Drugs Abuse

The word ‘Drugs’, means any chemical substances, natural, or man-made, that influences the body or mind. When doctors talk about drugs, they may mean ‘medicines’ that are used for treating diseases. But today, ‘drugs’, mean those dangerous intoxicants that, when abused, can destroy rather than cure.

Drugs of abuse can be broadly classified as Street Drugs and Club drugs.

Club drugs are a dangerous and growing problem that many parents don’t know about. Across the country, teens and young adults enjoy all-night dance parties known as “raves” and increasingly encounter more than just music. Dangerous substances known collectively as club drugs-including Ecstasy, GHB,  Rohypnol, and Ketamine -are gaining popularity. These drugs aren’t “fun drugs.

Kids are using club drugs, at raves and parties to get high and young women are sometimes given the drug with the intent of date rape. Club drugs include.

Because some club drugs are colorless, tasteless, and odorless, they can be added unobtrusively to beverages by individuals who want to intoxicate or sedate others. In recent years, there has been an increase in reports of club drugs used to commit sexual assaults.

Because the physical effects are mild in the beginning, many kids think club drugs are “fun drugs” and are harmless. Although users may think these substances are harmless, research has shown that club drugs can produce a range of serious health problems and, in some cases, even death. Used in combination with alcohol, these drugs can be even more dangerous.

There are great differences among individuals in how they react to these substances and no one can predict how a person will react when given these drugs. Some people have been known to have extreme, even fatal, reactions the first time they use club drugs. One of the biggest dangers is that club drugs found in party settings are created in illegal laboratories, and are often contaminated with life-threatening additives, so the user doesn’t know what he or she is taking.

The bottom line is simple: even experimenting with club drugs is an unpredictable and dangerous thing to do.

Tips for dealing with youth abusing drugs:

There’s no magic potion for parents to prevent their children from using club drugs, except to spend quality time with their children and COMMUNICATE (not LECTURE) with them time. Here are some situations that you can create for communication:

  • Just before bedtime tends to be a quieter time of day, particularly for young girls and they are more open to conversation. So just go into your child’s room, just before bed time and sit down and begin a conversation.
  • Meal times are good for conversations. Make  sure you have at least one meal together.
  • Driving in a car is a great opportunity – they can’t run away.
  • Another opportunity, again, is when other kids are around in the house. Look for them and start a conversation, even if they are with their friends. Don’t assume you have to retreat because their friends are there.

Having created the opportunity, what do you say to them? Here are some topics that you can SLIP into the conversation (Don’t barge in with “I don’t want you to use club drugs”). Bring the conversation around to parties and that you have heard about club drugs in parties. Then educate your child about club drugs and their adverse effects. Tell her to browse the internet and check out the dangerous effects if she does not believe you.Give her some tips on what to do at parties to safeguard herself:

  1. Don’t drink anything that you did not see poured, that you did not open yourself or that someone else gave you (other than a waiter), no matter how good-looking they are.
  2. Always watch your drink. If you leave it unattended for ANY amount of time, dump it and get a fresh drink.
  3. Be alert for a strange taste in your drink. Don’t drink unfamiliar mocktails.
  4. When placed in a light-colored drink, some drugs will turn the beverage blue. Don’t drink anything blue.
  5. Travel in groups. Three or more people is best. Friends should take care of friends and be observant of any strange behavior, such as slurred speech and lack of alertness.
  6. If you think you have been drugged, ask for help IMMEDIATELY (preferably not from a stranger) and get yourself to a public place if you are not currently in one. You may have only a few minutes of alert behavior.
  7. If you think a friend has been drugged, do not leave them alone. Seek help immediately.

Why treat drug addiction?

Drug addiction, if left unchecked, is no temporary thing. In time, it will completely destroy a person, both physically and mentally. No longer able to live without the drugs – which are difficult and expensive to obtain, because they are illegal – the person loses touch with reality. Family, friends, studies, jobs, the future…all cease to matter. Physically, the body becomes a wreck, The person become open to many diseases, the most dreaded among them, AIDS. AIDS can be contracted from sharing needles while injecting drugs, promiscuous behavior to obtain drug or after taking drugs. Life threatening hepatitis is another danger. The person becomes a host to numerous infections with his strength slowly getting depleted.


The treatment is basically in two phases. The initial treatment involves de-toxification or cleaning the body system from the drug. This may require hospitalization. Medication is given to help the person through the painful, withdrawal symptoms that come from stopping drugs. Medication which creates aversion to the drugs or prevent further use may also be used. Medical treatment for any other medical problems, and a proper diet are also looked into. Counseling and Psychotherapy are very essential as this will help the person to deal with the pressure and tensions that drove him towards drugs in the first place. After care is the most important part of the treatment to make sure that the person does not go back to taking drugs the moment stress becomes high. Addiction is a ‘relapsing condition’ and requires treatment, rehabilitation, and relapse prevention.

Prevention is better than cure. Here are some things you can do to prevent your children, or other people you are close to, from becoming addicts

  • Give your children your love, guidance and support.
  • Do everything you can to increase your children’ s confidence in themselves – allow them to learn things and do them on their own instead of over-protecting them. Don’t make your love dependent on the marks they get but praise them for things well done.
  • Be frank and honest with your children and encourage the same attitude from them. Make them feel that they can approach you with their personal problems without being afraid of strong, unpleasant reactions.
  • Give your children a feeling of security and stability through family bonds.
  • Encourage participation in games and healthy activities.
  • Help your children make decisions in a period of crisis.
  • Be aware of who your children’s friends are.
  • Find out about drugs and educate your children. 

Set an example by not using drugs / alcohol/tobacco.

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How to recognize drug addiction

Behavioural Signs:

  • Constantly changing friends,
  • Sudden outbursts of anger seemingly for no reason;
  • Poor concentration;
  • Poor memory;
  • Lying,
  • Stealing,
  • Spending a lot;
  • Irregular attendance at school, college, or work;
  • longer time in the toilet;
  • Poor academic or work performance;
  • Dropping out from school, college, or not going to work;
  • Lack of interest in hobbies etc.

Physical signs :

  • Tiredness;
  • Restlessness;
  • Glassy eyes;
  • Blank facial expression;
  • Pin point pupils;
  • Drooping eyelids;
  • dark circles under the eyes;
  • Changes in sleep and appetite;
  • Neglect of personal hygiene;
  • Burnt fingertips and holes in clothing ;
  • Needle marks

Other signs:

The presence of any unfamiliar Powders, candle, foil, capsules, ‘pudi’ and stained coins will mean that someone has been taking drugs.

Common Club Drugs

Ecstasy (MDMA). According to those who promote it, MDMA can make people trust each other and can break down barriers between therapists and patients, lovers, and family members, therefore making parties more fun, without the  rowdiness, and brawls associated with use of alchohol and other drugs. It is also claimed that as there is no hangover the next day, you can party all night long with MDMA and then go to work in the morning without any problems. These were the same claims made about LSD (Acid) in the 1960s and which were later proved to be untrue. Usually taken as a tablet or capsule, Ecstasy does create feelings of euphoria, alertness and energy and allows users to dance for extended periods. What is not commonly known, however, is that even short term use of MDMA use  causes long-term damage to parts of the brain critical to thought and memory resulting in destruction of neurons (brain cells) responsible for thinking and memory. Ecstasy users develop difficulty in concentrating, depression, sleep problems, and paranoia (suspecting others) during and sometimes weeks after taking the drug. After the high is over, users often feel depressed and crave more high and take more drugs to extend the high. In some cases severe anxiety and even psychotic episodes (mental breakdown) have been reported. Moreover using ecstasy leads to hyperthermia (very high body temperature), dehydration, high blood pressure, and heart and kidney failure which can result in death.

Date Rape Drugs (Liquid Ecstasy or GHB, and Rohypnol) sedate the brain and puts the users into hypnosis like state in which others can do whatever they want to them, including sexual abuse and rape.  At high doses it can slow breathing and heart rate to dangerous levels. They are tasteless and odorless and dissolve easily in carbonated beverages and soft drinks. Overdose of GHB and Rohypnol can occur quickly and is characterized by drowsiness, nausea, loss of consciousness, loss of reflexes, and impaired breathing. Also, Rohypnol may be lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other drugs.

Special K (Ketamine). Ketamine is an anesthetic that can be used safely only in medical settings. It is a powder, which is usually snorted (sniffed) or sprinkled on tobacco and smoked. It causs  dream-like states, a lost sense of time, sense, and identity, and hallucinations. The high can last from a half-hour to 2 hours but the drug can still affect the body for up to 24 hours. Use of Special K can result in profound physical and mental problems including delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function and death due to  respiratory problems caused by interference of brain centers for breathing.

Common Street Drugs:

Coke (Cocaine) is a powerfully addictive drug of abuse. The major ways of taking cocaine are sniffing or snorting, injecting, and smoking (including free-base and crack cocaine). Physical effects of cocaine use include constricted peripheral blood vessels, dilated pupils, and increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. High doses of cocaine and/or prolonged use can trigger paranoia. When addicted individuals stop using cocaine, they may become depressed. This depression causes users to continue to use the drug to alleviate their depression. Prolonged cocaine snorting can result in ulceration of the mucous membrane of the nose and can damage the nasal septum enough to cause it to collapse. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory arrest.

Brown Sugar (Heroin) usually appears as a white or brown powder. It is so pure, users can smoke it or snort it, causing more kids under 18 to use it. After  a doseof heroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria (“rush”) accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Following this initial euphoria, the user goes “on the nod,” an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system.  Heroin abuse is associated with serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, spontaneous abortion, collapsed veins, and infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Long-term effects of heroin include collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, cellulitis, and liver disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health condition of the abuser, as well as from heroin’s depressing effects on respiration. In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin may have additives that do not readily dissolve and result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain. This can cause infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs.