Substance Abuse and Alcohol July 4 2008 What is substance abuse and alcohol? This paper will tell you what alcohol and the different drugs and side effect. 2 Substance abuse and Alcohol Did you know that our society looks at drinking as just another fact of life? The statistics say something a little different. The amount of behavior caused by alcohol can make people realize that drinking ruins and destroys lives. It has become almost a trite to recite the problems related to the use of alcohol and other drugs in our society. Various statistics are reported in newspapers, surveys. And research studies that become mind numbing. The amount of destructive behaviors is caused by alcohol abuse. Alcohol is a natural product and is the most widely used of all drugs. Alcohol can cause people to take risks they wouldn’t usually take. When these risks involve sex, it can result in sexually transmitted diseases. What is the problem with drinking you ask? Well, alcohol affects feelings. Even one drink can make people more relaxed. Alcohol can also lower judgment and self control. Alcohol goes directly from the stomach to the bloodstream. It is quickly carried to the brain, liver and other major parts of the body. The liver helps the body get rid of the alcohol, but if a person drinks more than the liver can handle, alcohol builds up in the body. The more alcohol there is in the body, the more impaired the person gets. People wonder”Well how much can a person have before they are drunk?” There is no way to know what amount is safe because people respond to alcohol differently. There are many affect on how alcohol will affect a person. The size, age and gender. How fast persons drinks. Having food in the stomach. Females, smaller people or people who drink on an empty stomach react to alcohol more rapidly than a muscular man who eats shortly before they drink. Using alcohol and another drug can increase the effects of both drugs. This is how many deaths have occurred. Mixing alcohol with Marijuana, cocaine, or heroin. Using alcohol and legal drugs such as sleeping pills, antidepressants, pain killers and cold medicine is also dangerous. When alcoholism was first studied the most common explanation was that alcoholic drank to sedate some deep inner psychological conflict or to avoid some psychic stress, or that it was simply a behavior disorder symptomic of the sociopathic personality. 3 Marijuana has many side affects such as short term memory loss, rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure and lapse of judgment. Marijuana is a green or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. Before the 1960s, many Americans had never heard of marijuana, but today it is the most often used illegal drug in this country. There are over 200 slang terms for marijuana including "pot," "herb," "weed," "boom," "Mary Jane," "gangster," and "chronic." It is usually smoked as a cigarette (called a joint or a nail) or in a pipe or bong. In recent years, marijuana has appeared in blunts, which are cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with marijuana, often in combination with another drug, such as crack. Some users also mix marijuana into foods or use it to brew tea. Cannabis is a term that refers to marijuana and other drugs made from the same plant. Strong forms of cannabis include sinse-milla, hashish ("hash" for short), and hash oil. All forms of cannabis are mind-altering (psychoactive) drugs; they all contain THC (delta-9tetrahydrocannabinol), the main active chemical in marijuana. They also contain more than 400 other chemicals. Marijuana's effect on the user depends on the strength or potency of the THC it contains. THC potency has increased since the 1970s but has been about the same since the mid-1980s. The strength of the drug is measured by the average amount of THC in test samples confiscated by law enforcement agencies. Most ordinary marijuana has an average of 3 percent THC. Sinsemilla (made from just the buds and flowering tops of female plants) has an average of 7.5 percent THC, with a range as high as 24 percent. Hashish (the sticky resin from the female plant flowers) has an average of 3.6 percent, with a range as high as 28 percent. Hash oil, a tar-like liquid distilled from hashish, has an average of 16 percent, with a range as high as 43 percent. What happens after a person smokes marijuana? Within a few minutes of inhaling marijuana smoke, the user will likely feel, along with intoxication, a dry mouth, rapid heartbeat, some loss of coordination and poor sense of balance, and slower reaction time. Blood vessels in the eye expand, so the user's eyes look red. For some people, marijuana raises blood pressure slightly and can double the normal heart rate. This effect can be greater when other drugs are mixed with marijuana; but users do not always know when that happens. 4 As the immediate effects fade, usually after 2 to 3 hours, the user may become sleepy. Heroin is an OPID drug. It can be injected with a needle or also inhaled. This drug produces an intense feeling of pleasure when a person first begins to use it. However, occasionally use of heroin often progresses to dependence. Skipping use of heroin a person who is addicted can lead to significant withdraws. When a person uses opiate abuse it can bring significant and long term chemical changes to the brain. Heroin is a drug made from morphine, a natural substance in the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder. Heroin can be injected, smoked or snorted. Heroin abuse is a serious problem in the United States. Major health problems from heroin include miscarriages, heart infections and death from overdose. People who inject the drug also risk infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Regular use of heroin can lead to tolerance. This means users need more and more drug to have the same effect. At higher doses over time, the body becomes dependent on heroin. If dependent users stop heroin, they have withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, diarrhea, vomiting and cold flashes. Heroin abuse is associated with serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, spontaneous abortion, collapsed veins, and, particularly in users who inject the drug, infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. The short-term effects of heroin abuse appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours. After an injection of heroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria ("rush") accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Following this initial euphoria, the user goes "on the nod," an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system. Long-term effects of heroin appear after repeated use for some period of time. Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, cellulitis, and liver disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health condition of the abuser, as well as from heroin’s depressing effects on respiration. The date rape drug is a very common drug. It can be slipped into a drink. They can be added to or put in place of other drugs a person may be using. Like all drugs, date rape drugs change the way the body works. The date rape drug is a colorless, odorless and almost tasteless. They are hard to detect when added to drinks. Date rape drugs can make people relax and lower inhibitions. This can affect judgment and cause people to do things they normally wouldn’t. They have a blur vision and cause people to see things that aren’t there. Dizziness and confusion they may not know where they are, what is going on around them and what is happening to them. People can feel numb, loss of consciousness and can cause memory loss. Date Rape drugs can be life threatening they can cause coma’s when taken in large amounts or mixed with other drugs. Death, the body can slow down too much and cause breathing to stop, the heart to stop beating, or the brain to stop working. The mixture with alcohol can make the effects worse. When mixed with alcohol, even low doses of date rape drugs can kill you. 5 Treatments for all these addictions are there and can help. You first have to recognize that you have a problem. People who have an addiction are in denial. Due to the lack of understanding of substance abuse and addiction. In some cases an intervention may be necessary. Addiction is a very chronic illness, it’s like heart disease. Therapy can help some addictative individuals who understand behavior and or motivations, develop higher self esteem, and cope with stress. Some other treatments hospitalization and outpatient programs. Self help groups for substance abuse individuals such as AA, NA, as well as family support.