Throughout history individuals use drugs for different reasons. The abuse of drugs has different effects on different individuals even long after using drugs. Researchers continue to experiment on the area of drug abuse, but the number of drugs in the society today, makes it difficult to ascertain the impact of every drug that is on the market. In order to understand how the different types of drugs work on an individual, one must understand the various changes that occur in different parts of the body. CNS, depressants, narcotics, tobacco, alcohol, and stimulants are some of the drugs of abuse. Each drug’s biochemical impact connects to the individual’s psychological expectations while using the drugs. In addition, the social setting impacts on the amount of drug that the user intake. In general, drugs come in different classes. Opiates or opioids, inhalants, and sedatives are downers, while stimulants are “uppers.”
Opiates and Opioids
Opioids are synthetic and natural substances containing morphine-like actions. Opiate is one of the subclasses of the opioids family. Opiates have alkaloid compounds that come from opium, and include codeine, morphine, and semi-synthetic version of the poppy plant. Endorphin is another branch of opioids. It contains “endogenous peptides,” (Information on Drugs of Abuse and Addiction, par. 4) that help to reduce pain. In addition, it includes dynorphins, enkephalins, and beta-endorphins, (Information on Drugs of Abuse and Addiction, par. 4). Opioids contain “analgesic and central nervous system (CNS) depressant effects,” (Information on Drugs of Abuse and Addiction, par. 4). In addition, opioids have creates a state of euphoria. The opioid problems are physiological, behavioral, and cognitive. The repeated use of drugs leads to opioid tolerance, compulsive drug taking, and withdrawal symptoms, (Information on Drugs of Abuse and Addiction, par. 4). In the early nineteenth century, morphine served as analgesia. In fact, morphine and heroin made up the main ingredients in many patent medicines. The street names for heroin include horse, dope, tar, and smack.
The term “sedatives” covers drugs such as barbiturates, alcohol, and other non-barbiturate drugs. Sedatives slow down the central nervous system and bring on sleep. In most instances, individuals use sedatives for the relief from anxiety and tension. In small doses, sedatives cause slurred speech and a staggered walk. Nevertheless, sedatives creates dangerous withdrawal syndrome (DTs) in its users. Alcohol is one of the most frequently used sedative. People use alcohol safely, but there are those who abuse the substance. In small doses, alcohol provides some health benefits especially those that relate to coronary heart diseases. Nonetheless, alcohol consumption carries serious challenges to abusers of the substance. When one consumes too much alcohol and operate motor vehicles, there are accidents and injuries to contend. Similarly, drinking excess alcohol leads to certain types of stroke, liver diseases, hypertension, birth defects, and various cancers. Therefore, an understanding of the benefits and risks of using alcohol is crucial to the informed decisions one makes about using alcohol.
Psycho-stimulants or stimulant drugs are commonly called "uppers." The class of drugs possess the ability to: (1) improve physical energy; (2) enhance psychological awareness and focus; (3) cause excitation as it influences the chemicals in the brain for example dopamine and noradrenalin; and (4) create elation at the onset. Some non-stimulant drugs are non-medical. They include caffeine, amphetamines, cocaine, and nicotine. Medical researchers noted that stimulants are refined, natural, or synthetic. Cocaine and amphetamines makes up the most common stimulants abused. Cocaine HCI is a common anesthetic used for therapeutic purposes. Alkaloid forms of cocaine make up “crack” which the drug users smoke. The substance is addictive and results in an increase in blood levels. Users of crack or cocaine become paranoid with excessive use. Amphetamines appear in a number of forms and using the drug varies according to the user. Some users take the drug intra-nasally, orally, injected or smoked. On the other hand, methamphetamine is one of the most deadly forms of amphetamine. The free-based appearance of methamphetamine hydrochloride (HCl) or “ice” is smokable and pure. There are just about six amphetamine designer drugs created in concealed laboratories. The most common of these drugs is “Ecstasy” or methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA. However, Ecstacy is not true hallucinogens like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). The use of MDMA varies and includes fulminant hyperthermia, disseminated intravascular coagulation, seizures, rhabdomyolysis, hepatotoxicity, and acute renal failure, (“Information on Drugs of Abuse and Addiction,” p. 7). In addition, there is an increase in heart rate, diastolic and systolic blood pressure, and myocardial oxygen consumption.
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin and mescaline are the three most common types of hallucinogen. Hallucinogenic drugs change the perceptions and sensations as it stimulates a shift in the awareness of reality. These changes are often wild or may be mild. The clinical characteristics of hallucinogen intoxication include pupillary dilation, tachycardia, sweating, palpitations, blurred vision, tremors, and in coordination, (“Information on Drugs of Abuse and Addiction, n.p). Patients experience psychological symptoms that range from “anxiety, depression, paranoia, hallucinations, intensification of perception, impaired judgment, ideas of reference, depersonalization,de-realization, synesthesis, and impaired social or occupational functioning,” (“Information on Drugs of Abuse and Addiction,” n.p). The LSD-induced psychedelic condition occurs because of the environment and mood of the user at the particular time of use. A bad reaction to the drug can result from anxiety, fear, or anger. Nonetheless, ninety-nine percent of negative reactions to the drug can be treated without medical assistance.
Marijuana users smoke marijuana in hand-rolled cigarettes or joints, while others use pipes or bongs. Marijuana can lighten the impact of medical drugs in cancer and HIV treatment, when abused, marijuana casues forgetfulness in conversation, distorted sense of time passage and a tendency to overestimate time intervals and lack of concentration and coordination, (“Marijuana Abuse Signs, Symptoms and Addiction Treatment, par.2). For many users, the first minutes after inhaling marijuana, the user experience an increase in the heart rate, the bronchial passages relax and become enlarged, and blood vessels in the eyes expand, making the eyes look red, (“Marijuana Abuse Signs, Symptoms and Addiction Treatment,” par.3). The main ingredient in marijuana is Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is responsible for a number of the effects of marijuana. Scientists show that when one smokes marijuana, THC passes from the lungs into the bloodstream rapidly and then to the other organs throughout the body, including the brain, (“Marijuana Abuse Signs, Symptoms and Addiction Treatment,” par.3). THC goes to the brain and causes the user to experience a feeling of euphoria. In addition, THC stimulates brain cells to release the chemical dopamine, (“Marijuana Abuse Signs, Symptoms and Addiction Treatment,” par. 3) as it “heightens sensory perception, increase laughter, altered perception of time and increased appetite,” (“Marijuana Abuse Signs, Symptoms and Addiction Treatment, par. 3).
Inhalants are lethal vapors that individuals sniff. Inhalants are most common middle school aged students. They are cheap, easily obtained, and act quickly upon the nervous system. Inhalants are common in the household in liquid or gas form. Some of the most common inhalants include: organic solvents for example, gasoline, paints and glues, and organic sprays such as hairspray, deodorants; volatile nitrites for example, room odorizes and amyl nitrites; and anesthetics for example chloroform, whip cream propellant, or nitrous oxide,” (Information on Drugs of Abuse and Addiction, p. 18). Inhalants are popular among users who seek quick “delirium, disorientation and intoxication” (Information on Drugs of Abuse and Addiction, p. 18).
In concluding, drug abuse is a genuine public health problem that impacts on almost every family and society in some way. Each year drug use and abuse creates millions of serious injuries within the American society. Abused drugs include marijuana, inhalants, hallucinogens, opiates, and sedatives. Drug abuse plays an integral role in a number of major social problems for example drunken driving, stress, violence, and child abuse. Drug of abuse causes leads to crime, homelessness, and work-related problems. As with all drugs, there are positive and negative effects. The effects of marijuana vary according to the user. Persistent stimulant users experience a broad variety of irregular irritation, emotions, violent behavior, irritation, and sudden outbursts of anger. Ecstasy has some form of psychoactive properties that creates visual disturbances in its users. In essence, different drugs generate different effects depending on the individual using the drug, the amount the user intakes, and the type of drug.
Information on Drugs of Abuse and Addiction (2014) Division of Addiction Viewed at:
November 14, 2014
Marijuana Abuse Signs, Symptoms and Addiction Treatment (2014) Viewed at
<http://drugabuse.com/library/marijuana-abuse/> Accessed November 14, 2014