Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Drugs and Alcohol

I'm sure we've all wondered what it would be like to try drugs or alcohol, especially in high school. Scenario: someone comes up to you and says, "Hey, we just got some weed, wanna get baked?" All of his friends are around him waiting for your answer. You feel extremely pressured and intimidated by them, and you feel that if you decline their offer, they will look down on you or tease you about it. So you figure, "Why not?" Okay, STOP. Right there. Rewind. Think about what you just agreed to. Think about what consequences you might face after you do it. "Will it hurt my body?" "Will it hurt me or benefit me in the long run?" "Will I get into trouble if I do drugs?" Those are some of the thoughts that probably either go through your head already or will probably go through your head after you do it. Now, the real question is, what is the right choice?

To be completely honest, drugs and alcohol are terrible for your body. Not only do they have toxic chemicals in them, they also have substances in them that frequently get people addicted to them. Now that I've said that, you probably have another handful of questions that are racing through your head. Let me go in chronological order.

1. Why do people try drugs?

That's actually a very good question. There are various reasons why people try drugs, but here are some main reasons. Here are ten reasons why people try drugs.

1) Thought: They heard that marijuana and mushrooms grow naturally, so they figure they must be safe.
Real Deal: So do poison ivy and anthrax. Would you smoke them?

2) Thought: They think that drugs sold in stores without a prescription are OK.
Real Deal: You can overdose on those too.

3) Thought: They think drugs will help with stress.
Real Deal: Drugs don't reduce stress or fix problems. In the long run, they create more.

4) Thought: They think that drugs will make them seem rebellious or cool.
Real Deal: There are better ways to get noticed.

5) Thought: They figure that it's prescribed by a doctor, so it must be OK.
Real Deal: Not if it's not taken as prescribed.

6) Thought: They're bored and they think drugs will help.
Real Deal: Is being bored worth the risk?

7) Thought: They heard that marijuana has been legalized in some states.
Real Deal: Marijuana is illegal throughout the United States.

8) Thought: There are rumors that marijuana has medical benefits.
Real Deal: Major medical organizations disagree.

9) Thought: They think that prescription drugs and steroids will improve their performance and looks.
Real Deal: Only if you think acne and 'man boobs' are attractive.

10) Thought: People think drugs will help them fit in.
Real Deal: Most people don't use drugs.

If you want to know more information about the real deal on people's thought processes, I got this information on this website.

2. What happens after someone tries drugs?

Another very good question with a very serious answer. Most people that try drugs do it for social reasons, but after your first time doing that drug, you will most likely become addicted to that drug. Each time that individual does that drug, it increases the chances that it will become an addiction. That leads to not being able to control your impulses, like wanting that drug. For instance, the brain is the command center of your body. It controls pretty much everything you do, including when you are sleeping. The brain is made up of many parts that all work together as a team. Each of these parts have a different, but specific job to complete. When drugs enter the brain, they can interrupt work and change how the brain performs its jobs. These changes are what lead to compulsive drug use. Now, drugs affect three primary areas of the brain:

-The brain stem
-The limbic stem
-The cerebral cortex

The brain stem is in charge of all the functions in our body needed to stay alive-breathing, circulating blood, and digesting food. It also links to the spinal cord, which controls muscle movements and also let's the brain know what's happening to the body/
The limbic stem links brain structures that control emotional responses, such as the feeling of pleasure when we eat something that we really like.
the cerebral cortex is the outer part of the brain that makes up about three fourths of the entire brain, at least for humans. It is divided into four lobes which control specific functions like processing information from our senses and the ability to think, make decisions, etc.

The brain is affected in many ways by the use of drugs. Drugs basically work in the brain by invading its commmunication system and interfering with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Although all drugs have that affect on the brain, there are many different outcomes on what exactly it will do to the brain. For instance, drugs like marijuana and heroin activate neurons (nerve cells that work nonstop to send and receive messages) because of the fact that their chemical structures mimic a natural neurotransmitter. Therefore, they can "fool" receptors and lock onto them, which activates the nerve cell. Since they don't work the same way as a natural neurotransmitter, as a result, the neurons end up sending abnormal messages through the brain. Other drugs including amphetamine cause nerve cells to release very large amounts of natural neurotransmitters or prevent the normal recycling of these brain chemicals. This leads to an exaggerated message in the brain which ultimately creates a lot of problems on the communication channels. This effect is like the difference between someone whispering in your ear versus someone shouting in a microphone. Although different drugs trigger different reactions, all drugs affect the brain's "reward" circuit, which is part of the limbic system. When a normal "reward" circuit is working like it should, it responds to enjoyable experiences by releasing dopamine, which creates feelings of pleasure, and tells the brain that this is something important (to pay attention and remember it). When you start doing drugs, they hijack this system and cause unusually large amounts of dopamine to flood the system. This can sometimes last for a long time compared to what happens when a natural reward stimulates dopamine. This flood of dopamine is what causes the euphoria or "high" that is associated with taking the drug.

3. What are the different drugs that people do/try?

Well, to be honest, there are all different types of drugs that people do but the main ones are listed below:

1. Heroin

Heroin is a drug that is VERY addictive and is produced from morphine, and comes from a flower called opium poppy. There are various appearances of heroin, but the main ones are sold as either a white powder, a black, solid substance, and brown powder. Individuals of all ages use it, but statistics show that about 3,090,000 people ages 12 and up have used it at least once in their lifetime. There are three ways to intake heroin: Injection, snorting, and smoking. Many new users will either snort or smoke it because injecting it causes emotional stigma. Now, don't think that the only way you can get addicted to heroin is injection, because you can become addicted by practicing any of the ways of doing the drug. There are also many risks to doing heroin. Some of those include overdose, severe addiction and withdrawal (symptoms of withdrawal include craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, and vomiting), infection and diseases, and viruses. A few popular street names of heroin are Dope, Smack, Horse, Junk, and Blacktar.

This is a video of some heroin addicts that have lost everything because of the habit.

2. Marijuana

Marijuana is the most common drug that teens go in for treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined. It can become very addictive too, just like any other drug you use incorrectly. It comes in a green, brown, or grey mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers from the hemp plant. It is a mind-altering drug, which changes how the brain functions. There are about 400 chemicals in marijuana, and some of which are carcinogenic (causes cancer). There are typically higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thinking among those who smoke marijuana compared to those who don't. People starting before the age of 15 are more likely to suffer from those factors in their early adulthood. Studies show that marijuana is associated with a 40% increase risk of psychosis. There are many risks to using marijuana, some of which include impaired judgement, anxiety and panic attacks, increased heart rate and risk of heart attacks, increased risk for schizophrenia, problems with memory and learning, and much more. Some common street names for marijuana are Weed, Pot, Dope, and Grass.

A shocking video that really opens your eyes to the danger of smoking marijuana.

3. Cocaine

Cocaine is a stimulant that is highly addictive. There are a couple different types/forms of cocaine: powdered and crystal. Powdered cocaine can be either snorted or injected, whereas crystal cocaine (known as crack) is heated and then smoked. Regularly snorting cocaine can lead to loss of sense of smell, nosebleeds, problems with swallowing, and a chronically runny nose. Using cocaine come with many risks, such as increased body temperature and heart rate, decreased appetite, abdominal pain and nausea, parinoia, and irritability. Some common street names for cocaine are coke, snow, blow, nose candy, perico, and yayo.

A very well created video about one gram of cocaine traveling all the way from Peru and ending up in the nose of an individual at a party in Sweden.

4. Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine (or meth) is a synthetic chemical that is highly addictive and acts as a stimulant. There are several ways of using it including snorting, injecting, smoking, or swallowing. There are many dangers to using meth, some including rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, hyperthermia (when the body overheats), confusion, anxiety, insomnia, violent behavior, hallucinations, and delusions. Statistics show that between 1998 and 2002, death from meth overdoses increased by 125 percent. Between 1998 and 2000, meth related emergency room visits doubled, and in the past few years, the use of this drug has greatly increased in people ages 12 to 17. Some popular street names for this drug are speed, crystal meth, ice, glass, crank, and trash.

A video that will definitely change the way you look at drugs.

5. Ecstasy

Ecstasy is a drug that is usually taken orally by tablet or capsule. It is a man-made drug that is similar to stimulants and hallucinogens. Ecstasy effects your mood, sleep, appetite, and pain because it releases an excessive amount of the neurotransmitter called serotonin, which causes the brain to become deprived of this neurotransmitter, which contributes to the negative behavioral problems. Some risks for using ecstasy are blurred vision, muscle tensions, increased body temperature, memory loss, involuntary teeth clenching, and dependence/withdrawal effects. A few common street names are the love drug, MDMA, XTC, hug drug, and disco biscuit.

6. Steroids

Steroids are man-made substances that that are closely linked to testosterone (a male hormone). The only time that steroids are safe is if prescribed from your doctor. If you abuse steroids (normally to gain muscle mass), it can lead to very serious effects in the aftermath of taking it, some of which are irreversible. Some physical effects in males is the shrinking of the testicles and breast development. Females experience many noticeable symptoms as well, including increased growth of facial hair, deepened voice, and menstrual changes. Other unisex symptoms include severe acne, liver cysts, oily hair and skin, baldness, hostility, violent behavior, and uncontrollable outbursts of frustration. Another risk is cardiovascular disease, like strokes and heart attacks. Some street names for steroids are roids, arnolds, gym candy, pumpers, weight trainers, stackers, juice, and gear.

A video all about steroids.

7. Tobacco/Cigarettes

Tobacco is the leading preventable cause....


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