The Cons Of Drug Abuse Essay Sample
Drugs are substances that alter the various processes that occur in the brain and alleviate mood. Some of the commonly misused drugs include marijuana, stimulants, barbiturates, cocaine, opium derivatives, prescription drugs and minor tranquilizers. The use of these drugs can lead a lot of problems with the law, besides, physical, mental and social harm.
A survey conducted by the NHSDS in 1979, suggested that about 14% of the population aged 12 and above were using drugs at least a month back. From 1980 to 1998, this figure reduced to 6.2%, but again arose to 7.1% in 2001. It was about 39% in youths, which reduced to 14.4% in 1992, and then rose to 25.7% in 2001. In the military, about 27% of the staff had consumed drugs, which dropped to 2.7% in 1998. About 56% of the criminals in 1986, confessed to drug usage which was about 57% in 1997. Marijuana was the most frequently abused drug, followed by cocaine and opium derivatives (ONDCP, 2006).
Drug and related issues seem to be very costly in the US. In 1992, the estimated cost spent on drugs, treatment of abuse, loss of jobs, etc, was about 245.7 billion dollars, and about 77.7 billion was spent directly on purchase of drugs. Most of the cost related to drug abuse was borne by the Government and the Individual’s household. The cost rose sharply in 1992 to over 50% of the cost spend in 1985, because of the sudden cocaine use trends, the HIV/AIDS infection problem, the state’s increase in fines for drug related offences and associated rise in crimes that followed drug use (which occupied a major proportion). Between 1988 and 1995, about $38 billion was spent on cocaine, $9.6 billion on heroin, $7 billion on marijuana and $ 2.7 billion was spent on other drugs (NIDA, 2006).
Drugs may cause more serious problems in women compared to men. Women tend to be affected faster by drugs and the ill-effects seem to be more severe in women than men. In 2004, about 31% of the drug users were females. About 41% of the females above the age of 12 use drugs at least once in their lifetimes (ONDCP, 2007). Women who consume drugs during pregnancy could be seriously damaging the health of the unborn baby. Several problems such as premature delivery, low birth weight, reduced head size and having babies smaller in size, may arise. Several factors such as specific period during which the drug is consumed, amount and manner in which the drug is taken, maternal nutrition, etc, also play a very important role (NIDA, 2004). Children born of mother’s who abused marijuana during pregnancy had visual problems, palpitations, developmental problems and neurological disorders. They also had reduced memory and attention levels, and lower problem-solving capacity at school (NIDA, 2006).
Cocaine or ‘crack’ is a drug that has a stimulating effect and is usually sold as a white powder. Frequently, drug dealers mix cocaine with adulterating agents or fillers, which may even be more hazardous, because they may contain certain harmful agents and the drug user cannot determine the exact amount of cocaine they are consuming. The drug is usually smoked, but is also consumed by mouth, intranasal and injections. In 2002, about 2 million Americans were using cocaine. The drug can cause several ill-effects on the body such as sudden heart attacks, decrease in the sexual function, death (due to heart attack or reparatory failure), addiction (as the drug produces several pleasurable effects including euphoria, energetic feeling, mental alertness, etc), seizures, chest pain, respiratory problems, depression, stroke, abdominal pain and aggressiveness. A cocaine addict will spend any amount to obtain the drug. They begin to lose interest at home, workplace, school or social interactions. In order to feel normal, they have to consume the drug. Cocaine produces its effect by bringing about certain alterations in the chemical transmitters present in the brain.
These alterations can result in a lot of mental problems when the drug is not stopped (such as depression). Hence, the individual feels the needs to consume the drug to counteract these problems. Once the user stops consuming the drug, several withdrawal symptoms develop known as ‘anhedonia’ (difficult in enjoying life) (Cleveland Clinic, 2007). On consuming the drug for prolonged periods of time, the individual develops tolerance, and feels the need to consume greater doses of the drug in order to bring about the same effect. Some ill-effects cocaine causes depend on the manner in which the drug is consumed. If the drug is consumed by snorting, the individual can lose the smell sensation, and develop nose-bleeding, dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), irritation of the nasal mucosa, hoarseness of the voice, etc. When consumed by mouth, the intestinal mucosa may begin to degenerate because the blood vessels that supply these regions get obstructed. If consumed by injection mode, the risk of developing sudden allergic reactions and several infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B infections are very high. Besides, the several problems may develop at the injection site such as pain, swelling, infection, etc (NIDA, 2004).
Marijuana is the most abused drug in the US, and is usually smoked as a cigar or in the form of a pipe. About 14 million Americans used the drug at least once in 2004. A greater percentage of these were individuals under the age of 18 years. Like cocaine, the drug when smoked, is rapidly absorbed from the lungs into the bloodstream, from where it enters the brain. It attaches itself to certain receptors (binding sites) present in the brain, where it produces its effect. People consuming marijuana have several problems such as concentration problems, difficulty in learning, memory loss, loss of coordination, abnormal thinking processes, judgmental difficulties, reduced problem-solving abilities, rise in the blood pressure, etc. The drug has a similar action on the brain compared to cocaine, and hence the long-term effects also seem to be similar. The nerves cells present in the brain that are stimulated by dopamine (a chemical nerve transmitter) are affected in marijuana abuse. Marijuana smoking may be even harsher than tobacco smoking.
People who consume marijuana seem to have more health problems and may not be able to function normally at home, school or at the workplace, compared to tobacco smokers. Besides, marijuana smokers are at a greater risk of developing many of the ill-effects which also smokers’ experience, such as chronic bronchitis, cough, chest pain, lung infections, obstructed airways, lung cancer, reduced oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, heart disorders, etc. Evidence suggests that the risk of developing cancer following marijuana smoking is three or four times greater compared to tobacco smoking. This may be due to the fact that marijuana smoke contains more than 50% to 70% carcinogens compared to tobacco smoke. Marijuana also reduces the body’s ability to fight foreign substances and infection. Several other problems such distress, aggression, personality problems, addiction, etc, may also develop in relation to marijuana abuse (NIDA, 2006).
Another concerning problem, is the rising misuse of prescription drugs amongst teens and young adults in America. Some of the most abused drugs include cough suppressants, sedatives, pain medications and stimulants. Some teens may consider that consuming prescription drugs are relatively safer, cheaper, easier to access and better legal alternatives, compared to cocaine or marijuana. However, consuming any drug (except under strict medical supervision) can result in development of several serious problems with heath (The Partnership for Drug-free America, 2006).
Heroin, another additive drug, is obtained from poppy seeds and is available as a white or brown powder. The effects of the drug are similar to that of cocaine and marijuana. The drug depresses the central nervous system and the individual experiences bouts of wakeful and sleepy states following its consumption. Heroine may cause serious effects on the developing baby when consumed during pregnancy. These include spontaneous abortion, development defects and low-birth weight. The drug is often adulterated with several other substances. When such substances are injected into the blood they can obstruct the blood flow to vital organs and can cause serious complications. Towards the end of 2003, 8% of the drug-related emergencies arose from heroin-misuse. Heroin use can also result in addiction and tolerance. Withdrawal symptoms (that appear once the drug is stopped) usually arise after 48 to 72 hours once the drug is stopped, and include sleeplessness, vomiting, nausea, etc (NIDA, 2006).
People may be abusing drugs for a number or reasons, but not only are the families, communities and the Government paying a huge price, but also the individual through the potential hazards and ill-effects the drug has over health. There is a strong link between crime and drug abuse. Use of several drugs has increased in the recent past. Drugs can seriously alter the physical and mental functioning of the individual. Besides, withdrawal symptoms in case the drug is stopped can be very serious. Many people have lost their lives due to drug overdose and intoxication. Hence, it would be better to stay away from such habits.
NIDA. “Cocaine Abuse and Addiction.” NIDA Research Report Series. 2004. National Institute on Drug Abuse. 16 Jan. 2007. http://www.nida.nih.gov/PDF/RRCocain.pdf
NIDA. “NIDA Info Facts: Costs to Society.” NIDA: Trends and Statistics. 2006. National Institute on Drug Abuse. 16 Jan. 2007.
NIDA. “NIDA Info Facts: Heroin.” NIDA: Drugs of Abuse. 2006. National Institute on Drug Abuse. 16 Jan. 2007. http://www.nida.nih.gov/Infofacts/heroin.html
NIDA. “NIDA Info Facts: Marijuana.” NIDA: Drugs of Abuse. 2006. National Institute on Drug Abuse. 16 Jan. 2007.
ONDCP. “Drug Use Trends October 2002.” ONDCP Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse Fact Sheet. 2006. Executive Office of the President Office of National Drug Control Policy. 16 Jan. 2007. http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/factsht/druguse/
The Cleveland Clinic. “Cocaine and Crack.” 2007. The Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center. 16 Jan. 2007. http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/health-info/docs/0000/0060.asp?index=4038
The Partnership for a Drug Free America. “Prescription Medicine Abuse: A Growing Problem.” 2006. Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. 16 Jan. 2007.