Drug Abuse In Society Today Essay, Research Paper
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Both Drug and Alcohol abuse seems to be a big problem in our world today, with the idea that some kind of substance is needed to have fun. It’s mostly in the teenage and young adult years that drug abuse begins, and most older addicts started when they were young. In this paper i am going to go over a few widly used drugs, their ingredients, uses, and effects.
Alcohol, the most widley abused drug, In today’s world, alcohol is not often thought of as a drug – largely because its use is common for both religious and social purposes in most parts of the world. It is a drug, nonetheless, and drinking in excess has become one of modern society’s most serious and pandemic problems.
Beverage alcohol (C2H5OH), known chemically as ethyl alcohol or ethanol, can be produced by fermenting and distilling a number of different fruits, vegetables or grains. The ethyl alcohol itself is a clear, colorless liquid. Alcoholic beverages get their distinctive colors from the diluents, additives, and by-products of fermentation.
Alcohol has been produced by humans for over 12,000 years. It has been speculated that many ancient farming efforts were undertaken not so much for the food they would yield but rather to create the raw materials for alcohol production. Alcohol has impacted every society since caveman times in one way or another. Some have used it in worship rituals, some in social customs, some have had widespread social problems with alcohol and some have banned it altogether.
Alcohol takes on one of three general forms: beer, wine or distilled liquor. The standard servings of 1 oz. of liquor, 6 oz. of wine or 12 oz. of beer all contain roughly the same amount of alcohol: 10-14 grams of ethyl alcohol.
The effects of alcohol can range from mild intoxication; a feeling of warmth; flushed skin; impaired judgment; decreased inhibitions to extreme intoxication, coma and death. The effect will vary according to body size, amount consumed and time frame of consumption. Combining alcohol with other drugs can intensify the effects of these other drugs. Many accidental deaths have occurred after people have used alcohol combined with other drugs.
Long-term effects of alcohol appear after repeated use over a period of many months or years. The negative physical and psychological effects of chronic abuse are many and some are potentially life threatening. Some of these problems are primary (they result directly from prolonged exposure to alcohol’s toxic effects), such as heart and liver disease, pancreatitis, ulcers and inflammation of the stomach.
Others are secondary (indirectly related to chronic alcohol abuse), they include loss of appetite, vitamin deficiencies, infections, social problems and sexual impotence or menstrual irregularities. The risk of serious disease increases greatly with the amount of alcohol consumed over time.
Physical and psychological dependence occurs in consistently heavy drinkers. Alcohol is an extremely potent drug and when the user’s body has adapted to the presence of alcohol, he or she will suffer withdrawal symptoms if alcohol use is stopped suddenly. Withdrawal symptoms range from jumpiness, sleeplessness, sweating, and poor appetite, to tremors (the “shakes”), convulsions, hallucinations, and sometimes death in those with an already deteriorated physical condition. It is a little-known fact that alcohol is one of the most difficult and dangerous drugs to detoxify from after an extended period of heavy use.
Physical Dependence: Severe with frequent, heavy use
Psychological Dependence: moderate
Tolerance: Strong with frequent, heavy use
Cannabis is a tall, leafy plant with palmately divided leaves that grows in most parts of the world. All three species of cannabis (Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis) contain various cannabinoids including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol which is the primary psychoactive ingredient that gets people high. The female flowers contain the highest concentrations of cannabinoids (THC).
Hemp (usually low-THC cannabis) and Marijuana (high-THC cannabis) are both derived from the Cannabis plant. Hemp is cannabis grown for industrial use while marijuana is cannabis grown for recreational or medical use. Cannabis intended for consumption is usually in the form of a greenish or even brownish mixture of dried and ground flowers and leaves of the female plant. Sometimes it comes in a resin form (”hashish”) or a very black, sticky liquid form (”hash oil”).
High-THC cannabis is often consumed in the following ways: Smoked as a cigarette (”joint”) , Smoked in a pipe (”bowl”), Smoked in a water pipe (”bong”), Inhaling the vapors of heated cannabinoid oil (”hash oil”), Cooking into food (ie. hash brownies), Tinctures (can be very potent)
Time, color, and spatial perception distortions. Also, dreamy state euphoria, excitement, laughter, hunger (”the munchies”). Panic attacks may sometimes occur, especially in new users.
Physical Dependence: None ; Psychological Dependence: Moderate ; Tolerance: Extremely Slight to None
Cannabis use is a moderately habitual activity with no physical addiction and thus treatment for cannabis abuse is often quite simple as counseling the user and restricting their access to the substance. However, treatment may be more complex if the person is also using other psychoactive drugs.
Cocaine C17H21NO4is a unique chemical in that it is both a central nervous system stimulant and an anesthetic. It is found in the leaves of the Erthroxylum coca plant that is native to the mountains of South America. The traditional method of coca use is to chew the leaves, producing a mild stimulation. Outside of South America it is generally used in its more refined and extracted forms: powder cocaine or freebase (chemically purified cocaine) and produces much stronger effect than chewing the leaves. It is known on the street as “the lady”, “girl”, “white”, “uptown” or “coke”.
As early as 3000 B.C., there is evidence of coca use in South America. The inhabitants believed that the coca plant was a gift from God. In the 15th century A.D. the Incas operated coca plantations in South America. In the 1800s coca tinctures were used in surgery and it was in the middle of that century that cocaine was first extracted from coca leaves. In 1886, Coca-Cola was introduced, containing cocaine and caffeine. Around the same time Parke, Davis began to manufacture cocaine. Soon thereafter, around the turn of the century, sniffing cocaine powder became popular. In 1914 cocaine was banned in the U.S. under the Harrison Act which controlled the sale of opium, opium derivatives and cocaine.
Cocaine can be used by sniffing or injecting the powder (dissolved in water) or by smoking a purified form (”freebase” or “crack”) of the drug. Outside of South America, where cocaine is chewed and absorbed by the membranes of the mouth, stomach and intestines, cocaine is most frequently used in the form of powder. On the street, cocaine is sold by the gram and used in greatly varying amounts. This is due to a tolerance that builds very rapidly in regular users. A typical dose for sniffing cocaine is between .05 gram and .20 gram. For injection and smoking the dosage amounts can differ significantly.
Cocaine increases alertness, wakefulness, elevates the mood, induces a high degree of euphoria, decreases fatigue, improves thinking, increases concentration, increases energy, increased irritability, insomnia, restlessness. In large doses users often display symptoms of psychosis with confused and disorganized behavior, irritability, fear, paranoia, hallucinations, may become extremely antisocial and aggressive. It increases heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, temperature, pulse, and respiration, decreased sleep and appetite, seizures, strokes, heart attacks, death.
Physical Dependence: Moderate ; Psychological Dependence: Severe ; Tolerance: Strong
Cocaine is highly addictive substance, at least in the psychological sense. While the physical withdrawal is relatively short-term, the psychological cravings associated with withdrawal can last for months. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms include intense cravings for the drug, hunger, irritability, apathy, severe depression, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, loss of sex drive and insomnia or excessive sleep. Often, more cocaine is taken to reduce these effects. More than one user of cocaine has said that using the drug was more important than food, sex, friends, family, or jobs. Their main concern was how to ease the undesirable effects of being without the drug.
As noted above, cocaine is a highly addictive substance. Additionally, because of the nature of addiction, the newly recovering user is often in a somewhat depleted physical state. Because of this, the first step to treatment is usually a detoxification done in a hospital or medically supervised setting. After detoxification, residential treatment or twelve-step programs.
MDMA or 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methamphetamine (C11H15NO2) is an amphetamine derivative. This synthetic chemical can be extracted from an essential oil of the sassafrass tree. On the street, MDMA is known as “Ecstasy”, “X”, “XTC”, “E”, “M”, “truck driver”, “beans” or “rolls”. It’s effects include euphoria, an increase in emotional openness and a mild to moderate stimulant effect.
Ecstasy was first patented in Germany in 1912 as a potential appetite suppressant though it wasn’t until the 1970s that Dr. Alexander Shulgin introduced ecstasy to those with an interest in drug-assisted psychotherapy and medical and psychiatric journals began to present articles on its psycho-activity. In the late ’70s and early ’80s MDMA was used as a psychotherapeutic tool and also started to become available on the street. It gained wider popularity and at the time it was banned by the D.E.A, in 1985, many truck drivers had begun using it as a stimulant.
Street doses of MDMA generally run from 50mg. to 150 mg. 100mg. or 1/10th of one gram is considered an average single dose. Usually pressed into pills or loaded into placebo capsules, the primary method of use is orally. A powder form of MDMA can also be sniffed but this is less common. Much less frequent than sniffing is the injection or smoking of the drug, though this does occur. There are a number of analogs (chemically similar substances) of MDMA that are commonly sold as ecstasy on the street. These include MDA and MDEA (known as “Eve”). Additionally, ecstasy is notoriously unreliable in content, much more so than most other street drugs. “Ecstasy” pills have been known to contain caffeine, ephedrine, amphetamines, MDA, MDEA, DXM, heroin, cocaine and often don’t contain any MDMA or any psychoactive drug at all.
Mild to moderate doses of ecstasy produce a euphoric sense of well-being and a feeling of connectedness with and empathy for other people, an enhanced sense of pleasure and self-confidence and increased energy. This “love effect” has become most closely associated with ecstasy use. Its stimulant effect has made it a favorite on the club and “rave” circuits. In overdoses or misuses though, users can experience confusion, disorientation, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, insomnia, perceptual disorders and hallucinations, paranoia and psychosis.
Ecstasy has a physiological effect that is similar to amphetamine and cocaine. As such, studies have concluded that even mild to moderate use may cause changes in the way the brain produces and distributes neuro-transmitters (the chemicals, like serotonin and dopamine, known to play a role in regulating mood, memory, appetite, sleep, aggression, sexual activity and sensitivity to pain.) leading to long-term depression and other mental illness (depending on the definition of “mental illness”).
Physical Dependence: Reported but unconfirmed ; Psychological Dependence: Moderate ; Tolerance: Moderate
To the degree that it has been researched, which is only superficially, MDMA has not been determined to be habit-forming. It should be noted, though, that virtually any substance can be addictive, to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the user. It is a generally accepted notion among treatment professionals that the overall addiction, whether physical or psychological, is the problem, not the specific substance. Listed below are some treatment programs that may be useful for MDMA users as well as others.
Diacetylmorphine (C21H23NO5) is the chemical name for street heroin. A narcotic derivative of the opium poppy plant, heroin falls into the class of drugs known as “opiates.” Opiates are derived from the dried ‘milk’ of the opium poppy, which contains morphine and codeine, both of which are effective painkillers and are used in many prescription medicines (Opioids, on the other hand, are synthetically derived opiate-like drugs). On the street heroin is known as “Smack”, “Junk”, “Skag”, “Shit”, “H”, “Brown”, “Horse”, “Dope” and “Boy.”
Pure heroin is a white powder with a bitter taste. Most heroin is distributed in powder form and may vary in color from white to dark brown due to the impurities left from the manufacturing process or the presence of additives and diluting agents. There is also a less-refined form of heroin known as “Black Tar” made predominantly in Mexico, which is a gooey black or brownish substance. Heroin is illegal in the U.S. for any use.
Although Sumerian texts from 6,000 years ago refer to the opium poppy as the “joy” plant, heroin itself was not developed until 1874 and was originally marketed as a safe, non-addictive substitute for morphine. However, it too was soon found to produce a severe dependency very quickly. Heroin and opiates were made illegal in 1915 with the Harrison Narcotic Act, which controlled the sale of opium and opium derivatives, and cocaine.
Heroin is used in a number of ways: Injected into a vein (”mainlining”), injected into a muscle, smoked in a water pipe or standard pipe, mixed in a marijuana joint or regular cigarette, inhaled as smoke through a straw ( known as “chasing the dragon”), snorted as powder via the nose.
On the street, powdered heroin is usually sold in glassine bags weighing about 100mg or 1/10th of one gram. Black tar heroin is sold by the gram weight. The purity of street heroin has skyrocketed in the last twenty years. In 1980 the average bag of street heroin was 4% pure; the average street bag today is 34% pure and can be as pure as 66%.
Heroin is, generally speaking, a sedative, and induces a euphoric, drowsy, warm and content feeling. They also relieve stress and discomfort by creating a relaxed detachment from pain, desires and activity. As well as killing pain, moderate doses of pure opiates produce a range of mild effects. They depress the activity of the nervous system, including such reflexes as coughing, breathing and heart rate. They also cause widening of the blood vessels, which gives a feeling of warmth and reduces bowel activity, causing constipation.
With doses high enough to produce euphoria, there is still little change in coordination. At higher doses though, sedation can be extreme and an overdose can result in unconsciousness, coma and often death from respiratory failure. The chance of an overdose is greatly increased if other depressant drugs such as alcohol or tranquilizers are being used at the same time.
Heroin is a highly addictive substance and can produce dependence within only a few days of regular use. Because mild withdrawal symptoms are similar to the flu, users often don t realize their “sickness” is actually withdrawal.
Physical Dependence: extreme
Psychological Dependence: extreme
Once addicted, the acute physical withdrawal is grueling and peaks between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose. The intense part of withdrawal lasts for 3-5 days, while protracted effects can last for months. During this time, symptoms include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, cramping, muscle and bone pain, cold flashes with goose bumps, kicking movements, and severe shaking. It can take months or even years to recover from the addiction, and fighting the psychological addiction is often a lifetime battle. During this extended withdrawal, recovering addicts battle cravings and depression.
As noted above heroin is a highly addictive substance, both physically and psychologically. Additionally, because of the nature of addiction, the newly recovering user is often in a somewhat depleted physical state. Because of this, the first step to treatment is usually a physical detoxification done in a hospital or medically supervised setting. After detoxification, residential treatment or twelve-step programs.