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Sunday, 10 December 2006

The Facts About Drugs

Written by  Erin Donovan

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Cocaine belongs to a class of drugs known as stimulants, which tend to give a temporary illusion of limitless power and energy that leaves the user feeling depressed, edgy, and wanting more. Cocaine is usually snorted through the nose but it can also be injected intravenously. Crack is a form of cocaine that has been chemically altered (freebased) so that it can be smoked.

Physical Risks Associated with using any amount of Cocaine/Crack:

  • Increases heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and body temperature.
  • Heart attacks, Strokes, and Respiratory Failure
  • Brain Seizures
  • Reduction of the body's ability to resist and combat infections
  • If using shared needles, hepatitis and/or AIDS

Psychological Risks

  • Violent, erratic, or paranoid behavior
  • Hallucinations and "Coke Bugs", which is a sensation of insects crawling on or under the skin
  • Confusion, anxiety, and depression
  • Losing touch with reality (commonly reffered to as "Cocaine Psychosis")

You can die from Cocaine the very first time you use it, due to the rapid effects it has on your heart and nervous system. It can cause cardiac arrest, seizures, and respiratory failure. Cocaine and Crack are so highly addictive that many users spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on Cocaine and Crack each week. The addiction can easily become so strong that Crack and Cocaine dominate all aspects of the users life. Many turn to selling drugs, pimping or prostituting, stealing, and other crimes just to support their addiction.

The Short of it

  1. Cocaine and Crack are illegal substances. Depending on where you are caught, you could face high fines and jail time
  2. Even one hit of Crack or Cocaine can be fatal.
  3. Injecting Cocaine can give you hepatitis or AIDS.
  4. Using Drugs increases the risk of injury and crime. Car crashes, falls, burning, drowning, suicide, murder, armed robbery...are all acts commonly linked to drug use.
  5. One incident with drug use can leave you with a criminal record, an addiction, or dead.
  6. Using drugs won't let you escape your problems forever..drug use creates even more problems to worry about. You have to deal with it all eventually. Running away just lets everything build up.
  7. If you know someone with a drug problem, be part of the solution. Urge your friend to get help. Check out our resources list for places to turn for help or more


Heroin belongs to a group of drugs known as Opiates. All opiates are strong pain killers, and are classified as depressants because they slow down the functions of the central nervous system. A tolerance is built up to heroin (and similar drugs) to where it takes more and more of the drug to get high or produce pleasurable feelings. When the person does not take the drug, withdrawl symptoms occur. Heroin and other opiate withdrawl symptoms can be very painful. The symptoms occur because there is no longer enough opiate present to produce pleasurable, or even a normal feeling. Symptoms usually begin 4 to 12 hours after the last dose, and reach their peak around 36 to 72 hours.

Early Withdrawl Symptoms

  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Muscle spasms
  • Joint aching
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Runny nose
  • Irritability
  • Sweating

The most lethal danger is of an overdose.

Overdose Symptoms

  • Blue lips
  • Decreased Respirations
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Excessive fluid in the lungs (rattling respirations)
  • Irregular heart beat

Death generally results from the decreased (or absent) respirations, and/or the excess fluid in the lungs.


Crystal Meth (also called crank, ice, or crystal) is a stimulant that usually comes in a white powder form and is snorted. Common feelings associated with this high are: Feelings of increased alertness, anger, fear, agitation, (flight or fight responses) Feelings of well-being, riding high, exhilaration and euphoria. When the stimulation goes too high it produces feelings of panic, paranoia, hallucinations, rage, seizures, and stroke.

People who use amphetamines often lose weight because the drug turns off feelings of hunger. The drug produces a feeling of being full even though no food was eaten. Tolerence is built up, and when the person stops using amphetamine there is usually a rebound increase in appetite as the body discovers it has been literally feeding off itself and wasting tissue.

With continued use comes increased confidence in methamphetamine, and less confidence in the normal rewards of life. This first happens on a physical level, then it effects you psychologically. This results in decreased interest in 'normal' aspects of your life, as you increase your reliance and interest in meth. People, places, and activities involved with meth become more important while the people, places, and activities that made you happy before meth become less important to you. In fact, after awhile, a heavy meth user will actually resent people and activities that aren't able to fit in with the meth use.

More of the drug that comes into the body causes more of the body's natural chemistry to be supressed. Eventually, natural chemicals that produce feelings of well-being are almost shut down completely. If the drug is removed at this time there will be a feeling of panic. This extreme state of irritability, tension, and anxiety is what is called withdrawl. Withdrawl Symptoms Include:

  • drug craving
  • irritability
  • loss of energy
  • depression
  • fearfulness
  • anxiety
  • wanting to sleep a lot/ not being able to sleep
  • shaking
  • nausea
  • heart palpitations
  • sweating
  • hyperventilation
  • increased appetite

These symptoms commonly last several weeks after you stop using crystal meth. With medical treatment, sometimes the symptoms can be handled and eliminated more quickly.

Attempts at meeting normal survival needs don't register satisfaction in the brain because the messenger for satisfaction has been supressed by the drug. Instead, the central survival mechanism sends out a panic signal screaming that the body is in extreme distress.


Ecstasy, X-TC, MDMA, and Adam are all common names for the drug MethyleneDioxyMethAmphetamine. It is classified as a stimulant and can either be taken in pill form, snorted in powder form, or injected. The drug's effects usually kick in about an hour after the drug is taken, and usually last about six hours; although sometimes it can last up to 32 hours.

MDMA was developed by a German chemical company in 1914 and is now commonly used as a way to increase energy and sexual feelings. But ecstasy also increases blood pressure, body temperature (which can lead to dehydration and overheating), pulse rate, nausea, and feelings of anxiety.

Ecstasy (MDMA) is also related in chemical structure and effects to Methamphetamine, which has been shown to cause degeneration of neurons containing the neurotransmitter dopamine. Damage to these neurons is the underlying cause of the motor disturbances seen in Parkinson's disease. A single exposure to Methamphetamine at high doses or a prolonged use at low doses destroys up to 50% of the brain cells that use dopamine. Although this damage may not be immediately apparent, scientists believe that with aging or exposure to other toxic agents, Parkinsonian symptoms may eventually emerge. These symptoms begin with lack of coordination and tremors and may eventually result in a form of paralysis.

While on Ecstasy, you may fall or appear to faint, but can still get back up and 'Shake it off'. PLEASE do not disregard this turn of events. These could be signs of hyperthermia and needs to be dealt with seriously.


About 1/5th of teenagers in the US have admitted to sniffing inhalants - such as spray paint, fabric protector, felt tip markers, correction fluid, glue or lighter fluid - at least once. More than a million people used inhalants to get high just last year. Inhalants are especially popular with younger teens, who find them particularly appealing because they are legal, cheap, accessible, and fast working. And many parents and teachers never suspect a thing.

Inhalants provide a quick high, since the fumes inhaled (by either "bagging", "huffing", or "sniffing") go from the lungs immediately into the bloodstream. This causes a chemical reaction with the body's central nervous system - a mildly euphoric and disoriented state which resembles drunkenness, and causes blackouts during an intense high. The other symptoms of inhalant abuse - secrecy, loss of interest in other things, blaming and alienation, false sense of invulnerability - resemble those of other drug abuse.

Inhalants as a group are among the most toxic drugs around. Inhalants kill more than a thousand kids each year, and about 25% of abusers brought in for emergency treatment have incurred brain damage. Many abusers suffer memory loss, hallucinations and lack of coordination. Inhalants can also cause suffocation and / or heart failure, and there is no warning. Death from inhalant abuse (Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome) is quick and brutal, and it can happen the very first time you huff, or the 100th.

Last modified on Monday, 11 April 2011 11:11
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Erin Donovan

Erin Donovan

Erin Donovan's contributions were written in the year before she began college, at which time she was WholeFamily's Senior Teen Advisor.

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