Identifying Risky Behaviors Associated with Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a complex and challenging issue that affects individuals and communities worldwide. It is important to understand the risky behaviors associated with drug addiction in order to prevent and address this growing problem. In this article, we will explore the negative physical and mental effects of alcohol and drug use, as well as the specific risks associated with different substances. We will also discuss the impact of drug addiction on academic performance, relationships, and overall well-being.

The Risks of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse is a progressive disorder that can have serious consequences on physical and mental health. Even low doses of alcohol impair brain function, judgment, alertness, coordination, and reflexes. Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to dementia, sexual impotence, cirrhosis of the liver, and heart disease. Sudden withdrawal from alcohol can result in severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, and life-threatening convulsions.

Drinking alcohol can have negative consequences both for the individual consuming it and for those around them. Some of the negative effects of alcohol consumption include hangovers, academic problems, arguments with friends, engaging in unwanted or unprotected sexual activity, weight gain, injuries, property damage, alcohol poisoning, trouble with authorities, insults or humiliation, disrupted study or sleep, and the development of tolerance, dependence, or addiction. It is important to note that all of these consequences have been experienced by students at Washington and Lee University.

Understanding Alcohol Poisoning

Acute alcohol poisoning is a serious condition that can occur when someone consumes a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. It often happens in situations involving rapid alcohol intake, such as shots, funneling, keg stands, and drinking games. Even after someone passes out, their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can continue to rise from the alcohol still in their stomach. Acute alcohol poisoning can lead to severe respiratory failure, unconsciousness, and even death. If you encounter an intoxicated person who shows signs of danger, such as shallow breathing or a bluish color in the lips and fingernails, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention.

Women and Alcohol

Women are affected by alcohol differently than men. Due to their higher percentage of body fat, women become more impaired than men when drinking the same amount of alcohol. The concentration of alcohol in a woman’s bloodstream is higher because alcohol is less diluted upon reaching the brain. Women also become intoxicated more easily in the days preceding their menstrual periods. Furthermore, women absorb more alcohol into their bloodstreams because they lack the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase in their stomachs, which breaks down some alcohol before absorption.

It is important to recognize that alcohol is addictive, and regular use can lead to dependence and addiction, even in college-age students. Individuals with a family history of substance abuse are at a higher risk of developing addiction. People who begin drinking before the age of 15 are also more likely to develop substance abuse issues later in life. Warning signs of dependence or addiction include more frequent use, increased tolerance, spending excessive time and money on alcohol, neglecting responsibilities, and experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms.

The Dangers of Alcohol Energy Drinks and Fortified Malt Beverages

Alcohol energy drinks and fortified malt beverages pose particular risks due to their higher alcohol content compared to regular beer. The combination of alcohol and caffeine is especially dangerous. These drinks can lead to higher rates and levels of intoxication, as well as a higher risk of injuries and other negative consequences. The sweet taste of these beverages can mask the taste of alcohol, leading to the false impression that one can drink more without feeling intoxicated. It is advisable to avoid these drinks altogether.

The Dangers of Illegal and Misused Prescription Drugs

The use of illegal drugs and the misuse of prescription drugs can have severe consequences in various aspects of life. Combining drugs or using them in conjunction with alcohol can be extremely dangerous. While the risks associated with specific drugs vary, it is crucial to understand the potential social, academic, psychological, physical, financial, and legal consequences of drug use.

Understanding Marijuana Use and its Risks

Marijuana is a commonly used drug with varying concentrations of THC, the main psychoactive compound in the plant. Smoking or ingesting marijuana can lead to relaxation, mood elevation, heightened sensory awareness, altered perceptions, and increased appetite. However, marijuana use can also result in dry mouth, dry eyes, increased heart rate, impaired memory and learning, difficulty thinking and problem-solving, anxiety, impaired coordination and judgment, increased susceptibility to infections, and dangerous impairment of driving skills. Combining marijuana with other drugs, including alcohol and prescription drugs, can lead to unwanted reactions and increase the overall impact of both substances. It is worth noting that marijuana has addictive properties, and about 10-14% of users may become dependent.

The Dangers of Synthetic Marijuana and Other Psychoactive Substances

Synthetic marijuana, also known as K2, Spice, and other names, is a group of psychoactive herbal and chemical products that mimic the effects of marijuana and other drugs. These products are created by individual sellers, making it difficult to determine their exact composition and potential side effects. The toxicity and risks associated with these substances are not well studied, but they can include heart palpitations, high blood pressure, hallucinations, seizures, and breathing problems. The use of synthetic marijuana is generally short-lived, and the high produced by these substances lasts no more than 30 minutes.

The Risks of Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens, such as phencyclidine (PCP), ecstasy, LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin mushrooms, have mind-altering effects that impair perception, cognition, and muscular coordination. These substances can cause speech difficulties, memory problems, depression, anxiety, violent behavior, panic, confusion, paranoia, and loss of control. Flashbacks, or delayed effects, can occur even after the use of these substances has ceased.

Understanding the Dangers of Cocaine and Stimulants

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that leads to the release of dopamine, resulting in feelings of euphoria, hyperstimulation, confidence, and alertness. However, the pleasurable effects of cocaine are short-lived and often followed by withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, restlessness, physical pain, insomnia, depression, paranoia, or aggression. Cocaine use raises the risk of respiratory arrest, stroke, seizures, heart attacks, and death. Other stimulants, including ecstasy, methamphetamine, Adderall, and Ritalin, can also have serious physical and psychological effects, such as elevated heart and respiratory rates, increased blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite, and impaired motor skills. Long-term use of stimulants can lead to amphetamine psychosis, characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.

The Risks of Depressants

Depressant drugs, such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines, are commonly prescribed for anxiety relief and sleep induction. Prolonged or high-dose use of these drugs can result in physical and psychological dependence. Benzodiazepine use can cause slurred speech, disorientation, lack of coordination, and dangerous interactions with alcohol. Narcotics, including heroin, methadone, morphine, and prescription opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin, also fall into the depressant category. Narcotic use can lead to drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, and overdose symptoms such as respiratory failure, seizures, coma, and death. The withdrawal symptoms of narcotics can be severe and include watery eyes, runny nose, loss of appetite, irritability, tremors, panic, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea, chills, and sweating.

Seeking Help and Support

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction, seeking help and support is crucial. There are resources available to assist individuals in overcoming addiction and reclaiming their lives. The Student Health and Counseling Center, University Counseling services, and the Office of Health Promotion are valuable sources of support and guidance. It is important to remember that seeking help for alcohol or drug-related problems will not result in notification to parents or university administration, except in emergency situations. Washington and Lee University is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for students.


Understanding the risky behaviors associated with drug addiction is essential in addressing and preventing substance abuse. By recognizing the negative physical and mental effects of alcohol and drug use, as well as the specific risks associated with different substances, individuals can make informed decisions and seek help when needed. It is important to remember that addiction is a treatable condition, and support and resources are available for those in need. Seeking help is a courageous step towards a healthier and happier future. Remember, you are not alone, and there is hope for recovery. Call us today at 833-820-2922.