Illegal drugs are defined in terms of their chemical formulas. To circumvent these legal restrictions, underground chemists modify the molecular structure of certain illegal drugs to produce analogs known as designer drugs. These drugs can be several hundred times stronger than the drugs they are designed to imitate. The narcotic analogs can cause symptoms such as those seen in Parkinson's disease--uncontrollable tremors, drooling, impaired speech, paralysis, and irreversible brain damage.
Analogs of amphetamines and methamphetamines cause nausea, blurred vision, chills or sweating, and faintness. Psychological effects include anxiety, depression, and paranoia.
As little as one dose can cause brain damage. The analogs of phencyclidine cause illusions, hallucinations, and impaired perception.
Anabolic steroids are often misused in an attempt to artificially induce increases in muscle strength or bulk. Serious health consequences may result from use of even small amounts of anabolic steroids, including problems such as: liver dysfunction, cysts, and tumors; high blood pressure and changes in blood chemistry; hardening of the arteries; weakness in heart muscle tissue; and cancer of the breast, prostate, and bladder.
Males may suffer from premature baldness, decreased testicle size and function, lower sperm count, decreased sex drive or impotence, and breast enlargement. Females may suffer from masculinization, decreased breast size, decreased sex drive, and unwanted body hair. Steroid use by adolescents may cause premature stoppage of bone growth resulting in smaller, shorter body size. Other side effects include acne, decreased immune system response, aggressiveness, and personality changes.
Chronic use of nicotine, through smoking, chewing, or snuff dipping, causes more deaths and disability than all other forms of drug abuse combined. Nearly one-fourth of all deaths in the United States are attributed to abuse of nicotine. The Surgeon General has determined that nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine.
Cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, emphysema, and other chronic respiratory diseases; heart attacks and other circulatory problems; high blood pressure; stroke; cancers of the mouth, throat, stomach, bladder, and liver; ulcers and other digestive disorders; and a wide range of other conditions including increased dental cavities. There is no safe level of nicotine use. Recent government reports confirm that breathing other people's cigarette smoke causes thousands of additional deaths per year in nonsmokers. Smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco and snuff) use causes changes in the mouth, including sores that do not heal, erosion of gum tissue, increases in dental problems, leukoplakia, and oral cancers. The nicotine in smokeless tobacco causes heart attacks and other circulatory problems, high blood pressure, stroke, and digestive disorders. There is no safe level of nicotine use.