Drug Abuse And Effects

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Drug abuse is one of biggest problems in United States today. A drug is a chemical substance that has an impact on the balance of the brain, which affects how we feel and act towards life. Drugs that are abused can alter feelings, thoughts, and behavior. Many drugs can cause serious physical and mental damage to the chronic user.
There are many factors that are involved that lead to drug abuse. People take drugs because of peer pressure, curiosity, or wanting to feel good. Drugs allow a person to escape problems for a period of time, frustrations, depression, and feeling of alienation. A person use of drugs usually begins in childhood or teen years. Teenagers are exposed to drug abuse for many reasons. In the adolescent brain, the centers for judgment and self-control are still developing. This result in many teens not being concerned about the decisions they make and are more open to taking risks. Teenagers think they are immortal and nothing will hurt or kill them. Most teens are followers; so many of them are going to do what other kids are doing because they want to look cool. Adolescence is full of stress and problems, therefore teens think the only way medicate their problems is drugs. Certain risk factories may increase someone from using drugs. One of the major factors of why a person uses drugs is the family they come from. A person may have a hectic home environment, unproductive parenting, or a need of nurturing and parental attachment. Factors may be related to problems outside of the family. A person’s risk of using drugs outside the family may increase if they show poor school performance, poor social coping skills, and a friendship with an unusual peer group.
Many people do not understand why people become addicted to a certain drugs. Addiction usually occurs when a drug is taken for no intended purpose. People become addicted to a drug because they need the drug to feel and function normally in their everyday life. Addiction is broken down into two types, physical and psychological. Physical addiction is caused by the brain. The brain produces fewer chemicals or neurotransmitters to make up for the extra chemicals, therefore the brain needs the chemicals from the drug to reach the correct balance and becomes out of touch with reality. (Ball, 1982) Psychological addiction is where the individual simply enjoys the way a drug makes them feel and must have it, therefore becoming addicted. A person that abuses drugs may not realize that he or she has a problem. Family members usually bring up the attention of the abuse to a health care provider. Unfortunately, some people realize they have a drug problem after they have been arrested. Drugs can be taken into the body in several ways. Drugs can be taken through oral ingestion, inhalation, injection into the veins, depositing onto the mucosa of the mouth or nose. The signs and symptoms presented by a person depend on what substances the person has abused. Most drugs effect a change in the level of awareness. A person on drugs may be hard to wake up or act wacky.
Drug addiction is a serious brain disease because when taking drugs it leads to changes in the structure and function of the brain. Even though most people say taking drugs was voluntary, over time the changes in the brain by continual drug abuse will affect a person’s self-control, therefore sending intense impulses to the brain to keep taking drugs. These deep changes to the brain make it a challenge for a person that is addicted to stop using drugs.
Drugs are chemicals that make their way into the brains communication system and disturb the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. (Ball, 1982) Drugs make this possible by either copying the brain’s natural chemical messengers or by over stimulating the “control base” of the brain. These drugs are able to trick the brain’s receptors and activate nerve cells to send abnormal messages. All drugs target the brain’s control base by overflowing the base with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that control movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. (NIDA, 2007) The overflow of this system, which normally repeats natural behaviors such as eating or spending time with someone, creates joyful effects because of the drug. This joyous reaction that takes over our body teaches people a pattern to repeat the abuse of drugs.
Long term abuse brings about changes in other brain chemical systems as well. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that allows a person the ability to learn. (NIDA 2007) Whenever the concentration of glutamate is adjusted by drug taking, the brain attempts to compensate, which can impair cognitive function. When we use drugs more and more, the user will experience unmanageable cravings when they see a place or person that connect with drug use, even when the drug is not present. Studies of brain imaging of drug addicted individuals show that drugs change our judgment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control.
Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers. Cannabis is the main term that refers to marijuana. Marijuana is smoked as a cigarette, also known as a joint or in a pipe or bong. It can also be smoked by blunts, which are cigars that have been emptied of their tobacco and filled with marijuana. Sometimes marijuana is mixed into foods or used for tea. Marijuana is the most common used drug and will only get more popular. According to a survey in 2006, an estimated 97.8 million Americans aged 12 or older tried marijuana at least once in their life. (NIDA, 2007) This represents 39.8% of the U.S. population. With all these people getting high, many of them do not know the risks of this drug. Marijuana effects include respiratory infections, impaired memory and learning, increased heart rate, anxiety, panic attacks, and tolerance.
Someone that smokes marijuana often may have the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers do. Marijuana smoke contains 50 percent to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke does. (Helpguide, 2007) Marijuana can lead to cancer of the respiratory tract and lungs. Marijuana deeply affects your memory because THC alters the way in which information is processed by the brain area called the hippocampus. (New Standard, 1994) A study of 129 college students found that heavy users of marijuana had skills of attention, memory and learning impaired. (NIDA, 2007)
Hallucinogenic substances can be described as a substance that has the ability to cause changes in a person’s view of reality. People, who use these drugs, will say that they have seen images, heard sounds and felt sensations that seem real, but don’t exist. Hallucinogens cause their effects by disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter, serotonin. The serotonin system controls our mood, hunger, sexual behavior, and muscle control. (New Standard, 1994) LSD is one of the more popular drugs in the hallucinogens class. LSD is created by combining lysergic acid with certain other chemicals. LSD is among the most powerful because it produces errors that can last for hours in awareness. LSD is unpredictable in its effects. Its effects usually depend on the user’s personality, mood, and the persons surroundings. The physical effects include dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, and tremors. If a large dose is taken, the drug can create delusions and visual hallucinogens. Among other hallucinogens is psilocybin, also known as mushrooms, PSP and mescaline. According to a 2006 Survey, 35.3 million Americans aged 12 or older reported trying hallucinogens at least once during their lifetimes, representing 14.3% of the population. (NIDA, 2007)
Stimulants, a class of drugs, elevate mood, increase feelings, and increase energy. Some examples of stimulants include cocaine, crack, amphetamines, nicotine, and ecstasy. Cocaine, a white powder substance, is a hydrochloride salt that is made from the coca plant leaf. Crack is a form of cocaine that is smoke able. Crack is made with baking soda and water and is heated to take out the hydrochloride. (New Standard, 1994)
Amphetamines main reason is for medical problems, but however, these pills are abused for their effects on the brain. Stimulants can be taken in several ways. They can be swallowed, snorted through powder form, injected using a needle, or heated in crystal form and smoked. There are many dangerous effects when it comes to stimulants. Stimulants can cause the heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism to increase. Cocaine allows the users to become more talkative, energetic, and anxious. A single high dose of stimulants can result in high body temperature and an irregular heartbeat. Cocaine makes the bodies blood vessels to become narrow. This prevents less blood flow and forces the heart to work harder. (NIDA, 2007) Stimulants change the way the brain works by affecting the way the nerve cells communicate. The transmitter, dopamine, is most affected by stimulants. Dopamine makes people feel good when doing something they like. (NIDA, 2007) Stimulants will cause dopamine to build up in the brain and let the user feel intense pleasure. Repeated use will decrease some of the dopamine receptors. This results in a person ability to feel pleasure at all. When the user is not able to feel pleasure at all, they need to experience that pleasure by taking stimulants. This usually will result in an addiction.
There is no doubt that in today’s world drugs have had a big impact on our society. For some people it is sad to say that drugs are the only answer. An estimated 4.7% of the global population aged 15 to 64, or 185 million people, consume illicit drugs yearly. (helpguide, 2007) Drugs can basically ruin our lives in an instant because so many people become addicted on first experience. Drugs are not only destroying the user’s life, but as well as the families. Drugs can forever change the way a family runs their lives. Taking drugs may even lead to a young sibling getting involved with drugs. Drugs are just not worth bringing pain to the World.

Work Cited

1. Ball, Jacqueline A. Everything You Need to Know about Drug Abuse.
New York: Rosen Pub. Group, 1982 Pg. 26-42

2. “Understanding the Signs, Symptoms, and Effects.” Help Guide. 2007

3. “Drug Abuse”. New Standard Encyclopedia. Chicago: Standard Educational Corporation, 1994 Pg. D-289- D-290

4. “Science-Based Facts on Drug Abuse and Addiction.” NIDA. Sept.-Oct. 07. U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services.

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