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Drug Abuse and What Parents Should Know

by John M. Carpino

The problem of drug abuse is so complex and wide spread, it has no simple solution. A multilevel attack is necessary. Long term attacks necessitate educating children in the grammar and high schools. Mid level attacks include research on the physical and psychological effects and the antidotes for dependence. Efforts at rehabilitation of the drug dependent person fall in this category. Short term attacks on the drug problem include law enforcement's efforts to apprehend drug traffickers, which is only putting a dent into the real problem of drug abuse.

With obvious budget and manpower limits on local, county, and state law enforcement agencies, only so much can be done to combat the problem of drug abuse.

Each and every community, as well as individual, is in some way touched by the insidious tentacles of the illicit drug trafficker. Burglary, Theft, Robbery, Homicide and various other crimes are by-products of drug abuse.

Alcohol is still the number one drug problem and continues to grow. Marijuana is the second most abused drug with cocaine third. The following is an explanation of ROUTES OF DRUG USAGE:

Experimental Stage- A person tries a drug for the first time. Many stop here, but some will continue.

Recreational/Social Stage- Many go on to his stage and use drugs primarily during these occasions.

Dependency Stage- Those who continue use to where the drug becomes a regular part of their lifestyle. The lifestyle may even change to accommodate drug usage.

In my work I find the following drugs to be commonly abused:

Alcohol:     Alcohol enters the blood stream and affects the central nervous system and the spinal cord, where it acts as a sedative. Alcohol affects the brain, giving the drinker the high feeling of intoxication.

Marijuana:     Marijuana affects people differently. Some people experience a light headed, giddy feeling while others feel depressed or sad. Marijuana reduces motor skills such as those needed for safe driving. The green crushed plant substance is rolled into a cigarette or smoked in a pipe or similar device.

Cocaine:     Cocaine produces an intense rush of energy. It is said to generate a feeling of confidence in users as well as renewed strength and power. The fluffy, glistering white powder is widely used and is snorted through a straw or from a small spoon into the nasal passage.

Stimulants/Amphetamines:     Amphetamines effect the Central Nervous System differently than do depressant drugs. As an aid to losing weight, doctors feel amphetamines inhibit the appetite. A tolerance develops rapidly and the abuser becomes restless, nervous, perspires heavily, becomes irritable and paranoid. The abuser will often times exhibit aggressive behavior.

Depressants/Barbiturates:     Symptoms of this abuse include depression as well as slurred speech and loss of motor coordination. Most barbiturates are sedatives and are used to treat high blood pressure, insomnia, nervousness and pre- and post- operative anesthesia. Common barbiturates include seconal, tuinal, amytal, and nembutal. Barbiturate addiction is also dangerous since sudden withdrawal may result in convulsions and even death. Suicidal depression is always possible with this type of addiction. Gradual withdrawal under a doctor's care is needed.

PCP(Phencyclidine):     Symptoms are slurred speech and loss of coordination which may be accompanied by a sense of strength and invulnerability. It is manufactured in clandestine labs and appears in the form of an off-white powder which is usually tacky (moist). It may be injected, snorted or smoked.

Heroin:     Symptoms include drowsiness, sleep and respiratory depression. Paraphernalia to administer heroin include a needle/syringe, rope or rubber hose to tie off the upper arm making it easier to inject directly into the vein. Bent spoons are used to prepare the drug for injection by cooking the heroin with a few drops of water . After heating the solution it is drawn into the syringe and then injected directly into the bloodstream. Although hypodermic injection is how most people envision herion use, it is also smoked and snorted. Once consumed by the user, the effects are that of a depressant nature, often accompanied with a euphoria with the user's head nodding (called "going on the nod").

Crack:     The purest form of cocaine on the market and the new plague sweeping the U.S. This drug is said to be very addictive to the user, which coupled with the feeling of invulnerability leads users to go to any extreme to finance their addiction. Crack users are aware of their surroundings and often times commit crimes while on the drug. Crack it either smoked at the end of a cigarette or most commonly smoked in a glass crack pipe.

Parents need to be aware that physical symptoms will vary. The best indicator would be a change in the lifestyle or behavior of the person over a period of time. If there is a noticeable change in personal habits, lackluster attitudes or sudden change in behavior, all of these indicate that something unusual may be happening. It's a signal for the parent(s) to investigate further, that it might be drug related or may be due to a different cause.

Once you identify a problem with drug abuse the next step is to get help. Numerous programs are available through a variety of sources. Check with your local police agency, county Health Department, high school, church, and hospital for assistance.

The problem is not going to go away without the proper guidance and assistance of a professional. The longer you wait the bigger the problem is going to become. Waiting too long could be deadly!

SafetyCops say report any known drug dealing in your neighborhood to your local police. Get involved in your community, take a stand, and take your neighborhood back.

For more information on this and other related topics visit the Drug Enforcement Administrations website at:

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