Health and Communities

The statistics on the rest of the drugs America uses are only increasing. There are many more methamphetamine users, cocaine users and club drug users. Back in the 1960’s to the 1980’s there was a peak in drug abuse in America and there has been a decline, but now it seems that the fame and fortune of drugs are picking up speed. Drug related illness, death, and crime cost the nation approximately 66. 9 billion. Every man, woman, and child in America pays nearly $1,000 annually to cover the expense of unnecessary health care, extra law enforcement, auto accidents, crime, and lost productivity resulting from substance abuse. (1)

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, there are many administrations and agencies focusing on drugs in America. the DEA, being the primary force has many completed drug eradication operations, and policies concerning drug use in the states. Some of these policies are the Controlled Substance Act, the Federal Trafficking Penalties, and Drug Scheduling. The Controlled Substance Act deals with controlling the distribution and enforcement of drugs and drug related activities. Federal Trafficking Penalties detail consequences of being caught possessing or using specific drugs, where as drug scheduling describes each specific drug.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy, an organization under the executive branch of the United States, has many programs also concerning drug prevention and drug use reduction. Some programs such as the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring program focuses on collecting data and research findings relating to drug use, marketing and rehabilitation. These programs aid policymakers to help think to the future. (1) One of the main ways drug abuse is being treated in America is awareness. Americans deny the drug problem, and claim either they have no problem, or the problem is not theirs.

To combat this enemy America must aid in the prevention and rehabilitation of our youth, young adults and lifetime users. Our children also dropped their guard as drugs became less prevalent and first-hand knowledge of dangerous substances became scarce. Consequently, disapproval of drugs and the perception of risk on the part of young people have declined throughout this decade. Parents and teachers must be aware that drugs can happen to their children/students. There are now stronger drugs then were available 15 years ago, and there are more and more youths trying them each day.

Another way to begin to decrease the number of drug users in America is either to decrease supply or demand. Demand Reduction would be a difficult task to handle, seeing how though people are aware of the risks they still feel the need to take them, awareness, as I spoke previously about though, can help stop a select few from making a wrong choice. Slowing supply could be done to the least. Supply routes must be cut off; the road way must be blocked. Law enforcement and international cooperation must be increased. The drug problem will not solve itself, and will not end over night.

A continuous effort must be made by all American citizens to remedy the disease. (1) Here it is evident that the drug problem in America has a strong impact on the health and social service systems, in particular the health care and criminal justice system. In addition most people do not seem to realize that the drugs they are using are not only causing a slew of health problems for them it also cost the public who has to pay high taxes for public health care systems. For this purpose lets take a look at the health problems that are a result of drug use and abuse.

Here is a brief look at the effects of drugs on the body listing drugs by alphabetical order. Alcohol is defined as a depressant. The use of Alcohol may not become a problem when used moderately. Moderate use of alcohol is defined as up to two drinks per day. The immediate or short-term effects of alcohol include impaired judgment, impaired coordination, impaired vision, slurred speech, dilated pupils, delayed reaction time, and the smell of alcohol on the breath. For pregnant women there is the alcohol related birth defects which the alcohol causes FAS- fetal alcohol syndrome.

The long term health problems of drinking are diseases such as liver disease, heart disease, certain forms of cancer, and pancreatitis of ten develop more gradually and may become evident only after years of heavy drinking. Women may develop alcohol-related problems sooner than men, and from drinking less alcohol than men, because alcohol affects nearly every organ in the body, long term heavy drinking increases the risk of many serious health problems. (2) Cocaine/Crack- the word cocaine refers to the drug in both a powder and crystal form.

It is made from the coca plant and causes a short-lived high that is immediately followed by opposite, intense feelings of depression, edginess, and a craving for more of the drug. Crack smoking produces a sudden and intense rush with an equally intense high or euphoria lasting from 2 to 20 minutes. Tolerance develops to the euphoric effects of cocaine. Physiological effects of cocaine include constricted peripheral blood vessels, dilated pupils, and increased blood pressure and heart rate. Cocaine also produces restlessness, irritability, and anxiety in some users.

High doses of cocaine or prolonged use can cause paranoia. (2) The availability of crack cocaine led to an increase in inhalation as the preferred route of administration for many abusers. In order to avoid the discomfort associated with post-euphoric crash, crack or free base smokers continue to smoke often in marathon binges, until they become exhausted or run out of cocaine supply. The long-term use of inhaled cocaine has led to a unique respiratory syndrome in some abusers, and the chronic snorting of cocaine has led to the erosion of the upper nasal cavity.

(2) People who use cocaine often don’t eat or sleep regularly. They can experience increased heart rate, muscle spasms, and convulsions. If they snort cocaine, they can also permanently damage their nasal tissue. (2) The effects from the use of cocaine in moderate dose are disturbances in heart rhythm, increased heart and respiratory rates, elevated blood pressure, dilated pupils, decreased appetite, excessive activity, talkativeness, irritability, argumentative behavior, nervousness or agitation. (2)

In large doses there is loss of coordination, collapse, perspiration, blurred vision, dizziness, and feeling of restlessness, anxiety, delusions, heart attacks, chest pain, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures and headaches, abdominal pain, nausea, paranoia. The long term effects of cocaine are dependence, eating disorders, impotence, seizures, strikes, severe withdrawal symptoms, malnutrition, and permanent damage to nasal passage. (2) Heroin is a highly addictive drug. It is the most abused and fastest acting of the opiates.

Heroin is derived from the seedpod of certain varieties of poppy plants that contain the naturally occurring substance, Morphine. Heroin can be injected, smoked or snorted. Short term effects of heroin on the body are Analgesia (reduced pain), Nausea, sedation, drowsiness, reduced anxiety, Hypothermia, reduced respiration; breathing difficulties, reduced coughing, and death due to overdose can occur because often the exact purity and content of the drug is not known to the user.

An overdose can cause respiration problems and coma. (2) The long term effects of heroin are tolerance: more and more drug is needed to produce the euphoria and other effects on behavior. Addiction: psychological and physiological need for heroin. Withdrawal: about 8-12 hours after their last heroin dose, addict’s eyes tear, they yawn and feel anxious and irritable. Excessive sweating, fever, stomach and muscle cramps, diarrhea and chills can follow several hours later. (2)

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