Psychodelic Drugs


Alcohol


Alcohol is one of the most widely used drugs in this society. It is
accepted as a part of social life. Its use is widely promoted via sponsorship of
sporting events. Advertising infers that drinking is the path to happiness,
success, romance, etc. There are references to alcohol and its effects from
earliest known writings. Alcohol is consumed in the beverage form and sold
legally in this state to persons over 21.
Alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the stomach
and small intestine. It is distributed by the blood throughout the body,
affecting literally every organ it touches in a matter of minutes. Enzymes in
the liver metabolize alcohol at a rate of 10-15 ml (less than one half ounce)
per hour. Hence, only time can sober someone up. Coffee, cold showers, or
exercise do not work.
The warm glow of disinhibition, "letting go" is a major desired effect
of alcohol. People feel more sociable and talkative with small amounts of the
drug. Alcohol is a relaxant, so many people drink to unwind from the demands of
life. Because alcohol has been around for so long, its effects are well-known.
Two key concepts to understand in dealing with alcohol use and abuse are
impairment and tolerance. They are both problems in themselves and signals of
possible additional difficulties.
IMPAIRMENT refers to the deficits in performance, judgment, memory, and
motor skills which occur because of alcohol consumption. Impairment becomes
noticeable at blood levels of 0.05%, which can occur when as few as two drinks
are consumed in an hour by a 160 pound person. The deceptive part about
impairment is that, by definition, impaired judgment cannot recognize its own
impairment. The individual thinks he or she is functioning well, when actually
s/he is not. Later, there is impaired memory of the impaired performance.
TOLERANCE means that a drug loses some of its effect with repeated use,
and that higher and higher doses are needed. It is the body\'s way of adapting to
having a foreign substance in the system.
People develop a high tolerance to alcohol when they drink a great deal
over an extended length of time. "WHILE TOLERANCE MAY SEEM TO SOME TO BE A
DESIRABLE STATE, IT SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASES THE RISK OF ALCOHOLISM AND LONG-TERM
HEALTH AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS". For example, a heavy drinker could still be lucid
at 0.25%, whereas the average person would barely be able to function. Even so,
the heavy drinker would be extremely dangerous on the highway.
Thirteen percent of male and five percent of female college students
nationwide are alcoholic. Persons are considered alcoholic if they exhibit three
or more of the following symptoms for more than one month, or if the symptoms
get repeated over a longer period of time:
1.Alcohol is consumed in greater quantities or for longer periods of
time than the person intended; 2.The individual has a persistent desire to
control or eliminate drinking, or has made one or more unsuccessful efforts to
do this (for example, there are resolutions to "cut down," but these efforts
disappear after a period of time); 3.Considerable time is spent in obtaining,
using, or recovering from alcohol and its effects; 4.Intoxication or its
aftereffects (e.g., hangovers) frequently occur at times when the person is
expected to fulfill work, family or school obligations; or there is physically
hazardous use (e.g., while driving); 5.The individual gives up or reduces social,
recreational or job-related activities because of alcohol use; 6.Drinking
continues despite the knowledge that alcohol causes the person to have social,
psychological or medical problems; 7.Significantly increased tolerance has
developed; 8.Withdrawal symptoms occur when initially attempting abstinence
(e.g., flu-like symptoms, headaches, gastrointestinal distress, sweatiness, mood
swings, irritability, anxiety); 9.Alcohol or other drugs are used to ward off
the withdrawal.
Other long-term medical problems include high blood pressure, increased
risk of heart attack, pancreatitis, various cancers, cirrhosis of the liver.
Chronic heavy drinking in men is associated with testicular atrophy and breast
enlargement. In women, as little as one drink a day greatly increases the risk
of breast cancer. Drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects and mental
retardation.
Alcohol is also fattening. One glass of wine daily added to the diet can
result in a weight gain of ten pounds a year.

Cocaine and Crack

Cocaine is an alkaloid extracted from the leaves of the coca plant. It
is a stimulant and euphoric substance that has powerful effects on the human
brain. The practice of sniffing ("snorting") cocaine actually dates back to the
beginning of this century as knowledge spread about cocaine\'s ability to induce
feelings of well-being and increased energy. At that time, cocaine was also
available in over-the-counter tonics and