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The Devastating Effect of Drug Addiction

addictionThe Mail Online recently published shocking GIFs of how drug addiction can ravage the human body over a period of time. Most of us are aware of the devastating effects that drugs can have on a person but to see these hard-hitting images makes it more ‘real’. The images were taken from the project ‘Faces of Addiction’ and is using photos of a number of individuals who had been arrested on drugs charges for substances including heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and prescription painkillers.

We have all seen before and after photos of drug addicts and, while these are shocking, the aforementioned GIFs are even more so due to the fact that it is possible to see the gradual changes in the specific individuals. The GIFs in question show 13 people who have been arrested on various occasions for drug offenses and the photos taken on each of these occasions have been compiled as a type of timeline on how drugs have emaciated their appearances.

A drug addiction can destroy not only the person with the addiction but also the lives of their family and friends. It can result in them losing their loved ones and their homes; many drug addicts will end up on the streets after losing everything. They will then often turn to crime in order to feed their drug habits and, once this low has been reached, there is often no hope for help. We all know about these issues but when you see how drugs can affect individual faces in this way, it can take your breath away. Premature aging is clearly evident, along with visible sores and lost teeth. It becomes immediately apparent to anyone looking at the images that the individuals concerned have descended into a situation in which drugs is the only thing they care about. They certainly do not seem to care about their appearance.

Leading on from our story above, some of the more commonly used drugs and the effects these can have on the body have been listed below:


Cannabis is a plant and can go by the names marijuana, weed, grass, or hash as well. Many people view cannabis as a ‘safe’ drug, mostly because of the fact that it grows naturally as a plant. However, the fact that it grows naturally does not mean it is safe to take as a recreational drug. Cannabis can have the effect of altering awareness as well as making the user feel calm and relaxed. The drug is sometimes used as a medical aid by people with painful health conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, or cancer. However, this is generally only the case in those American states in which this drug is legal. Here in the UK, doctors do not use marijuana as a pain relief treatment.

Cannabis is usually smoked in a rolled up cigarette with tobacco although some people will brew it as a tea or use it as an ingredient in cakes or biscuits. The problem with cannabis is that, although it makes some individuals feel content and relaxed, it can have the opposite effect on others, making them paranoid, sluggish, and nervous. Some even have psychotic episodes while under the influence of cannabis.

Long-term use of cannabis can cause a number of health issues, including lung disease (if it is smoked) and schizophrenia. Even those who have quit using can suffer flashbacks in later life. Others have suffered fertility issues, leading to problems conceiving. Despite many people advocating for the drug to be made legal in the UK, there are no plans to do so. When you consider that it can be very addictive, with some studies showing that it can also lead to dependence on harder drugs, it is no surprise.


Ecstasy is a drug typically sold in pill form; it is commonly known as E. However, some users will snort it or rub it on their gums when it is in a powder form. Ecstasy became extremely popular during the nineties and was the drug of choice among ‘ravers’ because of its effect of making colours and music appear more intense. Users find themselves feeling very alert and can become more chatty and affectionate. However, it can also have side effects including paranoia, nervousness, confusion, and psychosis.

Long-term ecstasy use can lead to anxiety, depression, and even memory loss. One of the biggest problems faced by ecstasy users is the fact that it can raise body temperature, meaning that overheating and dehydration become real issues. Users also face another problem when trying to address the issue of overheating – drinking too much water. This can be dangerous too, especially because ecstasy will prevent the production of urine meaning that the fluid will be retained in the body. Over time, ecstasy users grow dependent on the drug, so to get the same effects will need to take more and more pills, leading to addiction and everything that goes with this.


Cocaine is another recreational drug that is becoming increasingly popular with club goers. Cocaine comes in powder form and it is commonly referred to as coke. It is usually snorted in lines, although it can also be injected. Those using cocaine typically happy and alert, often finding they are full of confidence. This over-confidence can be dangerous as it can lead to risk taking. One of the biggest issues with cocaine is the fact that the effects of the drug do not last for long. The come down can make the user feel ill and depressed, and these after effects can last for days at a time. This leads many to use cocaine more often in order to avoid the comedown.

Cocaine use can lead to a plethora of health issues, including heart attacks due to the overstimulation of the nervous system and, eventually, the heart itself. It is a very addictive drug, leading very quickly to dependency and addiction and serious problems later in life.


Heroin is derived from the opium poppy; opium has been used for hundreds of years as treatment for pain and insomnia. However, heroin is actually a drug that comes from morphine but is actually much stronger than morphine and opium; used in this state to treat medical conditions it is known as diamorphine. The heroin that we know in terms of drug abuse is actually ‘street’ heroin, which is highly addictive.

Heroin can make the user feel very happy and content when taken in small doses. A larger dose leads to relaxation and drowsiness. It is this warm feeling that ‘hooks’ many almost immediately, although some individuals have experienced dizziness and vomiting the first time they partook.

Heroin is injected into the blood stream, which can lead to users sharing needles to get a ‘fix’. This is the reason many heroin users contract viruses such as Hepatitis C and HIV.


If you or a loved one is suffering with an addiction to any of the drugs listed, Addiction Helpline can help. We offer free advice on how to get help. Call us now on 0808 1639632 or complete our online form for a callback.




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