Commonly Abused Drugs
Commonly abused drugs: (1) Alcohol; (2) hallucinogenic (vision producing) drugs, such as LSD and mescaline; (3) marijuana; (4) nicotine, which is found in tobacco; (5) opiates, including most narcotics; (6) sedatives, including barbiturates and other kinds of sleeping pills; (7) stimulants, such as cocaine and amphetamines and other “pep pills.” Inhalants, which are fumes inhaled from such substance as cleaning fluids, gasoline, and model airplane glue, are sometimes classified as abused drugs. Alcohol, like the sedatives, is a central nervous system depressant. The major psychoactive ingredient in wine, beer, and distilled liquor, alcohol is a natural substance formed by the reaction of fermenting sugar with yeast spores. The kind of alcohol in alcoholic beverages is ethyl alcohol—a colorless, inflammable liquid. Technically, ethyl alcohol can also be classified a food since it contains calories. In small doses alcohol has a tranquilizing effect on most people, although it appears to stimulate others. Alcohol first acts on those parts of the brain which affect self-control and other learned behaviors; lowered self-control often leads to the aggressive behavior associated with some people who drink.
In larger doses, alcohol can dull sensation and impair muscular coordination, memory, and judgment. Taken in larger quantities over a long period of time, alcohol can damage the liver and heart and can cause permanent brain damage. About two-thirds of all adult Americans drink at least occasionally. Many younger people drink and evidence suggests that alcohol use among young people is spreading. In fact, about half of all junior high school age children have tried alcoholic beverages.
Hallucinogens are drugs which affect perception, sensation, thinking, self awareness, and emotions. Changes in time and space perception, delusions (false beliefs), and hallucinations may be mild or overwhelming, depending on dose and quantity of the drug. Effects vary; the same person may have different reactions on different occasions.
Many natural and synthetic hallucinogens are in use. LSD, a synthetic, is the most potent and best studied. LSD is lysergic acid. It comes from fungus (ergot) and was first converted to lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in 1938. It was not until 1943 that its psychoactive properties accidentally became known. Nearly all LSD comes from domestic laboratories or is smuggles in from abroad. The quality of the drug varies. Some LSD is fairly pure; however, most street samples contain impurities and adulterants. Generally, the user has no way of knowing the quality of LSD or any drug obtained on the street.
Marijuana is a mixture of the chopped up leaves, stems, flowers and seeds of the Indian hemp plant, alias Cannabis Sativa. The intoxicating effects of marijuana are attributed to the various cannabis, the most potent of which is tetrahydrocannabinaol, or THC. These chemicals are concentrated mostly in the sticky resin within the plant. Hashish is obtained from the hemp plant by separating the pure resin from the bulk of the plant’s fibrous mass for a greater concentration of THC and, subsequently, greater potency. The climate is which the plant was grown will also have much to do with the potency of the end product. There are dozens of other ways of preparing the plant-each end product with a name of its own-but hashish and marijuana form Mexico and Latin America are by far the most products of Cannabis Sativa in this country. Of these, even though hashish is more compact and thus easier to conceal and smuggle, marijuana is still the most popular form of cannabis in the United States.
Nicotine (the active ingredient in tobacco) acts as a stimulant on the heart and nervous system. When tobacco smoke is inhaled, the immediate effects of the body are a faster heart beat and elevated blood pressure. However, these effects are quickly dissipated....
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