- They bind to specific opioid receptors in CNS and gastrointestinal tract. E.g. morphine, heroin, brown sugar.
- Morphine is extracted from latex of Papaver somniferum (poppy plant). It is a sedative & painkiller. Used in surgery.
- Heroin (smack or diacetylmorphine) is a white, odourless, bitter crystalline compound. It is obtained by acetylation of morphine. It is taken by snorting and injection. Heroin is a depressant and slows down body functions.
- They interact with cannabinoid receptors in the brain.
- Generally taken by inhalation and oral ingestion.
- Natural cannabinoids are obtained from inflorescences of Cannabis sativa (Hemp plant). Its flower tops, leaves & resin are used to make marijuana, hashish, charas & ganja.
- They affect cardiovascular system.
- Cannabinoids are abused by some sportspersons.
3. Coca alkaloid or cocaine (coke or crack):
- It is obtained from coca plant Erythroxylum coca.
- It interferes with transport of neurotransmitter dopamine.
- Cocaine is usually snorted.
- It stimulates CNS producing euphoria & increased energy.
- Excessive dosage of cocaine causes hallucinations.
- Atropa belladona & Datura are also hallucinogenic plants.
Drugs like barbiturates, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, etc. are used as medicines to treat mental illnesses like depression & insomnia. But their abuse causes impairment of physical, physiological or psychological functions.
· Tobacco has been used by human beings for over 400 years.
· It is smoked, chewed or used as a snuff.
· It contains many chemical substances like nicotine (an alkaloid). It stimulates adrenal gland to release adrenaline and nor-adrenaline, causing high BP and heart rate.
· Smoking causes cancers of lung, urinary bladder and throat, bronchitis, emphysema, coronary heart disease, gastric ulcer etc. Tobacco chewing causes oral cancer.
· Smoking increases CO content in blood and reduces oxyhaemoglobin. This causes O2 deficiency in the body.
- Adolescence is ‘a period’ and ‘a process’ during which a child becomes mature in terms of his/her attitudes and beliefs for effective participation in society.
- Adolescence is a bridge linking childhood and adulthood (period of 12-18 years of age). It is very vulnerable phase of mental and psychological development.
Causes of drug/alcohol use in Adolescence
- Curiosity and Experimentation.
- Need for adventure and excitement.
- To escape facing problems.
- Stress from pressure to excel in academics or examination.
- Television, movies, newspapers, internet etc.
- Unstable or unsupportive family structures & peer pressure.
Addiction and Dependence
· Addiction: It is a psychological attachment (euphoria and a temporary feeling of wellbeing) with drugs and alcohol. With repeated use of drugs, the tolerance level of the receptors increases. Thus the receptors respond only to higher doses leading to greater intake and addiction.
· Dependence: It is the tendency of the body to manifest a characteristic and unpleasant withdrawal syndrome if regular dose of drugs/alcohol is abruptly discontinued. This results in anxiety, shakiness, nausea and sweating.
Dependence leads to social adjustment problems.
Effects of Drug/alcohol abuse
· Reckless behaviour, vandalism and violence.
· Coma and death due to respiratory failure, heart failure or cerebral haemorrhage.
· Drugs mixed with alcohol may cause death.
· Damage of nervous system and liver cirrhosis.
· Mental and social distress to family and friends.
· Social problems like stealing and spread of infectious diseases (e.g. AIDS, hepatitis B).
· Use of drugs and alcohol by pregnant woman affect the foetus (Foetal alcohol syndrome or FAS).
· Loss of sexual drive and necrospermia.
· Misuse of drugs by athletes (e.g. narcotic analgesics, anabolic steroids, diuretics & certain hormones to increase muscle strength and bulk and to promote aggressiveness).
Warning signs of drug/alcohol abuse in Adolescence period
· Drop in academic performance and absence from school.
· Lack of interest in personal hygiene.
· Withdrawal and isolation.
· Depression, fatigue, aggressive and rebellious behaviour.
· Change in sleeping and eating habits.
· Fluctuations in weight, appetite etc.
· Loss of interest in hobbies.
· Deteriorating relationships with family and friends.
Side effects of anabolic steroid abuse
- Mood swings & depression .
- Increased aggressiveness.
- Reduced testicles.
- Decreased sperm.
- Breast enlargement.
- Kidney & liver dysfunction.
- Premature baldness
- Enlargement of prostate gland.
- Mood swings & depression
- Increased aggressiveness
- Excessive hair growth
- Abnormal menstrual cycle
- Deepening of voice
- Enlargement of clitoris
In adolescent male & female: Severe facial and body acne, premature closure of the growth centres of the long bones resulting in stunted growth.
Prevention and control
1. Avoid undue peer pressure.
2. Education and counselling.
3. Seeking help from parents and peers.
4. Looking for danger signs.
5. Seeking professional and medical help.
a. Psychologists and psychiatrists.
b. De-addiction and rehabilitation programs.