Drugs: Hallucinogens, Stimulants, and Narcotics

Abstract

Drug abuse refers to the use of a drug for the purpose not intended for or overdose of the prescribed drugs. Drug abusers use psychological stimulants, hallucinogens, and narcotics to both enhance work performance and increase the feeling of well-being. However, the effects are accompanied by several side effects such as physical harm as well as prosecution and social discrimination of the user in the society. The effect of the drugs such as hallucinogens and stimulants depends on factors. This includes the body size of the user as well as whether the user is using other drugs and if he/she has been taking the same drug in past. What is more important regarding drugs and drug abuse is the response of law enforcers when they come into contact with various types of illegal drugs and drug abusers.

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Introduction

According to (Wily, 2000), drug abuse has been a problem of concern in the whole world today affecting millions of individuals. However, the bigger problem has been a lack of awareness among those people being affected. Drugs abuse refers to misuse either in form of an overdose or using a drug for the purpose not intended for. This involves the use of psychological stimulants and other drugs that enhance performance or another purpose that is not intended for healing. Alcohol and mild tranquilizers are the commonly abused drugs while others include cocaine and barbiturates. The adverse effects of using such drugs include criminal prosecution of the user and the physical as well as the psychological damage that results from using the drugs for a long time. The user also suffers social discrimination in society. The effects of these drugs are much felt when used for a long time as well as when used in high dosage due to the effect on the central nervous system.

Properties/effects of hallucinogens

(Wily, 2000) argues that, hallucinogens are drugs that alter the perception of an individual on how he/she perceives the world through the effect they have on senses that leads to hallucination. The user’s perception is distorted in terms of hearing and sight as well as the way he/she thinks; a change that can affect an individual’s emotions. Hallucinogens may be gotten from trees but most of them are nowadays manufactured so as to design the desirable effects and therefore reduce the side effects.

How hallucinogens are used

(Morgan, 1999) argues that, hallucinogens began being used in America for spiritual associations especially by young people due to the change in their values that caused them to adopt new styles. Since1960s, the trend in the use of hallucinogens has since then declined drastically, and even those who use it today do not have it on a regular basis but at intervals that could be as long as weeks or months. The recovery time after the user starts experiencing the effects is long and since the effects depend on many factors like body structure and past exposure to the drug, the user may not be able to predict the effects.

Medical uses

(Morgan, 1999) argues that, although the general view of people on hallucinogens has been negative due to its diverse side effects that result from overuse, some hallucinogens have medical use in clinical medicine and are currently being used. An example is Ketamine which is an intravenous medicine used as anesthesia during surgical procedures if the mask is not desirable. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is commonly used in New Zealand where it was accidentally discovered in 1938 and began being used to treat mental illness in1943. In the 1960s the drug gained popularity in the ‘hippy’ culture as a drug of choice although the popularity later declined. However, recent studies show that its popularity is currently increasing. Some of its physical characteristics are its white color and odorless nature. It can be swallowed or sniffed and sometimes smoked but a majority of the users nowadays prefer injection. Research indicates that LSD is highly effective and has a strong ability to give desirable outcomes even when used in small amounts. Doctors thus recommend that when being used, it be diluted with other substances like sugar or blotting paper.

Effects of using hallucinogens

(John, 2001) found that, the effects manifest differently in different individuals depending on factors like the physical structure of the user such as height, and general health and the dosage of the drug that has been used as well as the mode of intake. The effects also depend on whether the user was used to taking it before and whether he/she is taking other drugs at the time when a particular hallucinogen is being taken. It is therefore difficult to predict the effects of a hallucinogen as it varies in different individuals and also depending on the occasions.

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Effects

(John, 2001) argues that, the user starts experiencing the effects of the drug about 30 minutes after taking it and this can persist for more than 5 hours. The effects include sharp sensory experiences such as brighter colors, sharp sound, sense of time is also distorted and a person may perceive a minute to be several hours. The body image becomes distorted where the user feels as if he/she is floating and sometimes an excessive pull by the force of gravity. The heart beats faster due to increased blood pressure and a feeling of relaxation also tends to be felt accompanied by nausea and sometimes loss of appetite. The person becomes confused and suffers an acute panic commonly known as ‘bad trip’ and feelings of abdominal discomfort may also be felt. Generally, there is poor coordination of the central nervous system.

Properties/effects of stimulants

(Sternberg, 2003) argues that, a stimulant is any substance with the ability to induce characteristics symptoms to the central nervous system. Some of the effects include alertness accompanied by enhanced vigilance as well as a feeling of well-being. The most common effects are euphoria and high blood pressure as well as a feeling of insomnia. Stimulants have wide categories ranging from those that are genuinely prescribed by doctors in treating medical conditions to those that are manufactured for the illicit purpose of substance abuse as well as over-the-counter decongestants. Others include herbal extracts and caffeinated drinks as well as cigarettes.

(Sternberg, 2003) argues that, in the United States, most stimulants are categorized by the Drug Enforcement Agency under controlled substances. Most of them are not significantly prescribed or abused and therefore have not been adequately investigated resulting in limited data. The user of stimulants tends to feel better in terms of mood and becomes more alert after use. Some of the side effects include pain in the chest and abdomen accompanied by nausea and mild headache while some users lose weight after long use. The user may also become irritable and sometimes very aggressive when dealing with other people.

(Glover, 2002) argues that during stimulant intoxication, the victims normally have tense altitude with agitated and restless psychomotor activity, become very talkative, and sometimes suffer confusion and delirium. A small dose of stimulant improves alertness and work performance but stimulant abuse is detrimental to memory and can cause coma. On withdrawal, the user may experience sedation and retarded psychomotor activity accompanied by depressed and irritable mood. The speech becomes non-spontaneous and the thought process becomes linear sometimes with variable insight and impaired memory as a result of lack of enough sleep causing fatigue.

Type of person likely to use stimulant

(Glover, 2002) argues that, according to a study conducted in 2003 in America, approximately 20 million individuals aged above 12 years which is a representation of 8% of the age group used prescription stimulants for non-medical purposes at least once in a lifetime. Studies on stimulant drugs show that Males are more likely to use stimulants than females. Race and ethnicity also determine the use of lifetime stimulants. Initially, stimulants were used by asthmatic people who wanted to feel relieved when they experienced breathing difficulties. This was because they could widen the passage of air and ease breathing. Latter other safer medications began to be used by doctors and today only a few ailments are treated using stimulants. Such conditions include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and attention deficit disorder as well as a narcolepsy-a disorder affecting sleep.

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Properties/effects of narcotics

(Walter, 2004) argues that, narcotics are substances with the ability in producing insensibility in an individual and therefore reduce his/her perception regarding pain. This makes the user react differently to pain and also be extremely addictive to the drug. The drug makes the individual experience euphoria/extreme well-being. The primary use of narcotics is in medicine as pain killers and they include both opiates and non-opiates such as cannabis and cocaine. Research done by scientists indicates that there are narcotic receptors in the brain of a human being as well as natural sedatives called endorphins that bind to the receptors causing the effects of reduced perception of pain. Narcotics thus are designed to work like endorphins. Production of narcotics in the laboratory is gaining popularity with an aim of obtaining a drug with analgesic properties similar to that of morphine but at the same time with minimal ability to cause addiction. The products commonly available are hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and methadone which still causes addiction.

Personality likely to use narcotics

(Adler, 2000) found that narcotics in the United States are usually prescribed as pain killers but research has shown that, even though compared with morphine they are less euphoric, several youths are turning into them for recreational as well as addictive purposes. Just like morphine, narcotics are potentially able to abuse. The effect of a narcotic such as methadone can last for 24 hours and the effect does not depend on the mode of administration; whether orally or by injection. Prolonged use of narcotics can lead to tolerance and for this reason, methadone has been illegalized in some countries.

Precautions the law should take on illegal drugs and drug abusers

(Adler, 2000) found that, activities involving illegal drugs may be in their use or sales as well as their manufacturing all of which pose a serious threat to the security of the concerned areas and also on their neighborhood. When law enforcement comes into contact with various types of illegal drugs and their users it should first gather information on how they look like. It should also find out how the drug is used as well as its effects and where possible learn the slang terms used by users on various dugs. If a suspicious drug activity has been reported to the police by a complainant, the police should not shut down the alleged drug house until they obtain reliable information. They should then obtain a warrant to search for evidence that can lead to prosecution; a process that can take several months. Police should also ask for the details of the reporter such as names and a phone contact although even an anonymous tip is preferred to none. However, the police should keep the details of the complainant confidential.

(Siegel, 2005) argues that, chances of law enforcement eliminating drug houses are high if there is coordination with the neighbors who see the drug activity. Proper documentation of the problem observed as well as that of the solving efforts should be meticulously done by the police force. From the history of the government war on drugs, suppression of the trade-in illegal drugs only shifts the operation of the trade to underground market and increases the criminal activity. This was witnessed during America’s great experiment on prohibition between 1920 and1933. The law could not work and it had to be repealed creating a history in the united states for a law passed by Congress to be repealed. Therefore, the trade in illegal drugs does not require prohibition but rather, the society should be educated through character building and willpower as well as through social institutions.

Conclusion

(Siegel, 2005) argues that, the great experiment in America regarding the prohibition of alcohol resulted in a tremendous increase in the number of users of alcohol for 13 years. The trend only declined after 1933 when the experiment was repealed. Therefore, making the use of drugs legal would be beneficial to society at large. The drugs would cost low prices and therefore the users would no longer engage in criminal activities in order to raise money to pay for the habit. This would also reduce political corruption especially in America which represents a large portion of the world’s consumption.

References

Wily H. (2000): discriminative stimulus properties of drugs: plenum publishing corporation pp23 -37.

Morgan F. (1999): discrimination: behavioral analysis of drug dependence: academic press pp45-61.

John N. (2001): drug, set, and setting: the basis for controlled intoxicant use: Yale universities press pp19-36.

Sternberg d (2003): addiction–theory and treatment: Kendall/hunt pub. Co pp30-38.

Glover C. (2002): the war on drugs: measuring the effectiveness of National Guard efforts in preventing drug use: Blackwell synergy pp14-27.

Walter E. (2004): American journal of psychiatry: Am psychiatric assoc pp27-37.

Adler P. (2000): wheeling and dealing: an ethnography of an upper-level drug dealing and smuggling community: Columbia University press pp57-64.

Siegel A. (2005): a report on legal drug use in the United States: John Wiley & sons Inc pp36-47.

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