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8th grade Health Course

A. Kotsev

on 9 October 2015

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Drugs and alcohol are not the solution and they do not make people truly happy. They are an escape from life. While some of the effects of drugs might sound like fun, they do not last long. Many people get depressed and lonely afterwards and start feeling sick. Many completely ruin their lives.
Why do people use drugs and alcohol?
Drugs and Addiction
Addiction Facts
Signs of Use, Long-term Negative Effects and Treatment
All drugs take a big toll on people's physical, emotional, mental and social well-being. Opioids, stimulants, prescription drugs and alcohol are highly addictive and toxic for almost all organs. Hallucinogens and cannabis are dangerous for the mind and often cause mental and emotional disorders. People who are addicted may engage in criminal activities to sustain their habit - they may have problems with the law and some of them go to jail. They often ruin their relationships and families and may become abusive to their close ones, thus destroying other people's lives too. Addicted people often don't perform well in school and work, may become cast out from society or homeless. Many people with an addiction live in denial about their problem until it's too late for help.
Types of Drugs and their Effects
Focus for a Discussion:
Tobacco, Cannabis and Alcohol Use in Teenage Years
'for fun' - some substances stimulate different centers in the brain (for example, the pleasure centers) or change the energy of the body.
because of boredom - some people take substances that give them experiences that are not a usual part of their everyday life.
because of social factors like poverty, crime, overpopulation, discrimination, economical crisis and the resulting difficult life.
because of media hype and peer pressure - many teenagers start to believe that the drug lifestyle will help them fit in an interesting, unique and 'different' circle of friends.
Drug tolerance means that a person will need more and more of a certain drug to feel the effect. For example, when people start smoking, they smoke one or two cigarettes per day - after some time they may reach a pack of cigarettes per day.
Tolerance (the need for more and more) and fear of withdrawal (discomfort or pain upon stopping the use) lead people who experiment with drugs on the path to a serious addiction.
• Tolerance
Withdrawal means separation. It usually describes the symptoms that occur when a person with a physical addiction to a substance stops or decreases the use of it. Withdrawal can be extremely unpleasant, painful or even dangerous. There are different stages of withdrawal. Generally, a person will start to feel worse and worse, hit a plateau, and then the symptoms begin to disappear. However, withdrawal from certain drugs can be fatal and thus requires medical supervision.
We say a person is addicted when he/she is dependent on a substance. There are two types of addiction: physical (when the need for the substance is felt with the body) and psychological (when the need shows as feelings and thoughts of craving, or a strong desire to use the substance). Both types cause significant disruption and negatively impact the person's quality of life.
Drug overdose (or simply overdose/OD) describes the intake of a drug or alcohol in quantities that are greater than what the body can process in a short period of time. It is a dangerous condition and can cause nausea, unconsciousness, coma or death.
• Drug overdose
• Addiction
These are the most destructive, toxic and addictive drugs. Their effect creates relief from pain (physical and psychological), feelings of relaxation, and a sense of pleasure in some cases. They are usually injected, but sometimes it starts with smoking them. Once addicted to opioids, a person can hardly overcome the habit and it is easy to overdose.
Examples: Heroin, Morphine
• Withdrawal
These drugs can make users feel exhilarated and euphoric. Furthermore, users often experience a temporary increase in alertness and energy levels, and a postponement of hunger and fatigue. They are usually taken at parties. Stimulant users tend to abuse them in large quantities in a short time, which can make them become aggressive or psychotic.
• Stimulants
Examples: Cocaine, Amphetamines, Ecstasy
Hallucinogenic drugs alter people's state of consciousness and produce different kinds of hallucinations, delusions and distorted perceptions of reality. Sometimes users have 'bad trips', in which they experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings and believe they are going crazy.
• Hallucinogens
Examples: LSD, Psilocybin Mushrooms
• Cannabis
• Inhalants
• Common and legal psychoactives
Alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, prescription drugs
because of personal issues and traits - some people use drugs or alcohol to 'self-medicate' from depression and anxiety; some have problems with family, friends or school/work; some are very rebellious to society; some choose to live a dangerous and risky life.
In all of these cases - taking drugs is some form of an
from life. In

the beginning, drugs may seem as the solution to teenagers' problems, or to their need to belong to a cool group of friends, or to not having enough fun and interesting experiences. After a while, this 'solution' will destroy a person's body, mind and social life, and will affect all that are close to him/her.
Probably the most commonly used illegal drug, cannabis can make users feel relaxed and heighten their sensory awareness. Users may experience a more vivid sense of sight, smell, taste and hearing. Short-term effects include increased appetite and pulse rate. While high, users' intellectual and physical abilities are impaired. With large doses, users may experience severely altered sensory perceptions and slow and confused thinking.
Inhalants include chemicals found in household products. They are usually abused by kids in remote rural areas or from a deprived social background. They are inhaled or 'huffed' and are extremely dangerous for the whole body.
Examples: aerosol sprays, cleaning fluids, glue, paint, paint thinner
Although legal over a certain age, these substances can be abused in an unhealthy way. Alcohol consumption is a sbig health and social problem in many countries. Cigarette smoking is responsible for a significant percentage of the lung cancer and heart disease related deaths. There are a lot of people using medication in inappropriate ways that are not recommended by their doctors.
Long-term Negative Effects
Signs of Drug Use in Teenagers
Psychotherapy and group therapy
Drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation centers
Peer support and anonymous support groups
Treatment within the criminal justice system
Gateway Drug Theory
It says that teenage use of alcohol, tobacco and especially cannabis can lead to a future risk of using more toxic drugs and/or crime. For example - although not all people who smoke cannabis start using heroin, almost all who are addicted to heroin have turned to it after using cannabis.
Nicotine is highly addictive and can lead to nicotine poisoning in chain smokers; tobacco smoke contains 45 known or suspected chemical carcinogens.
More than 80 percent of smokers begin before the age of 18.
Adolescents are 13 times more likely to smoke if their peers do. If both parents smoke, adolescents are more than twice as likely to smoke than adolescents with non-smoking parents.
A teen that starts smoking at age 13 will have a more difficult time quitting, have more health-related problems, and will die earlier than a person who begins to smoke at age 21.
Non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke at home or work increase their heart disease risk by 25–30% and their lung cancer risk by 20–30%.
One out of five teenagers who are addicted to cigarettes smoke 13 to 15 a day.
According to the research, teenagers who smoke are three times more likely to use alcohol, eight times more likely to smoke marijuana, and 22 times more likely to use cocaine.
Teens who smoke are more likely to catch a cold than people who don’t, and their symptoms are worse and last longer.
Forty percent of teen smokers who have tried to quit smoking have failed.
Signs of use:
Acting silly for no reason
Being hungry and eating more than usual
Red eyes or use of eye drops
Increased irritability or grumpiness
Reduced motivation and lack of interest in usual activities
Trouble remembering things that just happened
A smell on clothes, or the use of incense or other deodorizers
Owning clothing, posters, or jewelry encouraging drug use
Having pipes or rolling papers
Stealing money or having money that cannot be accounted for

Teenagers who drink alcohol are more likely to experience:

School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.
Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.
Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.
Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.
Physical and sexual assault.
Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning.
Memory problems.
Abuse of other drugs.
Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
Death from alcohol poisoning.
In some studies, cannabis use has been related to the development of psychosis, bipolar disorder and a permanent drop of performance at IQ tests. Driving under the influence of cannabis can be very dangerous as it affects concentration and reaction time. Heavy cannabis users may show personality changes and are described by their peers as lethargic, disengaged and lacking motivation to pursue significant life goals.
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