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Vincent Barlo – 4.19.2006

By Rick Racela

Illicit Drugs Can Cost a Life
Drug abuse means use of any drug to the point that it seriously interferes with the health and social functioning of the person involved.
Alcohol is a drug because its main ingredient, ethanol, acts as a central nervous system depressant, like a sleeping pill. It is the most misused and destructive drug. Its long term effects on the body and when used with other drugs make it far and away the number one substance of abuses resulting in the majority of traffic accidents and in the deaths of young adults and adolescents. Signs linked to alcohol abuse include bumps and bruises, vision impairment, blackouts, loss of appetite, memory loss, stomach inflammation and liver damage.
Cocaine is one of the most abused drugs. It is derived from the coca plant of the Andes in South America. It is used medicinally as an anesthetic for eye, nose, throat, and urinary and dental procedures. Side effects include rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, accelerated respiration and tightening of muscles. Injected cocaine may lead to hepatitis and AIDS. It also can lead to no pulse, heart attack and death. If a person is rushed to the emergency room, there is no antidote.
Crack is a derivative of cocaine. It is smoked rather than sniffed and is 10 times more powerful than cocaine, since the drug enters the bloodstream through the lungs.
Marijuana grows wild throughout most of the tropical areas of the world. It is smoked and rolled into the shape of cigarettes. Physical effects include impairment of eye-hand coordination, increased heart rate, sore throats, and upper respiratory problems. Three to four times as much carbon monoxide is retained in the lungs compared to cigarettes. Tar is five to 10 times greater than in cigarettes, increasing the already dangerous risk of lung cancer. It is also linked to severe depression, anxiety and personality disturbances. It is presently used only to decrease intra-ocular pressure in the eye and for the terminally ill to ease pain and increase appetite.
Deliriants are volatile chemicals that give off fumes or vapors when inhaled.  Examples are coal tar, glue, and white-out. They can cause physical damage to the mind and body and also temporary blindness and damage to the lungs, brain and liver.
Steroids are being abused today, even in professional and amateur sports. They should only be used medicinally for inflammation and arthritis. Side effects include infection, diabetes, potassium depletion, cataracts, and mental illness. Prolonged use leads to high blood pressure, decreased testosterone levels, mood swings and prostate cancer.
The most abused drug now is Oxycontin, a narcotic analgesic derived from the opium alkaloid, thebaine, and is misused by being snorted after being crushed. Its abuse liability is similar to morphine. Side effects include respiratory depression, skeletal muscle flaccidity, cold and clammy skin, constricted pupils, decreased heart beat, hypotension, stupor, coma and death.
And finally, over the counter drugs that contain dextromethorphan are being abused and can cause papillary dilation, rapid heart beat, palpitations, blurred vision, tremors, anxiety, depression, paranoia, impaired judgment, illusions and hallucinations. Coricidin HBP cough and cold tablets are also very harmful in excess.
In conclusion, say no to these abuses. You only have one mind, one body and one life.
(ED. NOTE: The author is a registered pharmacist and North Wildwood resident.)

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