Nov 10, 2017 in Research

Drugs and Drug Abuse

It is possible to classify all the psychoactive drugs according to their peculiar features: according to the chemical structure; according to the origin; according to the effect on central nervous system (?NS); according to liability, according to the route of administration (intravenous, oral, transdermal, intranasal, inhaled etc.). That is there are different types of drug’s classification. Commonly-accepted classification is classification based on general effect of the drug: depressants; hallucinogens; stimulants; narcotics; cannabis, etc.

In the UK there is a classification of the drugs into three groups: A, B, C based on the general toxicity and addictive properties: class A heroin (diamorphine), cocaine (including crack), methadone, ecstasy (MDMA), LSD, and magic mushrooms; class B includes: amphetamines, barbiturates, codeine, cannabis, cathinones (including mephedrone) and synthetic cannabinoids; class C includes: benzodiazepines (tranquilisers), ketamine, anabolic steroids and benzylpiperazines). In the USA, Drug Enforcement Administration classifies drugs into different schedules according to the risk of abuse, physical and psychological dependence etc.

As for narcotic definition, there is some kind of confusion: according to Webster's New World Law Dictionary Copyright (2010) “it is a drug that, by law, is illegal or designated a controlled substance”; according to 21 USCS § 802 (2012), the term narcotic drug means “any of the following whether produced directly or indirectly by extraction from substances of vegetable origin, or independently by means of chemical synthesis, or by a combination of extraction and chemical synthesis (six groups, which include: a) opium, b) poppy straw, c) coca leaves, d) cocaine, e) egonine, f) any compound which contains any quantity of any of the substances referred in subparagraphs a-e)”. Lyman M.D. (2007) in Practical Drug Enforcement (Chapter 3) also tries to give definition to the term “narcotic”, paying attention to its’ derivation from Greek word for stupor. At last, he defines it according to a legal context: “narcotic refers to opium, opium derivatives and their semisynthetic substitutes”. Narcotics, in their turn, are divided into the ones of natural origin (derivatives of Papaver Somniferum – opuim, morphine, codeine), semisynthetic narcotics (derivatives of morphine, codeine, thebaine – heroin, hydromorphone, oxycodone etc.), synthetic narcotics, which are produced in the laboratory (OxyContin, Meperidine etc.). Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs. Tolerance develops rather rapidly in the case of regular heroin use. The abuser has to use more heroin to achieve the same effect. Physical dependence on heroin and addiction develop. Heroin addiction is performed by severe health conditions.

The next large group of the drugs is stimulants - a class of drugs that elevate mood, increase feelings of goodness, euphoria, energy and alertness as well as increased arousal, concentration, and motor activity.  After their administration heart rate, blood pressure increase, diameter of pupils enlarges. Among the most famous stimulants we can name cocaine and amphetamine. Long-term use of these drugs may cause irritability, aggressive behavior, and paranoid-like psychosis (Cami, 2003). Tolerance develops rather rapidly and causes both physical and psychological abuse. It is necessary to notice that the volume of amphetamine administration rapidly increases through the last decade. We have to mention that there are two social adopted stimulators: nicotine and caffeine.

Hallucinogens are drugs which alter perception and feeling, they have a powerful mind-altering effects. Hallucinogens are the one of the oldest drugs, found in plants, which were used for modifying of consciousness and perception.  After their administration time, everyday reality, and the surrounding environment changes in the brain perception: imaginary voices are heard, unreal thing are seen, etc.  Regions of the brain responsible for coordination, thought processes, hearing, and sight are altered. The most potent hallucinogen is LSD, its effect depends on the amount taken, the user's personality, mood, and expectations; and the surroundings in which the drug is used. Users refer to their experience with LSD as a tripand to acute adverse reactions as a bad trip. 

Drugs and Drug Abuse

Drug addiction or drug abuse is a complex severe decease, followed by behavioral, cognitive, physiological symptoms, which appears after repeated administration of psychoactive substances and usually manifests itself with a great desire of the next drug administration. It may appear to the one drug or it may be polyaddiction. Drug abuse is one of the most serious problems of our life, which rapidly leads to the mankind annihilation, it affects 23 million Americans (Veltman, 2007). Personality destruction and mental disorders are major characteristic features of drug addiction.

Theories of drug addiction have mainly been developed from neurobiologic examinations and are based on the results of studying behavior and memory mechanisms. But none of them alone explains all aspects of drug abuse. One of the main causes of drug abuse is a “syndrome of deep less of satisfaction”. Some people with such feeling try to find satisfaction in psychoactive drugs. Genetic factors influence the metabolism of drugs and increase the risk of addiction appearance. One of the most dramatic facts is that the most part of drug abusers is young persons – even adolescents. The proportion of teens that used any illicit drug increases every year, 50 percent of students of high school have tried an illicit drug (Friedman, 2006). Children of abused parents are at increased risk of developing drug addiction, because they are conditioned by them, and they do not know other way of living. Pharmacologic and physicochemical properties of drugs, such as liposolubility, water solubility, volatility, heat resistance are the most important factors of drugs assimilation.

It is interesting to mention that nowadays worldwide abuse of prescription drugs will soon exceed illicit drug use (Kuchn, 2007).

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