Drug and Toxic Substance Disorders

As we know, drugs affect our body in different ways and cause various alterations in our health both physically and mentally.

When there is drug addiction, one can suffer from intoxication and the “famous” withdrawal syndrome, but in addition, some disorders are directly related to habitual drug use. This article focuses on the latter: substance-induced disorders.

    The complexity of drug effects

    The abuse of any drug affects our daily activity and performance. It modifies our behavior, our perception, our sociability, causes deterioration and physiological, social, emotional changes at work and affects the most important aspects of a person’s life.

    However, neither the immediate harmful effects of drugs nor the consequences that may remain after their use are always expressed in the same way. Of course: the imprint that the drug leaves on our body is linked to both intoxication and abstinence.

    Poisoning and abstinence

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

    • Poisoning is the direct effect of recent ingestion of the substance. It produces psychological changes or maladaptive behaviors due to the effect of the substance on the central nervous system.

    • By abstinence we mean the specific syndrome of the substance due to its reduction or the cessation of prolonged consumption or in large quantities.

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

    Types of substance-induced disorders

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

    1. Delirium

    Delirium can occur due to both intoxication and abstinence from the substance.

    It causes impaired consciousness and perception, As well as changes in cognitive functions (memory, orientation, language, etc.). These effects usually occur within 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 substance induced dementia, this manifests as a clear cognitive impairmentThat is, the person is affected by their memory, language, motor activity, performance of various tasks, etc. Will have difficulty learning new information or remembering what has been learned, will have errors in recognizing objects or in planning or organizing …

    All of these deficits represent a significant reduction in the activity level of the person before the disorder, which will affect their daily life, in different areas. (Social, work …).

    The substances which produce it are alcohol, inhalants, sedatives, hyptonic and anxiolytics.

    3. Psychotic disorders

    With regard to psychotic disorders, these can be initiated during intoxication or during abstinence. When this disorder is expressed, the person will experience hallucinations or delusions, a catatonic behavior pattern and disorganized use of disorganized language will emerge. These conditions can lead to social and professional impairment. Symptoms appear during or within a month of intoxication or abstinence.

    The substances that cause this disorder to appear are alcohol, hallucinogens, amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine, inhalants, opiates, sedatives, hypnotics and anxiolytics.

    4. Mood disorders

    If we are also talking about mood disorders are evident during intoxication or during abstinence.

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

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

    5. Anxiety disorders

    Finally, anxiety disorders can also occur in both phases: intoxication or abstinence.

    This group of disorders will be differentiated according to the predominance of anxiety, distress, obsessions and compulsions, or phobias. Symptoms will be characteristic of the particular disorder (palpitations, tremors, fear, excessive worry, recurring thoughts, irritability, etc.).

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


    It should be noted that the degree to which a disorder is more or less produced by previous substance use is to some extent impossible affecting our nervous system. At stake are both drug use habits (or the amount of single use) and individual genetic predispositions and autobiographical history, which leave their mark on our brains.

    However, one thing is certain: the best way to prevent the onset of these disorders is to simply stay away from medications.

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