Drug use is one of the most dangerous problems of human societies in the modern era, which, in addition to numerous health problems, put also the cultural-social foundations at risk. The exact cause of substance abuse is not clear, with theories including: a genetic disposition; learned from others or a habit which if addiction develops, manifests as a chronic debilitating disease.

Studies of the effects of illegal drugs on human fertility have been scarce due to ethical considerations, as well as subject to under-reporting and bias due to the characteristics of the population being studied, such as low socioeconomic status or improper prenatal care. Use of illicit drugs appear to have a negative impact on fertility, though more in-depth research in this area is required to make a clear link.

In men taking heroin, sexual function became abnormal and remained so even after cessation. Sperm parameters, most noticeably motility, also decrease with the use of heroin and methadone. In women, placental abruption with the use of heroin may also be a cause of infertility.
Drug use can cause illness, injury and early death. It affects individuals, families and the community.


Common symptoms include:

  • sudden changes in behaviour – may engage in secretive or suspicious behaviour
  • mood changes – anger towards others, paranoia and little care shown about themselves or their future
  • problems with work or school – lack of attendance
  • changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • changes in friendship groups and poor family relationships
  • a sudden unexplained change in financial needs – leading to borrowing/stealing money

There are many more symptoms such as physical and psychological changes, though this is often dependent on which drug is being abused.

Associated diseases

  • HIV
  • hepatitis 
  • schizophrenia
  • microcephaly
  • periodontal diseases


Drug abuse could cause many complications; infection and overdose are the most prevalent of them. Searching for new sites for injection could lead to uncommon complications of drug abuse. Unreliable history taken from addicted patients also makes the diagnosis difficult and leads to delayed treatment and poor prognosis.

Risk factors

  • family history of addiction
  • having another mental health disorder
  • low social control
  • depression
  • lower religious beliefs 


Prevention efforts may focus on the individual or their surroundings. The best method to prevent an dependence to an illegal drug is not to take the drug at all.

Female Infertility
Marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs around the world, and it acts both centrally and peripherally to cause abnormal reproductive function. Marijuana contains cannabinoids which bind to receptors located on reproductive structures such as the uterus or the ductus deferens. Females who use marijuana are at an increased risk of primary infertility. In women, use of marijuana can negatively impact hormonal regulation; over short periods of time, marijuana may cause a drop in the levels of luteinizing hormone, but over long periods of time, the hormone levels may remain constant due to developed tolerance. Marijuana and its cannabinoids have been reported to negatively impact movement through the oviducts, placental and fetal development, and may even cause stillbirth.
Another commonly used recreational drug is cocaine, a stimulant for both peripheral and central nervous systems which causes vasoconstriction and anesthetic effects. It is thought to prevent the reuptake of neurotransmitters, possibly affecting behavior and mood. Long term users of cocaine claim that it can decrease sexual stimulation. Less is known about cocaine’s effects on females, impaired ovarian responsiveness to gonadotropins and placental abruption have both been reported.
Opiates comprise another large group of illicit drugs. Opiates, such as methadone and heroin, are depressants that cause both sedation and decreased pain perception by influencing neurotransmitters. In women, placental abruption with the use of heroin may also be a cause of infertility.

Male Infertility
Several illicit drugs are detrimental to male fertility and should be avoided, especially in men trying to establish a pregnancy. Marijuana interferes with spermatogenesis by decreasing sperm density and motility and decreasing the number with morphologic abnormalities. High doses of opiates lead to a decline in libido and erectile function. Opiates suppress the luteinizing hormone (LH) and luteinizing hormone releasing factor (LH-RH), leading to a decline in testosterone production. The pituitary gland itself may also be directly suppressed by opiates. High doses of cocaine impair erectile function, and high doses of amphetamines have been shown to cause diminished libido.

Recovery from substance dependency is usually described by episodes of remission (abstinence from drug use) and relapse. Various types of programs offer help in drug rehabilitation, including: residential treatment (in-patient), out-patient, local support groups, extended care centers, recovery or sober houses, addiction counselling, mental health, and medical care. Some rehab centers offer age- and gender-specific programs. If you are using illegal substance and you want to get pregnant, it is very important that you get help right away. Prolonged use of street drugs can make it impossible to get pregnant at all.

Find more about related issues


Substance abuse ―sourced from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Drug use: help and treatment ―sourced from Queensland Government licensed under CC BY 3.0 AU
Substance-related disorder ―sourced from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Drug rehabilitation ―sourced from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
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