When people think of ‘drugs’, they usually think of illegal ‘hard’ substances, such as cocaine, heroin or ecstasy. But these aren’t the only drugs that can seriously damage your body. In fact, people often forget about incidents such as solvent abuse (inhaling the fumes or gases given off from products such as aerosols, paint and glue), which kills around 60 young people in the UK each year. In fact, it is estimated that eight times more young people have been killed from solvent abuse in comparison to those killed by illegal drugs.
Many people are also bizarrely unaware that it is also relatively easy to become addicted to over-the-counter and prescription drugs. In fact, millions worldwide are addicted to such drugs. In 2010, a survey was carried out in the US and the most commonly abused medications were uncovered. Pain relievers were found to have as many as 5.1 million addicted, whilst tranquilizers only had around 2.2 million addicts – not even half as many. Thirdly, stimulants were found to have 1.1 million addicts, whereas sedatives had only 0.4 million addicts.
It has been uncovered that more teens are now starting to take prescription drugs without having them personally prescribed by their doctors. This can be for many reasons: to get high, to treat pain, to help them to lose weight or possibly even because it will help them to improve their school work. But this begs the question: where do they get them from? Well, it’s actually quite easy for someone to get their hands on prescription drugs – even if they’re not quite of legal age. In fact, in many situations, friends and parents who supply such drugs to the youths won’t even realise that they’re addicted.
The effects of abusing prescription drugs largely depends on the type of drug taken.
Stimulant abuse (increase alertness) symptoms include: paranoia, irregular heartbeat, dangerously high body temperatures – these risks increase largely if the stimulant is taken in high doses, or it is not taken in pill form.
Opioid abuse (pain relief) symptoms include: drowsiness, constipation and nausea – slowed breathing may also occur if a high dosage is consumed.
Depressant abuse (slow down functions of central nervous system) symptoms include: shallow breathing, slurred speech, fatigue and loss of coordination – seizures may also occur as a withdrawal symptom.
Abusing any of these substances should not be taken lightly, as they are all potentially very dangerous and can lead to addiction.
Unlike smoking, where the damage builds up over a long period of time, many drugs are so fatal that they can kill you instantly if misused – and this doesn’t only apply to illegal drugs. Even taking an overdose of drugs which are available over the counter can cause instant destruction.
Whilst the dangers of illegal drugs have definitely been publicized to a greater level, the real dangers of them are still underestimated by many.
In fact, it is estimated that drug use (or complications caused by drug use) claims the lives of five people across England and Wales each day – a total of up to 1,800 deaths per year! The majority of these deaths were most likely to have been caused by an accidental overdose.
Whilst the number of those taking drugs in the UK has decreased over the past decade, the number of those who have died from drug-related incidents has actually increased by as much as 19%, showing how dangerous these drugs can actually be. Whereas it might take years for an alcohol addiction to destroy your liver, or for a smoking addiction to destroy your lungs, drugs can kill you instantly.
On the contrary, many users of drugs – such as marijuana, for instance – claim that they are not dangerous. However, scientific evidence proves otherwise. Marijuana has actually been found to contain three times more tar than tobacco smoke, and 50% more carcinogens – as marijuana smokers have also generally been found to inhale deeper and hold the smoke in their lungs for a longer period of time, this results in the lungs being more exposed to such carcinogens.
As well as decreasing the body’s immune system, research shows that it can increase the risk of developing tumors. And to top it off, marijuana is a gateway drug, and can lead to use of much harder drugs.
Despite what people may, every drug can be potentially dangerous. If it hasn’t been prescribed by the doctor, then in most cases, it’s probably not a good idea. And although taking drugs heroin or cocaine may initially seem like a good idea, just remember: you don’t know where it’s come from, and neither does the person who’s giving it to you.