How Do Different Drugs Affect the Lungs


When it comes to the use of drugs, there can be several negative side effects, including on the lungs. One of the most common side effects of drug use is respiratory depression, which can be life-threatening. Many drugs, including opioids and benzodiazepines, can depress breathing, and when used together, the effect can be even more pronounced. Keep reading to learn more about how different drugs affect the lungs, and if you’re fascinated by the article, consider getting your Bachelor’s in Respiratory Therapy.


Smoking cigarettes has a number of adverse effects on the lungs, including decreased lung function, chronic bronchitis, and an increased risk of lung cancer. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, including tar and nicotine. The tar in cigarette smoke can damage the lungs by causing inflammation and scarring. The nicotine in cigarette smoke increases the heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease. Smoking also increases the risk of other cancers, such as bladder cancer and pancreatic cancer. Those enjoying a post-addiction lifestyle away from tobacco should take advantage of fresh air and avoid second-hand smoke.


Marijuana smoke contains many of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as tobacco smoke. Marijuana smokers face the same increased risks of lung cancer, emphysema, and other respiratory illnesses as tobacco smokers. Its use has been linked with bullous lung disease, which is a condition that causes the air sacs in the lungs to break down and collapse. The smoke also increases the risk of developing pneumonia. Marijuana smokers who also smoke tobacco are at an even greater risk of developing a respiratory illness.


Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant drug that can have a number of harmful effects on the body, including the lungs. When methamphetamine is smoked, it travels directly to the lungs, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Smoking methamphetamine can cause extensive damage to the lungs. The drug can irritate and inflame the airways, causing them to become swollen and congested. This makes it difficult for oxygen to get through to the lungs, which can lead to shortness of breath and other respiratory problems. Methamphetamine can also increase the risk of respiratory infection. The smoke from methamphetamine contains harmful chemicals that can weaken the immune system and make it easier for bacteria and viruses to take hold. This can lead to serious respiratory infections, such as pneumonia.


Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain. It is a white, powdery drug that is usually snorted but can also be injected. When cocaine is snorted, it is absorbed through the nasal passages and goes directly to the brain. There it blocks the re-uptake of dopamine, causing an intense high.

Cocaine is a respiratory irritant and can cause a number of adverse health effects, including damage to the lungs. When cocaine is snorted, it can cause inflammation and irritation of the nasal passages and sinuses. This can lead to a condition called chronic sinusitis, which is a persistent inflammation of the sinuses. Cocaine can also cause damage to the lungs. When cocaine is smoked, it can cause inflammation and irritation of the airways, which can lead to asthma-like symptoms. Cocaine can also cause a condition called pulmonary edema, which is a build-up of fluid in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty breathing and even death.


Benzodiazepines (BZDs) are a class of psychoactive drugs that are widely prescribed for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. Although BZDs are generally considered safe and effective, they can have serious adverse effects, including respiratory depression. When taken in high doses or in combination with other respiratory depressants, BZDs can cause significant respiratory depression and even death. In addition, BZDs can cause airway inflammation, which can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in susceptible individuals. BZDs can also cause airway hyperreactivity, which can lead to bronchospasm and exacerbation of asthma. Finally, BZDs can cause cognitive impairment, which can lead to confusion and respiratory distress in elderly patients.

Overall, the different drugs have a variety of negative effects on the lungs. It is important to be aware of the different effects of each drug in order to make informed decisions about their use.