Drugs – Abuse and Uses.
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DRUGS - ABUSE AND USES Chris Butler SOLVENTS Solvent Abuse, or "glue-sniffing", the deliberate inhalation of fumes given off by volatile substances in order to get intoxicated or "high". The inhaled chemicals cause the lungs to produce extra fluid, which can lead to suffocation and death. They can also slow or stop the heartbeat, or cause the heart to fibrillate, leading to cardiac shock. A sniffer can inhale their own vomit or have an accident while intoxicated. At least one teenager dies every week in the UK from solvent abuse. Also known as volatile substance abuse, solvent abuse killed four times as many teenagers in the UK in 1997 as did heroin. A wide range of substances are abused in this way, the most common being glues (adhesives), gas lighter fuel, aerosols, and cleaning agents. Most solvent abusers are on average younger than drug users; prevalence rates of between 2 per cent and 12 per cent of 13 to 16 year olds have been estimated. Sniffing is often a lone activity, but is also indulged in groups, as it can be seen to be "fashionable" for a short time in a particular school or area. IMMEDIATE EFFECTS The short-term effects are similar to being drunk-including dizziness, feelings of euphoria, and slurred speech. These effects appear within minutes and last for about an hour after sniffing stops. Headaches and poor concentration may result for a further day. Fifty per cent of abusers report having hallucinations; higher doses can result in unconsciousness.
How severe and prolonged these withdrawal symptoms are depends on the degree of abuse. That boost we get from that morning cup of coffee is the result of the caffeine that naturally occurs in coffee. Caffeine is a common stimulant and is found not only in coffee and tea, but also in soft drinks and other foods. It can also be bought over-the-counter in tablet form. Too much caffeine can cause anxiousness, headaches, and the "jitters." Caffeine is also addictive and a person who abruptly stops drinking coffee may experience withdrawal symptoms. SEDATIVES Sedative, drugs used to reduce extreme nervous anxiety or induce sleep. Often referred to as hypnotic drugs, these substances generally have a calming and relaxing effect on the central nervous system and muscles when taken in small doses, and a hypnotic, or sleep-producing, effect when taken in larger doses. They are restricted to short-term use and the lowest dose to control symptoms is recommended. For centuries alcohol and opium were the only substances known to produce similar calming effects, but in recent decades over 50 other substances have been discovered, each differing slightly in its effect on the user. Among the sedatives prescribed for calming patients are the benzodiazepine group of tranquillizers chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride (Librium) and diazepam (Valium), which are also used to relieve emotional stress. Drugs administered to produce sleep in cases of intractable insomnia include barbiturates, and, for temporary insomnia, benzodiazepines and newer compounds, known as cyclopyrrolones, which are less likely to affect REM sleep.
In some neighbourhoods, younger children are recruited as lookouts and helpers because of the lighter sentences given to juvenile offenders, and guns have become commonplace among children and adolescents. EFFECTS OF BEHAVIOUR Hallucinogens, also known as 'psychedelic' drugs, are drugs that change the way a person perceives the world. Hallucinogens affect all the senses and cause hallucinations-seeing or hearing things that do not exist or are distorted. A person's thinking, sense of time and emotions can also be altered. Most psychoactive drugs change a person's mood or behaviour. Sometimes these changes are negative or harmful, both to you and to other people. Behaviour caused by drug use can also get you into trouble with the law. There seems to be a relationship between using some drugs and committing crimes. For example: * Alcohol is associated with serious assaults, drinking driving, street disturbances, domestic violence and a range of other offences. * Someone who regularly uses a drug like heroin needs a lot of money to pay for it. Sometimes people turn to committing crimes like supplying illicit drugs to others, theft, burglary or armed robbery, or by turning to prostitution to obtain money for drugs. INFECTION Addiction and overdose aren't the only dangers of heroin. It can also put you at risk of being infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is spread through bodily fluids, like blood. Heroin users who share needles can pass the virus to each other. They can also spread other blood-based diseases like hepatitis C and tuberculosis. Even heroin users who don't inject can become infected with HIV. The overpowering addiction makes them take crazy risks, like having unsafe sex.
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