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Article Summary

Illegal Drugs

Illegal drugs are very dangerous because they can cause damage to an individual’s brain, heart, and other important organs. For example, cocaine which is illegal can cause a heart attack the very first time it is used. Also, when a person uses drugs that are illegal they are less likely to do well in school, work, and other activities. They have a hard time thinking clearly and tend to make poor decisions. When an individual uses drugs they often do irrational things such as driving under the influence which can be harmful to themselves and others.

People use illegal drugs for many different reasons. Often it is to fit in with their friends or just because they are curious. Over all, the underlying reason a person tries drugs is to escape from reality. If they are sad they take the drug to make them feel better for a short time until the drug wears off and then they find that the problem is still there. Taking drugs has never solved anyone’s problems, however, it often creates new ones. The user becomes dependent on the drugs and finds they are addicted to it. There are many different types of illegal drugs. They included: heroin, cocaine, crack, marijuana, ecstasy, and meth. We are going to discuss each of these drugs below.

Illegal Drugs: Heroin

Heroin belongs to a group of drugs called opiates. Opiates are strong pain killers and are classified as depressants because they slow down the functions of the central nervous system. Heroin can be injected, snorted, or smoked. It usually comes in powder form and in different colors. It is illegal to possess, manufacture, supply, import, or trade heroin. Heroin can produce nausea and vomiting, as well as constipation and itching. At higher doses, the pupils of the eyes narrow to pin-points, the skin becomes cold, and breathing becomes slower and shallower. Long term use of street opiates (heroin) and the associated lifestyle may result in damage to the veins, heart, and lungs. Women may experience irregular menstruation and possibly infertility, while men may experience impotence. Because heroin is usually injected, there is a particular risk for the user. Sharing injecting equipment - needles and syringes, spoons, sterile water, filters, alcohol swabs and tourniquets - greatly increases the risk of contracting diseases like tetanus, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.

Illegal Drugs: Cocaine

Cocaine is classified as a stimulant as it speeds up the nervous system. It is an addictive drug which comes from coca leaves or it is made synthetically and comes in the form of a white powder. Cocaine is highly addictive. The addiction can be almost immediate following the first use. Regular users almost always become addicted to cocaine. This addiction can cause problems with daily living including lying, stealing, flattened emotions, and problems with relationships. Cocaine is extremely dangerous and can cause death to the user. The effect of cocaine will depend on the amount taken, the quality, and the purity of the drug. Taking more of the drug may not increase the sensation, rather it increases the risk of overdose and negative health effects.

Illegal Drugs: Crack

"Crack" is the street name given to cocaine that has been processed from cocaine hydrochloride to a ready-to-use form for smoking. Rather than requiring the more dangerous method of processing cocaine using ether, crack cocaine is processed with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water. It is then heated to remove the hydrochloride, thus producing a form of cocaine that can be smoked. The term "crack" refers to the crackling sound heard when the mixture is heated, presumably from the sodium bicarbonate. On the illicit market, crack, or "rock," is sold in small, inexpensive dosage units. Smoking this form of the drug delivers large quantities of cocaine to the lungs, producing effects comparable to intravenous injection. These effects are felt almost immediately after smoking, are very intense, and do not last long.

Illegal Drugs: Marijuana

Marijuana is primarily a depressant; however it may have hallucinogenic effects. Marijuana comes from the dried leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. The effects of marijuana will vary depending on the individual and the mood they are in. It will also depend on the strength and amount of the drug being used. In combination with other drugs or alcohol, the use of now much stronger hydroponically grown marijuana produces disturbing feelings of paranoia, hallucinations, and other symptoms of drug-induced psychosis. Drug use can lead to social and emotional problems that can affect a person's relationship with families and friends. For example, one of the effects of marijuana can be loss of inhibitions. This may lead to a person saying or doing something they would not normally do, or taking risks which may put them in danger. Marijuana can also make people less motivated.

Illegal Drugs: Ecstasy

Ecstasy (also known as 'adam', 'e', 'm&m' or 'xtc') is a stimulant because it speeds up the functions of the central nervous system. Ecstasy is often mixed with a variety of different drugs, making it difficult for users to know what they are taking. It is dangerous to take other drugs in combination with ecstasy as little is known about these combinations. Using more than one drug also increases the risks of complications and serious side effects. It can lead to a number of serious physical and psychological problems. Ecstasy can produce a 'hangover' effect with symptoms including loss of appetite, insomnia, depression, or muscular aches. The effects of ecstasy vary from person to person depending on size, mood, gender, health, weight, personality, expectations of the drug, and previous experience with ecstasy.

Illegal Drugs: Meth

Meth is part of a group known as amphetamines. The effect of meth is that it stimulates the activity of certain chemicals in the user’s brain. Meth is classified as a stimulant drug. Meth bought on the streets is usually a white or yellow powder. Meth can be swallowed, injected, smoked or snorted. Use of any drug can damage your health. Meth is often of a very poor quality and a 'dirty' hit can make users sick. Of course the effects of meth will vary from person to person depending on mood, physical size, personality, gender, the way they use it, quality of the drug and previous history of use. The immediate effects last between two and five hours.

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