- Substance use: The consumption of alcohol/drugs. Substance use may not be a problem or lead to abuse or dependency in some people.
- Substance abuse: The consumption of alcohol/drugs even when it causes problems, such as complications with work, family, or health.
- Substance dependence: Physical dependence to alcohol/drugs.
- Substance addiction: Change in behavior caused by biochemical changes in the brain after continued substance
abuse. Substance use becomes a main priority regardless of the harm they may cause
to themselves or others.
- Addiction causes people to act irrationally when they don't have the substance they are addicted to in their system.
- Addiction encompasses both a mental and physical reliance on a substance.
- Metabolic tolerance: How the body naturally processes substances.
- Built tolerance: The body's acclimation to regular consumption; the perceived control one has with a certain amount of substance in system.
- Environmental tolerance: Regular cues in routine or typical environment yield a higher tolerance.
Tolerance breaks are deliberate, temporary cessation in substance use meant to decrease tolerance to a substance. The more frequently a drug is used, the longer it will take for the receptors to process. It takes at a minimum of 3 weeks for cannabis to clear from your system, depending on frequency of use.
Adapted from the interactive and comprehensive Drug Wheel from Alcohol and Drug Foundation (2021).
Stimulants are a class of drug that excite the brain and central nervous system. Stimulants accelerate messages between the brain and central nervous system1 and can cause someone to feel more awake, alert, confident, and energetic; because of this increase in mental functioning, stimulants are often called “uppers.” Stimulants can include caffeine and nicotine and illicit substances like cocaine, ecstasy, and methamphetamines.
60.7% of TTU students have never used tobacco/nicotine delivery products, e.g., cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vape products, water pipe or hookah, chewing tobacco, cigars, etc.2 There are long-term effects on the brain even with short term nicotine usage. Although nicotine itself does not cause cancer, cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, at least 69 of which are known to cause cancer.3 Smoking is also directly responsible for about 90% of lung cancer deaths.3
Here's a non-comprehensive list of some of the chemicals in tobacco smoke and where else they can be found:3
- Acetone, found in nail polish remover
- Acetic acid, an ingredient in hair dye
- Ammonia, a common household cleaner
- Arsenic, used in rat poison
- Benzene, found in rubber cement and gasoline
- Butane, used in lighter fluid
- Cadmium, an active component in battery acid
- Carbon monoxide, released in car exhaust fumes
- Formaldehyde, embalming fluid
- Hexamine, found in barbecue lighter fluid
- Lead, used in batteries
- Naphthalene, an ingredient in mothballs
- Methanol, a main component in rocket fuel
- Nicotine, used as an insecticide
- Tar, a material for paving roads
- Toluene, used to manufacture paint
Nicotine can especially harm the brain as it continues developing until about age 25, and people who vape/smoke are more susceptible to severe complications from illnesses. Smoking cigarettes affects every organ in the body, particularly the lungs and heart. In liquid and vaporized forms (smoke and vapes), nicotine is easily absorbed from the lungs into the blood stream. Nicotine then stimulates the adrenal glands to release adrenaline; this stimulates the central nervous system and increases blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate.
- Chronic bronchitis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Exacerbate asthma symptoms
- Heart attack
- Vascular disease
Vaping can be less harmful than smoking, but it's still not safe. 63% of youth are unaware that vapes contain nicotine.4 However, vapes and e-cigarettes contain nicotine and are extremely addictive.
Nicotine content in cigarettes and vapes vary. Cigarettes can carry 6 - 28 mg of nicotine, while vapes can range from 0 (nicotine-free) - 50 mg. It is difficult to compare smoking via cigarette vs. vape as there are discrepancies by brand, nicotine content, puff amount and duration, etc.; however, 1 mL of vape juice typically yields about 100 puffs, meaning that roughly 1 mL of vape juice is equivalent to about 4-5 packs of cigarettes.5
What's in the pod:
- Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that negatively affects adolescent brain development
- Propylene glycol is a common additive in food; also used to make things like antifreeze, paint solvent, and artificial smoke in fog machines
- Carcinogens are chemicals known to cause cancer, including acetaldehyde and formaldehyde
- Acrolein is an herbicide primarily used to kill weeds, can cause irreversible lung damage
- Diacetyl is a chemical linked to a lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans aka "popcorn lung"
- Diethylene glycol is a toxic chemical used in antifreeze and linked to lung disease
- Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, lead
- Cadmium is a toxic metal found in traditional cigarettes that causes breathing problems and disease
- Benzene is a volatile organic compound (VOC) found in car exhaust
- Ultra-fine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
As with most addictive substances, nicotine activates the brain's reward circuits and increases levels of a chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine, which reinforces rewarding behaviors. The reward from nicotine is what causes its highly addictive properties.
Repeated exposure alters circuit sensitivity to dopamine and leads to changes in other brain circuits responsible for learning, stress, and self-control. For many tobacco users, the long-term brain changes induced by continued nicotine exposure result in addiction. Most smokers would like to stop smoking, and each year about one half of smokers try to permanently quit. Yet, only about 6% of smokers can quit each year 4 because it is such an addictive substance. Being without nicotine can cause a regular user to experience irritability, craving, depression, anxiety, cognitive and attention deficits, sleep disturbances, and increased appetite. These withdrawal symptoms may begin within a few hours after the last cigarette, quickly driving people back to substance use.
In addition to the drug's impact on neurotransmitters and their receptors, behavioral factors can affect withdrawal symptom severity. For many people who smoke, the feeling, smell, and sight of a cigarette and the ritual of obtaining, handling, lighting, and smoking the cigarette are all associated with the pleasurable effects of smoking and can worsen withdrawal or craving.
The least risky way to engage with any substance is abstinence. E-cigs containing very low percent per mL of nicotine are safer alternatives to smoking cessation (e.g., smoking cigarettes), with less long-term damage from smoke. However, they are not inherently “safe.” Decrease substance cravings by changing cues/routine (e.g., rearrange furniture, go for a walk, watch a new show).
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant. Cocaine may occasionally be used as local anesthesia for some surgeries, but the recreational use is illegal. Street dealers may mix cocaine with cornstarch, flour, or synthetic opioids to increase profits. Adding synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, to cocaine can increase the risk of accidental overdose.
Cocaine increases the levels of dopamine in the brain by preventing dopamine from being recycled, causing large amounts to accumulate and halt normal communication. With repeated cocaine use, the brain becomes less sensitive to the drug. This can lead to users taking stronger and more frequent doses to try to obtain the same high. Cocaine's effects appear as soon as the drug is consumed and last up to an hour. When cocaine is mixed with alcohol, the two substances create cocaethylene, a dangerous substance that can catalyze the toxicity of alcohol and cocaine on the heart.7
Repeated use of cocaine can cause the brain's reward pathways to become desensitized to natural triggers. Meanwhile, stress circuits become more sensitive, leading to increased discontent and adverse moods when not taking the drug, meaning less cocaine may be needed to produce toxic effects in the body. These two effects often encourage addiction, and tolerance to cocaine through repeated use can increase risk of overdose.
Potential short-term physiological effects:
- Mental alertness
- Hypersensitivity to sight, sound, and touch
- Anxiety and panic
- Muscle twitches
Severe medical complications that can occur:7
- Cardiovascular effects, including disturbances in heart rhythm, heart attack, inflammation of the heart muscle, deterioration of the ability of the heart to contract, and aortic ruptures
- Neurological effects, including headaches, seizures, strokes, coma, bleeding within the brain, and psychosis
- Gastrointestinal effects, including abdominal pain, nausea, and tears and ulcerations within the gastrointestinal tract
- Sudden death, most commonly from cardiac arrest or seizures
Health effects may depend on the method used to consume cocaine:
- Snorting: Loss of smell, nosebleeds, frequent runny nose, and problems with swallowing
- Smoking: Cough, asthma, respiratory distress, and higher risk of infections like pneumonia
- Consuming by mouth: Severe bowel decay from reduced blood flow
- Needle injection: Higher risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis C, and other bloodborne diseases; skin or soft tissue infections; as well as scarring or collapsed veins
7.3% of TTU students reported that they had ever used cocaine.2 In Texas, any amount of cocaine in someone's possession is an automatic felony. Penalties can range from fines, arrests, and time in prison depending on the amount of cocaine in someone's possession.
MDMA is a synthetic drug that is both a stimulant and a hallucinogen that can come in pill or powder form. MDMA is commonly known as ecstasy or molly and produces feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and distorted sensory and time perception.
The effects of MDMA usually set in within 45 minutes of taking a single dose. Users report feeling an enhanced sense of well-being, increased extroversion, emotional warmth, empathy, willingness to discuss emotionally charged memories, and enhanced sensory perception.8
Ecstasy pills may be laced with other substances, like caffeine or amphetamines, to make the drug cheaper. When MDMA is laced with amphetamines, like speed or meth, it may lead to heart issues or overdose.
Adverse effects to MDMA include:
- Restlessness, insomnia, irritability, depersonalization, anxiety, and panic attacks
- Jaw clenching, teeth grinding, and muscle or joint stiffness
- Increased heart rate and high blood pressure
- Dysregulation of body temperature, including hyperthermia, hot flashes, or chills
- Loss of consciousness and seizures
With regular use of MDMA, users have reported sleep disturbances, lack of appetite, concentration difficulties, depression, heart disease, and impulsivity.6 MDMA can be fatal in certain situations; the effects of the drug, combined with a hot environment, physical activity, and other drugs can lead to physical complications and possible fatal events.
Warning signs of a serious physical complication or fatal event after MDMA use include:
- Excessive thirst and profuse sweating
- Muscle cramping
- Shaking chills
- Blurred vision
These signs can lead to liver, kidney, or heart failure. In extreme conditions, this could result in death. If you notice someone experiencing these symptoms, call emergency services immediately.
Methamphetamine, or meth, is a synthetic and powerful stimulant affecting the central nervous system. Meth releases large amounts of dopamine into the brain, making it difficult for individuals to quit using the substance.
Meth affects both the brain and the body. It can speed up the body's systems to dangerous and sometimes lethal levels, including increasing blood pressure and heart rate. Meth is highly addictive and with long term use can cause severe changes to segments of the brain involved with emotion and memory.
Short-term risks include:
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Higher heart rate and blood pressure
Long-term risks include:
- Damage to the kidney and liver
- Heart damage
- Anxiety and depression
There are discrepancies amongst experts on how to classify cannabinoids; experts note that various derivatives of cannabis can be considered a stimulant, depressant, and hallucinogen.
Using marijuana before age 18 may affect how the brain builds connections for functions like attention, memory, and learning. Cannabis's impact on the brain depends on the concentration of THC. Other factors that can affect risk include frequency of use, age of first use, and if an individual is using other substances at the same time.
Cannabis can cause increased:
- Temporary psychosis
- And in rare cases, schizophrenia
60.4% of TTU students have never tried cannabis.2 Marijuana is still an illegal substance in the state of Texas. Possession of cannabis can result in fines, tickets, arrests, potential jail time, court requirements, etc. Synthetic methods increase legal consequences.
THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound of cannabis. Higher concentrations increase the risk and are found in different forms of cannabis.
- Dabbing or smoking the oil concentrates and extracts. Synthetic cannabinoids have higher concentrations of THC and can contain additives and contaminants (health risk or contamination of other substances).
- The mode of marijuana use (e.g., consuming edibles or products with high THC concentration) can have delayed or unpredictable effects and increases the risk of poisoning).
- Synthetic methods are unpredictable and unregulated, posing high risks for users. Synthetic cannabinoids are not plant-based, and they are different from marijuana or cannabinoid medicines despite the name.
Depressants are drugs that inhibit the function of the central nervous system and slow down the messages between the brain and the body. Depressants are some of the most widely used drugs in the world. Some side effects of depressants are drowsiness, relaxation, decreased inhibition, and changes in concentration and coordination. Due to these side effects, depressants are often called “downers.” Depressants include opioids and fentanyl, barbiturates, benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax), and alcohol.
In 2021, over 100,000 people lost their lives in the United States due to a drug overdose. Of this total, 66% of overdose deaths were attributable to opioids.9Opioids are pain-relieving drugs that can produce feelings of relaxation, euphoria, and pleasure. Opioids include drugs like codeine, heroin, opium, oxycodone, morphine, and fentanyl. Many opioid drug overdoses can be attributed to an increase of illegally used fentanyl.
Opioids attach to proteins called opioid receptors in the brain and body. When opioids attach to receptors, pain messages that are usually sent from the body to the brain are blocked.10
Side effects and risks include:
- Sleepiness and relaxation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slowed breathing
- Confusion, dizziness, and increased risk of bone fractures
- Liver damage
- Sensitivity to pain and an extreme response to pain
- Muscle spasms and itchy skin
- Immune system and hormonal dysfunction
- Irregular heartbeat
Taking opioids for extended periods of time can lead to tolerance and dependence on the drug, prompting users to take more of the drug to elicit the same effect. Those who are dependent may experience withdrawal symptoms when usage is stopped.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used for end-stage cancer treatment and is one hundred times more powerful than morphine.11 However, it is often used illegally for the purpose of mixing with other drugs like cocaine and heroin during lacing. Dealers may mix fentanyl with other drugs to decrease their production cost. Due to the potency of fentanyl, the drug's effect on the body may be stronger. Some dealers may use fentanyl-laced substances to create a more addictive product and ensure customers frequently buy. This is extremely dangerous for users who are unaware the substance is laced as lacing does not allow individuals to accurately track their drug intake.
Xanax is a powerful benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are a class of medication that slow brain activity and nervous system functions to create a calming or sedative effect. Xanax is often prescribed to treat panic disorders, anxiety disorders, and anxiety caused by depression. However, the drug is extremely addictive when used for prolonged periods of time and tolerance to the drug can develop quickly.
Side effects and risks of long-term Xanax use include:
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Lack of motor coordination
- Difficulty breathing
It's important to note that combining Xanax with alcohol, other benzodiazepines, or opioids can be incredibly dangerous. The result of mixing these drugs could result in very slowed breathing or respiratory failure. This combination can also result in overdose or death.
Barbiturates are sedative medications that cause users to feel relaxed or drowsy. Many barbiturates are used to stop or prevent seizures. Barbiturates increase the amount a certain brain chemical to slow the activity of brain cells.
Common barbiturates include phenobarbital, thiopental, amobarbital, methohexital, and secobarbital. While these medications are useful for preventing seizures, preventing convulsions, and helping with insomnia, taking these drugs without or against the advice of medical professionals is extremely dangerous.
Barbiturate usage risks:
- Coordination problems and muscle weakness
- Clouded thinking
- Slurring of speech
- Slow heart rate
Barbiturates have a high potential for abuse, and long-term use can result in tolerance and physical dependence. Due to this tolerance, prolonged use can lead to overdose.
Signs of a barbiturate overdose include shallow breathing, clammy skin, dilated pupils, weak and rapid pulse, respiratory failure, and coma. If you notice any of these symptoms, make sure to immediately call 911 or emergency services as medical professionals can improve the chances of surviving the overdose.
Hallucinogens are a group of drugs that alter a person's awareness of their surroundings, thoughts, and feelings. Hallucinogens disrupt neurotransmitters in the brain and can cause a person to see images, hear sounds, or feel sensations that seem to be real but are not.
Hallucinogens can be manufactured or derived from plants. They are divided into two types: Psychedelics and dissociative drugs. Psychedelics include psilocybin, LSD, ayahuasca, and DMT. Dissociative drugs include PCP, ketamine, DXM, and salvia.
Psilocybin, often known as magic mushrooms, are hallucinogens that alter a person's senses and way of thinking. Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic chemical found in certain types of mushrooms. The effects of psilocybin can last four to six hours but can last several days for some individuals.12
Psilocybin works by activating serotonin receptors in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for mood, cognition, and perception. Because psilocybin activates this part of the brain, users may experience distortional thinking in environmental perception.
Side effects may include:
- Change in consciousness, mood, thought, and perception
- Dilation of pupils
- Visual and auditory hallucinations
- Stomach discomfort and nausea
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Facial flushes, sweating, and chills
- Fear, agitation, and confusion
- Derealization and delirium
- Psychosis and syndromes resembling schizophrenia
Some psilocybin users risk accidental poisoning by consuming poisonous mushrooms. Although the risk of this is small, it is important to know the symptoms of mushroom poisoning. These symptoms include muscle spasms, confusion, and delirium. If someone is experiencing these symptoms, it's important to go to the emergency room immediately.
LSD is one of the most powerful hallucinogens and is a manufactured chemical that comes as a white or clear powder. This powder or liquid is usually placed on small squares of blotter paper and put on one's tongue. It's important to note that using LSD has a possibility of triggering or worsening mental health problems such as anxiety, schizophrenia, or psychosis.13
Some users of psilocybin and LSD may experience the negative effects of the substance and have a “bad trip.”14 A bad trip may include unpleasant or intense hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia, and panic or fear.
There is also a risk of developing hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder. With this disorder, individuals may experience persistent and stressful distortions with how they perceive the world. These distressing situations are often flashbacks to an incredibly upsetting situation. This may last for weeks to years after using psilocybin or LSD.
Ketamine is categorized as a dissociative hallucinogen. Ketamine is used as a surgical anesthetic for humans and animals. Most illegal ketamine is taken from veterinarian offices.15 When ketamine is used illegally/recreationally, it causes a dissociative state and induces visual disturbances, disorientation, sedation, and euphoria. Like various other street drugs, ketamine may also be laced with other drugs, like fentanyl, to add weight to the substance and improve the dealer's profits.
Side effects may include:
- Poor sense of smell
- Mood and personality changes, depression
- Poor memory, thinking, and concentration
- Abnormal liver or kidney function
- Abdominal pain
It's possible to develop a tolerance and/or become addicted to ketamine, allowing the possibility of overdose. By taking a large amount of ketamine or mixing it with other drugs, the possibility of fatal events increases. Signs of a ketamine overdose include inability to move, rigid muscles, high blood pressure, fast heartbeat, convulsions, and unconsciousness. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact 911 or emergency services immediately.
|Texas Tech Crisis HelpLine 806.742.5555||The Texas Tech Crisis HelpLine provides 24/7/365 assistance for students experiencing suicidal thoughts, mental health crises, sexual assault, and interpersonal violence.|
|(806) 742-RIDE (7433) or use TapRide app on App Store or Google Play. Offers free transportation in Lubbock to or from the university with a TTU ID.|
|RISE Workshops||RISE provides free workshops for students, staff, and faculty on a variety of subjects, including Alcohol & Other Drugs.|
|The Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities||The Center provides students in recovery with an abstinence-based program where students can flourish in recovery as they attain educational goals, including advanced degrees. Based on a psychosocial model that captures the resilient and strength-based qualities of recovery, the Center provides supports and services for students.|
|Raider Restart||Raider Restart is a required course covering substance use in which students are usually referred from the Office of Student Conduct. This program is designed to provide individualized education for students about substance use and the impacts of alcohol and other drugs on one's health, wellness, and academic success.|
|Raider Recharge||Raider Recharge is a voluntary, one-on-one wellness coaching program free to all TTU students. This meeting is individualized to meet the needs of the student and focuses on personal growth through discussion, self-reflection, and interactive activities.|
|Student Counseling Center||Licensed mental health care providers offer individual, couple, and group counseling, or students can independently care for themselves at the MindaSpa. Licensed therapists and psychologists can screen for use and abuse concerns.|
|Student Health Services||Provides students with healthcare needs from Urgent Care to a Full Service Pharmacy on site.|
|Voices for Change||Voices for Change is an online course designed to engage learners in various topics while encouraging thoughtful decision making. You can view a preview of the modules here. This is a shareable preview link and viewing the modules will not count toward module completion.|
|Celebrate Recovery||Open all recovery meeting hosted by the Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities every Thursday.|
|Covenant HealthCare||Covenant HealthCare facilitates the American Cancer Society's Fresh Start smoking cessation program, which features Covenant employees as cessation coaches. This program is free and open to the public. Gather information on ways you can successfully quit smoking, and check your lung health status with on-site respiratory tools.|
|The Ranch at Dove Tree||Collegiate-focused addiction and behavioral health comprehensive treatment and recovery.|
|Stages of Recovery||Promotes a foundation of recovery by providing an environment that fosters safety, accountabilty, community and trust.|
|Aspire Addiction Recovery Center||Affordable individualized, best practice, drug treatment program guided in the principles of 12-step recovery.|
|Oceans Behavioral Hospital Lubbock||Oceans Healthcare helps individuals experiencing depression; anxiety; schizophrenia;
behavioral changes related to Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, medication management
or substance abuse; and other mental health issues. Their treatment plans are unique
to each individual, but common program features include
program oversight by Board-certified or Board-eligible psychiatrists, daily monitoring by clinical staff, mental health education, medication education and management, diagnosis and symptom education, daily monitoring with medical physician oversight, and more.
|The Association of Recovery in Higher Education||The ARHE is the only association exclusively representing collegiate recovery programs (CRPs) and collegiate recovery communities (CRCs), the faculty and staff who support them, and the students who represent them. ARHE provides the education, resources, and community connection needed to help change the trajectory of recovering student's lives.|
|The Recovery Village||The Recovery Village provides drug rehabilitation and substance abuse resources, detox centers, and recovery meetings near you.|
|Free Rehab Centers Online Tool||This tool locates free alcohol, drug, and other rehab resources in your city.|
|Narcotics Anonymous||Narcotics Anonymous is a global, community-based organization with a multilingual and multicultural membership. NA was founded in 1953, and members hold nearly 76,000 meetings weekly in 143 countries today.|
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention||The CDC offers guides, booklets and fact sheets on information like How to Quit (Smoking), Fentanyl, and Drug Basics on various types of drugs.|
|National Cancer Institute||NCI provides information and resources on Tobacco, Where To Get Help When You Decide To Quit Smoking, and telephone and live chat advice.|
|American Cancer Society||ACS gives tobacco quitting resources and education.|
|Managed Care Center for Addictive/Other Disorders (MCCAOD)||Comprehensive in-and outpatient substance abuse treatment for adults.|
|SMART Recovery||An alternative to 12-step recovery, SMART Recovery, standing for Self-Management and Recovery Training, is a transformative method of moving from addictive substances and negative behaviors to a life of positive self-regard and willingness to change.|
|BecomeAnEX (‘EX') run by Truth Initiative and Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center||The free EX Program provides customized quit plan, text message support, interactive guides and tools for you to navigate your tobacco-free journey, advice and tips from Mayo Clinic, and active, supportive community of real tobacco users who have been through it all.|
|American Lung Association||ALA gives quit smoking classes and printed material.|
|Partnership to End Addiction||This resource has a Substance Use + Mental Health guide, Prevention and Early Action, and more.|
|SmokeFree||SmokeFree offers tools and tips on quitting, staying substance-free, nicotine-replacement therapy, and more.|
|Herren Project||Herren Project is a national nonprofit organization providing free resources and support for the treatment, recovery and prevention of substance use disorder. Treatment and recovery services include treatment placement assistance, long-term recovery support for individuals and families, online support groups, as well as scholarships for treatment programs, recovery housing and recovery coaching.|
|National Institute on Drug Abuse||The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is the largest supporter of the world's research on substance use and addiction. Part of the National Institutes of Health, NIDA conducts and supports biomedical research to advance the science on substance use and addiction and improve individual and public health.|