Drugs of Abuse and What They Do
Cocaine use is down since the mid-1980s. Marijuana use is off, too, although millions still smoke it.
Amphetamines: Often called speed or uppers. What it does: Speeds up physical and mental processes. Visible signs of use: Weight loss, dilated pupils, insomnia, irritability, trembling. Long-term effects: Paranoia, extreme weight loss, violent behavior.
Barbiturates: Often called downers. What it does: Produces extreme lethargy and drowsiness. Visible signs of use: Blurred and confused speech, lack of coordination and balance. Long-term effects: Disruption of sleeping pattern, double vision, risk of death from overdose, especially when used in conjunction with alcohol.
Cannabis: Includes marijuana and hashish, often called chronic, dope, pot, grass, hash. What it does: Relaxes mind and body, heightens perception, causes mood swings. Visible signs of use: Red eyes, dilated pupils, increased appetite, lack of physical coordination, lethargy. Long-term effects: Brain, heart, lung, reproductive system damage.
Cocaine: Often called candy, coke, blow, crack. What it does: Stimulates nervous system and produces heightened sensations and sometimes hallucinations. Visible signs of use: Dilated pupils, trembling, apparent intoxication, agitation, rapid breathing, elevated blood pressure. Long-term effects: Ulceration of nasal passages and perforated septum (area separating the nostrils) if drug is snorted. Generalized itching, which can produce open sores. Very possible heart failure.
Opiates: Including opium, morphine, heroine, methadone, as well as synthetic painkillers. What it does: Relieves physical and mental pain and produces temporary euphoria. Visible signs of use: Weight loss, lethargy, mood swings, sweating, slurred speech, sore eyes, drowsiness. Long-term effects: Constipations, extreme risk of infection, including hepatitis and HIV, if drug is injected and needles are shared. Absence of periods in women. Possibility of death from overdose.
Psychedelic Drugs: Including lysergic acid (LSD) and mescaline, as well as “designer drugs” such as ecstasy (MDMA). What it does: Unpredictable. Usually produces hallucinations and intense introspection, which may be pleasant or extremely frightening. Visible signs of use: Dilated pupils, sweating, trembling, sometimes fever and chills. Long-term effects: Possibly irresponsible behavior.
Volatile Substances: Includes the inhaled fumes of glue or cleaning fluids. What it does: Produces hallucinations, giddiness, euphoria, unconsciousness. Visible signs of use: Obvious confusion, dilated pupils, flushed face. Long-term effects: Risk of brain, liver or kidney damage, possible suffocation from inhalation.