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The disorders induced by drugs and toxic substances

The disorders induced by drugs and toxic substances

May 1, 2024

As we already know, drugs affect our body in different ways and carry various alterations in our physical and mental health.

When there is an abuse of some substance, we can suffer intoxication and the "famous" withdrawal syndrome, but there are also some disorders that are directly related to habitual drug use . This article focuses on the latter: substance-induced disorders.

Related article: "The 5 best films about the world of drugs and addictions"

The complexity of the effects of drugs

The abuse of any drug affects our activity and daily performance. It modifies our behavior, our perception, our sociability, causes deterioration and physiological, social, affective, labor changes, and affects most of the important aspects of life of the person.

However, neither the immediate harmful effects of the drugs nor the sequelae that may remain after their use are not always expressed in the same way. That's right: The trace that the drug leaves in our organism has to do with both intoxication and abstinence .

Intoxication and abstinence

When we talk about substance-induced disorders, we refer to the effects produced by both intoxication and abstinence.

  • Intoxication is the direct effect of recent ingestion of the substance . It produces psychological changes or maladaptive behaviors due to the effect of the substance in the central nervous system.
  • By abstinence we understand the concrete syndrome of the substance due to its reduction or cessation in prolonged consumption or in large quantities.

Both intoxication and abstinence cause clinically significant discomfort in the individual, as well as a deterioration in the activity of important areas of his life (social, work, etc.).

The types of substance-induced disorders

Below you can see some disorders induced by drugs and toxic substances, and their characteristics.

1. Delirium

Delirium can appear both due to intoxication and withdrawal from the substance.

Causes an alteration of consciousness and perception , as well as changes in cognitive functions (memory, orientation, language, etc.). These affectations usually occur in a short period of time (hours or days).

Classically, delirium is produced by the consumption of alcohol, hallucinogens, amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine, inhalants, opiates, sedatives, hypnotics or anxiolytics.

2. Dementia

When we talk about dementia induced by substances, it manifests itself through a clear cognitive deterioration , that is, the person's memory, language, motor activity, the performance of various tasks, etc. are affected. It will show difficulties in learning new information or in remembering the learned one, it will have failures in the recognition of objects or when planning or organizing ...

All these deficits represent a significant reduction in the level of activity of the person prior to the disorder, which will affect their daily lives, in different areas. (social, labor ...).

The substances that produce it are alcohol, inhalants, sedatives, hypothones and anxiolytics.

3. Psychotic disorders

In relation to psychotic disorders, these can be initiated during intoxication or during abstinence. When this disorder is expressed, the person will suffer hallucinations or delusions, a pattern of catatonic behavior and a disorganized use of disorganized language will appear. These conditions can lead to social and occupational deterioration. Symptoms appear during or in the month following intoxication or withdrawal.

The substances that induce the appearance of this disorder are alcohol, hallucinogens, amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine, inhalants, opiates, sedatives, hypnotics and anxiolytics.

4. Mood disorders

If we refer to mood disorders too they are evidenced during intoxication or during abstinence .

Depressive and / or manic symptoms (elevated, euphoric or irritable mood) may appear during its expression. The symptoms cause significant clinical discomfort and considerable deterioration in important areas of the person's activity.

The substances associated with mood disorders are alcohol, hallucinogens, amphetamines, cocaine, inhalants, opiates, sedatives, hypnotics and anxiolytics.

5. Anxiety disorders

Finally, anxiety disorders can occur equally in the two phases: intoxication or withdrawal.

This group of disorders will be differentiated according to the predominance of anxiety, anguish, obsessions and compulsions, or phobias. The symptoms will be those characteristic of the specific disorder (palpitations, tremors, fear, excessive worry, recurrent thoughts, irritability, etc.).

They are produced by the consumption of alcohol, hallucinogens, amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine, inhalants, opiates, sedatives, hypnotics or anxiolytics.


Notably it is to some extent impossible the degree to which a disorder is more or less produced by the previous consumption of substances that affect our nervous system. Both the habits linked to the use of drugs (or the quantity of a single consumption) and the genetic predispositions and the autobiographical history of each one, which leaves traces in our brain, come into play.

However, something is certain: The best way to avoid the appearance of these disorders is simply to stay away from drugs .

Cannabis Use Disorder - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology (May 2024).

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