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Drug Facts

DRUGS

Just say no!

Besides for being illegal, drugs can ruin your body, your mind and your life.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the US and is derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. People like smoking it because like all drugs, it messes with the brain and TEMPORARILY makes people feel happy and chilled. Many people experience marijuana differently and feel severe anxiety and paranoia instead. Researchers are uncertain as to whether marijuana is physically addictive but it is known that the drug can be psychologically addictive. In the short term, marijuana causes giddiness, bloodshot eyes, walking difficulties, and short term memory problems. If used for a long period of time, marijuana can damage the brain. The user may lose verbal and math skills, experience memory impairment, amd experience reproductive problems. He or she is also at risk for lung disease and cancer (as with smoking) and heart disease.

Amphetamines are drugs that stimulate the nervous system, making the user feel happier and more energetic, alert and focused. They are safe when prescribed in small amounts to treat attention deficit disorder, but when abused illegally in large amounts, they can cause major problems. Long term amphetamine abuse in large doses can cause addiction, toxic psychosis, mental illness, mood changes, malnutrition, heart problems, dizziness, trouble breathing, extreme tiredness, convulsions, coma and even death.

Ecstasy is known as a club drug because it makes people feel exhilarated for a few hours and feel as if they can dance all night. The after effects of feeling extremely drained can last up to two days later. In the short term, ecstasy can cause hallucinations, faintness, anxiety, paranoia, nausea, severe dehydration (because users dance for hours at a time without drinking), and increased body temperature (especially when dancing) that can cause death. Long term effects include addiction, depression, sleep problems, confusion, severe anxiety, memory problems, paranoia and death. Being that ecstasy lowers inhibitions and heightens sex drive, users are more likely to put themselves at risk for sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

Heroin is a very addictive drug that is most commonly injected intravenously. Users get a quick high by injecting the drug straight into their veins but this also puts them more at risk for drug overdose. About 54% of users have experienced at least one overdose during their lifetimes. Being that heroin is made by criminals and not pharmacists, users have no way of knowing how pure the dose of the drug that they are injecting, contributing to the risk of overdose. A big negative effect of short term use is called respiratory depression--heroin is a depressant to the nervous system and it therefore has the potential to slow down or stop breathing. People who frequently abuse heroin can experience extreme physical addiction where the body develops tolerance to the drug and requires regular dosing in order to function normally. Users end up needing more of the drug to get high and end up taking the drug just to prevent flu-like withdrawal symptoms and not for pleasure. Long term users are also at risk for infections in the heart, liver disease, lung problems and collapsed blood vessels. Those who share needles put themselves at risk of contracting HIV and Hepatitis C, two diseases that wreak havoc on the body and can end up being deadly.

Cocaine, like heroin, is an extremely addicitive drug and is most commonly snorted to obtain a short-lasting pleasurable feeling. After one use, cocaine can cause anxiety, paranoia and insomnia. Long term use can result in heart disease, stroke, hallucinations, mood disorders, infertility and even death. The body gets accustomed to the drug (physical addiction) and eventually, the user needs to get his regular fix of cocaine in order to ward off withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, irritability and extreme tiredness.

So if you are thinking about using drugs, think again! Drugs do give their short-lasting high but they also mess up your life, your health, your relationships and they lead to disaster! And if you tell yourself that you'll only try it once, you CAN get hooked and end up with way more problems than you want to deal with!
If you're already hooked and need help, speak to your guidance counselor, a teacher, the school nurse or any other adult that you trust to help you get help. Or look online for helplines such as those listed on http://www.focusas.com/Maryland.html that can guide you in the right direction.

Factual information about drugs was obtained from http://www.justfacts.org and http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/drugfact.