Facts about Drugs

2011/06/08 in Alcohol and Drugs

Marijuana, LSD, inhalants, uppers and downers, alcohol and heroin. What are your chances of getting hooked on these drugs?

 

We’ll talk about that, and we’ll also discuss the possibility of overdosing.

When most people think about getting hooked on a drug, they’re usually thinking about physical dependency. This is when your body needs the drug to feel good, or normal. When you stop using the drug, your body goes through withdrawal. Withdrawal can be anything from irritability and anxiety, to severe stomach cramps and death.

But there’s another more powerful way that drugs can hook you, and that’s through psychological dependency. All of the drugs mentioned can be psychologically addicting. If, after continued use, you need it to make you feel good, forget your problems, unwind, speed up, or slow down, — you may be psychologically hooked. You may think you’re still in control of the drug long after you’ve lost control. If you stop taking a drug you’re hooked on, the withdrawal can make you feel depressed, anxious and tense. At times like these, it may seem easier to go back using rather than kicking the habit.

Overdosing, and how much it takes to overdose is hard to pin down. Too much of any drug can be dangerous. The question is, “What is too much?” That depends on the amount of the drug your body has become used to and the purity of the drug, as well as your age, height, weight, sex and general health. There is no one right answer for everybody. O.D.’ing gets more complicated when you mix drugs. Medical experts cannot tell you for sure what will happen when certain drugs are combined in the body. When you mix drugs, you’re playing a very risky game.

Marijuana, also called weed, dope, or pot, is a mild hallucinogenic drug. Heavy use can result in lung damage similar to cigarette smoking. Long-term use may lead to depression and a small percentage of marijuana users become paranoid while smoking. Some people lose their motivation and sit around doing little or nothing. Others need ever-increasing amounts of marijuana to get high, and may eventually go to stronger drugs. If you start depending on marijuana to feel good or to forget your problems, you can get psychologically hooked on it.

LSD, or acid, is a hallucinogenic drug and causes extreme distortions in how you perceive reality. One danger with acid is that no matter how many good trips you’ve had, you can never be sure that the next one won’t be a frightening bummer. You can have a bad trip if the acid has been poorly made or cut with other drugs. Sometimes, it’s even cut with poisons, like strychnine. Another danger with LSD is that the hallucinations can return long after the effects of the drug have worn off. These are called flashbacks. Deaths attributed to LSD usually result because hallucinations led users to have false belief about their own powers.

Sniffing fumes from airplane glue, cleaning and lighter fluid, and other inhalants can be very dangerous. Psychological dependency may develop quickly. The possibility of O.D.’ing is high, and so is the death rate among users. Inhaling fumes from a plastic bag held over the head or near the face can cause blackouts and suffocation. Paint, glue, and benzene fumes, among others, can cause the heart to stop beating. Inhalants can cause serious and permanent damage to the brain, blood, heart, liver, and kidneys.

“Uppers,” stimulate the central nervous system, and speed up its actions. These drugs are also known as speed, amphetamines, pep pills, crack, cocaine and ice. All can hook you psychologically, particularly cocaine, crack and ice. Continued use of uppers can be dangerous for several reasons. Because your body doesn’t feel the need for sleep or food, it can get really run down. This makes you more susceptible to colds, flu, and other viruses. These minor illnesses can lead to major ones. Overuse of speed also has a dramatic aging effect on the body. It’s like running a car without oil — you burn out from the inside. O.D.’ing on cocaine can result in hallucinations and death. Too much speed can result in extremely violent and unpredictable behavior. Coming down from cocaine and stimulants frequently results in anxiety and serious depression.

Downers fall into two groups — barbiturates, and tranquilizers. All act on the central nervous system and slow down its actions. Barbiturates are highly physically addicting. Phenobarbital, Tuinal and Seconal are barbiturates and are sometimes called barbs, reds, or goof balls. Withdrawal from barb addiction is very dangerous and can result in convulsions or even death. The possibility of an O.D. death is high, especially when barbs and booze are combined.

Tranquilizers such as Valium, Librium and Xanax can result in serious addiction if misused over several months. Prescription tranquilizers must be monitored closely by your physician. O.D.’ing on any of these depressants is easy when they’re combined with booze.

If you’re a teen, it can take as few as ten months of steady drinking to get hooked on beer, wine or hard booze. That’s because your body is still growing and needs less time to become addicted.

Heroin also known as junk, smack and horse — is a highly addictive drug. Chances of O.D.’ing are high too, especially with an unknown dosage level, or heroin cut with dangerous substances. Infections of the liver, lungs and heart, and HIV infection — from using dirty needles –are also common. Withdrawal is extremely painful.

If you have even the slightest concern that you may be drug dependent or are misusing drugs, we suggest you talk to one of our counselors about getting help. Just dial 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN).

 

Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.