SHORT-TERM EFFECTS

  • Short-term memory problems
  • Severe anxiety, including fear that one is being watched or followed (paranoia)
  • Very strange behavior, seeing, hearing or smelling things that aren’t there, not being able to tell imagination from reality (psychosis)
  • Panic
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of sense of personal identity
  • Lowered reaction time
  • Increased heart rate (risk of heart attack)
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Problems with coordination (impairing safe driving or playing sports)
  • Sexual problems (for males)
  • Up to seven times more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections
    than non-users (for females) 22,32 & 33

LONG-TERM EFFECTS

  • Decline in IQ (up to 8 points if prolonged use started in adolescent age)
  • Poor school performance and higher chance of dropping out
  • Impaired thinking and ability to learn and perform complex tasks
  • Lower life satisfaction
  • Addiction (about 9% of adults and 17% of people who started smoking as teens)
  • Potential development of opiate abuse
  • Relationship problems, intimate partner violence
  • Antisocial behavior including stealing money or lying
  • Financial difficulties
  • Increased welfare dependence
  • Greater chances of being unemployed or not getting good jobs.33

“I started using on a dare from a best friend who said that I was too chicken to smoke a joint and drink a quart of beer. I was fourteen at that time. After seven years of using and drinking I found myself at the end of the road with addiction. I was no longer using to feel euphoria, I was just using to feel some semblance of normality.

“Then I started having negative feelings about myself and my own abilities. I hated the paranoia [suspicion, distrust or fear of other people]. I hated looking over my shoulder all the time. I really hated not trusting my friends. I became so paranoid that I successfully drove everyone away and found myself in the terrible place no one wants to be in—I was alone. I’d wake up in the morning and start using and keep using throughout the day.” —Paul