Research shows drug use can be extremely harmful to the human body. The damage can be extensive and affect the body both physically and psychologically. Yet, since the discovery of drugs more and more individuals find it hard to overcome the addiction. In fact, surveys conducted by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (2010) reflect an increase on drug use in America, with 23.5 million Americans addicted to alcohol and drugs. According to Abdadinsky, (2014), “several attempts have been made to explain why some people become dependent on chemicals while others, even those who use the same substances, do not.” This paper will analyze and evaluate the differences between alcohol, cocaine, and ecstasy; by identifying the composition, manufacture and cultivation of the drug, how it is used, and the physical and psychological effects on the human body. Furthermore, this paper will identify one theory that best explains why an individual would chose to use one or more of the chosen drugs aforementioned above.
Alcohol is a depressant and is the most common substance that causes addiction in the United States. Statistics show over 17 million people suffer from alcohol use or dependency, and several more million show patterns that will lead to addiction. The alcohol abuse affects more than seven million children in the Unites States; forcing them to fall victim of the effects of alcohol abuse in their own home. (NCADD, 2015) Ethyl alcohol is the intoxicating ingredient in many alcoholic beverages consumed by Americans today. It is produced by fermenting carbohydrates to ethyl alcohol by growing yeast cells. The main raw materials that are fermented for the production of alcohol include sugar cane, barley, corn, and flavoring. (Britannica, 2012) The Ethyl alcohol is found in beer, wine, and other spirits that are produced and sold in liquor stores, food markets, and restaurants. Anheuser Busch is a major manufacturer of beer in the U.S. The beer is brewed and fermented from malted barley grain and flavored with hops. The Barley is cultivated on a private farm in Idaho. Ethanol is a 2 carbon alcohol, the molecular formula is CH3CH2OH. (Britannica, 2012) This depressant has become a social drink, making it even more dangerous. It is known as the life of the party, has power to drowned out the memory of a bad breakup, and relax the mind. It can be consumed alone or with a group of people and is very easy to obtain. For most adults moderate alcohol consumption is not harmful. Anything over two drinks per day is considered excessive and heavy drinking and can be life threatening. Alcohol affects all body systems over an extended period of use. Consumption results in higher risks of liver cancer, ulcer disease, brain damage, chronic active hepatitis, and impairment of the immune system. Heavy consumption decreases production of all blood cells, lowering the immune system and resistance to infections, and also decreases lifetime expectancy. The negative effects are limitless and can also damage one’s emotional stability, finances, impact family and other personal relationships stripping the user of the life that he once knew.
Cocaine is a very powerful and very addicting drug that affects the brain instantaneously. The chemical formula of cocaine is C17H21NO4. (Britannica, 2012) It is derived from the coca plant and has been abused for over 100 years. Cocaine comes in two forms; hydrochloride salt which is a powder and dissolves in water. It is in this form that the user can inject the drug into their blood stream intravenously or snort it through the nasal passage. The second form of cocaine is known as freebase; in this form the user can smoke the cocaine for a more intense affect. Cocaine is a stimulant and can cause the user to feel energized, be extremely talkative, mentally alert, sensitivity to sight and sound, and causes the pupils to dilate. Among these short term effects lie the hidden long term effects which include: restlessness, paranoia, and irritability. Cocaine is extremely dangerous for the body in a physical stance causing irregular heartbeat, respiratory failure, seizures, and strokes. This drug is cultivated in Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia. The cultivation process begins weeding the bad seeds out. The farmer will plant the crop in the best part of his field where the water drains off into the river. The crop is maintained for 12 to 24 months and after maturity the leaves are removed, dried, and prepared for cocaine processing. (Rhodium, 1993)
Ecstasy is a popular hallucinogen that is known in the club world as a date rape drug. Unlike alcohol and cocaine which come from natural ingredients and plants of the earth, this drug is synthesized in a laboratory. It is a designer drug created by altering the molecular structure of the amphetamine. Ecstasy has a molecular formula of C11H15NO2 and contains caffeine, ephedrine, ketamine, and methamphetamine. (Britannica, 2012) This drug is most commonly taken orally and is often slipped unknowingly into an individual’s drink. It can also be inhaled, injected, and snorted. Once the drug has entered the body it quickly finds a passageway to the brain. It is absorbed into the bloodstream very easily and affects the liver, heart, lungs, and brain of the human body. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014) it will take 15 minutes from the time that the drug is ingested to reach the brain. It causes short term and long term effects on the human brain. The short term effects include feeing empathy and warm feelings towards others, decreased anxiety, and mental stimulation. This is a happy drug that temporarily increases your positivity and mood and will increase sexual arousal. Ecstasy has also been known to increase paranoia, reduce pleasure, and cause intense depression. After ingesting the drug the user will experience chills, blurred vision, nausea, hallucinations, and fever.
Most individuals begin using drugs as a means to cope with a social issue or because they have witnessed a friend or family member using the substance at one time or another. This is an example of the social theory on drugs. According to Abadinsky (2014) most young people seek out drugs to cope with depression, alienation, or parental disapproval. Individuals that use alcohol tend to do it in a social setting usually with friends to enhance the mood and liven things up. It is also a relaxation tool and helps the user unwind in stressful situations, like a first date. Cocaine is another social drug that is used in secret with a small group that are seeking an escape from reality. The individuals most likely already share a bound and have experimented with other drugs before. Young people see drugs as an easy way to connect with peers and to get through the common hardships that come as a teen in a world.
These three drugs are very common in that they change the behavior of the user and increase chances of physical harm to oneself or others. The chances of death is increased while under the influence of the illegal substances. Alcohol and Cocaine offer a quick rush while ecstasy requires more time to influence the mental functions of the brain. One thing remains they are dangerous whether used in a solo setting or with a large group. The physical and psychological effects will stay with you and may impair you for a lifetime, leaving you in shambles.
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Abadinsky, H. (2014). Drug Use and Abuse: A Comprehensive Introduction (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
Alcohol & Drug Information. (2015, January 1). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from https://ncadd.org/for-the-media/alcohol-a-drug-information
Ethyl alcohol | chemical compound. (2012, January 1). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/194354/ethyl-alcohol
Cocaine | chemical compound. (2012, January 1). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/123441/cocaine
Ecstasy| chemical compound. (2012, January 1). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/378657/Ecstasy
Rhodium. (1993, January 1). Coca Cultivation and Cocaine Processing: An Overview – [www.rhodium.ws]. Retrieved April 22, 2015, from https://erowid.org/archive/rhodium/chemistry/coca2cocaine.html
The Neurobiology of Ecstasy (MDMA). (2014, January 1). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/neurobiology-ecstasy/section-i/4-what-we-know-about-ecstasy