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Marijuana, ecstasy, heroin, PCP and crack are drugs. You may know that, but your child probably knows where and how to get them. Today, most school kids have access to illegal drugs unheard of at any time in history.
There's an explosion of street drugs that do not look or taste like drugs at all. Drug dealers take dangerous drugs like marijuana, ecstasy, ketamine, PCP and crack (cocaine) and mask them by hiding them in something that does not seem dangerous. They look like candy, snack foods or soda, but there's nothing sweet about them. They're drugs! Dealers are targeting kids with things like chocolate bars and other sweets filled with marijuana.
The classification of drugs is based on the drug's primary effect on the central nervous system. Most of the drugs are considered psycho-active substances (i.e. changes of mood and perception). They include legal and illegal substances, natural or synthetic. Parents should be aware that while the intoxicating effects of any drug are an incidental and instantaneous occurrence, dependence varies considerably in the length of time it takes to develop. Therefore signs and symptoms vary from person to person.
Most common street drugs
Drugs are commonly divided into three main categories: Hallucinogens, stimulants and depressants.
There are probably more misconceptions and myths about dagga than any other drug. It is most often smoked but it can also be cooked and eaten in biscuits. Dagga is stored in the fat tissues of the body, meaning that it enters rapidly, but leaves slowly. The use of dagga has many health risks and on the long term it leads to Amotivational Syndrome (Amotivational syndrome is said to be diminished psychic inspiration to participate in normal social situations and activities, with lapses in apathy caused by an external event, situation, substance, relationship, or other cause).
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)
The effects of LSD are unpredictable depending on the amount taken, the surroundings in which the drug is used, and the user's personality mood and expectations. It is sold on blotter paper with cartoon characters and other pictures, in gelatine squares, on sugar cubes or tablets that are sucked or eaten. Health risks include impaired memory, over stimulation of the nerve system, anxiety, tension, panic attacks and permanent flashbacks due to irreversible brain damage.
Ketamine is a fast-acting, dissociative anaesthetic, used primarily in veterinarian settings. It is a liquid but can be made into powder/tablets by evaporating the liquid through heating. It can be injected, sniffed or smoked and is often mixed with other drugs. It is also known as a "club drug". Health risks include increased heart rate and high blood pressure, depression, potentially fatal respiratory problems, coma and death.
PCP (phencyclidine) is classified as a hallucinogen and has many of the same effects as LSD, but can be much more dangerous. In the 1950s, PCP was investigated as an anaesthetic, but due to its severe side effects its development for human use was discontinued. PCP is known for inducing violent behaviour and for inducing negative physical reactions such as seizures, coma and death. There is no way to predict who will have a bad reaction to the drug. Maybe this is because PCP has so many faces; it acts as a hallucinogen, stimulant, depressant and anaesthetic − all at the same time. In its original state, PCP is a white crystalline powder. PCP is available in tablet, liquid and powder forms and is either ingested orally or smoked by applying the liquid form to tobacco or marijuana cigarettes or by lacing these and other cigarettes, sometimes containing herbs such as mint or parsley, with PCP powder.
Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the coca plant. It is the most psychologically dependence producing substance known although not classified as physically dependence-producing. Withdrawal symptoms do not really occur but the rebound depression, lethargy, etc can be intolerable. Cocaine is a powder that can be smoked, sniffed up the nose or injected. Crack cocaine is a heated, crystallised form of cocaine and is therefore purer and more concentrated. Crack is smoked and is known as free-basing. Cocaine and crack alter and damage specialised cells that regulate well-being and mood. Health risks include disrupted chemical balance of the brain, resulting in Parkinsonian-like symptoms. It increases heart rate and blood pressure and can lead to arrhythmias and cardiac arrest. Needle users run the risk of hepatitis and HIV/Aids.
Tik (crystal meth) is the latest buzzword in drug circles and is becoming increasingly popular amongst school children. On the street, crystal meth has many names, including tuk-tuk, tik, crystal, straws and globes. The drug has recently sparked a huge response from health authorities. Far more is being done to clamp down on dealing tik than on any other drug in South Africa. Tik or methamphetamine, part of the amphetamine group of drugs and potent and easy to make, was first discovered in Japan in 1919. It's still legally produced in the United States in the guise of medication prescribed for weight loss, as a nasal inhalant and even for narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. The powder or crystal is placed in a light bulb after the metal threading has been removed. A lighter is used to heat the bulb and the user smokes the fumes. Some users call the drug tuk-tuk because of the clicking sound it makes when smoked. The ingredients are easily accessible and many manufacturers need nothing more than their kitchens to concoct large quantities. Recipes are plentiful and easily available, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to follow them. Chronic abuse can lead to out-of-control rages, violence, anxiety, confusion, mood disturbances and insomnia. Users can become psychotic, experiencing symptoms such as paranoia, hallucinations and flight of ideas (jumping from one topic to the next). The paranoia can result in homicide or suicide. The drug causes increased heart rate and blood pressure, and can result in irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain, causing strokes. Other effects include respiratory problems and irregular heartbeat.
In its pure form, the effects of this drug are similar to cocaine, although it is sufficiently less intense and easier to come down from it. It originated from North and East Africa where the leaves of Cathinone, which contain ephedrine compounds, are chewed. In its pure form, the leaves can be ground and smoked. A synthetic form of cathinone, called cat, is now being illegally produced and often cut with a wide range of lethal substances including sulphuric acid, drain cleaner, paint thinners, acetone and pool cleaner to increase bulk and profit. Cat users tend to binge and do not eat or sleep until they pass out.
Amphetemines include dexedrine, benzedrine,mMethedrine, ritalin and appetite suppressants, which are orally and intravenously administered. Methamphetamine is a white, crystalline powder, highly toxic to the central nervous centre. It is usually smoked or sniffed. Most common health risks are headaches, urinary retention, increased heart rate and high blood pressure which can lead to arrhythmias and cardiac arrest. Users show severe weight loss, skin problems and uncontrollable rage/violent behaviour and depression. HIV/Aids and hepatitis are also real dangers to users sharing needles and other injection equipment.
Ecstasy is a prominent street "club drug" and is also known as: E, pills, doves, XTC, disco biscuits, Bruce Lee's, echoes, hug drug, burgers, smarties, magic beans, mitsubishis, rolexes, dolphins, snow ball, callies, eccies, little fellas, dids and yokes. It is a form of methamphetamine and as a synthetic drug it can produce both stimulant and hallucinatory effects. It's usually white in colour, but comes in tablets or capsules of different shapes and sizes. Some have pictures or logos stamped on them. The drug is taken orally and the effects last three to six hours, though depression, insomnia and anxiety can last for weeks or even months. There are many health risks linked to ecstasy. These include insomnia, seizers, headaches, paranoia, panic attacks, arrhythmias, increased heart rate, blood pressure, severe depression, strokes and severe memory loss as well as skin rashes linked to liver damage.
Heroin is an illegal and highly addictive drug. It is both the most abused and the most rapidly acting of the opiates. Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of certain varieties of poppy plants. It is typically sold as a white or brownish powder or as the black sticky substance known on the streets as black tar heroin. Although purer heroin is becoming more common, most street heroin is cut with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk or quinine. Street heroin also can be cut with strychnine or other poisons. Because heroin abusers do not know the actual strength of the drug or its true contents, they are at risk of overdose or death. Heroin also poses special problems because of the transmission of HIV and other diseases that can occur from sharing needles or other injection equipment.
Mandrax tablets typically consist of a mixture of methaqualone (the active ingredient) and antihistamine. Methaqualone is a synthetic sedative-hypnotic substance that acts as a central nervous system depressant. In South Africa the tablets are crushed and mixed with dagga and smoked in a combination called white pipe. Abusive using of mandrax is more common in South Africa than anywhere else in the world. Health risks include peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage to peripheral regions of the body), depression on the central nervous system, seizers, slower judgement and heart failure.
Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the Hemp plant. You may hear marijuana called by street names such as pot, herb, weed, grass, boom, Mary Jane, gangster or chronic. There are more than 200 slang terms for marijuana. Most users roll loose marijuana into a cigarette (called a joint or a nail) or smoke it in a pipe or water pipe, sometimes referred to as a bong. Some users mix marijuana into foods or use it to brew a tea. Another method is to slice open a cigar and replace the tobacco with marijuana, making what's called a blunt. Marijuana cigarettes or blunts sometimes contain other substances as well as crack cocaine. Findings so far show that regular use of marijuana may play a role in some kinds of cancer and in problems with the respiratory and immune systems.
The opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, is the type of poppy from which opium and many refined opiates such as morphine, thebaine, codeine, papaverine, and noscapine are extracted. The binomial name means, loosely translated, the "sleep-bringing poppy", referring to its narcotic effect. It contains up to 16% morphine, an opiate alkaloid, which is most frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the black market. The resin also includes non-narcotic alkaloids, such as papaverine and noscapine. Opium is also known as afeem, and was called "God's Own Medicine" during its time of greatest popularity.