Drugs and Alcohol Abuse

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Notes

Drugs and Alcohol Abuse: 

  • Surveys and statistics show that use of drugs and alcohol has been on the rise, especially among the youth. 
  • This is a major source of concern since it has the potential to create a wide range of negative consequences. This is a major source of concern since it has the potential to create a wide range of negative consequences. Youth could be protected from these harmful behaviour patterns if they were given the proper education and direction. 
  • The drugs, which are commonly abused are opioids, cannabinoids and coca alkaloids. The majority of these are obtained from flowering plants. Some are obtained from fungi. 

1) Opioids:  

  • Opioids are drugs, which bind to specific opioid receptors present in our central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract. 
  • The chemical compound diacetylmorphine, sometimes known as smack, is a white, odourless, bitter crystalline substance (heroin). 
  • Morphine is extracted from the latex of Papaver somniferous (poppy plant). It is a sedative or any painkiller. Used in surgery.  

2) Heroin:

Heroin, commonly called smack is chemically diacetylmorphine which is a white, odourless, bitter crystalline compound. This is obtained by acetylation of morphine, which is extracted from the latex of poppy plant Papaver somniferum. Generally taken by snorting and injection, heroin is a depressant and slows down body functions.

Chemical structure of Morphine

Opium poppy

3) Cannabinoids:  

  • Cannabinoids are a group of chemicals, which interact with cannabinoid receptors present principally in the brain.
  • Natural cannabinoids are obtained from the inflorescences of the plant Cannabis sativa.
  • Generally taken by inhalation and oral ingestion.
  • The flower tops, leaves and the resin of the cannabis plant are used in various combinations to produce marijuana, hashish, charas and ganja.
  • These are known for their effects on the cardiovascular system of the body.
  • Cannabinoids are abused by some sportspersons. 

Skeletal structure of cannabinoid molecule

Leaves of Cannabis sativa

4) Coca Alkaloid or cocaine (Coke or Crack): 

  • Cocaine is derived from the coca plant Erythroxylum coca, which is endemic to South America. 
  • It interferes with the transport of the neurotransmitter dopamine. 
  • Cocaine, commonly called coke or crack is usually snorted.  
  • It has a potent stimulating action on the central nervous system, producing a sense of euphoria and increased energy.
  • An excessive dosage of cocaine causes hallucinations.
  • Atropa belladona and Datura are two other well-known plants with hallucinogenic characteristics.
  • Barbiturates, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, and other related drugs, which are typically prescribed to assist patients live with mental diseases such as depression and sleeplessness, are frequently abused.
  • Morphine is a very effective sedative and painkiller and is very useful in patients who have undergone surgery. 
  • Several hallucinogenic plants, fruits, and seeds have been utilised in folk medicine, religious rites, and rituals around the world for hundreds of years. 

    Atropa belladonna

    Datura

5) Smoking: 

  • Smoking also paves the way to hard drugs. 
  • Tobacco has been used by human beings for more than 400 years. 
  • It is smoked, chewed or used as a snuff.  
  • Tobacco contains a large number of chemical substances including nicotine, an alkaloid. Nicotine stimulates the adrenal gland to release adrenaline and nor-adrenaline into blood circulation, both of which raise blood pressure and increase heart rate.
  • Smoking is linked to an increased risk of lung, bladder, and throat cancers, as well as bronchitis, emphysema, coronary heart disease, and gastric ulcers. 
  • Chewing tobacco has been linked to an increased risk of mouth cancer. 
  • Smoking raises the concentration of carbon monoxide (CO) in the blood and lowers the concentration of haembound oxygen. 
  • This results in a lack of oxygen in the body. 
  • Knowing the risks of smoking and chewing tobacco, as well as the addictive nature of these habits, both the young and elderly should avoid them. To overcome a habit, an addict will need counselling and medical assistance.
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