ISSN ONLINE: 2558-815X
ISSN PRINT: 1584-9244
ISSN-L: 1584-9244

The lung effects of illicit drugs


Illicit drugs use is a real public health issue, especially among young people. The totality of the drugs harmful effects on the body is difficult to quantify, especially because of poor epidemiological data and ethical concerns about the inclusion of consumers in clinical trials. However, health professionals need to be alert to identify, report and fight drug-related pathology. This article aims to draw attention to the lung pathology induced by the consumption of some of the most commonly used illicit drugs: cocaine, heroin and cannabis.
Key words: cocaine, heroin, cannabis, pulmonary disease.

The effects of illicit drugs on the human health and the impact on society are a real public health problem, difficult to quantify and manage. Epidemiological data regarding illicit drugs users is poor, the real number of illegal drug users being hard to identify, because of the psychological profile of the drug user and reluctance to recognize consumption, due to possible legal consequences and social marginalization. In addition, the involvement of illicit drugs users in clinical trials raises ethical issues. The most commonly used illicit drugs, which are also subjects of the European drug reports, are opioids, cocaine, amphetamines, cannabis (marijuana) and MDMA (methylenedioxymetamphetamine, also known as „Ecstasy“). According to the latest European report, the most commonly used drug is cannabis1. In the European Union, 26.3% of adults aged 15-64 years have consumed cannabis at least once in their life, most of them being in the 15-34 years age group. In decreasing order of drug use, cocaine (5.2%), MDMA (4.2%) and amphetamines (3.8%) follow cannabis.

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