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Chapter 8: Health Correlates of Drug Use

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James McCutcheon

on 26 April 2014

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Transcript of Chapter 8: Health Correlates of Drug Use

There is possibly no aspect of drug use that is more significant to a community or society than the health consequences of that use

We know that drugs can be fatal if not taken properly

Other potentially debilitating health consequences can also result from the careless or inappropriate use of drugs as well

DAWN reports that in 2009 more than 2 million emergency room visits were attributable to the abuse of drugs, and 47% of those involved illicit drugs

Health Correlates of Drug Use

Acute Consequences-pose immediate risk to the user at the time of use

Chronic Consequences-cumulative and long-term impact on the health of the user

Epidemiology-in medical fields, the study of the spread and distribution; used in social sciences to study of the spread and distribution of social phenomenon such as drug us and crime
Dr. John Snow, cholera

Etiology-The study of causal factors associated with a phenomenon

Common Dangers

Some ill-health effects of drugs are directly linked to the pharmacology of the drugs themselves

Slows down CNS

The lethal dose of heroin is near 10 times the effective dose


Depressants such as barbiturates, sedatives, and tranquilizers place the heavy user at potential risk for overdose and even death

Alcohol is, ironically, a legal drug for adults in all of the United States although pharmacologically is one of the most dangerous of all recreational drugs


Liver dysfunction
Cancer and heart disease
Neurological dysfunction
Complications in pregnancy
Loss of coordination, increased reaction time, and motor vehicle accidents
Sexual dysfunction

Consequences of Alcohol Use

Accelerate the functioning of the central nervous system

This quality of the stimulants becomes problematic to users who have a weak or defective cardiovascular system

Cocaine is particularly powerful in its CNS stimulant effect, though all of the stimulants have potentially adverse effects on the heart and circulatory system

Stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine, is the extreme psychological reaction that they can produce

Formication-delusions of parasites or insects under the skin

Health Consequences of Stimulants

There is perhaps no stimulant—or drug, for that matter—that is more damaging to health than tobacco

In the United States, tobacco smoking caused an annual average 443,000 deaths from 2000- 2004 and almost 50,000 caused by secondhand smoke

A single drop of pure, concentrated nicotine is a fatal dose
It is estimated that cigar and cigarette smoke contains as many as 4000 chemicals

Finally, there is a growing body of evidence that smoking poses health risks not only for smokers but for nonsmokers as well

Health Consequences of Tobacco Use

The hallucinogens have enjoyed both very positive and extremely negative publicity

These are very potent drugs that, if taken in excessive dosages, can cause very extreme reactions that result in bizarre and dangerous behavior

Recent research sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that MDMA (Ecstasy) may indeed cause brain damage

Health Consequences of Hallucinogens

Marijuana affects the respiratory system of the user

In small to moderate amounts, marijuana has actually been found to benefit certain users, such as those with asthma, by causing the bronchial passageways to enlarge, an effect known as bronchodilation

Heavy use, however, has detrimental effects on the user, including inflammation, or narrowing of the bronchial passageways (known as bronchoconstriction)

There is also a growing body of evidence that marijuana smoking causes temporary and reversible short-term memory loss

Cancer—Many of the same chemicals found in a tobacco are also found in marijuana—These chemicals are believed to be carcinogenic
Health Consequences of Marijuana

Synergism can be defined simply as the joint action of two or more drugs that produces an effect that is greater than the sum of the independent effect of the interacting drugs

In some cases, this combined effect is many times the sum of the independent drug effects

One type of drug synergism is that which takes place between CNS depressants

Cocaine is especially dangerous when taken in combination with alcohol because the two drugs synergize to produce something called cocaethylene

Synergistic Effects

As of 2008, more than 1,178,000 cases of HIV/AIDS have been reported in the United States

A total of 30 percent of cases are brought on due to IV drug use
Infectious Diseases

There is perhaps no more deadly risk associated with drug use than that of contracting AIDS

Drug users contract the HIV virus primarily in one of three ways:
through infected needles, which is the mechanism by which most IV drugs users contract the virus:

through sexual contact with others who have the virus
through infected blood acquired in blood transfusions
IV drug users are also at risk of contracting and transmitting various forms of hepatitis

Drug-Using Lifestyles and Health

Drug users—particularly illegal drug users—are more vulnerable to being victimized by crime than most of us

The psychopharmacological model suggests that individuals on drugs engage in violent acts because their intoxication induces a loss of rationality and/or control

A second economic-compulsive model suggests that people become violent when they are desperate for drugs and do not have the resources to obtain them

The systemic model suggests that violence is an intrinsic part of the culture and economy of drug use

Crime Victimization

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