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Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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Tobacco . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Women and Tobacco . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Nicotine Addiction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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Who Smokes? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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Caffeine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Opium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Morphine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Heroin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hallucinogens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
LSD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Cannabis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Cocaine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Appearance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Drug Myths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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Some Important Myths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Do we have to live with drugs? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
This is an abstract of the subject of drug addiction. Of course this documentdoes not cover all issues and is not very detailed but I hope to give broad viewon the subject, covering various areas. I perhaps should define the term drugused in this document. My interpretation of this term differs from the commonunderstanding: drugs are all substances that can cause either physical or psy-chical dependence. This of course includes alcohol, nicotine and caffeine, sincethey cause physical dependence (alcohol has even one of the worst withdrawalsymptoms from all known drugs).
Addiction is a psychical and often also physical determined condition of depen-dence on a certain substance (drug addiction) or behavioral pattern (e.g. gam-bling). The addict feels the urge to take the substance or show the behavioralpattern. Addiction to behavior is always only psychical. Physical dependenceexists, if the amount of the substance used to achieve the same effect is increas-ing (tolerance) and if stopping or reducing its use leads to withdrawal effects likenausea or pain. The symptoms vary depending on the substance and the degreeof addiction. Psychical dependence exists if there is, even without withdrawalsymptoms, a strong desire for the substance or behavior.
The addictive potential of a drug is often tested in laboratory researches withexperimental animals. A drug that is used heavily by the animals is consid-ered highly addictive.
Examples are the most important abused drugs like opium, alcohol, cocaine and barbiturates. Other substances like marijuana andpsychoactive medicaments seem to cause dependence when used by humans,though they did not show this effect in animal experiments.
The effects of any drug depend on several factors: • the manner in which the drug is taken • the circumstances under which the drug is taken (the place, the user’s psychological and emotional stability, the presence of other people, theconcurrent use of other drugs, etc.).
Another common effect of use of all drugs that are injected (sharing of needles)is an increased risk of acquiring AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)and HIV infection (human immunodeficiency virus). Unsterile injection tech-niques can also cause abscesses, cellulitis, liver disease, and even brain damage.
Among users with a long history of subcutaneous injection, tetanus is common.
Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may also resultfrom the unhealthy lifestyle of the user.
Alcohol is often not thought of as a drug — largely because its use is commonfor both religious and social purposes in most parts of the world. It is a drug,however, and compulsive drinking in excess has become one of modern society’smost serious problems.
Beer is fermented to contain about 5% alcohol by volume (or 3.5% in lightbeer). Most wine is fermented to have between 10% and 14% alcohol content;however, such fortified wines as sherry, port, and vermouth contain between14% and 20%. Distilled spirits (whisky, vodka, rum, gin) are first fermented,then distilled to raise the alcohol content. The concentration of alcohol in spiritsis about 40% by volume. Some liquors may be stronger. The effects of drinkingdo not depend on the type of alcoholic beverage — but rather on the amountof alcohol consumed on a specific occasion.
Alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream from the small intestine, andless rapidly from the stomach and colon. In proportion to its concentration inthe bloodstream, alcohol decreases activity in parts of the brain and spinal cord.
The drinker’s blood alcohol concentration depends on: • the drinker’s size, sex, body build, and metabolism • the type and amount of food in the stomach.
Once the alcohol has passed into the blood, however, no food or beverage canretard or interfere with its effects. Fruit sugar, however, in some cases canshorten the duration of alcohol’s effect by speeding up its elimination from theblood.
It is the amount of alcohol in the blood that causes the effects. In the followingtable, the left-hand column lists the number of of volume-units of alcohol inthousand volume-units of blood (the German Promille). The right-hand columndescribes the usual effects of these amounts on normal people — those who havenot developed a tolerance to alcohol.
Feeling of warmth, skin flushed; impaired judgment; de-creased inhibitions Obvious intoxication in most peopleIncreased impairment of judgment, inhibition, attention and control; Some impairment of muscular performance;slowing of reflexes Obvious intoxication in all normal peopleStaggering gait and other muscular incoordination; slurred speech; double vision; memory and comprehen-sion lossExtreme intoxication or stupor Reduced response to stimuli; inability to stand; vomit-ing; incontinence; sleepiness ComaUnconsciousness; little response to stimuli; inconti- nence; low body temperature; poor respiration; fall inblood pressure; clammy skin Drinking heavily over a short period of time usually results in a “hangover”— headache, nausea, shakiness, and sometimes vomiting, beginning from 8 to12 hours later. A hangover is due partly to poisoning by alcohol and othercomponents of the drink, and partly to the body’s reaction to withdrawal fromalcohol. Although there are dozens of home remedies suggested for hangovers,there is currently no known effective cure.
Combining alcohol with other drugs can make the effects of these other drugsmuch stronger and more dangerous. Many accidental deaths have occurred afterpeople have used alcohol combined with other drugs. Cannabis, tranquilizers,barbiturates and other sleeping pills, or antihistamines (in cold, cough, andallergy remedies) should not be taken with alcohol. Even a small amount ofalcohol with any of these drugs can seriously impair a person’s ability to drivea car, for example.
Long-term effects of alcohol appear after repeated use over a period of manymonths or years. The negative physical and psychological effects of chronicabuse are numerous; some are potentially life-threatening.
Some of these harmful consequences are primary — that is, they result directlyfrom prolonged exposure to alcohol’s toxic effects (such as heart and liver diseaseor inflammation of the stomach).
Others are secondary; indirectly related to chronic alcohol abuse, they includeloss of appetite, vitamin deficiencies, infections, and sexual impotence or men-strual irregularities. The risk of serious disease increases with the amount ofalcohol consumed.
Early death rates are much higher for heavy drinkers than for light drinkersor abstainers, particularly from heart and liver disease, pneumonia, some typesof cancer, acute alcohol poisoning, accident, homicide, and suicide. No preciselimits of safe drinking can be recommended.
People who drink on a regular basis become tolerant to many of the unpleas-ant effects of alcohol, and thus are able to drink more before suffering theseeffects. Yet even with increased consumption, many such drinkers do not ap-pear intoxicated. Because they continue to work and socialize reasonably well,their deteriorating physical condition may go unrecognized by others until se-vere damage develops — or until they are hospitalized for other reasons andsuddenly experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Psychological dependence on alcohol may occur with regular use of even rel-atively moderate daily amounts. It may also occur in people who consumealcohol only under certain conditions, such as before and during social occa-sions. This form of dependence refers to a craving for alcohol’s psychologicaleffects, although not necessarily in amounts that produce serious intoxication.
For psychologically dependent drinkers, the lack of alcohol tends to make themanxious and, in some cases, panicky.
Physical dependence occurs in consistently heavy drinkers. Since their bod-ies have adapted to the presence of alcohol, they suffer withdrawal symptomsif they suddenly stop drinking. Withdrawal symptoms range from jumpiness,sleeplessness, sweating, and poor appetite, to tremors (the “shakes”), convul-sions, hallucinations and sometimes death.
Pregnant women who drink risk having babies with fetal alcohol effects (knownas fetal alcohol syndrome or FAS). The most serious of these effects includemental retardation, growth deficiency, head and facial deformities, joint andlimb abnormalities, and heart defects. While it is known that the risk of bearingan FAS-afflicted child increases with the amount of alcohol consumed, a safe levelof consumption has not been determined.
Tobacco smoke is made up of thousands of components, the main ones beingNicotine, Tar, and Carbon Monoxide. Nicotine is the addictive agent in tobacco,tar can cause cancers and bronchial disorders, and carbon monoxide contributesto heart disease.
Nicotine is a powerful mood-altering substance which reaches the brain quicklywhen you smoke a cigarette. Nicotine is also extremely toxic. A dose of about30 mg can be fatal. Although an average cigarette contains 15-20 mg of nicotine,only about 0.1–1.0mg are absorbed by the smoker.
Tar is not a single ingredient; it is a dark sticky combination of hundreds ofchemicals including poisons and cancer-causing substances. Standard tar yieldsof cigarettes vary from less than 1 mg to 18 mg per cigarette. As with nicotine,the tar yield of a cigarette can be higher depending on how a cigarette is smoked.
Carbon monoxide (chemical: CO ) the poisonous emission from automobile en-gines is also formed when tobacco is burned. CO in smoke replaces the oxygenin red blood cells. While nicotine causes the heart to work harder, CO deprivesit of the extra oxygen this work demands.
Heart and circulatory disease, lung and other cancers, and emphysema andchronic bronchitis have been linked to some of the substances in cigarette smoke.
Tobacco use during pregnancy increases the risk of such complications as still-births, low birth weights, premature delivery, miscarriage, and sudden infantdeath syndrome. Women who smoke may also experience reduced fertility, in-creased menstrual disorders, earlier onset of menopause, and an increased riskof cervical cancer.
Women who smoke and use birth control pills are especially vulnerable, partic-ularly after age 30. They are 39 times more likely to suffer from stroke thannon-smokers who do not use the pill, and are at higher risk of contacting othercirculatory diseases as well.
Tobacco use can lead to physical and psychological dependence on nicotine,particularly in cigarette smokers. The United States Surgeon General’s 1988report states that “cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are just as addictingas heroin and cocaine.” People who are physically dependent on tobacco suffer a withdrawal reactionwhen they stop using it. Some signs of withdrawal are: irritability, anxiety,headaches, sleep disturbances (insomnia or drowsiness), difficulty concentrating,decreased heart rate and increased appetite, and a craving for nicotine. Thesesymptoms can last from several days to several weeks. However, desire for acigarette and relapse to smoking can occur months after quitting, indicatingthat, as with other drug use, factors in addition to physical dependence play a role in nicotine addiction. Environmental events or emotional states maybecome conditioned signals for cigarette use.
Although the majority of smokers want to reduce or stop smoking, attempts todo so often fail. The U.S. Surgeon General’s 1988 report states that “.at least60% of tobacco smokers have tried to quit at some time in their lives.” Quittingis possible, however: the majority of people who have ever smoked give upcigarettes later in life. Although about 20% of would-be quitters stop on theirfirst attempt, most people “give up” several times before finally stopping forgood.
People who quit generally achieve the same health levels as non-smokers aftera few years, especially if they stop while they are young. Risk of heart diseasedrops immediately; risk of lung cancer declines more gradually.
disease may not be completely reversible, but even older lifetime smokers canbenefit significantly from quitting.
There is no simple “cure” for smoking.
Cutting down or switching to ultra-low-yield brands instead of quitting mayreduce exposure to smoke products, but many people just change the way theysmoke - they take more or longer puffs — to get the same effect. Withdrawalsymptoms subside more quickly for smokers who quit all at once than for thosewho gradually cut down.
Most quitters stop on their own — sometimes with the help of books, pamphlets,guides, or videos. Some prefer group support or professional counselling from adoctor, a smoking clinic, or a local health agency. No single method works foreveryone; several different approaches may have to be tried.
Nicorette, a prescription gum containing nicotine, has helped some people dealwith withdrawal symptoms, particularly those who are very dependent on nico-tine. Other non-prescription anti-smoking products have not been shown scien-tifically to be effective.
Many smokers worry about weight gain if they stop smoking. Studies showthat many of those who quit gain weight, but the gain is usually only a fewkilograms, and can be minimized by exercising and eating low-fat foods.
In Austria, the purchase or possession of tobacco by anyone younger than 16years is forbidden. The advertising of tobacco products is restricted at certainplaces, for instance on places where sport events take place. Smoking in thepublic is generally allowed, but there are several exceptions, like in public build-ings and non-smoking sections in buses, trains, airplanes or restaurants, but the“tobacco laws” are not supervised very strictly.
Caffeine is the world’s most popular drug. The white, bitter-tasting, crystallinesubstance was first isolated from coffee in 1820. Both words, caffeine and coffee,are derived from the Arabic word qahweh (pronounced “kahveh” in Turkish).
The origins of the words reflect the spread of the beverage into Europe viaArabia and Turkey from north-east Africa, where coffee trees were cultivated inthe 6th century. Coffee began to be popular in Europe in the 17th century. Bythe 18th century plantations had been established in Indonesia and the WestIndies.
The caffeine content of coffee beans varies according to the species of the coffeeplant. The beans contain from about 1.1% (Central and South America beans)to about 2.2% (Indonesia and Africa beans) caffeine. Caffeine also occurs incacao pods and hence in cocoa and chocolate products; in cola nuts, used in thepreparation of cola drinks; and in the ilex plant, from whose leaves the popularSouth American beverage yerba mate is prepared.
Caffeine is also found in tea. It was first isolated from tea leaves in 1827 andnamed “theine” because it was believed to be a distinctly different compoundfrom the caffeine in coffee. Tea leaves contain about 3.5% caffeine, but a cupof tea usually contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee because much less teathan coffee is used during preparation.
Cola drinks contain about 30 mg caffeine per standard 250 ml serving, with some5% of the caffeine being a component of cola nuts and most of the remainderbeing added in the form of a by-product of the decaffeination of coffee andtea. Caffeine-containing soft drinks account for more than 65% of soft drinkconsumption. A cup of hot chocolate contains about 4 mg caffeine, and a 50-gram chocolate bar between 5 and 60 mg, increasing with the quality of thechocolate. Caffeine is an ingredient of certain headache pills (30-65 mg). It isthe main ingredient of non-prescription “stay-awake” pills (100-200 mg).
Caffeine taken in beverage form begins to reach all tissues of the body withinfive minutes. Half of a given dose of caffeine is metabolized in about four hoursmore rapidly in smokers and less rapidly in newborn infants, in women in latepregnancy, and in sufferers from liver disease. Normally, almost all ingestedcaffeine is metabolized. Less than 3% appears unchanged in urine, and there isno day-to-day accumulation of the drug in the body.
Ingestion of the amount of caffeine in one or two cups of coffee (75–150 mg)causes many mild physiological effects. General metabolism increases — ex-pressed as an increase in activity or raised temperature, or both. The rate ofbreathing increases, as does urination and the levels of fatty acids in the bloodand of gastric acid in the stomach. (However, at least one other component ofcoffee also increases gastric acid secretion. Therefore ulcer sufferers may notachieve relief by switching to decaffeinated coffee.) Caffeine use may increaseblood pressure.
Caffeine stimulates the brain and behavior. Use of 75–150 mg of caffeine ele-vates neural activity in many parts of the brain, postpones fatigue, and enhancesperformance at simple intellectual tasks and at physical work that involves en-durance but not fine motor coordination. (Caffeine-caused tremor can reducehand steadiness.) Caffeine’s effects on complex intellectual tasks and on mood do not lend them-selves to a simple summary. The effects depend on the personality of the user,on the immediate environment, on the user’s knowing whether caffeine has beentaken, and even on the time of day.
The effects of caffeine on sleep are clear-cut: taken before bedtime, it usuallydelays sleep onset, shortens overall sleep time, and reduces the “depth” of sleep.
After using caffeine, sleepers are more easily aroused, move more during sleep,and report a reduction in the quality of sleep. The effects of caffeine on dreamingare less clear.
Larger doses of caffeine, especially when given to non-users, can produce headache,jitteriness, abnormally rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), convulsions, and evendelirium.
Near-fatal doses cause a crisis resembling the state of a diabetic without insulin, including high levels of blood sugar and the appearance ofacetone-like substances in urine. The lowest known dose fatal to an adult hasbeen 3,200 mg - administered intravenously by accident. The fatal oral dose isin excess of 5,000 mg — the equivalent of 40 strong cups of coffee taken in avery short space of time.
The opioids include both natural opiates — that is, drugs from the opium poppy— and opiate-related synthetic drugs, such as meperidine and methadone.
The opiates are found in a gummy substance extracted from the seed pod ofthe Asian poppy, Papaver somniferum. Opium is produced from this substance,and codeine and morphine are derived from opium. Other drugs, such as heroin,are processed from morphine or codeine.
Opiates have been used both medically and non-medically for centuries.
tincture of opium called laudanum has been widely used since the 16th centuryas a remedy for “nerves” or to stop coughing and diarrhea.
By the early 19th century, morphine had been extracted in a pure form suitablefor solution. With the introduction of the hypodermic needle in the mid-19thcentury, injection of the solution became the common method of administration.
Of the 20 alkaloids contained in opium, only codeine and morphine are still inwidespread clinical use today. In this century, many synthetic drugs have beendeveloped with essentially the same effects as the natural opium alkaloids.
Opiate effects depend on the substance used, but there are some common pat-terns: Short-term effects appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours ordays. Opioids briefly stimulate the higher centers of the brain but then depressactivity of the central nervous system. Immediately after injection of an opioidinto a vein, the user feels a surge of pleasure or a “rush”. This gives way to astate of gratification; hunger, pain, and sexual urges rarely intrude.
The dose required to produce this effect may at first cause restlessness, nausea,and vomiting. With moderately high doses, however, the body feels warm, theextremities heavy, and the mouth dry. Soon, the user goes “on the nod”, analternately wakeful and drowsy state during which the world is forgotten.
As the dose is increased, breathing becomes gradually slower. With very largedoses, the user cannot be roused; the pupils contract to pinpoints; the skin iscold, moist, and bluish; and profound respiratory depression resulting in deathmay occur.
Overdose is a particular risk on the street, where the amount of drug containedin a “hit” cannot be accurately gauged. In a treatment setting, the effects ofa usual dose of morphine last three to four hours. Although pain may still befelt, the reaction to it is reduced, and the patient feels content because of theemotional detachment induced by the drug.
Long-term effects appear after repeated use over a long period. Chronic opiateusers may develop endocarditis, an infection of the heart lining and valves asa result of unsterile injection techniques, and also suffer from the depressanteffect of opiates on respiration.
Opium is the basically the dried sap from the opium poppy. It appears eitheras dark brown chunks or in powder form. Opium is mostly smoked or eaten,sometimes also injected. For oral use and injection, an opium solution is used.
Morphine is chemically derived from opium. It appears either as brown powder,as crystal-clear liquid, mostly filled into ampoules or as morphine-sulfate in greyto beige tablets.
Morphine is in used in medicine as strong pain-killer mostly only for personswho are facing death — in this case the addictive potential of morphine doesnot matter.
Heroin is a half-synthetic drug that is derived from morphine. It was first pro-duced in 1874. It was used in medicine as strong pain-killer, but then forbiddendue to its high addictive potential.
The quality of heroin sold on the illegal market is varies a lot.
of “heroin” normally contains 25–50 % pure heroin. The percentage is muchhigher in the so-called “heroin no. 4”. Injected undiluted it is absolutely lethal.
The heroin is mostly available on the street market as a brown powder andis referred to “Brown Sugar” or “Sugar”. Heroin no. 4 is also called “ChinaWhite”.
Heroine is mostly injected intravenous, but it can also be smoked or sniffed.
Recently, smoking heroin has become popular with younger drug users, makingit a gateway drug. This is fatal because of the extreme addictive potential ofheroin. The amount of heroin needed for inhalation is generally greater thanfor injecting.
The term “hallucinogen” describes any drug that radically changes a person’smental state by distorting the perception of reality to the point where, at highdoses, hallucinations occur — that is, one sees or hears things that do not, in re-ality, exist. These drugs have also been labelled illusionogenic, psychotomimetic,psychedelic, and mind-expanding depending on whether scientists or users aretalking about them.
Hallucinogens include a wide variety of substances, which are different from eachother in structure and range from wholly synthetic products to natural plantextracts.
Mescaline can be manufactured synthetically or extracted from the peyote cac-tus. Similarly, psilocybin can be chemically produced or extracted from certainmushrooms.
Other hallucinogens are found in such naturally occurring materials as morningglory seeds, jimson weed, nutmeg, and a variety of mushrooms. Cannabis (seesection 4.5.4), often classified as a hallucinogen, is also from a plant source.
Drugs as DMT, LSD (see section 4.5.3), MDA, PCP, PMA, STP (DOM), andTMA are synthetic chemicals manufactured in illegal “underground” laborato-ries specifically for the illicit drug market.
Other drugs as amphetamines and alcohol, although not usually classified ashallucinogens, and especially cannabis can surprise the user by producing hal-lucinations and related effects when taken in very large doses and in certaincircumstances.
The effects of any hallucinogen can differ significantly — they range from causingecstasy to terror. In low doses, changes of mood and perception are common,while hallucinations most times require high doses.
Regular use of such hallucinogens as LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin inducetolerance within a few days — little or no effects are experienced even with high doses. Normal sensitivity is usually restored after abstaining for severalconsecutive days.
Chronic users may also become psychologically dependent on hallucinogens, butthey do not appear to cause physical dependence, for withdrawal reactions havenot been observed, even after long-term use.
LSD, commonly called “acid”, is the most powerful known hallucinogen It wasused especially in the 60s and 70s in order to gain “mind-expansion”. Althoughit is derived from a fungus that grows on rye and other grains, LSD is semi-synthetic. It is chemically manufactured in illicit laboratories, except for a smallamount which is produced legally for research.
Even in very minute doses (for example, 50 to 100 micrograms — a microgramis 1/1000 of a milligram), LSD can significantly alter one’s perceptions to thepoint of hallucination.
Of the group of hallucinogens, however, LSD is by far the most potent; it isapproximately 100 times stronger than psilocybin and 4,000 times stronger thanmescaline.
Pure LSD is a white, odorless crystalline powder that is soluble in water. Be-cause an effective dose of the pure drug is almost invisible, it is mixed withother substances, such as sugar, and packaged in capsules, tablets, or solutions,or spotted on to gelatin sheets or pieces of blotting paper.
LSD is usually taken orally, but is sometimes inhaled or injected.
The general drug effect factors (see section 3) are especially important with LSD.
In fact, the effects of LSD on any user, or even on the same user at differenttimes, are difficult to predict.
Short-term effects appear soon after a single dose and disappear within a fewhours or days. Appearing first are physical effects including: numbness; muscleweakness and trembling; rapid reflexes; increased blood pressure, heart rate, andtemperature; impaired motor skills and coordination; dilated pupils; nausea;and, occasionally, seizures.
Dramatic changes in perception, thought, and mood occur shortly after thephysical effects. These may include: • vivid, usually visual, “pseudo-hallucinations” that the user is aware are • distorted perceptions of: time (minutes seem like hours); distance (haz- ardous if operating motor vehicles or standing near balcony edges); gravity(sensations of floating or being pressed down); the space between oneselfand one’s environment (for some, a feeling of oneness with the universe,for others, a feeling of terror) • synesthesia: fusion of the senses (music is “seen”, colors “heard”).
• diminished control over thought processes, resulting in recent or long- forgotten memories resurfacing and blending with current experience, orin insignificant thoughts or objects taking on deep meaning • feelings of a mystical, religious, or cosmic nature (generally the most de- But many users experience unpleasant reactions to LSD. Fear, anxiety, and de-pression may occur, even with experienced users who have had no prior adversereactions. Calling these reactions “bad trips”, users feel that they are losingtheir identity, disintegrating into nothingness, and that there is no reality.
Although tolerance is developed, no withdrawal syndrome is apparent when theuse is discontinued.
The plant Cannabis sativa is the source of both marijuana and hashish. Theactive ingredient is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The leaves, flowers and twigsof the plant are crushed to produce marijuana (THC concentration: 0.25–8%); its concentrated resin is hashish (THC: 1–12 %). Both drugs are usuallysmoked in a cigarette (“joint”) or pipe (also use of water-pipes — “bongs” —is common), pure or mixed with tobacco. The drug can also be used orally (asmarijuana-tea or hashish-cookies, for example) and is sometimes injected. Theamount of drug used at a time varies a lot, but from 1/4 to 1 gram in a jointare common.
On the street, cannabis has many names: hash, grass, shit, hemp, bhang, weed,Mary Jane, tea, pot, charas, ganja, khif and many more.
Main cannabis effects include: mild euphoria, subjective contentment, dopi-ness, change of perception, restlessness, apathy (but also sometimes irratibility),change in blood pressure and heartbeat frequency, widened pupils, sleepiness.
Higher doses may lead to time dilatation and hallucinations.
The cannabis high may differ a lot, depending on personality structure, psychicalcondition, environment, cannabis experience, way of consumption and amountof THC consumed. Even with the same person — depending on the environment(“set”) — different effects are common.
Most physical dangers of cannabis consume are the same as of tobacco, whenthe cannabis is smoked. Oral use eliminates those effects (e.g. lung cancer). Nophysical dependence is established, although tolerance is developed if frequentuse of large doses occurs.
As other dangers psychological dependence, change of personality and declineare mentioned. The psychological and physiological dangers of cannabis are a very controversial topic and it can be assumed that cannabis-psychosis andflash-back-psychosis happen only with high doses and persons with respectivepredispositions. For psychical ill persons cannabis can nevertheless impose aspecial endangering.
The acute toxicity of cannabis is very low. There are no documented cases oflethal cannabis intoxications with humans.
Drug class: central nervous system stimulant Cocaine is a powerful central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that heightensalertness, inhibits appetite and the need for sleep, and provides intense feelingsof pleasure. It is prepared from the leaf of the Erythroxylon coca bush, whichgrows primarily in Peru and Bolivia.
Pure cocaine was first extracted and identified by the German chemist AlbertNiemann in the mid-19th century, and was introduced as a tonic in patentmedicines to treat a wide variety of real or imagined illnesses. Later, it was usedas a local anesthetic for eye, ear, and throat surgery and continues today to havelimited employment in surgery. Currently, it has no other clinical application,having been largely replaced by synthetic local anesthetics such as lidocaine.
Because of its potent euphoric and energizing effects, many people in the late19th century took cocaine, even though some physicians recognized that usersquickly became dependent. In the 1880s, the psychiatrist Sigmund Freud createda sensation with a series of papers praising cocaine’s potential to cure depression,alcoholism, and morphine addiction.
Skepticism soon replaced this excitement, however, when documented reportsof fatal cocaine poisoning, alarming mental disturbances, and cocaine addictionbegan to circulate.
At the beginning of the 20th century cocaine use was restricted in most coun-tries. The 1920s and ’30s saw a marked decline in its use, especially after am-phetamines became easily available. Cocaine’s return to popularity, beginningin the late 1960s, coincided with the decreased use of amphetamines.
Cocaine is generally sold on the street as a hydrochloride salt - a fine, whitecrystalline powder known as coke, C, snow, flake, or blow. Street dealers dilute itwith inert (non-psychoactive) but similar-looking substances such as cornstarch,talcum powder, and sugar, or with active drugs such as procaine and benzocaine(used as local anesthetics), or other CNS stimulants such as amphetamines.
Nevertheless, illicit cocaine has actually become purer over the years; in 1988its purity averaged about 75 %.
Cocaine in powder form is usually “snorted” into the nostrils, although it mayalso be rubbed onto the mucous lining of the mouth, rectum, or vagina. Toexperience cocaine’s effects more quickly, and to heighten their intensity, users Cocaine hydrochloride can be chemically altered to remove other substances.
The process, called “freebasing”, is potentially dangerous because the solventsused are highly flammable. The pure form of cocaine that results (”free base”)is smoked rather than snorted. The drug commonly called “crack” is a crudeform of free base that has become popular in recent years.
Cocaine’s short-term effects appear soon after a single dose and disappear withina few minutes or hours. Taken in small amounts (up to 100 mg), cocaine usu-ally makes the user feel euphoric, energetic, talkative, and mentally alert —especially to the sensations of sight, sound, and touch. It can also temporarilydispel the need for food and sleep. Paradoxically, it can make some people feelcontemplative, anxious, or even panic-stricken. Some people find that the drughelps them perform simple physical and intellectual tasks more quickly; othersexperience just the opposite effect.
Physical symptoms include accelerated heartbeat and breathing, and higherblood pressure and body temperature.
Large amounts (several hundred milligrams or more) intensify users’ “high”,but may also lead to bizarre, erratic, and violent behavior. These users mayexperience tremors, vertigo, muscle twitches, paranoia, or, with repeated doses,a toxic reaction closely resembling amphetamine poisoning.
Physical symptoms may include chest pain, nausea, blurred vision, fever, musclespasms, convulsions, and coma. Death from a cocaine overdose can occur fromconvulsions, heart failure, or the depression of vital brain centers controllingrespiration.
With repeated administration over time, users experience the drug’s long-termeffects. Euphoria is gradually displaced by restlessness, extreme excitability,insomnia, and paranoia - and eventually hallucinations and delusions. Theseconditions, clinically identical to amphetamine psychosis and very similar toparanoid schizophrenia, disappear rapidly in most cases after cocaine use isended.
While many of the physical effects of heavy continuous use are essentially thesame as those of short-term use, the heavy user may also suffer from moodswings, paranoia, loss of interest in sex, weight loss, and insomnia.
Chronic cocaine snorting often causes stuffiness, runny nose, eczema around thenostrils, and a perforated nasal septum. Severe respiratory tract irritation hasbeen noted in some heavy users of cocaine free base.
Tolerance to any drug exists when higher doses are necessary to achieve the sameeffects once reached with lower doses. But scientists have not observed toler-ance to cocaine’s stimulant effect: users may keep taking the original amountover extended periods and still experience the same euphoria. Yet some users frequently increase their dose to intensify and prolong the effects. Amounts upto 10 g have been reported.
Some users, however, report that they become more sensitive to cocaine’s anes-thetic and convulsant effects even without increasing the amount. This theoryof increased sensitivity has been put forward to explain some deaths that haveoccurred after apparently low doses.
Among heavy cocaine users, an intense psychological dependence can occur;they suffer severe depression if the drug is unavailable, which lifts only whenthey take it again.
Experiments with animals suggest that cocaine is perhaps the most powerfuldrug of all in producing psychological dependence. Rats and monkeys madedependent on cocaine will always strive hard to get more.
At present, researchers do not agree on what constitutes physical dependenceon cocaine. When regular heavy users stop taking the drug, however, theyexperience what they term the “crash” shortly afterwards.
Overall, during abstinence, many users complain of sleep and eating disorders,depression, and anxiety, and the craving for cocaine often compels them to takeit again. Treatment of the dependent cocaine user is therefore difficult, and therelapse rate is high. Nevertheless, some heavy users have been able to quit ontheir own.
Drug class: Sedative hypnotics, Anestethics In the class of inhalants are substances normally not considered as drugs, suchas glue, solvents and aerosols, such as cleaning fluids. Most such substancessniffed for their psychological effects act to depress the central nervous system.
Due to the large availibility and the low price of inhalants its very difficult tostrictly control them.
Solvent sniffing is frequently a group activity, with each person usually inhalingfrom his or her own bag or saturated cloth. Most commonly, the users are young— between 8 and 16 years old – altough some heavy users are in their late teensor older.
Short time effects appear soon after inhalation and last for a few minutes to afew hours. After inhaling there is an euphoric feeling, characterized by light-headedness, exhilaration and vivid fantasies. Nausea, drooling, sneezing andcoughing, muscular incoordination, slow reflexes and sensitivity to light mayalso occur. Deep, repeated inhalation over short periods may result in a loss ofcontrol, culminating in hallucinations or unconsciousness. Solvents abuse hasalso been connected to aggressive and antisocial behavior.
Long term effects include physical effects like thirst, weight loss, nosebleeds,bloodshot eyes and sores on the nose and mouth. Solvents can impair liver and kidney function or interfere with the blood cells; some substances can alsocause permanent damage. Behavioral symptoms in regular users include mentalconfusion, depression irritabilty, hotility and paranoia. Signs of brain damagehave also been noted.
Regular inhalant use induces tolerance. Phsycholgical dependence is fairly com-mon. Physical dependence may occur with chronic users; some of them, but byno means all, suffer chills, hallucinations, headaches, pain or delirium tremens(DTs — the “shakes”). More often solvent intoxication is followed by a shortperiod of excitement.
Myths are rationally not provable statements, that claim to be true, but donot pursue scientific explanation — or, more colloquially, unreflected convic-tions, similar to prejudices. They lead to everyday-theories, wrong assumptions,suppressions, generalizations, systematic misperception, half-truths and stereo-types. Myths prevent rational decision processes, encourage emotionality indiscussion, favor undesirable trends and consequently bar the view on necessarycorrections and therefore harm as well the affected individuals as the society asa whole.
To understand the discussion on drugs in general, and especially in politics, itis important to know and understand some of the drug myths and “theories”,since they are often the fundament of argumentation.
There are several “theories” (or better: speculations, since they are not scien-tifically based) about why people start taking drugs.
drugs only because they have a weak personality and are inadequate in someway. This theory says that drug-takers take drugs in order to escape from theirproblems.
This theory says that people take illegal drugs, because a “pusher” tricks them into trying drugs so that he or she can makethem addicted and then sell them drugs for a high profit. This theory has onevery big problem: what about legal drugs, as alcohol and nicotine — the mostprofiting person, or, in this case, institution, is the state (tobacco and alcoholtaxes). Should we consider the state as “evil pusher”? This theory suggests that people take drugs be- Other people believe that young people take drugs in order to rebel against their parents and the rest of society. This theory saysthat people take illegal drugs just because it is not legal.
This theory suggests that some people are just curious about the effects of drugs and want to know for themselves how it islike.
The “Doesn’t Know Any Better” Theory: stupid people and people who do not understand the facts take drugs.
Some people believe that people take a drug be- cause it is fashion to take it. (If there are fashions in clothes and music, thenthere can be fashions in drugs, too).
a drug if they want to belong to the crowd. Some people do not like being“different” and like to take part in what other people are doing.
strong reason to take a drug? Does everybody who drinks alcohol or smokescigarettes really have a reason? Sometimes people do something just becausethey get the opportunity — so they might take a legal or illegal drug just becauseit is offered to them, even though they were not looking for it.
Some of these “theories” may be right for some drug-takers, but none of themgives the whole story. And quite often the reason people give is a reason theythought of after they took the drug, not what they were thinking at the time.
The reason they give may also depend on who they are talking to.
In the following the most important myths and their replies (translated andabbreviated from [2]): Illegal drugs lead because af their special effects inevitably to the vicious cir-cle: addiction, serious illness, physical decay — all without the faintest chanceof recovery: The vicious circle includes not only the drugs, but also AIDS andcriminality. Not the substance-related effect of the drug, but how one deals withthe drug and how the society reacts, essentially causes the drug-complications.
All illegal drugs can be consumed without the development of dependence. Rit-ualized, that is in social customs integrated and therefore socially tolerated consume, precludes addictional drug use. Moreover “cure” is possible by self-healing and is observed in about a third of the addicts.
The drug-problem is only a effect of life- and youth-hostile society and environ-ment: Social factors play a major, but not the exclusive part in the developmentof drug addiction. This myth, the reply of mostly “left” political organizationsto the substance-related drug effects, blocks political changes as well as othermyths.
Illegal drugs are more dangerous than legal ones: The health hazard and theeconomic damage are with consume of tobacco and alcohol much larger thanwith illegal drugs.
The criminal law, especially high penalties, prevent or reduce drug-taking: Ado-lescents orient by their social environment, not from legal prohibitation. Apreventive effect of high penalties would affect only, if at all, soberly calculatingoffenders, which consider first of all if they can get caught, not how high thepenalty is.
Less repression leads — as a result of the rising availability of illegal drugs — toan increase in consume and the number of consuments: Not only the availabilityof drugs, but also a complex bundle of other factors favors the consume of illegaldrugs. The result of liberalizing or releasing illegal drugs can not be predictedscientifically. Nevertheless there is limited experience from the Netherlands,which of course cannot be simply applied to other countries, where the consumeof cannabis did not increase after legalization.
The professional dealer belongs to a Mafia-like organized trade: “Dealers” aremainly regular users and addicts who deal to finance their consume. Adolescentsget their first drugs mostly from friends. Furthermore there is much evidencethat the wholesale drug trade is not organized monopolistic, but decentral,flexible and networked.
The public authorities (e.g. police) “need” the small drug dealers to investi-gate the drugs barons: The constitutionally questionable methods of informers,agents provocateurs and hidden investigators obviously do not lead to the top ofthe drug trade. These methods are often associated with massive infringementsof personal rights and involve the danger of provoking new crimes instead ofpreventing them.
This question arises inevitably when talking about drug politics, since the mostpoliticians think the best solution is a drug-free society. So the above questionshould be rephrased to be exact: Can illegal drugs be entirely removed fromsociety? This question cannot be answered straightforward, altough the factthat about 90% [2] of all known societies have some kind of drug use or abuseseems to point out that societies need consume of drugs in some way.
To live with drugs is often misinterpreted as to live with drug-problems. Drugtaking considered on its own does not have to be associated with problems, asin ancient cultures. There has been found no way to [1] Addiction Research Foundation, Toronto, Canada oker, Nelles: Drogenpolitik — wohin?, Haupt, 1992 [3] Microsoft Encarta 97, English Edition [4] Rauschgift? Niemals! (International Police Association Drug Information [5] Davis, Gerngroß, Holzmann, Puchta, Schratz: Make your way with English,


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