Drugs abuse has perennially been considered as a social malaise. As numerous surveys have indicated, it is disturbing to note that more than half of all high school age kids have used drugs before. Self-report surveys indicate that more than half of high school seniors have tried drugs and almost 80 percent have used alcohol (Institute for Social Research, 12/16/2002). Adolescents at high risk for drug abuse often come from the most impoverished communities and experience a multitude of problems, including school failure and family conflict. Also, equally troubling is the association between drug use and crime.
Research indicates that 10 percent of all juvenile male arrestees in some cities test positive for cocaine (National Institute of Justice, 2003). The drug problems is so widespread that the US taxpayers spend $69 billion a year on the “war on drugs” – including the gigantic cost of arresting, trying or imprisoning 1. 6 million Americans annually – but the war is being lost, because narcotics abuse remains as extensive as ever and the crimes caused by it is growing (The Charleston Gazette 6/10/2006, p. 4A). At present, there is a wide variety of substances referred to as drugs that could be in danger to be abused.
Not to mention, the appearance of newer substances, known as designer drugs, that are popular among the younger generation. Although some of these drugs are not addicting, some create hallucinations, others cause a depressed stupor and a few give an immediate feeling of “high”. Relatively, all drugs can be abused and because of the danger they present, many have been banned from private use. Other drugs are available legally only with a physician’s supervision, and a few are available to adults but prohibited for children. Major Drugs Heroin is probably the most dangerous commonly abused drug.
Users rapidly build up a tolerance for it, fueling the need for increased doses to obtain the desired effect. At first heroin is usually sniffed or snorted; as tolerance builds, it is “skin popped” (shot into skin, but not into a vein); and finally it is injected into a vein, or “mainlined” (Neaigus et al. 1998, p. 110). As the most commonly used narcotic in the United States, heroin is produced from opium, a drug derived from the opium poppy flower. Dealers cut the drug with neutral substances (sugar or lactose), and street heroin is often only 1 to 4 percent pure.
At first, heroin users could experience relief from fear and apprehension, release of tension, and elevation of spirits. This short period of euphoria is followed by a period of apathy, during which users become drowsy and may nod off. Through progressive use, the user becomes an addicted to it. A heroin addict could heed an overpowering physical and psychological need to continue taking a particular substance by any means possible. If addicts cannot get enough heroin to satisfy their habit, they will suffer withdrawal symptoms, which include irritability, depression, extreme nervousness, and nausea (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2006).
On the other hand, another common drug is cocaine, an alkaloid derivative of the coca plant. When first isolated in 1860, it was considered a medicinal breakthrough that could relieve fatigue, depression, and other symptoms, and it quickly became a staple of patent medicines. When this drug was discovered to be a powerful natural stimulant, it was banned because using it produces euphoria, restlessness, and excitement. Another form of cocaine is called “crack”, which is cocaine that has not been neutralized by an acid to make the hydrochloride salt.
This form of cocaine comes in a rock crystal that can be heated and its vapors smoked. As the term implies, it is derived from the “crack” sound heard when it is heated. Overdoses from cocaine can cause delirium, violent manic behavior, and possible respiratory failure. This drug can be sniffed, or “snorted,” into the nostrils, or it can be injected. The immediate feeling of euphoria, or “rush,” is short-lived, and heavy users may snort coke as often as every ten minutes (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2006).
Since it is legal, alcohol remains to be the drug of choice for most people, especially teenagers. More than 70 percent of high school seniors reported using alcohol in 2003, and 78 percent say they have tried it at some time during their lifetime; by the twelfth grade just under two-thirds (62 percent) of American youth report that they have “been drunk” (Institute for Social Research, 12/16/2002). When someone is addicted to alcohol, it is called alcoholism. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA, 2006) classified alcoholism as a disease that includes the following four symptoms:
• Craving–A strong need, or urge, to drink. • Loss of control–Not being able to stop drinking once drinking has begun. • Physical dependence–Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping drinking. • Tolerance–The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get “high. ” Alcohol-related deaths account for more than one hundred thousand a year, far more than all other illegal drugs combined. Just over 1. 4 million drivers are arrested each year for driving under the influence (including 13,400 teen drivers), and around 1.
2 million more are arrested for other alcohol-related violations (Federal Bureau of Investigation 2002, p. 38). For instance, University of Maryland freshman named Daniel Reardon had no history of alcohol abuse. But at his fraternity initiation party, he drank large amounts of beer and then his so-called friends poured bourbon down his throat. Daniel went into a coma and several days later, he died. Another instance occurred in Colorado, sixteen-year-old Brandon, who had his truck collided head-on with another truck. His friends Robert and Todd both died.
Brandon suffered serious injuries. It has been later reported that all three boys had been drinking, according to the Colorado State Highway Patrol (Kowalski 2003, p. 7-8). Alcohol could not only lead to death, but could spark somebody to commit a violent crime. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA, 2006) studies have shown that at least one-half of all violent crimes involve drinking by the attacker, the victim, or both. An example of this is when Louisiana police arrested a 15-year-old boy after a fight broke out during a party with drinking.
The boy allegedly beat one 16-year-old boy with a flashlight and shot another in the legs (Kowalski 2003, p. 9). In Dallas, Rocky Anderson, 24, pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter in the death of 10-year-old Braden Hopkins, who was hit by Anderson’s car and killed in 2003 (Associated Press, 5/20/2005). Conclusion Indeed, society has still a long way to go to fight the war against drug abuse. Concerted law enforcement efforts should go along with education, prevention programs and treatment projects in order to curb the abuse of these illicit drugs and the crimes that is caused by it.
Although all these drug control strategies could doom to fail, people just do not take drugs because they wanted to and its dealers find its sales as a lucrative source of income. Thus, for these drug problems to be solved, the government should also try seek to answer the roots of poverty, alienation, and family disruption so that people, especially youths, would realize the deleterious effects of these drugs. References Associated Press. (5/20/2005). DUI Killer Ordered Jailed at Holidays. San Diego Tribune Website. Retrieved 17 June 2006 at http://www.
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