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Chapter 8 : Drugs & Alcohol

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William Cockrell

on 4 February 2016

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Transcript of Chapter 8 : Drugs & Alcohol

Chapter 8 : Drugs & Alcohol
Psychoactive Drugs
Most Americans have at least one drug of choice. As mentioned in the textbook; alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine count!
Psychoactive drugs are the most common way that people in America experience an altered consciousness.
Stimulant :
substance that causes an increase of activity in the body and nervous system. Examples include caffeine, tobacco, cocaine, crack, etc.
Depressant :
substance that decreases the activity in the body and nervous system. Examples include alcohol, tranquilizers, barbiturates, and anesthetics.
20 million people in America are illicit drug users (this does not count people that have addictions with LEGAL prescriptions)
Factors that influence childhood drug experimentation : peer group, parental drug use, delinquency, low self-esteem, high amounts of stress, and stressful life changes.
There is also a link between the following factors and drug abuse : social maladjustment, alienation, antisocial behavior, and failures in school.
These factors promote drug abuse, they are not the outcomes of drug abuse!
Physical Dependency :
"harder" drugs often cause people to become physically addicted to the drug.
Withdrawal symptoms :
physical ailments that occur when a person physically dependent on drugs stops taking the drug. Symptoms include : nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, sweating, cramps, etc.
Neurological Research & Drug Use
Most psychoactive drugs either activate or block neurotransmitters.
For example, ecstasy, increases the production of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
On the other hand, dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitters are blocked by cocaine.
Other drugs like nicotine do not influence neurotransmitters directly, but the brain mistakes them for neurotransmitters and respond accordingly.
Nucleus Accumbens :
the pleasure and reward center of the brain. Responsible for laughter, reinforcement learning, and addiction. This area of the brain is always activated during drug abuse.
Reinforcing the reward center to activate at the presence of psychoactive drugs is a form of classical and operant conditioning.
Continued use causes the brain to actually physically change the layout of the reward center. Therefore, once people become heavily addicted to psychoactive drugs, it is harder for their reward center to activate in response to pleasant experiences.
Children and adolescents are at great risk taking psychoactive drugs because their brain is still developing. The risk-taking center of the nucleaus accumbens is least developed so adolescents taking drugs often display very risky behavior (even more so than adults addicted to the same drugs).
Experimental :
use based on curiosity.
Social - recreational :
as the name implies, only with friends. Often used as an excuse for drinkers to justify habit.
Situational :
uses the drug for a specific reason (e.g., Truck Driver using stimulants to stay awake, prostitute using the drug to prevent/reduce pain).
Intensive :
daily use with dependency characteristics
Compulsive :
intense use and extreme dependence
Lines are very blurry between intensive and compulsive addictions. Hard to tell the difference at times.
Polydrug abuse :
combining multiple drugs. Responsible for most overdoses. Examples include Whitney Houston and Heath Ledger.
Typical Drug Patterns of Behavior
Different Drug Abuse Classifications
Legal examples include Adderall and Ritalin, which are used to treat ADHD. Very slight increase in concentration for normal people, but overall the side effects are more extreme than the advantage.
Methamphetamine :
illegal, street version often made in bathtubs. Made famous thanks to Breaking Bad. Often referred to glass, ice, crank, or most famously Crystal Meth.
Methamphetamine can be injected intravenously, snorted, smoked, or eaten.
The chemicals to make methamphetamine are VERY volatile, and thousands of people die or are burned very badly each year in backyard laboratory explosions.
Given that it is a stimulant, users often stay awake for multiple days without food or sleep and then "crash" and can sleep for over 24 hours. The drug also causes chronic dry mouth which leads to very rapid tooth decay.
Methamphetamine is one of the most addictive drugs where higher amounts of the drug are required after a tolerance is established. This leads to the classic scenario of trying to "reach the first high again". Eventually most users start injecting the drug to increase the high.
Common effects of large doses : nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, fatigue, depression, confusion, irritability, and aggression.
Amphetamine Psychosis :
Do not approach people that are strung out on amphetamines! Heavy abusers are prone to hallucinations where everybody is trying to hurt them, visions of peeling their skin off, and often harm themselves or others.
Stimulant made from the leaves of the coca plant.
Common experiences while on the drug : euphoria, feeling of power, increase in energy (most common), increase in physical pleasure, reduced appetite, and violent behavior.
Cocaine was in Coca-Cola from 1886-1906. Caffeine replaced the drug.
Weaker duration than amphetamines--typical length for cocaine is 15-30 minutes.
In animal studies, we have found that rats and monkeys become highly addicted to the drug and almost always self overdose.
Depression and inability to feel pleasure to the most common withdrawal symptoms.
Given that cocaine is more expensive, many switch to rock cocaine (crack/crank)
Ecstasy / MDMA
Similar to amphetamine
Experiences while taking the drug : euphoria, increased energy, heightened sensory awareness, heightened physical sensations,
Physical effects of the drug : excessive sweating (hyperthermia), dilated pupils, loss of brain cells, jaw clenching, increase in blood pressure and body temperature, sexual incompetence.
We used to believe that MDMA drilled holes in the brain---not the case, but it is still highly detrimental to the brain. Sensory overload is one way MDMA can damage the brain.
Given that it reduces decision making processes, the drug is often linked to many rape cases
Reduces learning capabilities
Drugs and Alcohol
Drug :
any chemical substance that creates an altered form of consciousness.
Drugs are naturally occurring (Marijuana) and synthetically produced (Oxycontin).
Yet again, different cultures have different views on various drugs. Many Native American cultures embrace Peyote, while most Caucasian people report very bad "trips".
In contrast, most Native American tribes never encountered hard alcohol until the English brought it over. The first generation of Native Americans exposed to alcohol developed serious drinking problems.
Cocaine was not viewed as a social problem until it was criminalized in the early 1900s.
Temperance Movement :
Movement that was responsible for initiating the creation of Prohibition.
Prohibition :
Congress passed the 18th amendment that made alcohol illegal from 1920 - 1933.
Prohibition was NOT helpful. It only increased sales of alcohol and created a black market for alcohol.
Organized Crime (e.g., the Chicago Mafia) became even more powerful because they supplied alcohol.
In the South, where the Mafia typically did not reach, people made "Mountain Moonshine".
Stats on American Drug Use
Government studies reported that 20 million people (9% of America) had used an illegal drug in the past 90 days.
The rate of smoking cigarettes has been declining since the 1980s.
Alcohol and marijuana have increased in public use since the early 2000s.
Since the 1990s, psychoactive drugs (LSD, cocaine, and heroin) have all remained stable. Less than 1% of people report use of these drugs.
The older you get, the less likely you are to use illegal drugs. Prescription drug use tends to increase with age though (how is this a problem and how is this viewed differently than street drugs?)
Motivations to use drugs and alcohol :
Therapeutic :
Morphine is used in most end of life situations, cocaine is still used for narcolepsy, Sanjay Gupta reported studies show that marijuana can alleviate severe seizures.
Recreational :
the most commonly cited use (be careful using this statement!)
Spiritual reasons :
Peyote in Native American rituals, Marijuana in Hindi rituals, Datura seeds in Dharmic rituals, Sake in Buddhist rituals, and Wine in Catholic rituals.
Escape :
poor living conditions (e.g., prostitution) and mental illness both raise susceptibility for drug use.
Social Conformity :
peer pressure. Most common with teenager drinking and smoking.
Drug Use and Abuse
Different people have different opinions on what is considered drug abuse.
For some, any drug use is considered drug abuse (some sects of Jehovah Witnesses swear off all forms of medication)
Others believe that you cannot abuse legal drugs (meaning they would argue nobody can abuse alcohol since it is legal).
Drug Abuse :
ANY drug (legal or illegal) that creates a drastic change in ones life where people are willing to risk their lives (financially, socially, legally) for their particular drug of choice.
Drug Addiction :
Drug abuse that creates physical withdrawal, mental withdrawal, or drastic changes in personality.
Drug abuse

Drug addiction

Tolerance :
as drug usage increases, the brain starts producing higher levels of neurotransmitters. After a while, the brain adapts and requires higher levels the substance to achieve the same effect.
Long term drug users are at risk of permanently altering their brain's neurotransmitters which in turn can drastically influence emotional responses and regulations.
Addictions that do not require any chemical, but still create the same responses in the brain : the internet, cell phone usage, pornography, exercising, and gambling.
Mass distribution of cigarettes occurred during WWI.
For the first 20 - 30 years, there were no reports about negative health outcomes related to smoking. Advertisements encouraged smoking in the morning to clear sinuses (HA!)
By 2010, 19% of Americans were smokers (22% of men and 17% of women). Men have always had higher rates of smoking, but women's rates jumped significantly between 1960s-1990s.
Worldwide, 30% of adults smoke. While American rates are decreasing, smoking rates worldwide are INCREASING.
"In the United States, cigarette smoking is far and away the single, greatest, preventable cause of death. Each year, more than 440,000 people die prematurely due to tobacco use. This death toll not only exceeds that caused by the use of alcohol and all illegal drugs combined, it exceeds the death toll from suicide, homicide, and automobile accidents. Even second-hand smoke is blamed for the deaths of about 50,000 people in the United States each year" (CDC, 2008, 2010; in Macionis, 2013, pg. 214).
It takes around 14 years for a person to completely remove nicotine and tobacco from the body. The lungs are the last organ to recover (and they never fully recover).
Third-hand smoke is also now a major concern
An overdose of cocaine typically results in a heart attack. Around 3,500 people die each year because of cocaine overdoses.
Cocaine is snorted whereas crack is usually smoked or burned and injected.
Upper class, metropolitan people are more likely to try cocaine. Children of parents who makes over 100,000 annually are much more likely to try cocaine by 18 than children whose parents make less.
Inner city, lower class individuals typically use crack instead of cocaine due to it being cheaper. Research is mixed on if crack is more harmful than cocaine.
Analgesics are depressants that are used to suppress pain.
The most common examples are : aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol, morphine, codeine, and heroin.
Analgesics are often described as having the most "severe" addictions. Sure, more people are addicted to cigarettes, but the chances of becoming completely clean of analgesics is (almost) impossible.
Almost all naturally occurring analgesics derive from the seeds in poppy plants.
Opium was famously smoked, but most heroin users inject the drug into their veins.
Drowsiness, euphoria, and a reduction in pain sensitivity are the most common experiences related to analgesics.
Less than .1% of the American population use heroin on a regular basis.
Methadone is a synthetically created version of heroine that is used to combat analgesic drug addiction.
Alcohol is the most commonly used depressant in America.
Alcohol use in America
Half of Americans 12 and older drink alcohol on a regular basis.
18 million Americans (7%) develop an addiction to alcohol. 17% of men and 8% of women have alcoholic addictions.
Alcoholism :
an addiction to any form of alcohol.
2.7 million alcoholics annually receive treatment in America (that leaves around 15 million never seeking help).
The CDC estimates that alcoholism costs the government around $225 billion a year in expenses. This can cover accidents, medical treatments, court appointed rehabilitation, lost work, etc.
Binge Drinking :
drinking five drinks in one sitting for men, four drinks for women. One study reported that 42% of college students admitted to binge drinking at least once a month.
1,800 students die each year due to binge drinking.
400,000 students reported in one government study that drinking alcohol increased their chances of having unprotected sex.
100,000 cases of date rape each year involve the use of alcohol.
On average, police arrest around 1.1 million people driving under the influence of alcohol every year.
Alcohol is involved in around 10,880 (32%) motor vehicular deaths every year in America.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome :
Mothers who drink excessive alcohol during pregnancy typically have children with this disorder.
The addiction levels of hallucinogens are relatively low, but the physical consequences are more immediate.
77% of America's drug usage is marijuana
7% of Americans report that they use marijuana.
Common symptoms : euphoria, muscular relaxation, increase appetite, and lower social inhibitions.
Excessive use can lead to fatigue, disorientation, paranoia, and personality disorders.
15 states have medically legalized marijuana usage for cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, anxiety, and eating disorders.
75% of Americans support the legalization/decriminalization of marijuana.
It is too early for studies to assess the positives or negatives of legalization in WA, CO, and Washington D.C.
It is actually more common for people to support marijuana still being illegal, BUT to not attach a prison sentence to prosecutions of possession.
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