Drug abuse is a serious public health problem that affects almost every community and family in some way. Each year drug abuse results in around 40 million serious illnesses or injuries among people in the United States. Abused drugs include:
• Club drugs • Amphetamines • Anabolic steroids • Cocaine • Heroin • Inhalants • Marijuana • Prescription drugs
Drug abuse also plays a role in many major social problems, such as drugged driving, violence, stress, and child abuse. Drug abuse can lead to homelessness, crime and missed work or problems with keeping a job. There are different types of treatment for drug abuse. But the best is to prevent drug abuse in the first place.
The term club drug refers to a wide variety of dangerous drugs. These drugs are often used by young adults at all-night dance parties, dance clubs and bars. They include
• Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), also known as Ecstasy XTC, X, Adam, Clarity and Lover's Speed
• Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), also known as Grievous Bodily Harm, G, Liquid Ecstasy and Georgia Home Boy
• Rohypnol, also known as Roofies, Rophies, Roche, Forget-me Pill
• Methamphetamine, also known as Speed, Ice, Chalk, Meth, Crystal, Crank, Fire, Glass
• Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), also known as or Acid, Boomers, Yellow Sunshines
Club drugs have become more common in recent years. Sometimes people use them to commit sexual assaults. Club drugs can cause serious health problems and sometimes death. They are even more dangerous if you use them with alcohol.
Why Type of Drugs are Club Drugs?
Club drugs are a pharmacologically heterogeneous group of psychoactive drugs that tend to be abused by teens and young adults at bars, nightclubs, concerts, and parties. Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), Rohypnol, ketamine, as well as MDMA (ecstasy) and
methamphetamine are some of the drugs included in this group.
• GHB (Xyrem) is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002 for use in the treatment of narcolepsy (a sleep disorder). This approval came with severe restrictions, including its use only for the treatment of narcolepsy, and the requirement for a patient registry monitored by the FDA. GHB is also a metabolite of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). It exists naturally in the brain, but at much lower concentrations than those found when GHB is abused.
• Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) use began gaining popularity in the United States in the early 1990s. It is a benzodiazepine (chemically similar to sedative-hypnotic drugs such as Valium or Xanax), but it is not approved for medical use in this country, and its importation is banned.
• Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, mostly used in veterinary practice.
How Are Club Drugs Abused?
GHB and Rohypnol are available in odorless, colorless, and tasteless forms that are frequently combined with alcohol and other beverages. Both drugs have been used to
commit sexual assaults (also known as “date rape,” “drug rape,” “acquaintance rape,” or “drug-assisted” assault) due to their ability to sedate and incapacitate unsuspecting victims,
preventing them from resisting sexual assault.
• GHB is usually ingested orally, either in liquid or powder form, while Rohypnol is typically taken orally in pill form. Recent reports, however, have shown that Rohypnol is being ground up and snorted.
• Both GHB and Rohypnol are also abused for their intoxicating effects, similar to other CNS depressants.
• GHB also has anabolic effects (it stimulates protein synthesis) and has been used by bodybuilders to aid in fat reduction and muscle building.
How Do Club Drugs Affect the Brain?
• At high doses, GHB’s sedative effects may result in sleep, coma, or death.
• Rohypnol can produce anterograde amnesia, in which individuals may not remember events they experienced while under the influence of the drug.
• Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, so called because it distorts perceptions of sight and sound and produces feelings of detachment from the environment and self. Low-dose intoxication results in impaired attention, learning ability, and memory. At higher doses, ketamine can cause dreamlike states and hallucinations; and at higher doses still, ketamine can cause delirium and amnesia.
Repeated use of GHB may lead to withdrawal effects, including insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating. Severe withdrawal reactions have been reported among patients presenting from an overdose of GHB or related compounds, especially if other drugs or alcohol are involved.
• Like other benzodiazepines, chronic use of Rohypnol can produce tolerance, physical dependence, and addiction.
• There have been reports of people binging on ketamine, a behavior that is similar to that seen in some cocaine- or amphetamine-dependent individuals. Ketamine users can develop signs of tolerance and cravings for the drug.
What Other Adverse Effects Do Club Drugs Have on Health?
Uncertainties about the sources, chemicals, and possible contaminants used to manufacture many club drugs make it extremely difficult to determine toxicity and associated medical consequences. Nonetheless, we do know that:
• Coma and seizures can occur following use of GHB. Combined use with other drugs such as alcohol can result in nausea and breathing difficulties. GHB has been
involved in poisonings, overdoses, date rapes, and deaths.
• Rohypnol may be lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other CNS depressants.
• Ketamine, in high doses, can cause impaired motor function, high blood pressure, and potentially fatal respiratory problems.
Methamphetamine is a very addictive stimulant drug. It can be smoked, injected, inhaled or taken by mouth. It has many street names, such as speed, meth, and chalk.
crystal, glass and tina.
Methamphetamine affects the brain and can create feelings of pleasure, increase energy and elevate mood. Abusers may become addicted quickly, needing higher doses more often. Adverse health effects include irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure and a variety of psychological problems. Long-term effects may include severe mental disorders,
memory loss and severe dental problems. What Type of Drug is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant drug that is similar in structure to amphetamine. Due to its high potential for abuse, methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug and is available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled. Although methamphetamine can be prescribed by a doctor, its medical uses are limited, and the doses that are prescribed are much lower than those typically abused. Most of the methamphetamine abused in this country comes from foreign or domestic superlabs, although it can also be made in small, illegal laboratories, where its production endangers the people in the labs, neighbors, and the environment.
How Is Methamphetamine Abused?
Methamphetamine is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol and is taken orally, intranasally (snorting the powder), by needle injection, or by smoking.
How Does Methamphetamine Affect the Brain?
Methamphetamine increases the release and blocks the reuptake of the brain chemical (or neurotransmitter) dopamine, leading to high levels of the chemical in the brain—a
common mechanism of action for most drugs of abuse. Dopamine is involved in reward,
motivation, the experience of pleasure, and motor function. Methamphetamine’s ability to
release dopamine rapidly in reward regions of the brain produces the intense euphoria, or
“rush,” that many users feel after snorting, smoking, or injecting the drug.
Chronic methamphetamine abuse significantly changes how the brain functions. Noninvasive human brain imaging studies have shown alterations in the activity of the dopamine system that are associated with reduced motor skills and impaired verbal learning. Recent studies in chronic methamphetamine abusers have also revealed severe structural and functional changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion and
memory, which may account for many of the emotional and cognitive problems observed in chronic methamphetamine abusers.
Repeated methamphetamine abuse can also lead to addiction—a chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, which is accompanied by chemical and molecular changes in the brain. Some of these changes persist long after methamphetamine abuse is stopped. Reversal of some of the changes, however, may be observed after
sustained periods of abstinence (e.g., more than 1 year).
What Other Adverse Effects Does Methamphetamine Have on Health?
Taking even small amounts of methamphetamine can result in many of the same physical effects as those of other stimulants, such as cocaine or amphetamines, including increased
wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and hyperthermia.
Long-term methamphetamine abuse has many negative health consequences, including
extreme weight loss, severe dental problems (“meth mouth”), anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. Chronic methamphetamine abusers can also display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, visual and auditory
hallucinations, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects crawling under the skin).
Transmission of HIV and hepatitis B and C can be consequences of methamphetamine abuse. The intoxicating effects of methamphetamine, regardless of how it is taken, can also alter judgment and inhibition and can lead people to engage in unsafe behaviors, including risky sexual behavior. Among abusers who inject the drug, HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases can be spread through contaminated needles, syringes, and other injection equipment that is used by more than one person. Methamphetamine abuse may also worsen the progression of HIV/AIDS and its consequences. Studies of methamphetamine abusers who are HIV-positive indicate that HIV causes greater neuronal injury and
cognitive impairment for individuals in this group compared with HIV-positive people who do not use the drug.
Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are synthetically produced variants of the naturally
occurring male sex hormone testosterone. “Anabolic” refers to muscle-building, and
“androgenic” refers to increased male sexual characteristics. “Steroids” refers to the class of
drugs. These drugs can be legally prescribed to treat conditions resulting from steroid hormone deficiency, such as delayed puberty, as well as diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass, such as cancer and AIDS.
How Are AAS Abused?
Some people, both athletes and non-athletes, abuse AAS in an attempt to enhance performance and/or improve physical appearance. AAS are taken orally or injected,
typically in cycles rather than continuously. “Cycling” refers to a pattern of use in which
steroids are taken for periods of weeks or months, after which use is stopped for a period of time and then restarted. In addition, users often combine several different types of steroids in an attempt to maximize their effectiveness, a practice referred to as “stacking.”
How Do AAS Affect the Brain?
The acute effects of AAS in the brain are substantially different from those of other drugs of abuse. The most important difference is that AAS are not euphorigenic, meaning they do not trigger rapid increases in the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is responsible for the
“high” that often drives substance abuse behaviors. However, long-term use of AAS can eventually have an impact on some of the same brain pathways and chemicals—such as dopamine, serotonin, and opioid systems—that are affected by other drugs of abuse.
Considering the combined effect of their complex direct and indirect actions, it is not surprising that AAS can affect mood and behavior in significant ways.
AAS and Mental Health
Preclinical, clinical, and anecdotal reports suggest that steroids may contribute to psychiatric dysfunction. Research shows that abuse of anabolic steroids may lead to aggression and other adverse effects. For example, although many users report feeling good about themselves while on anabolic steroids, extreme mood swings can also occur, including manic-like symptoms that could lead to violence. Researchers have also observed that users may suffer from paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility.
Animal studies have shown that AAS are reinforcing—that is, animals will self-administer AAS when given the opportunity, just as they do with other addictive drugs. This property is more difficult to demonstrate in humans, but the potential for AAS abusers to become addicted is consistent with their continued abuse despite physical problems and negative effects on social relations. Also, steroid abusers typically spend large amounts of time and money obtaining the drug: this is another indication of addiction. Individuals who abuse steroids can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking AAS—these include mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and steroid cravings, all of which may contribute to continued abuse. One of the most
dangerous withdrawal symptoms is depression— when persistent, it can sometimes lead to suicide attempts.
Research also indicates that some users might turn to other drugs to alleviate some of the negative effects of AAS. For example, a study of 227 men admitted in 1999 to a private treatment center for dependence on heroin or other opioids found that 9.3 percent had abused AAS before trying any other illicit drug. Of these, 86 percent first used opioids to counteract insomnia and irritability resulting from the steroids.
What Other Adverse Effects Do AAS Have on Health?
Steroid abuse can lead to serious, even irreversible health problems. Some of the most dangerous among these include liver damage; jaundice (yellowish pigmentation of skin,
tissues, and body fluids); fluid retention; high blood pressure; increases in LDL (“bad” cholesterol); and decreases in HDL (“good” cholesterol). Other reported effects include renal failure, severe acne, and trembling. In addition, there are some gender- and age- specific adverse effects:
• For men—shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, increased risk for prostate cancer
• For women—growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, deepened voice
• For adolescents—stunted growth due to premature skeletal maturation and accelerated puberty changes; risk of not reaching expected height if AAS is taken before the typical adolescent growth spurt
In addition, people who inject AAS run the added risk of contracting or transmitting HIV/AIDS or hepatitis, which causes serious damage to the liver.
Cocaine is a powerful drug that stimulates the brain. People who use it can form a strong addiction. They may have to use more and more of the drug to get high. It's sold on the street as a fine, white powder. There are two forms of cocaine: hydrochloride salt and freebase. The salt dissolves in water. People can take it in a vein or in the nose. The freebase form can be smoked. Crack is the street name of a smokable form of cocaine. No matter how cocaine is taken, it is dangerous. Some of the most common serious problems include
• Heart problems, including heart attacks
• Respiratory effects, including respiratory failure
• Nervous system problems, including strokes
• Digestive problems
Any of these can be fatal. Using cocaine with alcohol is a common cause of drug-related death.
What Type of Drug is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and then injected. Crack is the street name given to the form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal, which, when
heated, produces vapors that are smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound
produced by the rock as it is heated. How Is Cocaine Abused?
Three routes of administration are commonly used for cocaine: snorting, injecting, and smoking. Snorting is the process of inhaling cocaine powder through the nose, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues. Injecting is the use of a needle to insert the drug directly into the bloodstream. Smoking involves inhaling cocaine vapor or smoke into the lungs, where absorption into the bloodstream is as rapid as it is by injection. All three methods of cocaine abuse can lead to addiction and other severe health problems, including increasing the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.
The intensity and duration of cocaine’s effects—which include increased energy, reduced fatigue, and mental alertness—depend on the route of drug administration. The faster cocaine is absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the brain, the more intense the high. Injecting or smoking cocaine produces a quicker, stronger high than snorting. On the other hand, faster absorption usually means shorter duration of action: the high from snorting cocaine may last 15 to 30 minutes, but the high from smoking may last only 5 to 10 minutes. In order to sustain the high, a cocaine abuser has to administer the drug again.
For this reason, cocaine is sometimes abused in binges—taken repeatedly within a relatively short period of time, at increasingly higher doses.
How Does Cocaine Affect the Brain?
Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant that increases levels of dopamine, a brain chemical (or neurotransmitter) associated with pleasure and movement, in the
brain’s reward circuit. Certain brain cells, or neurons, use dopamine to communicate.
Normally, dopamine is released by a neuron in response to a pleasurable signal (e.g., the smell of good food), and then recycled back into the cell that released it, thus shutting off the signal between neurons.
Cocaine acts by preventing the dopamine from being recycled, causing excessive amounts of the neurotransmitter to build up, amplifying the message to and response of the
receiving neuron, and ultimately disrupting normal communication. It is this excess of
dopamine that is responsible for cocaine’s euphoric effects. With repeated use, cocaine can
cause long-term changes in the brain’s reward system and in other brain systems as well, which may eventually lead to addiction. With repeated use, tolerance to the cocaine high also often develops. Many cocaine abusers report that they seek but fail to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their first exposure. Some users will increase their dose in an attempt to intensify and prolong the euphoria, but this can also increase the risk of adverse psychological or physiological effects.
What Adverse Effects Does Cocaine Have on Health?
Abusing cocaine has a variety of adverse effects on the body. For example, cocaine constricts blood vessels, dilates pupils, and increases body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. It can also cause headaches and gastrointestinal complications such as abdominal pain and nausea. Because cocaine tends to decrease appetite, chronic users can become malnourished as well.
Different methods of taking cocaine can produce different adverse effects. Regular