Other addictive drugs
9- Other Addictive Drugs
4. Drug combinations
1- Ecstasy (MDMA)
What is Ecstasy
- Ecstasy produces both stimulant and mind-altering effects. It can increase body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and heart wall stress. Ecstasy may also be toxic to nerve cells. Ecstasy contain a wide mixture of substances—from LSD, cocaine, heroin, amphetamine and methamphetamine, to rat poison, caffeine, dog deworming substances, etc. Ecstasy is particularly dangerous because a user never really knows what he is taking. The dangers are increased when users increase the dose seeking a previous high, not knowing they may be taking an entirely different combination of drugs.
- Ecstasy most commonly comes in pill form but can also be injected and taken in other ways. Liquid Ecstasy is actually GHB, a nervous system depressant—a substance that can also be found in drain cleaner, floor stripper and degreasing solvents.
Effects & Risks of Ecstasy
- Ecstasy is often called “the love pill” because it heightens perceptions of color and sound and supposedly amplifies sensations when one touches or caresses another, particularly during sex. But Ecstasy often contains hallucinogens, which are drugs that act on the mind and cause people to see or feel things that are not really there. Hallucinogens can throw a person into a scary or sad experience from the past, where he or she gets stuck without even realizing it.
- Ecstasy smothers the natural alarm signals given out by the body. As a result, after taking the drug, an individual risks going beyond his physical limitations and endurance. For example, a person on Ecstasy may not realize that he has become overheated and can faint or even die of heatstroke.
What is LSD
- LSD is one of the most potent, mood-changing chemicals. It is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in the ergot fungus that grows on rye and other grains. LSD is produced in crystal form in illegal laboratories. These crystals are converted to a liquid for distribution. It is odorless, colorless, and has a slightly bitter taste.
- Known as “acid” and by many other names, LSD is sold on the street in small tablets capsules or gelatine squares. It is sometimes added to absorbent paper, which is then divided into small squares decorated with designs or cartoon characters. Occasionally it is sold in liquid form. But no matter what form it comes in, LSD leads the user to the same place—a serious disconnection from reality. LSD users call an LSD experience a “trip,” typically lasting twelve hours or so. When things go wrong, which often happens, it is called a “bad trip,” another name for a living hell.
Effects & Risks of LSD
- The effects of LSD are unpredictable. They depend on the amount taken, the person’s mood and personality, and the surroundings in which the drug is used. It is a roll of the dice—a racing, distorted high or a severe, paranoid.
- Normally, the first effects of LSD are experienced thirty to ninety minutes after taking the drug. Often, the pupils become dilated. The body temperature can become higher or lower, while the blood pressure and heart rate either increase or decrease. Sweating or chills are not uncommon.
- LSD users often experience loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth and tremors. Visual changes are among the more common effects—the user can become fixated on the intensity of certain colors. Extreme changes in mood, anywhere from a spaced-out “bliss” to intense terror, are also experienced. The worst part is that the LSD user is unable to tell which sensations are created by the drug and which are part of reality.
- Some LSD users experience an intense bliss they mistake for “enlightenment.” Not only do they disassociate from their usual activities in life, but they also feel the urge to keep taking more of the drug in order to re-experience the same sensation. Others experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings, fear of losing control, fear of insanity and death, and despair while using LSD. Once it starts, there is often no stopping a “bad trip,” which can go on for up to twelve hours. In fact, some people never recover from an acid-induced psychosis.
- Taken in a large enough dose, LSD produces delusions and visual hallucinations. The user’s sense of time and self changes. Sizes and shapes of objects become distorted, as do movements, colors and sounds. Even one’s sense of touch and the normal bodily sensations turn into something strange and bizarre. Sensations may seem to “cross over,” giving the user the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds. These changes can be frightening and can cause panic. Bad trips and flashbacks are only part of the risks of LSD use. LSD users may manifest relatively long-lasting psychoses or severe depression.
- Because LSD accumulates in the body, users develop a tolerance for the drug. In other words, some repeat users have to take it in increasingly higher doses to achieve the original sensation, which ultimately leads to the development of the disease of addiction.
What Are Steroids
- Steroids work by imitating the properties of naturally occurring hormones. Muscle tissue is peppered with receptor sites specific to growth. The correct hormonal ‘key’ can only access these sites or ‘locks’. Steroids activate these receptor sites because their chemical composition is so similar to the hormone testosterone. Once the receptor sites are stimulated, a domino effect of metabolic reactions takes place as the drug instructs the body to increase muscle tissue production.
- Steroids can take the form of tablets, capsules or injectable liquids, depending on the brand. The user generally experiences an increase in muscle strength very quickly. Muscle growth is speedier because of this heightened ability to lift heavier weights – the user can train more often and for longer periods of time because of their improved recovery rate. Increase in lean muscle mass is rapid. However, fluid retention is common and the muscle tissue tends to look soft and bloated.
Effects & Risks of Steroids
Steroids which can also be prescribed for certain medical conditions, are abused to increase muscle mass and to improve athletic performance or physical appearance. If a person’s positive body image depends on looking large and muscular, then giving up steroids can be extremely difficult. Some users continue to take steroids even though their health is failing. This psychological addiction can lead to depression, anger or anxiety if access to steroids is denied, if only temporarily. Serious consequences of addiction can include severe acne, heart disease, liver problems, stroke, infectious diseases, depression, and suicide.
Long-term health risks of Steroids are:
- Damage to the gonads (testicles or ovaries)
- Liver diseases
- Kidneys or heart malfunctions
- Psychotic aggression
- Mood swings, including deep depression
- Severe acne
- High blood cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Injuries to tendons
- Delusional, feeling superhuman or invincible
- Fluid retention
- Trembling & muscle tremors
- Stunted bone growth in adolescents.
4- Drug combinations
A particularly dangerous and not uncommon practice is the combining of two or more drugs. The practice ranges from the co-administration of legal drugs, like alcohol and nicotine, to the dangerous random mixing of prescription drugs, to the deadly combination of heroin or cocaine with Fentanyl (an opioid pain medication). Whatever the context, it is critical to realize that because of drug-drug interactions, such practices often pose significantly higher risks than the already harmful individual drugs.