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The Deadly Effects of Abuse
Valeria Herrera
University of Texas at El Paso




The origins of addictions and the psychological effects of drugs, alcohol, and technology are
truly damaging and affect the abusers and their families. These substances torment many lives
and as stated in The Psychology and Neurobiology of Addiction, “potentially addictive drugs
share the ability to produce long-lasting adaptions in neural systems.” It is also hypothesized that
the change from “voluntary drug use to more habitual and compulsive drug use represent a
transition at the neural level.” Alcohol abuse has different effects and according to the article
titled, The Effect of Alcoholism on Skeletal and Cardiac Muscle, it was concluded that,
“myopathy of skeletal muscle and cardiomyopathy are common among people with chronic
alcoholism.” These diseases sicken an alcoholics muscles by making skeletal muscles weaker
and makes it difficult for the heart to deliver blood to the body, eventually leading to heart
failure. A study led by Florida State University also hypothesizes that there are behaviors which
are leading to compulsive technology use, such as the need to use technology and the compelling
feeling of yearning to interact with technological devices.



Drugs, alcohol and technology are substances that torment many lives and in extreme
cases take lives, destroying families and leaving them heartbroken. Statistics show how the death
rates between drug overdose and collisions of innocent people with drunk drivers have only
risen. Since 2001, according to, the national overdose for prescription drugs has
been 25,000 deaths, 19,000 from opioid pain relievers, 8,000 from Benzodiazepines, about 5,000
from cocaine, and 11,000 from heroin abuse, summing up to a total of 68,000 deaths due to drug
overdose in 2014. According to (MADD), an organization
established in order to create technology that will decrease drunk driving by not allowing an
inebriated person to drive his or her own vehicle, 9,967 innocent individuals were killed by a
drunk driver in 2014. Technology has not taken lives but as a modern society, it has consumed
humanity and had led us to rely on devices which were not even in existence 20 years ago. There
have been deadly effects due to these substances and in order to decrease these consequences, it
is important to bring attention to the subject. Many lives have been lost and many damage has
been done therefore, a decision has to be made in order to decrease the deadly situations and
prevent these tragedies from occurring again.
What leads an individual to become addicted and what are the background causes?
Young teenagers in today’s society have learned that in order to feel incorporated and
wanted by their peers, they have to follow their peers’ actions. As a result, young people have
resorted to drugs, alcohol, and technology in order to look “popular” and to “fit in”. There is a
constant pressure by society to follow the crowds in order to look “cool” and due to this fact,
young people of all ages are developing habits that will never lead them to where they want to be



in life. Society, friends, and the lack of parental supervision is causing young people to follow
the path of their peers instead of following another path and doing what is correct.
There are many issue in today’s society that lead to young individuals consuming drugs,
alcohol and abusing of technology. Consummation of drugs and alcohol is very much linked to
the pressure to fit in, due to the stigma that alcohol and drugs are “cool”. For a young person, it
is much easier to fit in than to be the outsider and in order to eliminate the chance of becoming
the isolated individuals, young people fall into the deadly traps of following the paths of
wrongdoing. Their peers are not the only ones to blame for the pressure to fit in. Society and the
fashion industry has put drugs, alcohol, and technology on a pedestal. Many commercials,
magazine ads, and television shows have shown young kids that drugs are in “style”, binge
drinking is “glamorous”, and that having perfect social media accounts is the most important
element in a young person’s life. These societal stigmas are creating insecure young adults who
are unaware of what is truly correct and are unsure of what to do in situations where they have to
choose between following society and their friends, and doing the right thing.
What occurs biologically to an addicted individual?
Drug and alcohol abuse has been linked to having reinforcing effects, developing an
addiction in an individual and creating a pattern of constant and never-ending consummation.
According to the article titled, Neural Systems of Reinforcement for Drug Addiction, the behavior
of consuming drugs becomes a “habitual and ultimately compulsive” behavior. As well as in
drug abuse, alcoholism establishes a craving of alcoholic beverages and develops a tolerance in
the addicted individual of the intoxicating effects of alcohol (Diamond, 279). These biological
effects occur with drugs and alcohol and have been associated with some of the feelings of
distress that are linked to technological devices today. These substances have short-term and



many have long-term effects, depending on the length of time that the substance may have been
When a person consumes drugs, it causes a rush of dopamine to the brain, triggering
feelings of pleasure, and as the consummation continues, the substance takes on the same
significance as behaviors such as eating and drinking. Due to the feeling of necessity, it becomes
very hard for individuals to leave the substance. The article written by Jason Everitt discusses the
evidence that the consuming of drugs transitions from a voluntary consummation to nonvoluntary due to “interactions between pavlovian and instrumental learning processes.” “The
change from habitual to compulsive drug use represents a change at the neural level”, supporting
the idea that the brain becomes relied on the substance and develops a sense of survival, such as
the need to eat and drink. According to the “Psychology and neurobiology of addiction”, the
brain systems that are sensitized when a person consumes drugs are not the pleasure centers of
the brain but a subcomponent of reward. The Montana Meth Project, is an organization that has
fought to decrease the dealing and consuming of methamphetamines in Montana. The biological
effects of the consumers of methamphetamines have many physical characteristics of
consummation such as the falling of hair, yellowing of teeth, fatigue and anxiety, and the urge to
get a hold of the drug at any cost. Along with the effects of methamphetamines, the effects of
marijuana, LSD, PSP, cocaine, heroin and many other drugs show physical signs of being under
the influence of a certain substance.
Alcohol has many different strains on the body and can be a slow killer compared to that
of drug abuse. According to medical, alcohol mainly targets 5 major organs: the heart,
the brain, the liver, the pancreas, and the kidneys. Excessive alcohol consumption can weaken
the heart muscle, resulting in blood flow irregularities and may contract cardiomyopathy causing,



shortness of breath, arrhythmia, fatigue, enlarged liver, a persistent cough and may increase the
risk of a heart attack, stroke, and hypertension. A study published by the New England School of
Medicine led an investigation with 50 alcoholic men (mean age 38.5 years) with no clinical signs
or laboratory signs of malnutrition or electrolyte imbalance. The study found that 42% of the
patients had strength of less than 20kg and muscle biopsy specimens from 23 patients had
evidence of myopathy. It concluded to state how “myopathy of skeletal muscle and
cardiomyopathy are common among persons with chronic alcoholism and that alcohol is toxic to
striated muscle in a dose-dependent manner.” According to the MADD organization, alcoholic
individuals are a risk not only to themselves but to the public as well due to their constant
drinking. Drinking and driving poses a very serious issue to the public and according to the
organization statistics, “first time offenses of drunk driving are serious indicators that a person is
likely to become a repeat offender, having driven drunk an average of 80 times before they are
A study conducted at The State University of New Jersey, show how technological
devices may truly have addictive effects on humans. The study conducted at the university is the
first to research the mutually reinforcing addictions to work and technology. Due to the lack of
research on this particular subject, the conducting of this study is an important step towards the
recognition of the scope of the issue that concerns the addictions towards working and to the
obsession of technological devices. According to the study conducted by the university the
purpose of the study was to explore the behavioral addictions of work and to examine the
obsession referred to as technolophilia, which refers to the constant use of technology in the
workplace. The study found that working very long hours and the obsession with technological
devices may be harmful to workers and has been connected to serious problems such as anxiety



and stress in the workplace. Too much work and technology is not a good combination for many
people and therefore decreases the level of work and production of many workers. The ambiance
that is set in these type of workplaces only decreases the productivity of the individuals and
creates a stressful environment for many of the workers in different facilities. This study shows
how obsessions with any certain subject is never good for the employee or the supervisor due to
the lack of productivity of both the workers and the superiors.
What efforts have been made in order to decrease the deaths in young adults due to
The efforts that have been made in order to stop the deadly cycle of deaths due to these
substances have been countless but have still been unable to entirely erase the damage that has
been caused due to these substances. There are numerous organizations which have been
mentioned that have made it their mission to try and eliminate the horrible effects of alcohol,
drugs and technology. There is no stop to this epidemic unless young people realize that it is
better to be a “loser” than to be “cool”. Anti-drug and alcohol organizations range from meth to
drunk driving and have been implemented due to various reasons such as the lowering of drug
use in a community to the remembrance of innocent people who have been killed by drunk
drivers. It is important to raise awareness in order to show individuals how harmful drugs,
alcohol, and technology truly are and what we can do to prevent the horrible tragedies due to
these substances from happening again.
One of the most powerful anti-drug organizations from which I have come across is the
Montana Meth Project. Founded in 2005, the Montana Meth Project is a foundation that has
aimed its time and energy at reducing the use of methamphetamines through public service
announcements. The videos of the foundation have become extremely popular due to their raw



and crude visuals, highlighting the long-term effects of consuming the life-altering drug. Some
examples of the visuals are shown below.

These ads have decreased the consumption of methamphetamines by 63% in Montana, which
was once the leading state with consumption of methamphetamines in the United States.
Another organization which has already been mentioned throughout the essay is Mothers
Against Drunk Driving which dedicates it’s time “to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving,
support the victims of these violent crimes, and prevent underage drinking”, as stated in their mission



statement. According to the organization’s website, in 1980, when the organization was established,
25,000 people were killed in drunk driving incidents but in 2014 it has gone down by more than half. In
the organization website, it states the three important steps that we can all take to stop drunk driving

Support our heroes. Support high-visibility law enforcement to catch drunk drivers and
discourage others from driving drunk.

Sober to start. Require ignition interlock devices, or in-car breathalyzers, for all drunk drivers,
to prove they are sober before their car will start.

Secure the future. Support the development of technology to determine automatically whether
or not the driver is above the legal limit of .08 and failing to operate if the driver is drunk.

After just seven years that the organization slogan was implemented:

25 states have mandatory all-offender ignition interlock laws, up from only one state.

All 50 states now have some form of ignition interlock law, up from 45.

Advanced in-vehicle alcohol detection technology is no longer just a concept, now in its second
phase of development.

The organization urges the victims and followers to fight for the implementation of harsher laws against
drunk drivers and to continue the fight with the families of victims of drunk driving in order to eliminate
the possibility of drunk driving happening again.

The topic of addictions is very personal and allows an audience to relate to the
experiences and learn from the horrible consequences of consuming substances that ruin the lives
of them and their families. As a writer, my goal is to bring awareness to this extremely serious
topic, in order to help the victims and their families mend some of the wounds that were cut open

when their husbands, wives, parents, sons, or daughters were taken by drugs or alcohol. This
epidemic needs to stop in order to give young children the peace of mind that they can do
anything, regardless of taking drugs or alcohol to look “cool”. It is also very important to show
teenagers and young children the effects of these substances are causing in order to teach them
that living a healthy life is much more important than consuming addictive substances.




Diamond, I., & Messing, R. O. (1994). Neurologic effects of alcoholism.Western Journal of
Medicine, 161(3), 279.
Everitt, B. J., & Robbins, T. W. (2005). Neural systems of reinforcement for drug addiction: from
actions to habits to compulsion. Nature neuroscience, 8(11), 1481-1489.
Porter, G., & Kakabadse, N. K. (2006). HRM perspectives on addiction to technology and
work. Journal of Management Development, 25(6), 535-560.
Robinson, T. E., & Berridge, K. C. (2000). The psychology and neurobiology of addiction: an
incentive–sensitization view. Addiction, 95(8s2), 91-117.
Urbano-Marquez, A., Estruch, R., Navarro-Lopez, F., Grau, J. M., Mont, L., & Rubin, E. (1989).
The effects of alcoholism on skeletal and cardiac muscle. New England Journal of
Medicine, 320(7), 409-415.
(2015, December). Overdose Death Rates. Retrieved March 30, 2016, from
MADD - Support ignition interlocks for all drunk drivers. Retrieved March 30, 2016, from