Alcohol is fast becoming the “favorite drug” in our society. At one time it was perceived to be a pass time of the very rich or the very poor – the very rich were seen as being under the influence of western culture in India, while the very poor needed an intoxicant to cope with the hardships of daily life. While this perception based on images from movies and novels may not have been entirely true, the reality with regard to drinking has definitely changed in our society in the past decades.
So what is the pattern of alcohol use now? Teenagers consider it as quite normal to drink at parties, women are encouraged by pubs with special promotional nights, young girls who are financially independent visit the night clubs regularly, middle aged women share a drink with their husbands at parties, professional meetings and seminars always have a talk followed by cocktails and dinner. Drinking is no longer taboo or confined to one group or sex. Consumption of alcohol no longer carries the stigma it once had. People from a wide spectrum including women and youngsters have come to accept alcohol as an integral part of social life. When alcohol is limited to ones social life it does not cause any major problems. But when it becomes part of ones daily life, then it can have serious untoward consequences.
Of those who drink, a great majority would know when to stop and how to limit their usage. They do not let alcohol affect their family, work or social life. But a few who drink cannot exercise any control and they become habitual drinkers. They gradually develop total dependence on alcohol.
What is alcohol dependence?
A person who is addicted / dependent on alcohol is totally preoccupied with thoughts of drinking- How to get it, where to use it, where to get the money from, and so on. They continue to use alcohol even when they can see that it is affecting their job, finances, family, health and social relationships.
Certain features seen in alcohol dependent people are:-
They need to consume more and more to get the desired effect, from 2 to 3 pegs per day they gradually progress to drinking one full bottle a day. They still do not feel the euphoric effect as the body has developed increased tolerance to alcohol.
When there is no alcohol in the body certain changes occur 10 – 12 hours after the last drink. He may have sweating, shaking, restlessness, and irritability. Here the body is craving for alcohol and the resultant changes that occur are called withdrawal symptoms.
Unsuccessful attempts to cut down: very few addicts can cut down the drinking to socially acceptable levels. Once addicted, they either drink the whole bottle or none at all. Any attempts to cut down are highly unsuccessful.
Drinking more than intended: Every morning an alcoholic will tell himself that he will only drink 2 pegs or 3 pegs. Rarely does he succeed in doing so. Giving up other activities: alcohol does not become a part but the whole of his life. How to get the next drink, who to borrow money from seem far more important issues than his family or job. Evenings are spent drinking alone or with drinking friends. Old friendships and hobbies are forgotten. His own family is seen in a different light- wife is perceived as someone who is always complaining, children are hardly seen as they are already sleeping when he comes home. Taking the family out, playing with the children, getting involved in their studies or school activities will all become things of the past as there is neither the time nor the interest. Every single rupee and spare time is devoted to his great companion- Alcohol.
Continues Drinking despite consequences:-
- There might have been repeated warnings at work or he may have lost his job
- There are daily fights at home and the spouse threatens to leave or has left him
- He has debts to be paid and all his old friends avoid his company.
- He is unable to eat and has acidity problems
All these are due to his heavy drinking and he is aware of it. Yet he continues to drink. Why?
It is because he is suffering from the disease of alcoholism or addiction. He needs treatment. As with any other illness, treatment will help him to recover from his problem.
- Cannabis preparations.
- Effects of cannabis.
- Stopping cannabis.
- WHAT IS COCAINE?
- Why is it Abused?
- How is it used?
- What happens if you take Cocaine?
- COCAINE AND ALCOHOL.
- Cocaine Psychosis.
- What can be done to help?
Addiction to alcohol or drugs is becoming more wide spread in our society. With rapid changes in our cultural norms and exposure to other cultures, drug abuse too has been showing an upward trend .Of great concern is the rapid increase in drug intake and misuse in our youth. After alcohol, cannabis is the most widely abused drug in our society. It is socially accepted at particular times like celebrations of Holi or Shivrathri when bhang and ganja are commonly used in some communities.
Among students, Cannabis is often the first drug of use. Most of the students use it a few times and leave it while only a few continue long term use or progress to other hard drugs like cocaine, heroin and LSD. Cannabis is illegally cultivated in remote areas. It has medicinal uses.
For example, it relieves eye pressure in glaucoma or along with other tablets, it eases pain in cancer. In India, its use and possession is illegal.
Cannabis is abused in many forms. Some are mild preparations while others are very potent.
- Bhang – dried leaves and flowers of cannabis plant are boiled together and the decoction is mixed with milk or other liquids and consumed.
- Marijuana – dried leaves and flowers are smoked in cigarettes.
- Ganja – more powerful than the above, ganja is smoked and prepared from the upper leaves and flowers of the cultivated cannabis plant.
- Hashish / charas – Pure resin from flowering tops and leaves of the cannabis plant is made into a sticky brown cake which is usually smoked.
- Liquid cannabis or hash oil is a more potent preparation. It is a brown syrupy liquid in which tobacco is dipped before smoking
- Effects of cannabis.
- Whether smoked or consumed in any form, cannabis has an immediate effect on the mind and body.
- Users experience dry mouth, increased hunger, redness of the eyes, and increase in the heart rate.
- A feeling of relaxation and euphoria are common and is the main reason for repeated use.
- There is a general sense of well- being and happiness. Time seems to move slowly, smell touch and other sensations are heightened. For instance, people seem to perceive paintings in a different way, after smoking cannabis, music becomes more enjoyable, food tastes better. The effects will also depend on the settings in which cannabis is used.
- Unwanted effects are also common like impaired memory or concentration. A “bad trip” can lead to severe anxiety, suspicions,, confusion, agitation and aggressive behavior.
In terms of addiction potential, cannabis is not a very strong drug. Abrupt stoppage after prolonged and heavy consumption can lead to irritability weight loss, disturbed sleep and poor appetite. All these symptoms will diminish within 2 to 3 weeks. Counseling, behavior therapy and use of certain drugs to relieve anxiety may be necessary in more severe cases.
WHAT IS COCAINE?
Cocaine is a drug obtained from the leaves of Coca bush that is grown in mountainous regions of South America. Traditionally, the leaves along with a little lime were chewed, by People in countries like Peru and Bolivia. This had a mild stimulant effect and helped them to endure the hardships of daily lives by reducing hunger and tiredness.
It was used for medicinal purposes for many decades as it relieves pain and has anesthetic effects. This property made it a popular drug in treating pain for terminally ill patients. The problems started when cocaine was extracted from the leaves and used for Recreational purposes.
Why is it Abused?
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant of the central nervous system. The person using it feels alert, Jovial, outgoing and has a great sense of well being – this euphoria is what drives him to use it again and again. Many people stop after using it a few times for various reasons. They are worried about becoming addicted, they may not have easy access to the drug or the money to buy it, and they are concerned about the legal problems or losing control over their behavior. Only about 10 – 15 % of the users become addicted to it. Once this happens, their entire life revolves around getting the next ‘fix’ whether they have to beg, borrow or steal to get this dose. Those who inject the drug or who are always looking for new sensation or excitement in the life are more likely to get addicted to Cocaine.
Not long ago, Cocaine was the recreational drug of the rich and famous in the west. With the reduced cost and easy availability, it has become a widely abused drug among all sections of the society.
HOW IS IT USED?
There are various methods employed by addicts using Cocaine :
- It is Sniffed or snorted through the nostrils.
- Some addicts mix the powder with water and inject into the veins.
- The powder is heated with baking soda and water to form a gel which is smoked.
- Precooked Cocaine in the form of small rocks is sold as ‘crack’ Cocaine. The spread of ‘crack’ has led to major problems because it is cheap and has an immediate effect on the brain often resulting in uncontrolled aggression.
What happens if you take Cocaine?
After using it in any form i.e., smoking, snorting or injecting, there is intense euphoria. A feeling of happiness and well-being that lasts for a short time. There is a rise of blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate and dilation of the Pupils.
Large doses will result in Arrhythmias (Heart rate abnormalities) and convulsions. Cocaine constricts the blood vessels and this can results in brain stroke. Repeated convulsions or respiratory failure can cause death.
COCAINE AND ALCOHOL:-
Both are powerful chemicals, which affect the brain. While Alcohol is a depressant and cocaine a stimulant, they both in combination lead to loss of control over our behavior. The liver combines both Alcohol and cocaine to form a new substance called Coca ethylene, which can lead to death.
Well-being and euphoria are common effects of cocaine. Prolonged, heavy use can lead to the opposite effects. There is anxiety, restlessness and sometimes suspicions. The person hears voices talking or abusing him or he feels that there are insects’ crawling under his skin. This can lead to itching, scratching and at times self-harm. Suicide rates are very high in Cocaine addicts.
What can be done to help?
Cocaine addiction is difficult to treat but with a combination of medicines, group therapy, counseling and Intensive Rehabilitation Programme, It is possible to overcome this addiction.
Chewing, Sniffing or Smoking techniques are employed to extract nicotine, which after absorption into blood stream reaches the brain. Cigarettes, first introduced in 1850 simplified the whole process. Each pull on a cigarette and drawing of smoke into the lungs shoots a dose of nicotine into the blood stream and within 10 – 15 seconds this dose will have reached the brain. Cigarettes burn tobacco at a high temper- ature, which adds to the damage of the inhaled products.
Cigarettes are an integral part of 20th Century life-A pleasurable commodity, a symbol. In the movies the curling cigarette smoke mingled with romance. Elegant cigarette holder became a symbol of sophistication.
WHY DO WE SMOKE?
It’s the nicotine that keeps smokers hooked. When the nicotine level in the blood stream falls, the body starts to crave for a cigarette. This craving lasts for 2 or 3 minutes, which if you can resist, can get you right on track to giving up smoking!
Cutting down doesn’t work: As you cut down, each cigarette becomes more important and you inhale harder and deeper, causing more damage to your heart and lungs. Research suggests that most people who try to reduce their number of cigarettes soon return to their original number.
HOW DOES IT DAMAGE?
Smoking affects most of the body parts:
- Throat : Cancer of the Oral Cavity, Larynx and Tongue
- Lungs : Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis, TB, and Lung Cancer
- Heart : Blood Pressure, Heart Attacks
- Brain : Stroke, Cancer in many parts of the brain
- Eyes : Increased Cataracts, Retinal Detachment and macular Degenerations.
- Impotence, Miscarriages.
- Wrinkles on the face, Hair Loss.
- Suppresses the Immune System decreasing the ability of the body to fight against infections and cancer.
Roughly one fourth of whatever harmful effects smoking has on smokers, it has on passive smokers. The second hand smoke can cause and aggravate asthma and other breathing problems. The chemicals in the second hand smoke poison the heart muscle, thicken the blood vessels and block them, leading to heart attacks and strokes.
- One smoker dies every 5 minutes from heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, or other related diseases. Quit smoking and reduce this risk by 50%.
- You will not smell of stale tobacco and your taste will improve.
- Improve you self-esteem .You will feel good about your success in getting rid of a bad habit.
- Your work efficiency will improve.
- Look at what you can save. Put aside the money you burn daily on cigarettes and you can buy yourself a new vehicle in a few years time.
- No more nagging from your family.
How to quit?
- Make a firm decision to quit. There are more ex smokers in the world than smokers. If millions have quit so can you.
- Don’t let past failures to quit discourage you. NEVER GIVE UP TRYING TO GIVE UP SMOKING.
- Make other changes in your lifestyle like regular exercise, healthy diet, meditation and reading.
- If you can’t stop on your own, join a quit smoking group. Share your experiences with others who are quitting.
Certain medicines to reduce the craving and nicotine replacement therapy are needed for heavy smokers.
Few among the 4000 Hazardous chemicals in tobacco
- Chemical Name Substance Name
- Arsenic Rat Poison
- Ammonia Toilet Cleaner
- Acetone Nail Polish remover
- Carbon monoxide Car exhaust fumes
- Butane Cigarette lighter fluid
- Cadmium Found in Batteries
- Cresol Main ingredient for industrial plastic and adhesives
- DDT A pesticide that has been banned from use
- Formaldehyde Dead body preservative
- Isoprene Natural base for tire rubber
- Hydrogen cyanide A fumigation poison banned from international use
- Methanol Used as rocket fuel
- Nicotine Insecticide/addictive drug
- Naphthalene Moth balls
- Nitrobenzene Gasoline additive
- Pyrene A main constituent of coal tar
- Toluene Industrial solvent
- Carcinogen(substance that causes cancer) Tar