The War on Drugs
Millions of people use drugs every day, from tobacco to alcohol to marijuana to heroin. People rely on drugs to help deal and cope with everyday life. Those people can get help from a rehabilitation center or therapy but choose not to. If too much is taken, an overdose can happen and it may cause death. Babies could be harmed in the womb if the mother does drugs while pregnant. Premature births can also occur. There are so many other reasons why doing drugs can be harmful and dangerous.
Nicotine is one of the most widely used psychoactive drugs. (Coon & Mitterer, 2007) It is so harmful, that it is used to kill insects. Fifty to seventy - five milligrams of nicotine consumed by a nonsmoker could be lethal. About seventeen to twenty - five cigarettes can produce this kind of dosage, if chained smoked. Regular smokers build up tolerance for nicotine. A heavy smoker may smoke forty cigarettes without feeling sick, whereas a nonsmoker may get sick from smoking just one or two cigarettes. Some symptoms from inhaling large doses are muscle tremors, cold sweats, stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion and dizziness. Sixty percent of regular smokers between ages fifteen to twenty - four are addicted. Usually when smokers try to quit, the withdrawals may cause insomnia, sweating, cramps, digestive upset, headaches, irritability and a sharp craving for cigarettes. According to the Surgeon General, "smoking harms nearly every organ of the body (Coon & Mitterer, 2007), leading to an increased risk of many cancers, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, and reproductive disorders. Together, these risks can reduce a person's life expectancy of an average smoker by ten to fifteen years. (Coon & Mitterer, 2007) Smokers who use just a pinch of smokeless tobacco are about the same amount as smoking three or four cigarettes. Users of smokeless tobacco have a higher risk of oral cancer. Every year more people die from tobacco then from alcohol use, illegal drug use, murders, suicides, car accidents, and AIDS combined.
Alcohol is the world's favorite depressant and is known as the gateway drug. Many college students tend to destroy property, have accidents, get into fights, engage in risky sex or sexually assault others. When a person is drunk, thinking and decision making become dulled or shortsighted. One person dies every twenty minutes in an alcohol-related car accident. Alcohol is closely linked to a number of physical and mental problems such as depression. Depending on the stage of depression, the use of alcohol may create a situation that could lead up to a suicide attempt. Teens who consume alcohol may engage in risky sexual intercourse such as having unprotected sex which increases the chances of catching an STD (Kittleson & Ragon, 2005). Women who drink alcohol are faced with greater health concerns. The risk of liver disease, depression and osteoporosis are greater. As little as three drinks a week can increase the chance of breast cancer by fifty percent.
The earliest known use of marijuana (also known as cannabis) was in 2737 B.C. in a Chinese medical text. From China, marijuana spread to the south and west to India. Hindus included the drug in marriage ceremonies and festivals. Cannabis arrived in America with the Virginia settlers in 1607 and the first known use as an intoxicant dates back to the early 1900s. The settlers had grown their own crops to make clothes. George Washington grew hemp on his Virginia farm, as entered in his diary. He had no interest in consuming his crops, so he destroyed the leafy parts of the plant. In 1914, Congress passed the Harrison Narcotic Act stating there would be no more use of the plant for recreational purposes and in 1915 California was the first state to use this act, next was Texas in 1919. By the 1930s all but two of the forty - eight states had passed this law. Illegal tearooms opened up, the rooms served a potent tea brewed from marijuana or sold marijuana cigarettes which was sold for as little as twenty - five cents (Marcovitz, 2007). When Mexicans grew marijuana, they harvested the cannabis leaves and then dried in the open. Binding agents, Coca-Cola for example, was poured over the dried leaves and pressed into bricks. Weeks may pass before these bricks of marijuana are brought over the border, giving plenty of time for bacteria and mold to grow. Several reports were made from epidemic-proportion outbreaks of illness resulting from improperly or contaminated handled marijuana. Eighty - five people were hospitalized for salmonella in seven states. Each April 20, thousands of Americans come together and rally for marijuana laws that have been adopted in the Netherlands and other European countries. This tradition first started in San Rafael, California, where starting in 1971 a group of high school students met each day at 4:20 P.M. to smoke marijuana. Since then April 20 4-20 on the calendar was set as an unofficial holiday to pay tribute to marijuana and rally for liberalization of marijuana laws. In Amsterdam and many other European cities have coffee shops where smoking marijuana is legal. If caught smoking marijuana on the streets, will incur a fine of fifty euros which is about sixty three dollars (Marcovitz, 2007). Some hazardous effects and health problems have been reported, although no reports of overdose deaths from marijuana. If a person smokes marijuana just once a week, it never really leaves the body. "Marijuana smoke contains fifty percent more cancer causing hydrocarbons and sixteen times more tar than tobacco smoke does. Thus, smoking several marijuana cigarettes a week may be the equivalent of smoking a dozen tobacco cigarettes a day. In regular users, marijuana increases the risk of a variety of cancers, including prostate and cervical cancer. (Coon & Mitterer, 2007, p. 211) THC can suppress the body's immune system, increasing the risk of disease. People who smoke five or more marijuana cigarettes a week score four points lower on IQ tests.
Cocaine has been dated back to 3000 B.C. In 1551 A.D. the bishop of Cuzco banned its use and called it "an evil agent of the Devil. Anyone possessing or using cocaine could be burned at the stake. The famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes injected cocaine to relieve boredom when he was not working on a case, and Robert Louis Stevenson supposedly wrote the novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde while under the influence of cocaine. (Kittleson & Ragon, 2005) One of the biggest supporters of cocaine was Sigmund Freud, while searching for a cure for nervous exhaustion and morphine addiction, Freud found the cocaine relieved his own depression. In 1886 when the United States Pure Food and Drug Act were passed, Coca Cola contained cocaine. John S. Pemberton combined caramel, phosphoric acid, and extract of the kola nut that contained caffeine, and cocaine.
- Coon, D., & Mitterer, J. O. (2007). Introduction To Psychology: Gateways To Mind and Behavior (12th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
- Kittleson, M. J., & Ragon, B. (2005). The Truth About Drugs. New York, NY: Book Builders LLC.
- Marcovitz, H. (2007). Marijuana. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale.