A informative guide to Drugs of Abuse provided by USA Mobile Drug Testing
Cocaine & Crack
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug of abuse. Individuals who have tried cocaine have described the experience as a powerful high that gave them a feeling of supremacy. However, once someone starts taking cocaine, one cannot predict or control the extent to which he or she will continue to use the drug.
The major ways of taking cocaine are sniffing or snorting, injecting, and smoking (including free-base and crack cocaine). Health risks exist regardless of whether cocaine is inhaled (snorted), injected, or smoked. However, it appears that compulsive cocaine use may develop even more rapidly if the substance is smoked rather than snorted. Smoking allows extremely high doses of cocaine to reach the brain very quickly and results in an intense and immediate high. The injecting drug user is also at risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV infection/AIDS if needles or other injection equipment are shared.
Physical effects: Physical effects of cocaine use include constricted peripheral blood vessels, dilated pupils, and increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Some cocaine users report feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety, both while using and between periods of use. An appreciable tolerance to the high may be developed, and many addicts report that they seek but fail to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their first exposure.
Paranoia and aggression: High doses of cocaine and/or prolonged use can trigger paranoia. Smoking crack cocaine can produce particularly aggressive paranoid behavior in users. When addicted individuals stop using cocaine, they may become depressed. This depression causes users to continue to use the drug to alleviate their depression.
Long-term effects: Prolonged cocaine snorting can result in ulceration of the mucous membrane of the nose and can damage the nasal septum enough to cause it to collapse. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory arrest.
Added Danger: When people mix cocaine and alcohol, they are compounding the danger each drug poses and unknowingly causing a complex chemical interaction within their bodies. Researchers have found that the human liver combines cocaine and alcohol to manufacture a third substance, cocaethylene, which intensifies cocaine’s euphoric effects and possibly increases the risk of sudden death.
POT – Negative Effects of Marijuana
The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Short-term effects of marijuana use include problems with memory and learning; distorted perception; difficulty in thinking and problem-solving; loss of coordination; and increased heart rate, anxiety, and panic attacks
What’s the Big Deal About Marijuana?
“But it’s only marijuana” or “it’s only alcohol,” you say. “It’s a rite of passage.” “Teens are expected to experiment.” Not any more. The world has changed, and so have the drugs. In fact, the marijuana of today is stronger than ever before. Drug and alcohol use can lead to many negative consequences, including bad grades, broken friendships, family problems, trouble with the law, etc.
Most important, teens’ brains and bodies are still developing, and substance use can interfere with their emerging independence and efforts to establish their own identity. Drug and alcohol use can change the direction of a young person’s life – physically, emotionally, and behaviorally. It can weaken the ability to concentrate and retain information during a teen’s peak learning years, and impair judgment leading to risky decision making that could involve sex or getting into a car with someone under the influence of drugs.
“Experimentation,” even with marijuana, can also lead to addiction. Not everyone progresses from use to abuse to addiction, but it is a dangerous road and there is no way to know who will become addicted and who won’t.
Effects of Marijuana on the Brain: Researchers have found that THC changes the way in which sensory information gets into and is acted on by the hippocampus. This is a component of the brain’s limbic system that is crucial for learning, memory, and the integration of sensory experiences with emotions and motivations. Investigations have shown that THC suppresses neurons in the information-processing system of the hippocampus. In addition, researchers have discovered that learned behaviors, which depend on the hippocampus, also deteriorate.
Effects on the Lungs: Someone who smokes marijuana regularly may have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers have. These individuals may have daily cough and phlegm, symptoms of chronic bronchitis, and more frequent chest colds. Continuing to smoke marijuana can lead to abnormal functioning of lung tissue injured or destroyed by marijuana smoke.
Effects of Heavy Marijuana Use on Learning and Social Behavior: A study of college students has shown that critical skills related to attention, memory, and learning are impaired among people who use marijuana heavily, even after discontinuing its use for at least 24 hours.
Abuse of prescription drugs can be dangerous, even fatal. Abusing prescription drugs like painkillers, depressants, or stimulants, can have tragic consequences, from serious injury to death. These are powerful drugs that can have unpredictable effects when abused and can lead to addiction. Taking prescription drugs with street drugs or alcohol only adds to the dangers, like breathing problems, seizures, or heart failure.
Common prescription drugs abused include painkillers, depressants, and stimulants. There are serious health risks associated with abuse of any of these drugs.
Signs and symptoms of abuse may include:
Short-term effects: Impaired judgment, nausea, loss of coordination, headache, vomiting, loss of consciousness, numbness of fingers and toes, abdominal pain, irregular heartbeat, aches, seizures, panic attacks, psychosis, euphoria, cold flashes, dizziness, and diarrhea.
Long-term effects: Addiction, restlessness, insomnia, high-blood pressure, coma, or even death.
Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant drug that strongly activates certain systems in the brain. Meth is closely related chemically to amphetamine, but the central nervous system effects of methamphetamine are greater.
Street methamphetamine is referred to by many names, such as “speed,” “meth,” and “chalk.” Methamphetamine hydrochloride, clear chunky crystals resembling ice, which can be inhaled by smoking, is referred to as “ice,” “crystal,” and “glass.”
Neurological hazards: Methamphetamine releases high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which stimulates brain cells, enhancing mood and body movement. It also appears to have a neurotoxic effect, damaging brain cells that contain dopamine and serotonin, another neurotransmitter. Over time, methamphetamine appears to cause reduced levels of dopamine, which can result in symptoms like those of Parkinson’s disease, a severe movement disorder.
Addiction: Methamphetamine is taken orally or intranasally (snorting the powder), by intravenous injection, and by smoking. Immediately after smoking or intravenous injection, the
methamphetamine user experiences an intense sensation, called a “rush” or “flash,” that lasts only a few minutes and is described as extremely pleasurable. Oral or intranasal use produces euphoria – a high, but not a rush. Users may become addicted quickly, and use it with increasing frequency and in increasing doses.
Short-term effects: The central nervous system (CNS) actions that result from taking even small amounts of methamphetamine include increased wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, hyperthermia, and euphoria. Other CNS effects include irritability, insomnia, confusion, tremors, convulsions, anxiety, paranoia, and aggressiveness. Hyperthermia and convulsions can result in death.
Long-term effects: Methamphetamine causes increased heart rate and blood pressure and can cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain, producing strokes. Other effects of methamphetamine include respiratory problems, irregular heartbeat, and extreme anorexia. Its use can result in cardiovascular collapse and death.
Amphetamine is a stimulant and an appetite suppressant. It stimulates the central nervous system (nerves and brain) by increasing the amount of certain chemicals in the body. This increases heart rate and blood pressure and decreases appetite, among other effects.
Amphetamine is available in several pharmaceutical
formulations (Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat, etc) for the
treatment of certain medical conditions including ADHD, narcolepsy and chronic fatigue syndrome. Several street forms of amphetamine are also common in parts of the world. Both pharmaceutical and street forms of amphetamine have a very high potential for abuse and carry significant risk of addiction.
Amphetamines can be extremely dangerous or fatal from the first use. Users may die from burst blood vessels in the brain, heart failure, or super-elevated body temperature.
Amphetamines cause a wide variety of potentially fatal damage to users’ mental and physical health. One of the most troubling effects of amphetamine abuse is the addiction itself, which can be life-altering. Withdrawal causes painful side effects, as well. Opiates
Opiates, sometimes referred to as narcotics, are a group of drugs which are used medically to relieve pain, but also have a high potential for abuse. Some opiates come from a resin taken from the seed pod of the Asian poppy. This group of drugs includes opium, morphine, heroin, and codeine. Other opiates, such as meperidine (Demerol), are synthesized or manufactured. Opium appears as dark brown chunks or as a powder and is usually smoked or eaten. Heroin can be a
white or brownish powder which is usually dissolved in water and then injected. Most street preparations of heroin are diluted, or “cut,” with other substances such as sugar or quinine. Other opiates come in a variety of forms including capsules, tablets, syrups, solutions, and suppositories.
Which opiates are abused? Heroin (“junk,” “smack”) accounts for 90 percent of the opiate abuse in the United States. Sometimes opiates with legal medicinal uses also are abused. They include morphine, meperidine, paregoric (which contains opium), and cough syrups that contain codeine [or a synthetic narcotic, such as dextromethorphan].
What are the effects of opiates? Opiates tend to relax the user. When opiates are injected, the user feels an immediate “rush.” Other initial and unpleasant effects include restlessness, nausea, and vomiting. The user may go “on the nod,” going back and forth from feeling alert to drowsy. With very large doses, the user cannot be awakened, pupils become smaller, and the skin becomes cold, moist, and bluish in color. Breathing slows down and death may occur.
Does using opiates cause dependence or addiction? Yes. Dependence is likely, especially if a person uses a lot of the drug or even uses it occasionally over a long period of time. When a person becomes dependent, finding and using the drug often becomes the main focus in life. As more and more of the drug is used over time, larger amounts are needed to get the same effects. This is called tolerance.
What are the physical dangers? The physical dangers depend on the specific opiate used, its source, the dose, and the way it is used. Most of the dangers are caused by using too much of a drug, the use of unsterile needles, contamination of the drug itself, or combining the drug with other substances. Over time, opiate users may develop infections of the heart lining and valves, skin abscesses, and congested lungs. Infections from unsterile solutions, syringes, and needles can cause illnesses such stronger approximately 24-72 hours after they begin, and subside within 7-10 days. Sometimes symptoms such as sleeplessness and drug craving can last for months
PCP is a synthetic drug sold as tablets, capsules, or white or colored powder. It can be snorted, smoked, or eaten. Developed in the 1950s as an IV anesthetic, PCP was never approved for human use because of problems during clinical studies, including intensely negative psychological effects.
Street Names – Angel dust, ozone, wack, rocket fuel
Effects – PCP is a “dissociative” drug, distorting perceptions of sight and sound and producing feelings of detachment. Users can experience several unpleasant psychological effects, with symptoms mimicking schizophrenia (delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking, and extreme anxiety).
Alcohol – Drinking
Alcohol abuse can have serious consequences. Alcohol affects every part of the body. It is carried through the bloodstream to the brain, stomach, internal organs, liver, kidneys, and muscles – everywhere. It is absorbed very quickly (as short as 5 – 10 minutes) and can stay in the body for several hours.
Alcohol affects the central nervous system and brain. It can make users loosen up, relax, and feel more comfortable, or can make them more aggressive. Unfortunately, it also lowers their inhibitions, which can set them up for embarrassing or dangerous behavior.
Drinking can have serious consequences. Did you know that alcohol can impair the parts of the brain that control the following: Motor coordination. This includes the ability to walk, drive and process information. Impulse control. Drinking lowers inhibitions and increases the chances that a person will do something that they will regret when they are sober. Memory. Impaired recollection and even blackouts can occur when too much alcohol has been consumed. Judgment and decision making capacity. Drinking may lead people to engage in risky behaviors that can result in illness, injury and even death.
The long term effects of alcohol range from possible health benefits for low levels of alcohol consumption to severe detrimental effects in cases of chronic alcohol abuse. High levels of alcohol consumption are correlated with an increased risk of developing alcoholism, cardiovascular disease, malabsorption, chronic pancreatitis, alcoholic liver disease, and cancer. Damage to the central nervous system and
peripheral nervous system can occur from sustained alcohol consumption. Long-term use of alcohol in excessive quantities is capable of damaging nearly every organ and system in the body. The developing adolescent brain is particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of alcohol.
Alcohol misuse can harm people other than the drinker, and can have negative consequences for society as a whole. It is commonly believed to play a role in decreased worker productivity, increased unintentional injuries, aggression and violence against others, and child and spouse abuse. Alcohol misuse is linked to many harmful consequences for society as a whole and for others in the drinker’s environment, sometimes referred to as the social consequences of alcohol use. Alcohol abuse is defined as alcohol use that results in:
1. Failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (e.g., repeated absences or poor work performance, neglect of children or household)
2. Continued drinking even in situations where it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving an automobile or operating machinery)
3. Recurrent alcohol–related legal problems (e.g., arrests for disorderly conduct while drinking)
4. Continued drinking despite persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems it may cause (e.g., arguments with spouse, physical fights). Lost productivity, injuries and increased health insurance costs are some of the problems that alcohol and drug abuse cause businesses in the United States, and it’s a growing problem. Research shows that most illegal drug users and heavy drinkers hold full-time jobs, and some may be your co-workers.
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