Street drugs are defined as “drugs that are taken for non-medicinal reasons.” Although there are a number of categories for these illegal substances, the most commonly known are:
Depressants: Substances that depress the activity of the central nervous system.
Stimulants: Substances that increase activity in the brain.
Hallucinogens: Substances that induce profound distortions in a person’s perceptions of reality.
Narcotics: Drugs that alleviate physical pain.
Here’s some basic information on a few of the most prevalent street drugs in our society:
1. Marijuana: Celebrated in movies and music, marijuana is the most widely used illegal substance in the world today. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), 17 million people in the United State having recently tried marijuana. The majority of marijuana is smoked.
Why people use marijuana: Marijuana can lead to mild euphoria and relaxation.
The effects: Marijuana can lead to a lower sperm count in men and irregular menstrual cycles in women. Marijuana may also cause persistent anxiety, impaired learning skills, and memory difficulties, along with an increased risk of emphysema and cancer.
2. Ecstasy: In recent years, Ecstasy has increased in popularity, largely because of its perception as a “party drug.” Ecstasy is taken orally, usually in tablet or capsule form.
Why people use ecstasy: Ecstasy produces profoundly positive feelings, empathy for others, elimination of anxiety, and extreme relaxation. It’s also said to suppress a user’s appetite as well as the desire to sleep.
The effects: Side effects include increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, dehydration, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, dizziness, and paranoia. Long-term use can lead to liver and brain damage and paralysis.
3. Heroin: Heroin is a highly addictive drug that was used in the late 19th century as a pain reliever. Heroin’s medical use diminished after the turn of the century because its addictive nature was discovered and safer drugs were created.
Why people use heroin: Heroin can reduce pain and lead to feelings of euphoria.
The effects: Heroin can lead to decreased respiration and motor control.
4. Cocaine: Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that can be snorted, smoked, or injected. When snorted, cocaine powder is inhaled through the nose where it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues.
Why people use cocaine: Its use creates feelings of increased energy, alertness, and euphoria.
The effects: Cocaine can increase risk for seizures, strokes, heart attacks, and death.
5. Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine is an addictive central nervous system stimulant. According to ONDCP, “Methamphetamine laboratories are, by far, the most frequently encountered clandestine laboratories in the United States. The ease of clandestine synthesis, combined with tremendous profits, has resulted in significant availability.”
Why people use methamphetamine: Meth users feel a short yet intense "rush" when the drug is initially used.
The effects: Meth abuse can lead to insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. Meth can also lead to symptoms such as paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions.
The more that you understand illegal drugs as a parent, friend, or community advocate, the more you will be able to identify drug use and help to eradicate it. If you would like more information about helping the community and standing up against drug use, please visit LiveFree! online for more information.