INHALANTS are a diverse group of volatile substances whose chemical vapors can be inhaled to produce psychoactive (mind-altering) effects. While other abused substances can be inhaled, the term “inhalants” is used to describe substances that are rarely, if ever, taken by any other route of administration. A variety of products common in the home and workplace contain substances that can be inhaled to get high; however, people do not typically think of these products (e.g., spray paints, glues, and cleaning fluids) as drugs because they were never intended to induce intoxicating effects.
Street names include "Whippets", "poppers", and "snappers", and "laughing gas".
COCAINE is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and then injected. Crack is the street name given to the form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal, which, when heated, produces vapors that are smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated.
Street names include "coke", "snow", "flake", "blow".
CLUB DRUGS is a general term used to describe a pharmacologically heterogeneous group of psychoactive compounds that tend to be abused by teens and young adults at a nightclub, bar, rave, or trance scene.
SOME COMMON “CLUB DRUGS” ARE GHB, ROHYPNOL, KETAMINE, AND ECSTASY:
GAMMA HYDROXYBUTYRATE (GHB) is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002 for use in the treatment of narcolepsy (a sleep disorder). This approval came with severe restrictions, including its use only for the treatment of narcolepsy, and the requirement for a patient registry monitored by the FDA. GHB is also a metabolite of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA); thus, it is found naturally in the brain, but at concentrations much lower than doses that are abused.
Street names include "G", "liquid ecstasy", and "soap".
ROHYPNOL started appearing in the United States in the early 1990s. It is a benzodiazepine (chemically similar to Valium or Xanax), but it is not approved for medical use in this country, and its importation is banned. Street names include "roofies".
KETAMINE is a dissociative anesthetic, mostly used in veterinary practice. Street names include "Vitamin K", "Special K", and "Jet".
MDMA (ECSTASY) is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that is chemically similar to the stimulant methamphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. MDMA produces feelings of increased energy euphoria, emotional warmth, and distortions in time perception and tactile experiences.
METHAMPHETAMINE is a central nervous system stimulant drug that is similar in structure to amphetamine. Due to its high potential for abuse, methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug and is available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled. Although methamphetamine can be prescribed by a doctor, its medical uses are limited, and the doses that are prescribed are much lower than those typically abused. Most of the methamphetamine abused in this country comes from foreign or domestic “super-labs” although it can also be made in small, illegal laboratories, where its production endangers the people in the labs, neighbors, and the environment.
Street names include "speed", "meth", "chalk", "ice", "crystal", and "glass."
KHAT (pronounced “cot”) is a stimulant drug derived from a shrub (Catha edulis) that is native to East Africa and southern Arabia. The main psychoactive ingredients in khat are cathine and cathinone, chemicals that are structurally similar to, but less potent than, amphetamine, yet result in similar psychomotor stimulant effects. The khat plant itself is not scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act; however, because one of its chemical constituents, cathinone, is a Schedule I drug, the Federal Government considers its use illegal.
BATH SALTS contain manmade chemicals related to amphetamines that often consist of mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), and methylone. It is a designer drug of the phenethylamine class, and is structurally related to cathinone, an active alkaloid found in the khat plant, methamphetamine, and MDMA (Ecstasy).They are available as capsules, tablets and in powder form to be injected, swallowed, snorted, or dissolved into food or drinks. Use of bath salts is associated with increased heart rate and blood pressure, extreme paranoia, hallucinations, and violent behavior, which causes users to harm themselves or others. On October 21, 2011, DEA exercised its emergency scheduling authority to control some of the synthetic substances used to manufacture bath salts; these synthetic stimulants are now designated as Schedule I substances.
Street names include "Ivory Wave," "Purple Wave," "Red Dove," "Blue Silk," "Zoom," "Bloom," "Cloud Nine," "Ocean Snow," "Lunar Wave," "Vanilla Sky," "White Lightning," "Scarface," and "Hurricane Charlie".
HALLUCINOGENS are drugs which cause distorted perceptions of reality and feeling and which can produce flashbacks. Hallucinogens have powerful mind-altering effects. They can change how the brain perceives time, everyday reality, and the surrounding environment. They affect regions and structures in the brain that are responsible for coordination, thought processes, hearing, and sight. They can cause people who use them to hear voices, see images, and feel sensations that do not exist.
COMMON TYPES OF HALLUCINOGENS ARE LSD, PSILOCYBIN, PCP AND PEYOTE:
LSD is one of the most potent mood-changing chemicals. It was discovered in 1938 and is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. Peyote is a small, spineless cactus in which the principal active ingredient is mescaline. This plant has been used by natives in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States as a part of religious ceremonies. Mescaline can also be produced through chemical synthesis.
Street names include "acid", "blotter", and "dots".
PSILOCYBIN is obtained from certain types of mushrooms that are indigenous to tropical and subtropical regions of South America, Mexico, and the United States. These mushrooms typically contain less than 0.5 percent psilocybin plus trace amounts of psilocin, another hallucinogenic substance.
PCP was developed in the 1950s as an intravenous anesthetic. Its use has since been discontinued due to serious adverse effects. Street names include "angel dust", "ozone", "wack", and "rocket fuel".
PEYOTE is a small, spineless cactus in which the principal active ingredient is mescaline. This plant has been used by natives in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States as a part of religious ceremonies. Mescaline can also be produced through chemical synthesis.
HEROIN is an opiate drug that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, known as “black tar heroin.”
Street names include "smack", "H", "ska", and "junk".
MARIJUANA is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States. It is a dry, shredded green and brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves derived from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. The main active chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol; THC for short.
Street names include "pot", "weed", "grass", "420", "dope", and "ganga".
SPICE is used to describe a diverse family of herbal mixtures that contain dried, shredded plant material laced with substances (synthetic cannabinoids) that users claim mimics THC, the primary psychoactive active ingredient in marijuana that is responsible for its mind-altering effects. Spice mixtures are sold in many countries in head shops, gas stations, and via the Internet, although their sale and use are illegal throughout most European countries. Easy access has likely contributed to Spice’s popularity. While Spice products are labeled “not for human consumption,” they are marketed to people who are interested in herbal alternatives to marijuana (cannabis).
Street names include "K2", "fake marijuana", "Yucatan Fire", "Skunk", and "Moon Rocks."
SALVIA is an herb common to southern Mexico and Central and South America. The main active ingredient in Salvia, salvinorin A, is a potent activator of kappa opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors differ from those activated by the more commonly known opioids, such as heroin and morphine. Traditionally, S. divinorum has been ingested by chewing fresh leaves or by drinking their extracted juices. The dried leaves of S. divinorum can also be smoked as a joint, consumed in water pipes, or vaporized and inhaled. Although Salvia currently is not a drug regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, several States and countries have passed legislation to regulate its use.The Drug Enforcement Agency has listed Salvia as a drug of concern and is considering classifying it as a Schedule I drug, like LSD or marijuana.
NICOTINE (TOBACCO) Cigarettes and other forms of tobacco—including cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff, and chewing tobacco—contain the addictive drug nicotine. Nicotine is readily absorbed into the bloodstream when a tobacco product is chewed, inhaled, or smoked. Through the use of tobacco, nicotine is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs and the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the U.S. Cigarette smoking accounts for 90% of lung cancer cases in the U.S., and about 38,000 deaths per year can be attributed to secondhand smoke. Cigarettes and chew tobacco are illegal substances in most U.S. states for those under 18; a handful of states have raised the age to 19.
ALCOHOL ( Ethyl alcohol or ethanol) is an intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor. Alcohol is produced by the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches. It is a central nervous system depressant that is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream. A standard drink equals 0.6 ounces of pure ethanol, or 12 ounces of beer; 8 ounces of malt liquor; 5 ounces of wine; or 1.5 ounces (a "shot") of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, or whiskey).
PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS such as pain relievers, central nervous system (CNS) depressants (tranquilizers and sedatives), and stimulants are highly beneficial treatments for a variety of health conditions. Pain relievers enable individuals with chronic pain to lead productive lives; tranquilizers can reduce anxiety and help patients with sleep disorders; and stimulants help people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) focus their attention. Most people who take prescription medications use them responsibly. But when abused—that is, taken by someone other than the patient for whom the medication was prescribed, or taken in a manner or dosage other than what was prescribed—prescription medications can produce serious adverse health effects, including addiction.
ALTHOUGH MANY PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS CAN BE ABUSED, OPIOIDS, CNS DEPRESSANTS AND STIMULANTS ARE MOST COMMONLY ABUSED:
OPIOIDS are usually prescribed to treat pain. Among the compounds that fall within this class are hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin—an oral, controlled-release form of the drug), morphine, fentanyl, codeine, and related medications. Morphine and fentanyl are often used to alleviate severe pain, while codeine is used for milder pain. Other examples of opioids prescribed to relieve pain include propoxyphene (Darvon); hydromorphone (Dilaudid); and meperidine (Demerol), which is used less often because of its side effects. In addition to their effective pain-relieving properties, some of these medications can be used to relieve severe diarrhea (for example, Lomotil, also known as diphenoxylate) or severe coughs (codeine).
CNS DEPRESSANTS (e.g., tranquilizers, sedatives) are medications that slow normal brain function and are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. In higher doses, some CNS depressants can be used as general anesthetics or preanesthetics.
CNS depressants can be divided into three groups, based on their chemistry and pharmacology:
Barbiturates, such as mephobarbital (Mebaral) and sodium pentobarbital (Nembutal), are used as preanesthetics, promoting sleep.
Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), and estazolam (ProSom), can be prescribed to treat anxiety, acute stress reactions, panic attacks, convulsions, and sleep disorders. For the latter, benzodiazepines are usually prescribed only for short-term relief of sleep problems because of the development of tolerance and risk of addiction.
Newer sleep medications, such as zolpidem (Ambien), zaleplon (Sonata), and eszopiclone (Lunesta), are now more commonly prescribed to treat sleep disorders. These medications are nonbenzodiazepines that act at a subset of the benzodiazepine receptors and appear to have a lower risk for abuse and addiction.
STIMULANTS (e.g. amphetamines [Adderall, Dexedrine] and methylphenidate [Concerta, Ritalin]) are medications that increase alertness, attention, and energy and are prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. They also increase blood pressure and heart rate, constrict blood vessels, increase blood glucose, and open up the pathways of the respiratory system. Historically, stimulants were prescribed to treat asthma and other respiratory problems, obesity, neurological disorders, and a variety of other ailments. As their potential for abuse and addiction became apparent, the prescribing of stimulants by physicians began to wane. Now, stimulants are prescribed for treating only a few health conditions, most notably ADHD, narcolepsy, and, in some instances, depression that has not responded to other treatments.
Similarly, some Over-The-Counter (OTC) medications, such as cough and cold medicines containing dextromethorphan, have beneficial effects when taken as recommended; but they can also be abused and lead to serious adverse health consequences. Parents should be aware of the potential for abuse of these medications, especially when consumed in large quantities, which should signal concern and the possible need for intervention.
STEROIDS (ANABOLIC-ANDROGENIC) are synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring male sex hormone testosterone. “Anabolic” refers to muscle-building, and “androgenic” refers to increased male sexual characteristics. “Steroids” refers to the class of drugs. They are taken orally or are injected. These drugs can be legally prescribed to treat conditions resulting from steroid hormone deficiency, such as delayed puberty, as well as diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass, such as cancer and AIDS. Some people, especially athletes, abuse anabolic steroids to build muscle and enhance performance. Abuse of anabolic steroids can lead to serious health problems, some of which are irreversible.
Street names include "juice", "gym candy", "pumpers", and "stackers".
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