An estimated 208 million people internationally consume illegal drugs. In the United States, results from the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that 19.9 million Americans (or 8% of the population aged 12 or older) used illegal drugs in the month prior to the survey.
The truth about Alcohol - What it Does: Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream from the digestive tract, and transported to the other body tissues. The effects vary based on many factors, including a person’s weight, age, and sex, as well as the amount of alcohol and food consumed.
Amphetamines - What it Does: Amphetamines can be taken orally, injected, smoked, or snorted.Injecting or smoking leads to an immediate intense sensation – a “rush” – that lasts only a few minutes and is described as extremely pleasurable. Oral or intranasal use produces a milder euphoria. Amphetamines taste extremely bitter, and injection and snorting are painful.
Anti-Anxiety Medicines- What it Does: Benzodiazepines relieve anxiety and insomnia when used as prescribed. They are generally well-tolerated and have a wide margin of safety. But even when used as directed, these drugs can have dangerous side effects. The user may experience drowsiness, dizziness, and lack of coordination that make driving or operating machinery dangerous. When combined with certain cold and allergy remedies, benzodiazepines can produce a dangerous level of sedation.
Club Drugs- What it Does: Club drugs are a pharmacologically heterogeneous group of psychoactive drugs that tend to be abused by teens and young adults at bars, nightclubs, concerts, and parties. Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), Rohypnol, ketamine, as well as MDMA (ecstasy) and methamphetamine are some of the drugs included in this group.
Cocaine Crack - What it Does: Cocaine may be used occasionally, daily, or in a variety of compulsive, repeated-use “binges”. Regardless of how it is used, cocaine is highly addictive. Crack cocaine and injected cocaine reach the brain quickly and bring an intense and immediate high. Snorted cocaine produces a high more slowly.
Ecstasy- What it Does: Ecstasy has been shown to cause brain damage in animals. It depletes a very important chemical in the brain, serotonin, which affects mood, sleeping and eating habits, thinking processes, aggressive behavior, sexual function, and sensitivity to pain. Studies with rats and monkeys have shown that the use of Ecstasy can reduce serotonin levels in the brain by 90% for at least two weeks.
Heroin - What it Does: Heroin is a fast-acting drug, especially when injected or smoked. Injected heroin reaches the brain in 15 or 30 seconds; smoked heroin reaches the brain in 7 seconds. The high from heroin is experienced as intense pleasure. Once a person begins using heroin, they quickly develop a tolerance to the drug and need more and more to get the same effects.
Inhalants - What it Does: Like anesthesia, inhalants slow down the body’s functions. The user may feel stimulated, disoriented, out-of-control, giddy, light-headed, and even display violent behavior. Inhalant abuse can cause severe damage to the brain and nervous system, leading to impaired mental and physical functioning. Because inhalants can starve the body of oxygen, they can lead to unconsciousness and death, commonly referred to as sudden sniffing death (SSD), even if used only once. Some kids use inhalants by spraying the substance into a plastic bag, paper bag, or balloon and holding the bag over their nose and mouth, putting them at risk of suffocation.
Marijuana / Cannabis
Marijuana- What it Does: All forms of cannabis are mind-altering (psychoactive) drugs; they all contain THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the main active chemical in marijuana. There are about 400 chemicals in a cannabis plant, but THC is the one that affects the brain the most.
Methamphetamine- What it Does: Methamphetamine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that dramatically affects the brain and the rest of the central nervous system. Meth's is an odorless, bitter-tasting, white crystalline powder that dissolves in water or alcohol. Meth has a high potential for abuse and may lead to psychological or physical dependence. Users, particularly during the withdrawal , or “tweaking” phase, may experience acute psychosis and commit acts of extreme violence.
Ritalin - What it Does: Ritalin stimulates the central nervous system and assists some people in concentrating and focusing on tasks. The drug produces a short-term mood elevation and some students abuse it to stay awake to either study or “party” longer. In most people the effects are short-lived and there is often a letdown or “crash” after they wear off. During this “crash” the person can feel very depressed, sleepy, and sluggish.