Section 17.1. Legal and Illegal Drugs. Objectives. Define drug abuse and distinguish it from both appropriate use and misuse. Describe how psychoactive drugs affect the brain. Summarize the risks of drug abuse.
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Legal and Illegal Drugs
Define drug abuse and distinguish it from both appropriate use and misuse.
Describe how psychoactive drugs affect the brain.
Summarize the risks of drug abuse.
Fact Medicines can be just as dangerous as “street drugs” if they are used inappropriately.
What other myths do teens believe about drugs? Write down some statements you have heard from your peers. Which ones do you think are true? Which are false?
Myth Medicines from a drugstore can’t harm you.
If drugs are not used as directed, serious health problems can result.
Medicines are legal drugs that help the body fight injury, illness, or disease.
Medicines can be classified into two groups: over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs.
A medicine that is sold legally in pharmacies and other stores without a doctor’s prescription is called an over-the-counter drug.
Any over-the-counter drug can cause harm if the instructions on the label are not followed.
A drug that can be obtained only with a written order from a doctor and can be purchased only at a pharmacy is known as a prescription drug.
Prescription drugs require more government control than over-the-counter drugs because of their potential for harm.
An illegal drug is a chemical substance that people of any age may not lawfully manufacture, possess, buy, or sell.
Illegal drugs are also called street drugs.
The improper use of medicines—either prescription or over-the-counter drugs—is called drug misuse.
Examples of drug misuse include
When a drug is intentionally used improperly or unsafely, it is known as drug abuse.
Drug abuse occurs when people intentionally use any kind of drugs for nonmedical purposes.
A mood-altering drug, also called a psychoactive drug (sy koh AK tiv), is a chemical that affects brain activity.
Most abused drugs are psychoactive.
Many psychoactive drugs trigger activity along a pathway of cells in the brain called the “reward pathway.”
Brain cells along the activated reward pathway release a chemical called dopamine (DOH puh meen).
The extra dopamine released during drug use can cause the user to ignore the harmful effects of the drug and want to continue using it.
Flooding the reward pathway with dopamine may lead to intense cravings for the drug.
After a time, drug abuse can dull the brain’s reactions to natural levels of dopamine.
Abuse of psychoactive drugs may result in addiction.
Addiction is the compulsive use of a drug, despite any cost to health, family, or social standing.
Addiction is a disease that changes the structure and chemistry of the brain.
Drugs can produce powerful changes in the body.
But when drugs are misused or abused, many serious health effects can result.
A side effect is an unwanted physical or mental effect caused by a drug.
Side effects can include
Side effects of a particular drug vary from person to person.
When a person uses a drug repeatedly, the body may develop tolerance to the drug.
Tolerance may lead to drug dependence—the body develops a chemical need for the drug and can’t function normally without it.
If a person who is dependent on a psychoactive drug stops taking the drug, that person will experience withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms include
When a person takes more than one drug at a time, the drugs may interact in different ways than when taken alone.
Antagonism A drug antagonism(an TAG uh niz um) occurs when each drug’s effect is canceled out or reduced by the other.
Synergism A drug synergism(SIN ur jiz um) occurs when drugs interact to produce effects greater than those that each drug would produce alone.
Many illegal drugs are contaminated with chemicals that may themselves be harmful or cause dangerous drug interactions.
Illegal drugs may vary widely from batch to batch in the concentration of psychoactive chemicals they contain.
Hepatitis and HIV If drug users share needles to inject drugs, contaminated blood left in the needle can carry disease-causing viruses from user to user.
Risks to Fetus and Newborn Drug abuse by a pregnant woman places her baby at risk for a broad range of developmental problems.
Drug abusers risk
Penalties for individuals who produce, possess, transport, or sell illegal drugs include long prison terms and heavy fines.
A criminal record makes it difficult to get a job or to be admitted into schools and the military.
Many drug abusers commit other crimes to support their drug addiction.
A drug abuser may
The interests and activities that helped bind the person with family and friends may no longer exist.
The United States government has spent billions of dollars in efforts to stop illegal drug manufacture and sales.
Significant financial resources go toward drug abuse
Consider a few of the other costs of drug abuse
A legal drug that helps the body fight injury, illness, or disease.
A medicine that is sold legally in pharmacies and other stores without a doctor’s prescription.
A drug that can be obtained only with a written order from a doctor and can be purchased only at a pharmacy.
A chemical substance that people of any age may not lawfully manufacture, possess, buy, or sell.
The improper use of medicines—either prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
The intentional improper or unsafe use of a drug.
A chemical that affects brain activity; also known as a “mood-altering” drug.
An unwanted physical or mental effect caused by a drug.
A condition that occurs when one drug’s effect is canceled out or reduced by another.
A condition that occurs when drugs interact to produce effects greater than those that each drug would produce alone.
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