Essay, Research Paper: Drugs And Alcohol

Alcohol and Drugs

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One of the biggest problems people cope with today is the addiction of drugs and
alcohol. The effects of taking these drugs are dangerous: domestic violence,
crimes, accidents, sexual assault or becoming infected with HIV/AIDS. Different
studies of domestic violence show a big involvement of high quantities of
alcohol and other drugs. These increase the level of aggression. Alcoholism and
child abuse, including incest, seem tightly intertwined as well. Parents, being
under alcohol influence, abuse their children in a bestial way. The most
important thing in this statement is that not only the abusers tend to be heavy
drinkers, but the children abused will also become drinkers or drug dependents,
and they will also abuse at that time. In a family, the alcoholic women have a
negative verbal conflict with her husband than a non-alcoholic woman has. This
is a source of misunderstanding between family members, and the results could be
very tragic. The family could end up in divorce or even crime. From violence
between parents due to abuse of alcohol or drugs, the children begin to feel the
passion and need for taking drugs and drinking alcohol. Most of them will have
some experience. Most will understand that taking drugs of any kind doesn't have
a happy-end. Others, will continue to ruin their lives, killing themselves as
days go by ("Teens" 1/2). The first drug accepted by law is alcohol.
One major reason that alcohol is very wanted by teenagers up to age of 21 is
because it is prohibited for buying and consuming under that age. As long as
there will be this law of prohibition for buying and consuming alcohol under 21
years of age, more and more teenagers will begin to drink more and more alcohol,
because this one law of the nature: people try to not respect the law, to show
the others how tough they are. This statement is supported by some researches
made in parallel in Romania and United States. Even though in Romania the level
of life is much lower than in United States, the percentage of people consuming
alcohol and drugs is very low. This is not a result of pureness, because for a
drug dependent, drugs are his main food. This is a result of a very strict
education that adults give to teenagers; this is a result of the education that
parents give their own children. As a result of excessive drinking of alcohol,
the person involved is exposed to very different illnesses, which affect their
body ("Alcohol" 1/2). The second important drug accepted by law is
tobacco. Started at a young age, the smoker usually ends up in drugs more
powerful and very likely to tobacco, like marijuana, heroin,
cocaine/"crack", and amphetamines. The smoker is exposed at different
illnesses, like lung cancer and throat cancer. "The American Liver
Foundation has developed an innovative program called 'Foundations for
Decision-Making', to teach young children that alcohol and other drugs are
harmful" ("Alcohol" 2/2). Alcohol and other drugs interfere with
messages to one's brain and alter his/her perceptions, emotions, vision,
hearing, and coordination. Alcohol and drugs affect his/her judgment and can
lead to dangerous behavior that puts him/her at risk of: accidental injuries,
car/boat crashes, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, sexual
assault, fights, and trouble with the law. Statistics show that more than half
of drownings and fatal falls are alcohol or drug related. Half of physical
injuries sustained on college campuses stem from alcohol use. Almost half of all
fatal car/boat crashes are alcohol or drug related. Alcohol and drugs are also
involved in many cases of burglaries, and in many acquaintance rapes. More than
70% of total cases of violent behavior on campuses involves alcohol. According
to "Youth, Alcohol and Other Drugs", last month "about 9.5
million Americans between ages 12-20 had at least one drink", "of
these 4.4 million were 'binge' drinkers (consuming five or more drinks in a row
on a single occasion) including 1.9 million heavy drinkers (consuming five or
more drinks on the same occasion on at least five different days)" (1/4).
Despite the fact the purchase of alcohol is illegal for most college students,
the alcohol is the most widely used drug on campuses. "Among college
students in one survey, rates of binge drinking were highest among Caucasians,
43.5 percent for males and 24.4% for females; among African-Americans the rates
were 24.8% for males and 5.4% for females; and among Asians, 32% for males and
20% for females" ("Youth" 2/4). "Among teenagers who binge
drink, 39% say they drink alone; 58% drink when they are upset; 30% drink when
they are bored; and 37% drink to feel high" (2/4). These incidents, related
to drugs and alcohol, are costly in two terms: one of human potential and the
other, which is money. The number of cases of violence and crimes on the streets
is growing. According to Minnesota Institute of Public Health, the records show
that "more than 1.1 million annual arrests for illicit drug violations,
almost 1.4 million arrests for driving while intoxicated, 480,000 arrests for
liquor law violations and 704,000 arrests for drunkenness come to a total of 4.3
million arrests for alcohol and other drug statutory crimes. That total accounts
for over one-third of all arrests in this country" ("Violence"
1/3). The drugs have the capacity to decrease pain, not only by decreasing the
perception of pain, but also by altering the reaction to it. Although they have
sedative proprieties when used in large doses, they are not used primarily for
sedation. In large doses, the drugs destroy the nervous system. They kill the
cells. According to Encarta '98 Encyclopedia, the brain "loses some
capacity of memorization and learning as cells die" ("Aging" np).
In addition to their ability of killing the pain, the drugs also cause a
profound feeling of euphoria. The victims involved do not feel responsible for
what they are doing, either a right thing, or, most of the times, a wrong thing.
Taken chronically in large doses, the drugs have the capacity to induce
tolerance and ultimately psychological and physical dependence, or addiction.
The way that drugs affect the body is not yet fully understood. Some researches
confirm the fact that different drugs and different kind of alcohol affect
different parts of the brain and the body, which lead to euphoria. On the other
side, other body parts affected suffer changes in their functions. This way can
be explained the heart functioning process. The "process accelerated by
overuse of alcohol and tobacco" makes the heart "pumps less
efficiently, making exercise more difficult" ("Aging" np). Recent
researches show that although the drugs are illegal, the medicine is using a
part of them. The doctors prescribe their patients some medications based on
drugs. The most used drugs by doctors are narcotics. They are used only in very
small doses. "The chief narcotic drugs are Opium, Codeine, Morphine, and
the Morphine derivative Heroin (Drug Addictions 1/5). These drugs are used to
alleviate the pain, induce sleep, to calm the respiratory problems and relieve
diarrhea. Another drug is Amphetamine. This is a drug from a powerful class of
drugs, which stimulates the central nervous system in the way that it
"enhance mental alertness and the ability to concentrate" (Drug
Addictions 2/5), and also it "cause wakefulness, talkativeness, and
euphoria" (2/5). Taken in large doses, it creates "insomnia,
hyperactivity, and irritability (2/5). The final consequences lead to heart
problems like "cardiac arrest" (2/5) or heart trembling. The
hallucinogenic drugs "have been used by primitive societies in both Old and
New Worlds to facilitate meditation, cure illness, placate evil spirits, and
enhance mystical and magical powers" (Drug Addictions 2/5). People used to
believe in their magical powers. The hallucinogenic drugs "altered
perceptions of tome and space and of the color" (2/5), and that made the
people believe that some miracles happen to them. Other effects were seen, like
"imaginary conversations, music, odors, tastes, and other sensations"
(2/5). These hallucinogenic drugs are not very powerful, but taken regularly and
increasing the quantity taken lead to dependence. The quantities taken will
increase as time go by in order to produce the same euphoria effect. Heroin is a
highly addictive drug derived from morphine, which is obtained from the opium
poppy, according to ‘Addictions Organization’. It is a “downer” that
affects the brain’s pleasure systems and interferes with the brain’s ability
of perceiving pain. Heroin can be used in a variety of ways, depending on user
preference and the purity of the drug. Heroin can be: - Injected into a vain
(“mainlining”); - Injected into a muscle; - Smoked in a water pipe or
standard pipe, mixed in a marijuana joint or regular cigarette; - Inhaled as
smoke through a straw, known as “Chasing the Dragon”; - Inhaled as powder
via the nose. Heroin is a very fast-acting drug when injected or smoked.
Injected heroin reaches the brain in 15 to 30 seconds while smoked heroin
reaches the brain in 7 to 10 seconds. Once the person begins using heroin,
he/she quickly develops a tolerance to the drug and needs more and more to get
the same effects. “Heroin is named after the German word for hero, ‘heroisch’”
(Heroin, 1/2). The substitute of Heroin, Methadone, “was initially christened
Dolphine in honor of Adolf Hitler” (1/2). After, in 1897, Bayer advertised
Heroin as “the sedative for coughs” (1/2). According to Health Organization
(see also Appendix 20),  Heroin is sometimes used in combination with
other drugs. Therefore one person could have a heroin mention and a mention of
another drug during the same episode. Heroin-related emergency department
episodes increased by 27 percent (from 30,000 to 38,100) between the first half
of 1994 and the first half of 1995.  Between the first half of 1994 and
the first half of 1995, heroin-related episodes increased by 32 percent (from
16,100 to 21,100) among persons aged 35 years and older and by 27 percent (from
9,900 to 12,600) for persons aged 26-34 years. Since the second half of 1990,
heroin-related episodes have increased 173 percent among persons aged 35 years
and older (from 7,700 to 21,100). No changes were observed among persons aged
12-17 years or 18-25 years.  Between the first half of 1994 and the
first half of 1995, the number of heroin-related episodes rose by 39 percent for
whites (from 10,800 to 15,000). No statistically significant differences were
found among blacks or Hispanics. Since the first half of 1988, heroin-related
episodes have about doubled for both whites and blacks.  Between the
first half of 1994 and the first half of 1995, the number of heroin-related
episodes increased by 30 percent for men (from 20,400 to 26,500) and by 17
percent for women (from 9,400 to 11,000).  Among heroin-related
episodes, "dependence" was the most commonly reported motive for drug
use (30,500) in the first half of 1995.  The most frequently recorded
reasons for an emergency department visit among heroin-related episodes in the
first half of 1995, were "chronic effects" (10,200), "seeking
detoxification" (9,000), and "overdose" (7,700). Cocaine is a
drug extracted from the leaves of the coca plant. It is a potent brain stimulant
and one of the most powerfully addictive drugs. Cocaine can be used
occasionally, daily, or in a variety of compulsive, repeated-use “binges”.
It can produce a surge in energy, a feeling of intense pleasure, and increased
confidence. The effects of powder cocaine last about 20 minutes, while the
effects of “crack” last about 12 minutes. Heavy use of cocaine may produce
hallucinations, paranoia, aggression, insomnia, depression, and even death.
Cocaine effects are short lived, and once the drug leaves the brain, the user
experiences a “coke crash” that includes depression, irritability, and
fatigue. Powder Cocaine cannot be smoked unless chemically altered using
dangerous “freebasing” technique. Late summer of 1985, New York City drug
dealers put an end to the need for “freebasing” powder cocaine. These same
drug entrepreneurs would revolutionize the sale of cocaine and bring terror to
the streets of America (“Cocaine” 1/2). The exact inventors of crack cocaine
are unknown, but the lasting effects of their discovery are well documented. The
benefits of cocaine base (crack) for the drug dealers have only been surpassed
by the problems it has created in general. In many ways, crack is the perfect
drug. Powder cocaine is messy and hard to handle, crack however is a hard rock-lite
substance easy to handle and conceal. Powder cocaine has to be inhaled or
injected. Inhaling cocaine creates a variety of sinus and nasal problems.
Inhaling also takes longer for the drug to take effect. Injecting powder cocaine
to get a better and faster high became very unpopular with advent of the A.I.D.S.
crisis. Powder cocaine is frequently cut or mixed with a variety of substances
in order to raise profit margins of drug dealers. This made purchasing powder
cocaine more hazardous for the drug abuser as they cannot be sure of the content
of the drug they are buying. Finally, freebasing was thought too dangerous a
prospect for most cocaine users. Crack cocaine overcame all these detractors to
cocaine usage. According to many studies, crack is easily manufactured from
powder cocaine without dangerous solvents, using common household ingredients.
Crack can be smocked, creating an intense and immediate high. There is no need
for needles, nor is there the damage to nasal and sinus passages associated with
“snorting” cocaine. Crack cocaine is nearly pure cocaine. Dosages of crack
are smaller, meaning there is no need for diluting the cocaine with various
substances. Crack is more profitable for the dealer because of the smaller
dosages. These units also mean it is cheaper for the user to purchase a small
amount and get high. The cheaper price per unit also makes it available to
broader market. But there is a greater asset crack provides for the dealer.
Crack cocaine can be instantly addictive. The symptoms of abuse are consistent
to those of powder cocaine, except crack provides a more intense high. Heavy
perspiration and ear ringing are also not uncommon when smoking crack. Again,
the intense addictive properties of crack often cause the abusers to go on
binges during which they continuously smoke crack until they drop from fatigue
or run out of money to purchase more. Marijuana is likely to be mentioned in
combination with other substances, particularly alcohol and cocaine. Between the
first half of 1994 and the first half of 1995, marijuana/hashish-related
episodes rose from 19,100 to 25,200, an increase of 32 percent. During this time
period, statistically significant increases were found in the following age
groups: among persons aged 18-25 years, a 25 percent increase (from 6,400 to
8,000); among persons aged 26-34 years, a 39 percent increase (from 5,300 to
7,300); and among persons aged 35 years and older, a 37 percent increase (from
4,100 to 5,600). No change was observed among persons aged 12-17 years
(“Marijuana” 2/4). Between the first half of 1994 and the first half of
1995, the number of marijuana/hashish-related episodes rose by 43 percent for
blacks (from 6,900 to 9,800), by 28 percent for whites (from 8,900 to 11,400).
There was no change for Hispanics. During the same time period,
marijuana/hashish-related episodes increased by 34 percent for men (from 13,100
to 17,500) and by 26 percent for women (from 5,800 to 7,300). Methamphetamine is
a drug from Amphetamines group. Between 1988 and 1991, there was a decrease in
methamphetamine (speed)-related emergency department episodes; however, from the
second half of 1991 through the first half of 1995, methamphetamine
(speed)-related episodes increased 346 percent (from 2,400 to 10,600). The
number of methamphetamine (speed)-related episodes continued to increase between
the first half of 1994 and the first half of 1995 (from 7,800 to 10,600). Drug
use for non-medical purposes occurs throughout society. For this reason the 1978
President’s Commission on Mental Health did not recommend health and
mental-health assistance except to persons whose drug use was intense and
compulsive. The commission identified heroin as the number one drug problem
because heroin addiction may lead to criminal behavior to pay for the drug.
Adding to the problem is the fact that chemically similar drugs can be
synthesized and sold on the street because they are not yet classified as
controlled substances (“Encarta” np).

"Drug Addictions and Drug Abuse." Internet Nov. 13, 1998. Available
at: Cocaine Co. “Cocaine.” Internet Dec. 04,
1998. Available at: Health Org. “ Heroin.” Internet Dec. 03,
1998. Available at: Health Org. “ Marijuana.” Internet Dec.
03, 1998. Available at: Heroin Co. “ Heroin.” Interent Dec.
04, 1998. Available at: "Alcohol and
Drugs." Internet Nov. 18, 1998. Available at:
Mental Health - Teens. "Alcohol and Other Drugs." Internet Nov. 11,
1998. Available at: Microsoft® Encarta® 98
Encyclopedia (2CDs). "Effects of Aging." Microsoft® Encarta® 98
Encyclopedia (2CDs). "Alcoholism." Minnesota Institute of Public
Health. "Violence and Crime & Alcohol and Other Drugs." Internet
Nov. 13, 1998. Available at: National Council on
Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. "Youth, Alcohol and Other Drugs."
Internet Nov. 13, 1998. Available at: National
Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. "Alcohol and Other Drugs in the
Workplace." Internet Nov. 13, 1998. Available at:
The Council On Alcohol & Drug Abuse - Houston. "Drinking &
Driving." Internet Nov. 13, 1998. Available at:

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