Prescription drugs, over the counter medications, and street drugs are becoming more and more of a problem and we must stay ahead of the game on what is out there. Street drugs are becoming more potent every year which means so many more people are dying than ever before. It is an epidemic we need to keep bringing light too. I’m going to go over the 6 classes of drugs and how they affect the body and brain and bring to light a part of the history of one of the drugs in each class.
Stimulants Typically, the most abused stimulants are nicotine and caffeine. I know I can’t go a day without a soda or a coffee and the same with most of my family and friends. Then I look around to see how many of them smoke or chew and I would say 90% of them do. Out of all my friends, I’m the only one who doesn’t smoke.
But why are stimulants so addictive when according to (Hanson, Venturelli, & Fleckenstein, 2018) they not only cause an increased alertness, excitation, euphoria, pulse rate, blood pressure but other effects may be confusion, anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, insomnia, and loss of interest in sex. (Hanson, Venturelli, & Fleckenstein, 2018, p. 12). Many types of stimulant drugs are associated with heightened dopamine release, which can result in a powerful sense of well-being, increased energy, attention, and alertness. (Drugabuse.com, 2017).There are other drugs that are more dangerous then caffeine and nicotine that are stimulants that you wouldn’t think would be in the same class as them. Cocaine, Adderall, and Crack to name a few. Typically, these drugs are taken orally, smoked, snorted and/or even injected. One of the most surprising pieces I found on the history of Adderall according to (Benson, 2015 ) was when amphetamine was first synthesized by a Romanian chemist named Lazr Edeleanu in 1887 he wrote extensively on amphetamine but never discovered what physiological effects it had. In 1929 Gorden Alles patented amphetamine sulfate and amphetamine hydrochloride then in 1932 he published the effects. By 1934 a decongestant inhaler called Benzedrine was unveiled and by the end of the 1930s Adderall took over college campus’. (Benson, 2015). Adderall still impacts students on college campus’ every day. Needing to stay up late to study or party. It gives them increased alertness and energy that they are seeking. Knowing first hand from spiritual practices in our household Native Americans use tobacco for praying. My son uses it to gift it to the Great Spirit when he is talking to him but it is not smoked. CNS Depressants One type of CNS Depressant is benzodiazepines which would be Xanax, Valium, or Ativan. I’m very familiar with Xanax after my ex-husband went to prison, I had a really hard time and my doctor prescribed a generic form of Xanax call alprazolam, so I can relate on how fast you can become hooked, dependent and, how the withdrawals felt, then I said I want my life back after 3 years of being on them. CNS Depressants are a sedative and diminish the brains’ level of awareness. (Hanson, Venturelli, & Fleckenstein, 2018, pp. 186-187). Which is why I ended up loving them. I really liked not having the worried feeling all the time. I always think the worst is going to happen and didn’t know how to deal with it, so this took care of my worries, but it also made me not there for my children like I should have been which is one of my biggest regrets! Benzodiazepines also serve to increase levels of GABA in the brain and slow functions of the central nervous system. (American Addiction Center, 2018 ). Barbiturates, Chloral hydrate, and antihistamines are other forms of CNS Depressants. But not all CNS depressants are prescribed they can also be found in cold and allergy medications. (Hanson, Venturelli, & Fleckenstein, 2018, p. 194). Typically, these are taken orally or crushed up. I have seen people snort them. According to (Hanson, Venturelli, & Fleckenstein, 2018) the first attempts to find CNS depressants other than alcohol that could be used to treat nervousness and anxiety began in the 1800s with bromides. They ended up being very toxic but in the early 1900s bromides were replaced with barbiturates but like any other drug people became dependent and started overdosing on them. (Hanson, Venturelli, & Fleckenstein, 2018, p. 186). How CNS depressants have affected society today is like anything else as a quick fix to hide our feelings. We are not getting to the bottom of our issues. Give us a pill and go on our way. It is an unhealthy outlook on life to live like zombies basically. HallucinogensSome hallucinogens are phencyclidine (PCP), Peyote, tryptamines, LSD, and psilocybin. Hallucinogens can be ingested orally, smoked, drank, or snorted. They affect the mind by causing users to see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist. Native Americans have used hallucinogenic as a way to speak with God directly. (Hanson, Venturelli, & Fleckenstein, 2018).According to (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016) there are many short and long-time effects of using a hallucinogen and depending on what you take whether it interferes with the brain chemical serotonin or glutamate. Some of the short-term effects are mood, sensory perception, sleep, hunger, sexual behavior, emotion, and pain perception. There are also long-term effects Persistent psychosis and flashbacks which can occur but are rare. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016). According to (Kabil, 2016) Albert Hofmann synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) instead of a stimulant he was intending to make. He set it aside for five years then he accidentally absorbed some on his skin he then experienced a change in his consciousness. He then concluded the drug should be used for psychotherapeutic use. Even though LSD has been illegal since the 1960’s they are starting to experiment with it again. Silicon Valley engineers are taking micro-doses of LSD at work as an alternative to Adderall. Religious organizations are having their use of psychedelics validated in the court of law. (Kabil, 2016).Inhalants When it comes to inhalants, they are broking down into three groups; volatile substances, anesthetics, and nitrites. (Hanson, Venturelli, & Fleckenstein, 2018, p. 469). Some volatile substances include aerosols, toluene, butane, and propane. (Sutter Health, 2013). Inhalants are typically inhaled by bagging, snorting, or huffing. It is an extremely dangerous way to get high and can affect all your major organs it also starves your body of oxygen. Also, can cause Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome on the first use or the 12th time (SSDS). (Hanson, Venturelli, & Fleckenstein, 2018, p. 468). The abuse of inhalants can be traced back to 1776. Joseph Priestley a chemist synthesized nitrous oxide. Later he and Humphry Davy suggested correctly that the gas could be useful as an anesthetic. (Hanson, Venturelli, & Fleckenstein, 2018, p. 469). Over the years and as of today many household products are used to get high. It is so easy for kids to get ahold of these products because they are in our bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and garages. Cannabinoids Marijuana is the major type of cannabis but there are others in this group like hashish, marijuana wax, and synthetic marijuana. Normally these are taken orally or smoked. For a lot of people, it relaxes them, dry mouth, an increase in appetite, it alters your perception, and your reaction time so just like drinking you should not drive. (Hanson, Venturelli, & Fleckenstein, 2018, p. 436). November 2000 voters voted to pass Amendment 20 for use of medical marijuana. Then again in November of 2012 voters passed The Colorado Amendment 64 which led to Marijuana becoming legal in 2014 as recreational. (Wikipedia, n.d.). Colorado has collected over $247 million in taxes, fee, and licensing cost in 2017. Then according to (Colorado Department of Revenue, n.d.) In 2016-2017 the first $40M of the Retail Marijuana Excise Tax revenues was distributed to the Public-School Capital Construction Assistance Fund. The excise tax collections were transferred to the public-school funds. (Colorado Department of Revenue, n.d.). I support medical marijuana because I think that the little bit of information, we do have on it with CBD oil has really started helping people. I do believe that there needs to be a way to make sure people are not driving while high on it and should be treated just like drunk driving. Narcotics Finally, I’m going to look at narcotics, many people think marijuana is the gateway drug, but I think narcotics are. So many people get prescribed these drugs every day and it doesn’t take long before they are hooked on them. It is surprising how fast it can happen. Also, when I talk to my teenager about drinking and drugs and ask him why he never goes to parties (I don’t want him to but it’s something I would do on a weekend when I was in high school) he said why they don’t drink at the parties like you did they always have a pharmaceutical party. I’m so proud of him and his friends they are at my house every weekend choosing to live a better life. Heroin, fentanyl, hydrocodone, and codeine are a few types of narcotics out there. Narcotics can be taken orally, injected, snorted, and smoked. The opioid narcotics relieve pain by activating the same group of receptors that are controlled by the endogenous substances called endorphins they then block the transmission of pain through the spinal cord or brain stem and alters the perception of pain in the brain. (Hanson, Venturelli, & Fleckenstein, 2018, p. 292). Besides the huge possibility of becoming addicted to narcotics, some other side effects are constipation, drowsiness, and nausea and then the withdrawals when you can’t get them. In 1914 The Harrison Narcotic Act was passed it is a federal law that regulated and taxed the production, importation, and distribution of opiates and cocoa products. (Wikipedia, n.d.). The Harrison Narcotic Act was the start of action brought against opioids and today we have a war against them. They are getting stronger every day. Every day people are dying from them because they are being laced with something stronger or they just need more and more to get through the day. I know they are cracking down on handing on a prescription to just anyone know but I feel it’s too late. They already created monsters of people just covering up problems not dealing with them. Overall, I think we have a huge problem because we over prescribed and are not actually getting to the root of the problems we have. I was never once referred to a counselor while I was on my medications. We are a society of people just looking for a quick fix everything has to be instantaneous otherwise it doesn’t work but we are not addressing things like mental health. We have a real problem in America and I hope we find a way better way to fight this epidemic soon.