Drug Abuse Essay, Research Paper
Drug use is generally defined as the use of a drug with such frequency that the user has physical or mental harm or it impairs social abilities. The substances that are discussed in this report consist of hallucinogens, opiates, stimulants, and depressants. These drugs affect moods, emotions, feelings and thinking processes, or they can alter the workings of the mind.
A person dependant on drugs usually carries three basic characteristics that are indicators. First, the user continues to use the drug for an extended period of time. Difficulties in stopping usage is the second characteristic which may lead to one or more of the following results: dropping out of school, trouble with the law, jail, losing a job, and family problems. Mental distress and/or physical pain due to withdrawal are the final characteristics of a drug dependent.
Why would people continue to be dependent on and use drugs even though
consequences are so severe? Most of the time, drug abusers either are unable to see the penalties or reduce the severity of them in their mind. Their mind and body craves the feeling of them. Let?s take a look at the brain and it?s functions. Inside of the brain, natural chemicals are produced called endorphins. These chemicals make a person feel pleasure and take away pain either during sexual orgasm, physical exercise or spiritual uplifting. Drug abuse is way of imitating these naturally occurring chemicals in the brain. Drug abusers find the sense of pleasure is quite easy to obtain through drug usage. When drugs are repeatedly used to simulate endorphins, the body cuts down on the production of them. This causes the drug user to continue to abuse. Endorphin release is also why some people can become compulsive in exercising or even become an extreme sex enthusiast.
Let me first talk about the drug classification called hallucinogens. This classification of drugs includes LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, and marijuana. These drugs can either be man made or grown naturally. Moreover they can be taken orally, injected, or eaten. Hallucinogens produce radical changes in the mental state, involving distortions of reality and acute hallucinations. These drugs affect all the way person experiences their sense of taste, smell, hearing, touch, and vision. Anxiety, tremors, and panic are all some of the few immediate effects of hallucinogenic drugs.
Lysergic Acid Diathylamide (LSD) was first made in 1938 by a chemist in Switzerland named Albert Hoffman whom first tested it on animals. No psychedelic disturbances were noticed so it was shelved until 1943 when he accidentally ingested the LSD. Hoffman described: ?I was seized by a peculiar cessation of vertigo and restlessness. Objects, as well as the shape of my associates in the laboratory, appeared to undergo optical changes. With my eyes closed, fantastic pictures of extraordinary plasticity and
intensive color seemed to surge toward me.? After testing it under a controlled substance, he later noted that it brought forth fear and disorganization. His sense of time had disappeared and he thought that he had died. (Julien, 179)
Expansion of the mind has been a remote reason for the use of LSD. Many artists, actors, and film producers believed their works have been helped due to the psychedelic experiences while using LSD. In the 1960?s many music entertainers would not perform unless under the influence of LSD. In a study of four artists that were given LSD, they concluded that the lines and colors were less controlled and more free, and the drawings seemed to be more imaginative and to have greater esthetic value (Barber, 53). Although creativity may be enhanced, problem solving deteriorates significantly.
LSD is made into the form of a liquid and can be onto almost anything. Usually it is ingested by a tiny piece of paper or sugar cube. This drug is so strong that several doses could be put on the head of a pin. Direct death by LSD overdose has not been reported but fatal accidents and suicides are known to occur during intoxication. A single dose can range from five to ten dollars. The effects can last from seven to twelve hours. If you compare prices of any other drugs against the length of intoxication, LSD is the ?best bargain?.
Another hallucinogenic that can be comparable to LSD is mescaline. Another word for mescaline is peyote. Peyote is a plant that is commonly seen in the western United States and Mexico. This spineless cactus forms a crown or ?button? on it, which is dried out to form a brown disc. The only ways to obtain the psychedelic effects are for it to be ingested orally. In some Native American churches in the north, the government has permitted limited use for religious purposes. The effective single dose of mescaline persist for approximately twelve hours and usually takes thirty to ninety minutes for it to take effect after being eaten.
Members of the Native American Church regard peyote as sacramental, much as members of other churches regard bread and wine as sacramental. One must conclude that the use of peyote for religious purposes is not considered abuse. Indeed peyote is seldom abused by members of the Native American Church, and the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that no federal control will interfere with the freedom of religion, a ruling that allows the church to continue to use mescaline in religious services.
Psilocybin is yet another drug similar to the effects of LSD and mescaline. It and it?s closely related compound, psilocin, are twp psychedelic agents found in at least 15 species of mushrooms. Being 200 times less potent than LSD, these mushrooms can be eaten five to forty at a time depending on the type. Many poisonous mushrooms are easily mistaken for psychedelic mushrooms. The distortion of time and space when intoxicated
by the psychedelic mushroom is comparable to LSD. The duration of action is only two to four hours compared to ten to twelve while on LSD.
Marijuana is also another drug classified as a hallucinogen. It, being a weed, can be grown almost anywhere in the world. Although tolerance and withdrawal are mainly components in hallucinogens, marijuana has none. Although no withdrawal symptoms may occur, there are many adverse effects. Apathy, dullness, lethargy, and impaired judgment are all components seen in marijuana users. Marijuana increases the heart rate weakening the contractions and limiting oxygen to it Effects on sperm formation, menstrual cycles, and other reproduction functions have been reported, but their significance is not yet clearly identified (Leavitt, 143).
Moving on to another classification of drugs are the opiates. Opiates are referred to as narcotic analgesics, or strongly addictive analgesics. ?The term opiate refers to any natural or synthetic drug that exerts actions upon the body similar those induced by morphine and codeine, the major pain-relieving agent obtained from the opium poppy. Medical use of opiates is for the relief of pain, treatment of diarrhea, and the relief of coughing. Because physiological and psychological dependence, many drugs like morphine have been synthesized in attempts to duplicate it?s usefulness and avoid the addictive qualities (Julien, 121).?
Psychological effects of codeine and morphine are a feeling of euphoria, and well being. Because of these sensations which are pleasurable, opiates are seriously addictive and easily subject to abuse. (Abel, 193) Usually when doctors prescribe medicine to a patient such as codeine or morphine, it comes in the from of a pill. When used on the streets, it may come in various forms that can either be smoked, inhaled through the nose, or shot directly into a vain. Many abusers of the drug prefer direct injection because of how quick the drug takes effect.
Alcohol, being a legal depressant should not be overlooked considering it is in fact a drug. Many people have abused this drug for years leading to not being able to perform their normal daily functions that they could get done before. Tolerance and withdrawal symptoms are severe including trembling, seizures, hallucinations, delirium, and even death. ?Alcoholics tend to engage in other life-impairing behaviors such as smoking (Leavitt, 139).? The only beneficial effect of alcohol seen today is when emotional factors inhibit or cause excessive eating, alcohol can normalize appetite.
The psychological effects of alcohol are just as severe as many illegal drugs. A person can either be relaxed and euphoric in one scene, and in another they might be violent and withdrawn. Mental set and setting become progressively less important with increasing doses since sedation dominates and behavioral activity decreases. With the
dependency of alcohol and lack of vitamins and proper nutritional needs leading to vitamin deficiency and nutritional diseases.
Many, if not all, of the drugs I have described above have been known to be abused. Due to the large amount of abusers, significant amounts of rehabilitation programs have been established. For example Alcohol Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and various inpatient and outpatient programs in hospitals have been reputable. The problem of distinguishing drug abuse from religious and moderate use is difficult because most of the time it is up to the individual to assess their relationship with the drug/drugs. Then their is the problem of what is legal and what is illegal and what that means in the process of it all. Education for the future seems to be the only effective way of prevention avoiding the pain that can come with experience.
Abel, Ernest. Drugs and Behavior. Wiley-Interscience Publication: New York, NY 1974.
Barber, Theodore. LSD, Marijuana, Yoga, and Hypnosis. Aldine Publishing Company: Chicago, Illinois, 1970.
Julien, Robert M.D. A Primer of Drug Interaction. W.H. Freeman and Company: New York, NY, 1988.
Leavitt, Fred. Drugs and Behavior. Sage Publications Inc.: Thousand Oaks, California, 1995.