the quality of your work may be less than satisfactory. Poor job performance can mean missing out on promotions or even termination.

Many drug addicts lose their jobs and remain unemployed because of their addiction. It can be hard to rejoin the workforce after years of drug-related unemployment.

Possible Legal Consequences of Drug Abuse

If you are convicted of a drug crime, you may end up with a criminal record that can follow you for the rest of your life. A criminal record can come back to haunt you when you apply for a job, try to buy or rent a home, and vote.

Many employers conduct background checks on applicants to make sure applicants are free of legal issues. If you’ve been convicted with a drug crime, this would be a red flag for potential employers. Drug use can obviously have a negative impact on job performance. Therefore, employers will likely hire someone else who is less likely to have drug addiction symptoms.

Drug possession often results in a hefty fine. Drug fines can total in the thousands of dollars. In addition to time in jail or prison and fines, you may face community service, probation, or other forms of confinement, such as house arrest.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney for Help with Drug Charges

If you have been arrested on a drug charge in Clark County, Nevada, call an experienced Las Vegas drug crime lawyer as soon as you can. At Adras & Altig, we will fight for you. We will protect your rights as we seek to have your charge reduced or dismissed.

Call Adras & Altig today to schedule a free initial criminal case review. Our skilled and compassionate Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers will act quickly to protect your rights and ensure your drug case results in the best outcome possible for you.

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