It is always important to keep an informed perspective on drugs of abuse. The most important is that these are mind-altering substances. Whether the drug is heroin, a prescription narcotic, cocaine, marijuana or ecstasy, it goes into your brain, activates certain receptors and gets you high. It changes your brain and makes you feel, think and act differently. So do you think you can occasionally use drugs recreationally and be safe about it? Do it at your own risk, but learn the facts first. Marijuana After alcohol, this is the most common substance of abuse. Attitudes about marijuana are pretty lax. Voters in four states and Washington, D.C. even decided that the drug is safe enough to make it legal for recreational use by adults. Using marijuana just once can cause you to have hallucinations, a panic attack, a heart attack and poor coordination that can lead you to have an accident. With long-term use you run the risk of harming your immune system, damaging your lungs and brain and even changing your personality. Cocaine Cocaine is the original party drug and many people who intend to use it once or twice end up causing serious harm. Short-term effects of cocaine include an increased heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to a heart attack, violent and erratic behaviors, paranoia, depression and hallucinations. With long-term use you are looking at permanent blood vessel damage, serious tooth decay, malnutrition, infertility and psychosis. Ecstasy\/MDMA\/Molly This is another party drug that many people feel safe taking occasionally, and it goes by several names. Ecstasy causes your body temperature to elevate to dangerous levels. It causes teeth clenching, nausea, depression, muscle tension and seriously impaired judgment. Lasting health problems associated with ecstasy include kidney failure, brain damage, nerve damage and psychosis. Methamphetamine\/Meth\/Crystal Meth Meth is one of the most addictive of all drugs, and if you try to use it recreationally you run a serious risk of getting hooked. Overcoming meth addiction is extremely challenging. As if that weren\u2019t bad enough, meth use causes a number of health problems. Each use, even a first use, can cause high blood pressure and elevated body temperature, insomnia, violent behavior, panic attacks, convulsions and seizures. Long-term use leads to damage that causes heart attack or stroke, liver, lung and kidney damage, tooth decay, depression, psychosis and permanent brain damage. Overdose and Addiction In addition to the particular risks posed by each of the drugs that are often used recreationally, each and every one poses two additional risks: overdose and addiction. Drug overdose was the number one cause of death by injury in the U.S. in 2012. More adults died from an overdose than were killed in car accidents that year. If you think you can use drugs safely and not take too much, you are taking your life in your hands. How do you know just how potent a sample of a drug is? Do you trust your drug dealer that much? The other potential risk is addiction. All drugs of abuse have the potential for dependence. Some people are able to use drugs recreationally without getting hooked, but some people are predisposed for addiction. How will you know if you fall into the latter category? You might not know until you try, but then it will be too late. With all of these possible risks, why would you ever start using drugs in the first place?