List Of Illegal Drugs That Cause Dehydration

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on March 17, 2023

A number of illicit drugs can cause the body to become dehydrated. This may be important to know if you or someone you know uses or plans to use illicit drugs. In addition, illicit drugs can carry numerous health risks, and can become addictive if repeatedly misused.

Illegal Drugs That Cause Dehydration

Getting overheated and suffering dehydration is a major concern during the summer months with higher temperatures and more time spent outside.

But the use of some illicit drugs, including methamphetamine (meth) and ecstasy, can increase this health risk and other short-term health dangers.

Many illicit drugs, particularly stimulants, can have cardiovascular effects that can increase the risk of dehydration. Some drug withdrawal symptoms can also dehydrate the body.

What Drugs Make You Dehydrated?

A number of illicit drugs, or illegal drugs, can cause dehydration — as can certain prescription medications. Here is a list of commonly used illicit drugs that can cause dehydration:

Central Nervous System Stimulants And Dehydration

Illicit stimulant drugs can cause dehydration. This type of drug can cause a burst in energy, but can also increase your body temperature, cause sweating, and cause you to become overheated.

Stimulants that carry a risk for dehydration include:

Hallucinogens And Dehydration

Some illicit hallucinogens, also known as “club” or “party drugs,” have stimulant properties that can risk dehydration. This is largely because of their effects on body temperature.

Club drugs that carry a risk for dehydration include:

  • MDMA/ecstasy (i.e. “molly”)
  • LSD
  • PCP (i.e. phencyclidine, angel dust)

Remaining hydrated is important.

If you’re drinking alcohol, using illicit stimulants, or are engaging in physical activity that is causing sweating, this can place you at risk for overheating and dehydration.

Regulated Substances And Prescription Drugs

Some non-illegal substances, including alcohol, over-the-counter drugs, and stimulant prescription medications can also lead to dry mouth and dehydration.

For example:

  • diuretics
  • laxatives
  • ADHD medications (e.g. Adderall)
  • medications provided as part of chemotherapy treatment

Dehydration And Drug Withdrawal

Dehydration can occur as a symptom of drug withdrawal.

Opioid withdrawal, for instance, can lead to dehydration if withdrawal isn’t carefully monitored or treated by medical professionals.

That’s because withdrawal can cause symptoms like diarrhea, sweating, nausea and vomiting — all of which are risks for dehydration.

What Are Common Signs Of Dehydration?

Dehydration can be identified by a number of warning signs, or symptoms. Many of these are physical, but dehydration can also affect your cognition and ability to think clearly.

Signs of dehydration might include:

  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • dry mouth
  • feeling thirsty
  • poor concentration
  • dark yellow, strong-smelling urine
  • lightheadedness
  • hyperthermia (fever)
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • flushed skin
  • chills
  • confusion
  • high heart rate but low blood pressure

Risks Of Dehydration

Moderate to severe dehydration, as well as a loss of electrolytes through excessive vomiting or sweating, can have a number of side effects on the brain and body.

Short-term risks of severe dehydration include:

  • memory troubles
  • poor coordination
  • heart problems
  • shock
  • low blood pressure
  • urinary problems
  • kidney problems/kidney failure

Dehydration can also become life-threatening if it is severe enough.

Can Drug Abuse Cause Dehydration?

Dehydration can occur if you are frequently misusing alcohol or other drugs that are associated with this condition. For instance, cocaine, methamphetamine, diuretics, or ecstasy.

Drug abuse is a repeated pattern of substance misuse, such as taking illicit drugs to get high, taking prescription drugs for reasons other than prescribed, or drinking alcohol excessively.

Risks of illicit substance use include:

  • negative effects on mental health
  • heart attack
  • psychosis (i.e. loss of touch with reality)
  • unusual changes in weight (weight loss, gain)
  • very low or high blood pressure
  • brain damage
  • overdose
  • sudden death

Very powerful sedatives, including the opioid fentanyl, have also been laced into illicit drugs commonly bought and sold on the street, from cannabis to cocaine.

Illicit fentanyl is involved in a majority of drug overdose deaths, and can be deadly even in small doses among those who don’t have a tolerance for opioids.

Find A Treatment Center For Illicit Substance Abuse

Illicit drugs can become addictive if they are taken frequently over a long period of time.

Without help, addiction can cause severe consequences to a person’s life, including irreversible health effects and reduced overall wellbeing.

Recovery is possible. To find addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, call our helpline to speak with a specialist today.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on March 17, 2023


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