In the spirit of National Drug Facts Week –which will start in 6 days, 9 hours, 25 minutes and18 seconds as of this writing- we would like to let you in on some startling facts about the uglier side of substance abuse.
Marijuana. Cannabis is usually considered a gateway drug, but the truth is that it can be pretty addictive in its own right. As a matter of fact, approximately one out of every 11 people who smoke marijuana becomes addicted to it. Constant use of marijuana can affect the hippocampus and hinder learning and memory skills. Synthetic cannabis is no better, though; also known as Spice or K-2, it can cause vomiting, confusion, and hallucinations and land users in the emergency room of the hospital.
Tobacco. Many reasons are cited when discussing why people, young ones in particular, take up smoking. Peer pressure, rebellion, and product placement are commonly mentioned. On the other hand, there is only one consistent reason that smokers keep smoking in spite of the well-known adverse effects, and that is addiction. Regardless of the reason, the fact is that the majority of smoking teenagers turn into regular smokers before they reach 18. About 440,000 people die from tobacco-related diseases each year in the United States alone. That includes smokeless tobacco products like chewing tobacco and snuff. Less fatal consequences of smoking are still concerning; there is skin damage, cataracts, wrinkles, oral and throat cancers, and heart and lung disease.
Alcohol. Approximately 5,000 under 21 years of age die from injuries caused by excessive drinking; 40% of those young people meet their demise in car crashes. Heavy drinkers are not just prone to accidents of the car crash variety, though. As it turns out, people who abuse alcohol are also susceptible of engaging in unprotected sexual activity, which puts them at an increased risk of unwanted pregnancies and the transmission of venereal diseases. Over four in 10 people who start drinking before they are 15 end up becoming alcoholics.
Meth. All drugs have a pernicious effect on one’s appearance, and with no other drug is that truer than meth. Meth mouth is the result of the decrease of protective saliva around the teeth that’s the trademark of this drug. Moreover, meth addicts tend to grind their teeth and clench their jaws, which actually worsens the condition. Additionally, they imagine that insects are crawling on and even underneath their skin, causing them to scratch themselves until open sores cover their arms and legs, sore which may eventually become infected.
Prescription drugs. The fact that a drug has been prescribed by a doctor doesn’t make it any less addictive. So much so, that in 2007 Vicodin and Oxycontin were responsible for more deadly overdoses than heroin and cocaine put together. Prescription drugs should only be used when and how they are prescribed by a doctor; otherwise the cure may be worse than the disease.
Rehab. Rehabilitations has been both glamorized and vilified by pop culture. Kids will either think that it’s a cool thing to do –when ideally you would want to avoid it entirely by not abusing drugs in the first place- or believe it’s useless after seeing their favorite actors and musicians go in and out of it time and time again. However, there may be a justification for those countless trips to rehab, and it’s that beating addiction is about one of the hardest things a human being can ever hope to accomplish. Furthermore, once you’re an addict you are always an addict, and it is precisely that awareness that can help to stop you from being an active addict as opposed to a recovering one.
To quote from Philip K. Dick’s afterword to his haunting portrayal of addiction A Scanner Darkly, about his fallen friends; ‘These were comrades whom I had; there are no better. They remain in my mind, and the enemy will never be forgiven. The enemy was their mistake in playing. Let them all play again, in some other way, and let them be happy.’