A drug overview:

During the next semester we will be taking a look into the nature of drugs. To start this series, we compiled a list of some of this society’s most popular..


Pot is one of the most widely used illegal drugs that can also be used for medical treatments. In 2001, it was reported that more than 12 million Americans aged 12 and older used marijuana at least once before. While marijuana can be prescribed to treat glaucoma, where it helps by releasing uncomfortable pressure on the eyes, studies have shown use of the drug could have serious side effects on an individual’s health.

Those effects include depression and anxiety as well as a significant impact on other areas of the brain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, scientists have found that a main active chemical contained in marijuana influence memory, concentration, sensory and reaction.

Short-term effects on the brain can bring difficulty with learning and thinking, loss of coordination and distorted perception.

Patients treated for marijuana abuse usually began smoking at an early age. Slightly more than 50 percent had used it by age 14 and 92 percent by age 18, according to the NIDA. No medications exist for treating the drug abuse but scientists are working on a medicine that could block the intoxicating effects of the chemicals found in marijuana. Until then, other studies have suggested incentive programs and education as a form of marijuana abuse prevention.

Street names include: weed, pot, Mary Jane, grass, weed.

Club Drugs

In the past five years, forms of drugs has become the most popular among young adults. These hallucinogenic drugs are most often used in dance clubs, raves and college settings. The most common types known are ecstasy and LSD. It has some of the most severe side effects and abuse of them could be fatal.

Ecstasy–which has LSD-like properties–acts as a stimulant that causes an increase in body temperature and leads to weak muscles as well as a rapid heart beat. Side effects include psychological reactions of confusion, depression, addiction and paranoia. In addition, ecstasy users often experience grinding of the teeth, sweating, blurred vision and nausea. According to the NIDA, a 1998 survey revealed that about 3.4 million Americans had tried ecstasy at least once.

Street names include: Adam, beans, hug, love drug and XTC.

LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, is the DNA of the hallucinogen class of drugs. The drug was first discovered in the late 1930s and is one of the most rapidly mood altering drugs. LSD, also referred to as acid, comes in various forms including tablets, capsules, liquid and absorbent paper.

Side effects include dilated pupils, increased heart rate, loss of appetite and shaking. Drug users often feel multiple emotions at once and refer to this as a “trip.” According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. In 1996 about 7.7 percent of the population aged 12 and older had tried LSD at least once.

Street names include: Acid and trip.


This is one of the most serious drugs in the United States because of its highly addictive substances. The drug, which is made from morphine and taken by an injection, gives drug users a feeling of a “rush.” But because it gives the misconception that the drug will not lead to addiction in early use, it leads to drug craving for users.

Addiction leads to a state when an abuser feels that he or she needs more heroin to experience the same drug effects. As does increase over usage, an abuser’s body adapts to the effects causing them to need more and leading to addiction.

Side effects are severe for users including fatal overdose, collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves. The drug has also been linked to those with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis because drug users often share needles. While the drug is in the user’ssystem he or she will experience warm skin temperatures, a dry mouth and shifting from a rush of energy to a drowsy state.

Treatment is often needed for patients in the forms of counseling and medication. Methadone, which blocks the effects of heroin for 24 hours, can be successful when taken at a significant dosage level for those addicted to heroin.

Street names include: smack, H, skag and junk.


Like heroin, cocaine has become an addictive drug for users. Cocaine is taken through the nasal cavity by snorting or through the bloodstream by injection. Therefore, it is often difficult for users to measure the amount taken.

Drug users have no control over how much of the drug they consume with each use. Cocaine releases a stimulant in the central nervous system that conflicts with the individual’s chemical messenger and brain. This leads to physical effects such as increased blood pressure, constricted blood vessels, hyper-stimulation and reduced fatigue.

When taken by snorting a high lasts about 15 to 30 minutes and when taken by smoking it in Crack form, it will last five to 10 minutes. Users often feel restless, irritable, and experience paranoia. They usually develop a higher tolerance for the drug as do users of heroin.

Abusers must often seek treatment programs to stop addiction to change their behavior in drug use. According to NIDA, researchers are testing several medications to treat cocaine abusers.

Street names include: Blow, coke and crack.


Otherwise known as speed, this stimulant drug triggers the central nervous system and brain to work at a faster pace. The drug is used for treatment of obesity, but has become an addictive drug that stimulates brain cells to enhance body movement.

Immediately after consuming the drug users experience what is referred to as a “rush” or a “flash.” Side effects include extreme alertness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, paranoia and convulsion. These convulsions can lead to cardiovascular collapse and death. In 1996, a NHSDA study showed that about 4.9 million people, 12 and older, had tried methamphetamine at least once.

Street names include: speed, meth and chalk.

Compiled by Grace Agostin
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse