Drugs: the Highs and Lows
By Amy Erickson
Marijuana (weed, pot, bud)- A gray or green mixture
of dried leaves and flowers from the hemp plant that is usually
smoked or eaten.
PCP (angel dust, ozone, wack)- A white chrystalline
powder that is made illegally in laboratories. It is normally
snorted, smoked or eaten and is often found as an additive in
LSD (acid, tabs)- This is manufactured from lysergic
acid and is most commonly sold as colorful sheets of paper with
the drug imprinted on it ("blotter paper"). It is one
of the strongest mood-changing chemicals.
Mushrooms (shrooms, magic mushrooms)- Naturally
occuring mushrooms that contain psilocybin or psilocin- hallucinogenic
chemicals. These are eaten or drank as tea and affect perception
of touch, taste, sight and sound.
Cocaine/Crack (coke, snow, rock)- A highly addictive
drug that is inhaled, injected or smoked. When used heavily effects
include hallucinations, paranoia, agression, insomnia and depression.
Anabolic Steroids (rhoids, juice)- A group of potent compounds
related to the male sex hormone, testosterone. These are used
illegally by athletes to improve performance and appearance,
and are injected into muscle or taken orally. Steroids can cause
more than 70 side effects.
Heroin (dope, smack, big h)- A highly addictive drug
that comes from morphine. This is a downer drug that affects
the brain's ability to feel pain and the brain's pleasure system.
Heroin can be injected, smoked and inhaled.
Ecstasy (xtc, mdma, e)- This is a synthetic drug that
is both a stimulant and a hallucinogen. It stimulates the central
nervous system and causes hallucinogenic effects. Ecstasy is
swallowed, snorted, smoked or injected and is often associated
Methamphetamine (meth, speed, crystal, ice)- A stimulant
of the central nervous system, this is a crystal like-powder
substance that is sometimes found in large chunks. Psychological
symptoms of meth users are similar to those associated with schizophrenia.
Inhalants (laughing gas, solvents)- These are
ordinary household products such as cooking spray, paint thinner
and hairspray. Inhalants are sniffed, snorted, bagged or huffed.
Marijuana is called a gateway drug, meaning it can lead to
the use of various other drugs. Often teens begin smoking marijuana
once in a while at parties and soon they start smoking it after
school or on weekends with their friends. Before long, it is
used by youth at home, at school and any other chance they have.
Many people do not know what is in their pot, as it is often
laced with cocaine or contains PCP as an additive.
Cocaine, magic mushrooms and heroin are not used by teens as
often as marijuana, but they are much more dangerous. Often teens
that are using marijuana begin to look for other highs leading
them to stronger and more addictive drugs.
Teens who have drug problems don't often realize it because
their judgment is clouded. In some cases, drug use may take place
at the homes of these teenagers or by other members of their
family, and they consider it to be a normal practice.
Parents, friends, teachers or counselors can usually tell if
teens have drug problems. These youth will usually be very tired,
paranoid, secretive, angry or unsociable. They also lose interest
in sports or other activities which they were once involved in,
and school marks and attendance drop.
Many teens don't want to acknowledge that they have a drug problem
because they fear looking weak and being blamed for their problems.
Detoxification and counselling groups try not to put the blame
on anyone. They try to help the teen by addressing the problem
with advice, role playing and films to try to overcome drug abuse
and make teens feel good about themselves.
There are ways to prevent becoming a drug user. Teens should
become educated about drugs and be aware of the effects and consequences
of drug use. Participating in extra-curricular activities such
as sports, or joining clubs in the school or the community are
also ways to avoid the temptation to use drugs.
As the problem with teens and drugs continues to increase,
counsellors, family members and the public must find ways to
help youth make the responsible choice not to use drugs.
Most people, especially teens, do not realize the severe effects
that drug use can have on them both psychologically and physically.
"People use before thinking," says Barbara Unroe,
of the Mount Waddinton Community Health Council.
Drugs can have a more severe effect on young people than adults.
Teens don't require as much of a substance compared to an adult
to experience the same 'high'. This occurs because young people's
bodies are usually not as developed as those of adults, and therefore
the drug has a smaller area to affect.
The physical effects of drugs on teens are very serious. Hallucinogens
such as cocaine and LSD can cause people to experience such things
as "cokebugs," a sensation that causes the user to
think that insects or snakes are crawling under the skin. This
hallucination tremendously overworks the brain. Cocaine also
raises the heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature, which
can initiate heart failure, bursting blood vessels and high fevers.
Psychological effects of drugs such as LSD include flashbacks
even after drug use has ceased.