Drugs And Alcohol Essay, Research Paper
One of the biggest problems people cope with today is the addiction of drugs and alcohol. The effects of taking these drugs are dangerous: domestic violence, crimes, accidents, sexual assault or becoming infected with HIV/AIDS.
Different studies of domestic violence show a big involvement of high quantities of alcohol and other drugs. These increase the level of aggression. Alcoholism and child abuse, including incest, seem tightly intertwined as well. Parents, being under alcohol influence, abuse their children in a bestial way. The most important thing in this statement is that not only the abusers tend to be heavy drinkers, but the children abused will also become drinkers or drug dependents, and they will also abuse at that time.
In a family, the alcoholic women have a negative verbal conflict with her husband than a non-alcoholic woman has. This is a source of misunderstanding between family members, and the results could be very tragic. The family could end up in divorce or even crime.
From violence between parents due to abuse of alcohol or drugs, the children begin to feel the passion and need for taking drugs and drinking alcohol. Most of them will have some experience. Most will understand that taking drugs of any kind doesn’t have a happy-end. Others, will continue to ruin their lives, killing themselves as days go by (”Teens” 1/2).
The first drug accepted by law is alcohol. One major reason that alcohol is very wanted by teenagers up to age of 21 is because it is prohibited for buying and consuming under that age. As long as there will be this law of prohibition for buying and consuming alcohol under 21 years of age, more and more teenagers will begin to drink more and more alcohol, because this one law of the nature: people try to not respect the law, to show the others how tough they are. This statement is supported by some researches made in parallel in Romania and United States. Even though in Romania the level of life is much lower than in United States, the percentage of people consuming alcohol and drugs is very low. This is not a result of pureness, because for a drug dependent, drugs are his main food. This is a result of a very strict education that adults give to teenagers; this is a result of the education that parents give their own children. As a result of excessive drinking of alcohol, the person involved is exposed to very different illnesses, which affect their body (”Alcohol” 1/2).
The second important drug accepted by law is tobacco. Started at a young age, the smoker usually ends up in drugs more powerful and very likely to tobacco, like marijuana, heroin, cocaine/”crack”, and amphetamines. The smoker is exposed at different illnesses, like lung cancer and throat cancer. “The American Liver Foundation has developed an innovative program called ‘Foundations for Decision-Making’, to teach young children that alcohol and other drugs are harmful” (”Alcohol” 2/2).
Alcohol and other drugs interfere with messages to one’s brain and alter his/her perceptions, emotions, vision, hearing, and coordination. Alcohol and drugs affect his/her judgment and can lead to dangerous behavior that puts him/her at risk of: accidental injuries, car/boat crashes, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, sexual assault, fights, and trouble with the law. Statistics show that more than half of drownings and fatal falls are alcohol or drug related. Half of physical injuries sustained on college campuses stem from alcohol use. Almost half of all fatal car/boat crashes are alcohol or drug related. Alcohol and drugs are also involved in many cases of burglaries, and in many acquaintance rapes. More than 70% of total cases of violent behavior on campuses involves alcohol. According to “Youth, Alcohol and Other Drugs”, last month “about 9.5 million Americans between ages 12-20 had at least one drink”, “of these 4.4 million were ‘binge’ drinkers (consuming five or more drinks in a row on a single occasion) including 1.9 million heavy drinkers (consuming five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least five different days)” (1/4).
Despite the fact the purchase of alcohol is illegal for most college students, the alcohol is the most widely used drug on campuses. “Among college students in one survey, rates of binge drinking were highest among Caucasians, 43.5 percent for males and 24.4% for females; among African-Americans the rates were 24.8% for males and 5.4% for females; and among Asians, 32% for males and 20% for females” (”Youth” 2/4). “Among teenagers who binge drink, 39% say they drink alone; 58% drink when they are upset; 30% drink when they are bored; and 37% drink to feel high” (2/4). These incidents, related to drugs and alcohol, are costly in two terms: one of human potential and the other, which is money.
The number of cases of violence and crimes on the streets is growing. According to Minnesota Institute of Public Health, the records show that “more than 1.1 million annual arrests for illicit drug violations, almost 1.4 million arrests for driving while intoxicated, 480,000 arrests for liquor law violations and 704,000 arrests for drunkenness come to a total of 4.3 million arrests for alcohol and other drug statutory crimes. That total accounts for over one-third of all arrests in this country” (”Violence” 1/3).
The drugs have the capacity to decrease pain, not only by decreasing the perception of pain, but also by altering the reaction to it. Although they have sedative proprieties when used in large doses, they are not used primarily for sedation. In large doses, the drugs destroy the nervous system. They kill the cells. According to Encarta ‘98 Encyclopedia, the brain “loses some capacity of memorization and learning as cells die” (”Aging” np). In addition to their ability of killing the pain, the drugs also cause a profound feeling of euphoria. The victims involved do not feel responsible for what they are doing, either a right thing, or, most of the times, a wrong thing. Taken chronically in large doses, the drugs have the capacity to induce tolerance and ultimately psychological and physical dependence, or addiction.
The way that drugs affect the body is not yet fully understood. Some researches confirm the fact that different drugs and different kind of alcohol affect different parts of the brain and the body, which lead to euphoria. On the other side, other body parts affected suffer changes in their functions. This way can be explained the heart functioning process. The “process accelerated by overuse of alcohol and tobacco” makes the heart “pumps less efficiently, making exercise more difficult” (”Aging” np).
Recent researches show that although the drugs are illegal, the medicine is using a part of them. The doctors prescribe their patients some medications based on drugs. The most used drugs by doctors are narcotics. They are used only in very small doses. “The chief narcotic drugs are Opium, Codeine, Morphine, and the Morphine derivative Heroin (Drug Addictions 1/5). These drugs are used to alleviate the pain, induce sleep, to calm the respiratory problems and relieve diarrhea.
Another drug is Amphetamine. This is a drug from a powerful class of drugs, which stimulates the central nervous system in the way that it “enhance mental alertness and the ability to concentrate” (Drug Addictions 2/5), and also it “cause wakefulness, talkativeness, and euphoria” (2/5). Taken in large doses, it creates “insomnia, hyperactivity, and irritability (2/5). The final consequences lead to heart problems like “cardiac arrest” (2/5) or heart trembling.
The hallucinogenic drugs “have been used by primitive societies in both Old and New Worlds to facilitate meditation, cure illness, placate evil spirits, and enhance mystical and magical powers” (Drug Addictions 2/5). People used to believe in their magical powers. The hallucinogenic drugs “altered perceptions of tome and space and of the color” (2/5), and that made the people believe that some miracles happen to them. Other effects were seen, like “imaginary conversations, music, odors, tastes, and other sensations” (2/5). These hallucinogenic drugs are not very powerful, but taken regularly and increasing the quantity taken lead to dependence. The quantities taken will increase as time go by in order to produce the same euphoria effect.
Heroin is a highly addictive drug derived from morphine, which is obtained from the opium poppy, according to ?Addictions Organization?. It is a ?downer? that affects the brain?s pleasure systems and interferes with the brain?s ability of perceiving pain. Heroin can be used in a variety of ways, depending on user preference and the purity of the drug. Heroin can be:
- Injected into a vain (?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?;
- Inhaled as powder via the nose.
Heroin is a very fast-acting drug when injected or smoked. Injected heroin reaches the brain in 15 to 30 seconds while smoked heroin reaches the brain in 7 to 10 seconds. Once the person begins using heroin, he/she quickly develops a tolerance to the drug and needs more and more to get the same effects.
?Heroin is named after the German word for hero, ?heroisch?? (Heroin, 1/2). The substitute of Heroin, Methadone, ?was initially christened Dolphine in honor of Adolf Hitler? (1/2). After, in 1897, Bayer advertised Heroin as ?the sedative for coughs? (1/2).
According to Health Organization (see also Appendix 20),
· Heroin is sometimes used in combination with other drugs. Therefore one person could have a heroin mention and a mention of another drug during the same episode. Heroin-related emergency department episodes increased by 27 percent (from 30,000 to 38,100) between the first half of 1994 and the first half of 1995.
· Between the first half of 1994 and the first half of 1995, heroin-related episodes increased by 32 percent (from 16,100 to 21,100) among persons aged 35 years and older and by 27 percent (from 9,900 to 12,600) for persons aged 26-34 years. Since the second half of 1990, heroin-related episodes have increased 173 percent among persons aged 35 years and older (from 7,700 to 21,100). No changes were observed among persons aged 12-17 years or 18-25 years.
· Between the first half of 1994 and the first half of 1995, the number of heroin-related episodes rose by 39 percent for whites (from 10,800 to 15,000). No statistically significant differences were found among blacks or Hispanics. Since the first half of 1988, heroin-related episodes have about doubled for both whites and blacks.
· Between the first half of 1994 and the first half of 1995, the number of heroin-related episodes increased by 30 percent for men (from 20,400 to 26,500) and by 17 percent for women (from 9,400 to 11,000).
· Among heroin-related episodes, “dependence” was the most commonly reported motive for drug use (30,500) in the first half of 1995.
· The most frequently recorded reasons for an emergency department visit among heroin-related episodes in the first half of 1995, were “chronic effects” (10,200), “seeking detoxification” (9,000), and “overdose” (7,700).
Cocaine is a drug extracted from the leaves of the coca plant. It is a potent brain stimulant and one of the most powerfully addictive drugs. Cocaine can be used occasionally, daily, or in a variety of compulsive, repeated-use ?binges?. It can produce a surge in energy, a feeling of intense pleasure, and increased confidence. The effects of powder cocaine last about 20 minutes, while the effects of ?crack? last about 12 minutes. Heavy use of cocaine may produce hallucinations, paranoia, aggression, insomnia, depression, and even death. Cocaine effects are short lived, and once the drug leaves the brain, the user experiences a ?coke crash? that includes depression, irritability, and fatigue.
Powder Cocaine cannot be smoked unless chemically altered using dangerous ?freebasing? technique. Late summer of 1985, New York City drug dealers put an end to the need for ?freebasing? powder cocaine. These same drug entrepreneurs would revolutionize the sale of cocaine and bring terror to the streets of America (?Cocaine? 1/2).
The exact inventors of crack cocaine are unknown, but the lasting effects of their discovery are well documented. The benefits of cocaine base (crack) for the drug dealers have only been surpassed by the problems it has created in general. In many ways, crack is the perfect drug.
Powder cocaine is messy and hard to handle, crack however is a hard rock-lite substance easy to handle and conceal. Powder cocaine has to be inhaled or injected. Inhaling cocaine creates a variety of sinus and nasal problems. Inhaling also takes longer for the drug to take effect. Injecting powder cocaine to get a better and faster high became very unpopular with advent of the A.I.D.S. crisis. Powder cocaine is frequently cut or mixed with a variety of substances in order to raise profit margins of drug dealers. This made purchasing powder cocaine more hazardous for the drug abuser as they cannot be sure of the content of the drug they are buying. Finally, freebasing was thought too dangerous a prospect for most cocaine users. Crack cocaine overcame all these detractors to cocaine usage.
According to many studies, crack is easily manufactured from powder cocaine without dangerous solvents, using common household ingredients. Crack can be smocked, creating an intense and immediate high. There is no need for needles, nor is there the damage to nasal and sinus passages associated with ?snorting? cocaine.
Crack cocaine is nearly pure cocaine. Dosages of crack are smaller, meaning there is no need for diluting the cocaine with various substances. Crack is more profitable for the dealer because of the smaller dosages. These units also mean it is cheaper for the user to purchase a small amount and get high. The cheaper price per unit also makes it available to broader market. But there is a greater asset crack provides for the dealer. Crack cocaine can be instantly addictive.
The symptoms of abuse are consistent to those of powder cocaine, except crack provides a more intense high. Heavy perspiration and ear ringing are also not uncommon when smoking crack. Again, the intense addictive properties of crack often cause the abusers to go on binges during which they continuously smoke crack until they drop from fatigue or run out of money to purchase more.
Marijuana is likely to be mentioned in combination with other substances, particularly alcohol and cocaine. Between the first half of 1994 and the first half of 1995, marijuana/hashish-related episodes rose from 19,100 to 25,200, an increase of 32 percent. During this time period, statistically significant increases were found in the following age groups: among persons aged 18-25 years, a 25 percent increase (from 6,400 to 8,000); among persons aged 26-34 years, a 39 percent increase (from 5,300 to 7,300); and among persons aged 35 years and older, a 37 percent increase (from 4,100 to 5,600). No change was observed among persons aged 12-17 years (?Marijuana? 2/4).
Between the first half of 1994 and the first half of 1995, the number of marijuana/hashish-related episodes rose by 43 percent for blacks (from 6,900 to 9,800), by 28 percent for whites (from 8,900 to 11,400). There was no change for Hispanics. During the same time period, marijuana/hashish-related episodes increased by 34 percent for men (from 13,100 to 17,500) and by 26 percent for women (from 5,800 to 7,300).
Methamphetamine is a drug from Amphetamines group. Between 1988 and 1991, there was a decrease in methamphetamine (speed)-related emergency department episodes; however, from the second half of 1991 through the first half of 1995, methamphetamine (speed)-related episodes increased 346 percent (from 2,400 to 10,600). The number of methamphetamine (speed)-related episodes continued to increase between the first half of 1994 and the first half of 1995 (from 7,800 to 10,600).
Drug use for non-medical purposes occurs throughout society. For this reason the 1978 President?s Commission on Mental Health did not recommend health and mental-health assistance except to persons whose drug use was intense and compulsive. The commission identified heroin as the number one drug problem because heroin addiction may lead to criminal behavior to pay for the drug. Adding to the problem is the fact that chemically similar drugs can be synthesized and sold on the street because they are not yet classified as controlled substances (?Encarta? np).
Addictions Org. “Drug Addictions and Drug Abuse.” Internet Nov. 13, 1998.
Available at: www.addictions.org/drugad.htm
Cocaine Co. ?Cocaine.? Internet Dec. 04, 1998. Available at: www.cocaine.co
Health Org. ? Heroin.? Internet Dec. 03, 1998. Available at: www.health.org
Health Org. ? Marijuana.? Internet Dec. 03, 1998. Available at: www.health.org
Heroin Co. ? Heroin.? Interent Dec. 04, 1998. Available at: www.heroin.co.uk
Mediconsult.com. “Alcohol and Drugs.” Internet Nov. 18, 1998. Available at:
Mental Health – Teens. “Alcohol and Other Drugs.” Internet Nov. 11, 1998.
Available at: www.cmhc.com/factsfam/teendrug.htm
Microsoft? Encarta? 98 Encyclopedia (2CDs). “Effects of Aging.”
Microsoft? Encarta? 98 Encyclopedia (2CDs). “Alcoholism.”
Minnesota Institute of Public Health. “Violence and Crime & Alcohol and Other
Drugs.” Internet Nov. 13, 1998. Available at: www.miph.org/fs2.html
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. “Youth, Alcohol and
Other Drugs.” Internet Nov. 13, 1998. Available at: www.ncadd.org/youthalc.html
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. “Alcohol and Other
Drugs in the Workplace.” Internet Nov. 13, 1998. Available at: www.ncadd.org/workplac.html
The Council On Alcohol & Drug Abuse – Houston. “Drinking & Driving.”
Internet Nov. 13, 1998. Available at: www.council-houston.org/driving.htm