Once you’ve recognized that your loved one has a drug or alcohol problem, understanding the risks that accompany their use can be overwhelming. While the consequences of drug use are dependent on their drug of choice, there are dangers.

Understanding Their Risk Profile

Every substance has a risk profile. That means that the potential consequences or side effects of using a substance will vary depending on the drug of choice. Begin by understanding the risk profile:

  • Cocaine: Vascular issues, like heart attacks or strokes

  • Alcohol: Drastic behavior, like drunk driving, as well as liver disease,  alcohol poisoning, blackouts, and various cancers

  • Heroin: Overdosing (respiratory depression) or being poisoned by a laced or ‘cut’ batch 

  • Methamphetamine: Mental health issues, including personality transformation, depression, and suicidal tendencies

  • Cigarettes: Long-term and severe broad-spectrum physical consequences

Understanding the risk profile can help alert you to any changes in their behavior or health. 

Being Prepared for Consequences 

Any of these consequences can happen at any time in substance use, although in most cases, it doesn’t. In most cases, the dangers of what could happen will intimidate you more than it does the substance user, too. 

Understanding and distinguishing when there is an emergency is essential. It is always best to understand the facts and stay calm.