One of every parent’s worst nightmares is their teenage daughter or son becoming a drug addict. As parents, we have or will have to come to terms with the fact that we cannot always know what is happening in our children’s life. Children, from even before adolescence, will want to spread their wings, search for their own answers, and walk their own path in life.
Our role as parents, is to be able to protect and guide our children while giving them the freedom of choice and expression they need to grow, evolve and create their own unique personality. All of us, however, should be thoroughly informed on the signs and dangers of drugs and be on the lookout for anything out of place or different in our children’s lives. Although we can not and should not follow them around all day there are other things we can do to help.
We all have the obligation and responsibility to get to know a few facts about recreational but also heavier drugs and their signs and symptoms. Parent’s shouldn’t just blindly count on a ‘child-parent’ trust relationship that comes with a, sometimes, naive mentality and attitude. A good parent is actively involved in his/her child’s life.
Drugs are, unfortunately, everywhere. Mostly, in the one place we expect to find them the least – schools. A 16 year old schoolgirl gives us just a small taste of what is happening in many schools, today.
“A lot of young people today think that drugs offer a solution to their problems. I know this first hand since I have been around other students and also my friends during class breaks. I usually hear them say: ‘my problems at home made me take drugs’, ‘my life is hard and that’s way I smoke drugs’.
However, I believe that this is just an excuse for an easy way out.One of the most used drugs at my school is Marijuana. Many of my friends smoke that inside but also outside school. They all consider Marijuana a very safe and ‘normal’ drug. I doubt if any of them are really aware of its dangers. Smoking has become a way of life, the norm, a part of their daily reality. ‘Using Marijuana is good for me’ – a friend of mine always says.The amount of drug use at my school scales from 2 to 4 cigarettes daily, only during school hours.
Many of these young people often find it hard to communicate, speak properly or think sharply after only a few puffs of their ‘joint’.It is so sad for me and others like me to watch our friends getting wasted like that every day and even sadder is the fact that all the teachers in my school are aware of this and they do….NOTHING. That way, they give us the impression that they agree with this drug use in the school and they really don’t mind.They give us the ‘go ahead’ in drug use and to those users the confirmation to their beliefs that smoking Marijuana is one of the most accepted things to do in adolescence.Unfortunately, other than advising them and sharing what little knowledge I have, myself, there is nothing else I can actually do for my friends. If only there was more education at school and adequate and effective help for the young people who use drugs as the only way out of their problems.” – Lina, 16
So, let’s get to know what kind of drugs are out there, what they look like and what are some of their usual giveaway signs.
Heroin is a highly addictive drug and the most rapidly acting of the opiates. Heroin can be injected, smoked or sniffed/snorted.
What does it look like: Heroin is typically sold as a white or brownish or as the black sticky substance known on the streets as “black tar heroin”. Although purer heroin is becoming more common, most street heroin is “cut” with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine.
Effects: Because it enters the brain so rapidly, heroin is particularly addictive, both psychologically and physically. Heroin abusers report feeling a surge of euphoria or “rush” followed by a twilight state of sleep and wakefulness. One of the most significant effects of heroin is addiction. With regular heroin use, tolerance to the drug develops.
Once this happens, the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity. As higher doses of the drug are used over time, physical dependence and addiction to drug develop. Physical symptoms of heroin use include: drowsiness, respiratory depression, constricted pupils,nausea, a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and heavy extremities
Street names: Big H, Black, Tar, Chiva, Hell Dust, Horse, Negra, Smack, and Thunder.
It is a synthetic (man-made) narcotic. Methadone is available as a tablet, disc, oral solution, or injectable liquid. Tablets are available in 5 mg and 10 mg formulations. As of January 1, 2008, manufacturers of methadone hydrochloride tablets 40 mg (dispersible) have voluntarily agreed to restrict distribution of this formulation to only those facilities authorized for detoxification and maintenance treatments of opioid addiction,and hospitals.
What does it look like: Methadone can be swallowed or injected.
Effects: Methadone leads to psychological dependence. Also, when an individual used methadone he/she may experience physical symptoms like sweating, itchy skin, or sleepiness. Individuals who abuse methadone risk becoming tolerant of and physically dependent on the drug.
Street names: Amidone, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Fizzies, Maria, Pastora, Salvia, Street Methadone, and Wafer.
It is a non-synthetic narcotic with a high potential for abuse and is the principal constituent of opium. It is one of the most effective drugs known for the relief of severe pain. Those dependent on morphine prefer injection because the drug enters the bloodstream more quickly.
What does it look like: Traditionally, morphine was almost exclusively used by injection, but the variety of pharmaceutical forms that its is marketed as today support its use by oral and other routes of administration. These forms include: oral solutions, immediate-and sustained-release tablets and capsules, suppositories, and injectable preparations.
Effects: Morphine’s effects include euphoria and relief of pain. Chronic use of morphine results in tolerance and physical and psychological dependence.
Street names: Dreamer, Emsel, First Line, God’s Drug, Hows, M.S., Mister Blue, Morf, Morpho, and Unkie.
It is a highly addictive non-synthetic narcotic that is extracted from the poppy plant, Papaver somniferum. Opium can be smoked intravenously, injected or taken in pill form. Opium is also abused in combination with other drugs. For example, “Black” is a combination of marijuana, opium, and methamphetamine while “Buddha” is potent marijuana spiked with opium.
What does it look like: Opium can be a liquid, solid, or powder, but most poppy straw concentrate is available commercially as a fine brownish powder.
Effects: The intensity of opium’s euphoric effects on the brain depends on the dose and route of administration. It works quickly when smoked because the opiate chemicals pass into the lungs where they are quickly absorbed and then send to the brain. Opium inhibits muscle movement in the bowels leading to constipation. It can also dry out the mouth and mucous membranes in the nose. Opium use leads to physical and psychological dependence and can lead to overdose.
Street names: Big ‘O’, Black Pill, Chinese Molasses, Chinese Tobacco, Dopium, Midnight Oil, God’s Medicine, Easing Powder, Dream Gun, and Dream Stick.
They are stimulants that speed up the body’s system. Many are legally prescribed and used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Amphetamines are generally taken orally or injected. However, the addition of “ice”, the slang of crystallized methamphetamine hydrochloride (meth) has promoted as another mode of administration. Just as “crack” is smokable cocaine, “ice” is smokable, methamphetamine.
What do they look like: They can look like pills or powder. Common prescription amphetamines include methylphenidate (Ritalin®), dextroamphetamine (Adderall®) and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®)
Effects: Methamphetamine remains in the central nervous system for a very long time, and a large percentage of the drug remain unchanged in the body, producing prolonged stimulant effect. Chronic abuse produces a psychosis that resembles schizophrenia and is characterized by paranoia, picking at the skin, preoccupation with one’s own thoughts, and auditory and visual hallucinations.
Violent and erratic behaviour is frequently seen among chronic abusers of amphetamines and methamphetamine. Physical effects of amphetamine use include: increased blood pressure and pulse rates, insomnia, loss of appetite, and physical exhaustion
Street names: Bennies, Black Beauties, Crank, ice, Speed, and Uppers
It is an intense, euphoria-producing stimulant drug with strong addictive potential. Powdered cocaine can be snorted or injected into the veins after dissolving in water. Cocaine base (crack) is smoke, either alone or on marijuana/tobacco. Cocaine is also abused in combination with an opiate, like heroin, a practice known as “speedballing”.
What does it look like: Cocaine is usually distributed as a white, crystalline powder. Cocaine is often diluted (“cut”) with a variety of substances, the most common of which are sugars and local anesthetics. In contrast, cocaine base (crack) looks like small, irregularly shaped chunks (or “rocks”) of a whitish solid.
Effects: Τhe intensity of cocaine’s euphoric effects depends on how quickly the drug reaches the brain, which depends on the dose and method of abuse. Following smoking or intravenous injection, cocaine reaches the brain in seconds, with a rapid buildup levels. This results in a rapid-onset, intense euphoric effect known as a “rush.” By contrast, the euphoria caused by snorting cocaine is less intense and does not happen as quickly due to the slower build-up of the drug in the brain. Other effects include increased alertness and excitation, as well as restlessness, irritability, and anxiety.
Tolerance to cocaine’s effects develops rapidly, causing users to take higher and higher doses. Taking high doses of cocaine or prolonged use, such as binging, usually causes paranoia. the crash that follows euphoria is characterized by mental and physical exhaustion, sleep and depression lasting several days. Following the crash, users experience a craving to use cocaine again.
Street names: Coca, Coke, Crack, Flake, Snow, and Soda Cot
(Source: DEA, United States)