Anabolic-androgenic steroids are man-made substances related to male sex hormones. “Anabolic” refers to muscle-building, and “androgenic” refers to increased masculine characteristics. “Steroids” refers to the class of drugs. These drugs are available legally only by prescription, to treat conditions that occur when the body produces abnormally low amounts of testosterone, such as delayed puberty and some types of impotence. They are also used to treat body wasting in patients with AIDS and other diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass. Abuse of anabolic steroids, however, can lead to serious health problems, some irreversible.
Cocaine is either snorted (sniffed), swallowed, injected, or smoked. Habitual snorting can result in serious damage to the nasal mucous membranes; shared needles put the user at increased risk of HIV infection. The street drug comes in the form of a white powder, cocaine hydrochloride. The hydrochloride salt and the cutting agents are removed to create the pure base product “freebase.” Freebase is smoked and reaches the brain in seconds. “Crack” cocaine, also called “rock,” is a form of freebase that comes in small lumps and makes a crackling sound when heated. It is rela
MDMA is a synthetic, psychoactive drug with both stimulant (amphetamine-like) and hallucinogenic (LSD-like) properties. Street names for MDMA include Ecstasy, Adam, XTC, hug, beans, and love drug. Its chemical structure (3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, “MDMA”) is similar to methamphetamine, methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), and mescaline – other synthetic drugs known to cause brain damage.
MDMA also is neurotoxic. In addition, in high doses it can cause a sharp increase in body temperature (malignant hyperthermia) leading to muscle breakdown and kidney and cardiovascular system failure.
The sticky resin of the marijuana plant is used to make hash. It can be collected by either thrashing the plants over cloth or plastic, and collecting the resin as it falls, or by simply rubbing the buds between the hands causing the resin to stick to them. Once the resin is collected, a small amount of water may be added and worked in to assure a uniform consistency. As a general rule, the darker the hash, the higher the quality.
Hash oil is a refined oily extract of the marijuana plant that has a very high THC content, generally ranging from 20-60%. Hash oil is light sensitive and is usually packed in dark colored glass vials.
Hash oil varies in color from a light honey, red, green, brown, and dark coal black. Hash oil is typically added to marijuana to enhance its potency.
Heroin is usually injected intravenously, but may also be injected intramuscularly or under the skin, smoked, or sniffed; effects last three to six hours. In some cases addicts gather in places called “shooting galleries,” often located in vacant buildings, which supply the necessary paraphernalia (e.g., hypodermic needle and spoon to heat and liquefy the heroin).
Sharing of heroin needles significantly increases the risk of acquiring AIDS (from contaminated blood left in the syringe). Different distributors of heroin often assign “brand names” to their products to enhance rumors of their strength (“Death Wish,” “DOA” ) or effects ( “Evening’s Delight,” “Magic” ).
Inhalants are breathable chemical vapors that produce psychoactive (mind-altering) effects. A variety of products commonplace in the home and in the workplace contain substances that can be inhaled. Many people do not think of these products, such as spray paints, glues, and cleaning fluids, as drugs because they were never meant to be used to achieve an intoxicating effect. Yet, young children and adolescents can easily obtain them and are among those most likely to abuse these extremely toxic substances. Parents should monitor household products closely to prevent accidental inhalation by very young children.
Ketamine, or ketamine hydrochloride, is a non-barbiturate, rapid-acting disassociate anesthetic used on both animals and humans; it also has been used in human medicine for pediatric burn cases and dentistry, and in experimental psychotherapy. It is being abused by an increasing number of young people as a “club drug,” and is often distributed at “raves” and parties.
Ketamine produces a dissociative state in a user. Effects can range from rapture to paranoia to boredom. The user feels its hallucinogenic effects and experiences impaired perception. Ketamine commonly elicits an out-of-body or near-death experience; it can render the user comatose.
LSD is a hallucinogenic drug that intensifies sense perceptions and produces hallucinations, mood changes, and changes in the sense of time. It also can cause restlessness, acute anxiety, and, occasionally, depression. Although lysergic acid itself is without hallucinogenic effects, lysergic acid diethylamide, one of the most powerful drugs known, is weight for weight 5,000 times as potent as the hallucinogenic drug mescaline and 200 times as potent as psilocybin. LSD is usually taken orally from little squares of blotter paper, gelatin “windowpanes,” or tiny tablets called microdots. The period of its effects, or “trip,” is usually 8 to 12 hours. Unexpected reappearances of the hallucinations, called “flashbacks,” can occur months after taking the drug.
The effects of marijuana vary with its strength and dosage and with the state of mind of the user. Typically, small doses result in a feeling of well-being. The intoxication lasts two to three hours, but accompanying effects on motor control last much longer. High doses can cause tachycardia, paranoia, and delusions. Although it produces some of the same effects as hallucinogens like LSD and mescaline (heightened sensitivity to colors, shapes, music, and other stimuli and distortion of the sense of time), marijuana differs chemically and pharmacologically.
The primary active component of marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), although other cannabin derivatives are also thought to be intoxicating. In 1988 scientists discovered receptors that bind THC on the membranes of nerve cells.
Marijuana lowers testosterone levels and sperm counts in men and raises testosterone levels in women. In pregnant women it affects the fetus and results in developmental difficulties in the child. There is evidence that marijuana affects normal maturation of preadolescent and adolescent users and that it affects short-term memory and comprehension. Heavy smokers often sustain lung damage from the smoke and contaminants. Regular use can result in dependence.
Methamphetamine, called meth, crystal, or speed, is a central nervous system stimulant that can be injected, smoked, snorted, or ingested orally; prolonged use at high levels results in dependence. Methamphetamine (MA) is a derivative of amphetamine, which was widely prescribed in the 1950s and 1960s as a medication for depression and obesity, reaching a peak of 31 million prescriptions in the United States in 1967. Until the late 1980s, illicit use and manufacture of MA was endemic to California, but the MA user population has recently broadened in nature and in regional distribution, with increased use occurring in midwestern states. An estimated 4.7 million Americans (2.1% of the U.S. population) have tried MA at some time in their lives.
Short- and long-term health effects of MA use include stroke, cardiac arrhythmia, stomach cramps, shaking, anxiety, insomnia, paranoia, hallucinations, and structural changes to the brain. Children of MA abusers are at risk of neglect and abuse, and the use of MA by pregnant women can cause growth retardation, premature birth, and developmental disorders in neonates and enduring cognitive deficits in children. MA-related deaths and admissions to hospital emergency rooms are increasing. Although inpatient hospitalization may be indicated to treat severe cases of long-term MA dependence, optimum treatment for MA abusers relies on an intensive outpatient setting with three to five visits per week of comprehensive counseling for at least the first three months.
PCP, commonly known as angel dust, is usually classified as a hallucinogen. However, it also has the effects of a stimulant, an anesthetic, or a narcotic pain-killer, depending on how much is taken. PCP has powerful and unpredictable hallucinogenic properties. As a result, individual PCP episodes can vary greatly. Many PCP users are brought to emergency rooms because of its unpleasant psychological effects or because of overdose. Continued PCP use can lead to psychological dependence, as well as tolerance. PCP is typically taken by the oral ingestion of tablets or capsules containing the powdered form. It is also commonly sniffed or smoked in combination with marijuana or tobacco.
A spineless cactus ingested by indigenous people in Mexico and the United States to produce visions. The plant is native to the SW United States, particularly S Texas, and Mexico, where it grows in dry soil. The plant is light blue-green, bears small pink flowers, and has a carrot-shaped root. The mushroom like crown, called a peyote, or mescal, button (but unrelated to the liquor mescal), is cut off, and chewed, brewed into a concoction for drinking, or rolled into pellets to be swallowed.
The active substance in peyote is mescaline, one of several naturally occurring hallucinogenic drugs . An alkaloid, mescaline tastes bitter, causes an initial feeling of nausea, then produces visions and changes in perception, time sense, and mood. There are no uncomfortable aftereffects, and the drug is not physiologically habit-forming.