Gateway Drugs and Common Drug Abuse The oldest known written record of drug use is a clay tablet from the ancient Sumerian civilization of the Middle East. This tablet, made in the 2000's B. C. , lists about a dozen drug prescriptions. An Egyptian scroll from bout 1550 B. C.

names more than 800 prescriptions containing about 700 drugs. The ancient Chinese, Greek and Romans also used many drugs. The Greeks and Romans used opium to relieve pain. The Egyptians used castor oil as a laxative. The Chinese ate liver to cure anemia. In the 1500, s and 1600's, doctors and scientists made important advances in Pharmacology and in other fields of science.

In the early 1500's, Swiss physician Philipp us Paracelsus pioneered in the use of minerals as drugs. He introduces many compounds of lead, mercury and other minerals in the treatment of other diseases. Gateway drugs are substances that people take which, in many cases, lead to those people taking more drugs. Alcohol and pot are the most obvious gateway drugs.

Studies show that if you smoke pot, you " re more likely to try things like crystal meth or cocaine or heroin. Many people see alcohol and pot as less dangerous and harmful than other drugs, but the truth is, they are just as dangerous as any other drug in more ways than one. Not only are alcohol and pot dangerous in there own right, they also screw up your judgment making you more likely to use other drugs. Gateway drugs work in two major ways. The first, gateway drugs break down a psychological barrier against doing other drugs. Once you have crossed the line with a gateway drug, you are more likely to go there with other drugs.

Second, Gateway drugs impair your judgment. If you are drunk to high, it is easier to say yes to cocaine or whatever else is around. These drugs break down your inhibitions, so you are more susceptible to peer pressure and experimenting. They do not just impair your judgment when you are on them they can change the way you feel about drugs in general. LSD LSD (acid) is one of the major drugs making up the hallucinogen class. LSD was discovered in 1938 and is one of the most potent mood-Schreiber 2 changing chemicals.

It is manufactured commonly referred to as 'acid,' The effects of LSD are unpredictable. They depend on the amount taken; the user's personality, mood, and expectations; and the surroundings in which the drug is used. Usually, the user feels the first effects of the drug 30 to 90 minutes after taking it. The physical effects include dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, and tremors. From acid, this is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. Sensations and feelings change much more dramatically than the physical signs.

The user may feel several different emotions at once or swing rapidly from one emotion to another. If taken in a large enough dose, the drug produces delusions and visual hallucinations, the user's sense of time and self-changes. Sensations may seem to 'cross over,' giving the user the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds. These changes can be frightening and can cause panic.

Users refer to their experience with LSD as a 'trip' and to acute adverse reactions as a 'bad trip.' These experiences are long - typically they begin to clear after about 12 hours. Some LSD users experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings, fear of losing control, fear of insanity and death, and despair while using LSD. Some fatal accidents have occurred during states of LSD intoxication. Many LSD users experience flashbacks, recurrence of certain aspects of a person's experience, without the user having taken the drug again.

A flashback occurs suddenly, often without warning, and may occur within a few days or more than a year after LSD use. Flashbacks usually occur in people who use hallucinogens chronically or have an underlying personality problem; however, otherwise healthy people who use LSD occasionally may also have flashbacks. Bad trips and flashbacks are only part of the risks of LSD use. LSD users may manifest relatively long-lasting psychoses, such as schizophrenia or severe depression.

It is difficult to determine the extent and mechanism of the LSD involvement in these illnesses. Schreiber 3 Most users of LSD voluntarily decrease or stop its use over time. LSD is not considered an addictive drug since it does not produce compulsive drug-seeking behavior, as do cocaine, amphetamine, heroin, alcohol, and nicotine. However, like many of the addictive drugs, LSD produces tolerance, so some users who take the drug repeatedly must take progressively higher doses to achieve the state of intoxication that they had previously achieved. This is an extremely dangerous practice, given the unpredictability of the drug.

MDMA (Ecstasy) MDMA is a synthetic, psychoactive drug with both stimulant (amphetamine-like) and hallucinogenic (LSD-like) properties. Street names for MDMA include Ecstasy, Adam, XTC, hug, beans, and love drug. Its chemical structure (, 'MDMA') is similar to methamphetamine, (MDA), and mescaline - other synthetic drugs known to cause brain damage. MDMA also is neuro toxic. In addition, in high doses it can cause a sharp increase in body temperature (malignant hyperthermia) leading to muscle breakdown and kidney and cardiovascular system failure. Brain imaging research in humans indicates that MDMA causes injury to the brain, affecting neurons that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons.

The serotonin system plays a direct role in regulating mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain. Many of the risks users face with MDMA use are similar to those found with the use of cocaine and amphetamines: . Psychological difficulties, including confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, severe anxiety, and paranoia - during and sometimes weeks after taking MDMA... Physical symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, faintness, and chills or sweating. Schreiber 4. Increases in heart rate and blood pressure, a special risk for people with circulatory or heart disease...

Also, there is evidence that people who develop a rash that looks like acne after using MDMA may be risking severe side effects, including liver damage, if they continue to use the drug. Research links MDMA use to long-term damage to those parts of the brain critical to thought and memory. One study, in primates, showed that exposure to MDMA for 4 days caused brain damage that was evident 6 to 7 years later. MDA, the parent drug of MDMA, is an amphetamine-like drug that has also been abused and is similar in chemical structure to MDMA. Research shows that MDA also destroys serotonin-producing neurons in the brain. MDMA also is related in its structure and effects to methamphetamine, which has been shown to cause degeneration of neurons containing the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Damage to these neurons is the underlying cause of the motor disturbances seen in Parkinson's disease. Symptoms of this disease begin with lack of coordination and tremors and can eventually result in a form of paralysis. Crack and Cocaine Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug of abuse. Once having tried cocaine, an individual cannot predict or control the extent to which he or she will continue to use the drug. Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant that interferes with the reabsorption process of dopamine, a chemical messenger associated with pleasure and movement. Dopamine is released as part of the brain's reward system and is involved in the high that characterizes cocaine consumption.

Schreiber 5 Physical effects of cocaine use include constricted peripheral blood vessels, dilated pupils, and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. The duration of cocaine's immediate euphoric effects, which include hyper-stimulation, reduced fatigue, and mental clarity, depends on the route of administration, the faster the absorption, the more intense the high. On the other hand, the faster the absorption, the shorter the duration of action. The high from snorting may last 15 to 30 minutes, while that from smoking may last 5 to 10 minutes.

Increased use can reduce the period of stimulation. Some users of cocaine report feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. An appreciable tolerance to the high may be developed, and many addicts report that they seek but fail to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their first exposure. Scientific evidence suggests that the powerful neuro psychologic reinforcing property of cocaine is responsible for an individual's continued use, despite harmful physical and social consequences. In rare instances, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly thereafter.

However, there is no way to determine who is prone to sudden death. High doses of cocaine and / or prolonged use can trigger paranoia. Smoking crack cocaine can produce a particularly aggressive paranoid behavior in users. When addicted individuals stop using cocaine, they often become depressed. This also may lead to further cocaine use to alleviate depression. Prolonged cocaine snorting can result in ulceration of the mucous membrane of the nose and can damage the nasal septum enough to cause it to collapse.

Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory arrest. Inhalants Inhalants are breathable chemical vapors that produce psychoactive (mind-altering) effects. Although people are exposed to volatile solvents and other inhalants in the home and in the workplace, many do not think of substances as drugs because most of them were never meant to be used in that way. Schreiber 6 Young people are likely to abuse inhalants, in part because inhalants are readily available and inexpensive. Sometimes children unintentionally misuse inhalant products that are found in household products. Parents should see that these substances are monitored closely so that young children do not inhale them.

Inhalants fall into the following categories: . Solvents o Industrial or household solvents or solvent-containing products, including paint thinners or solvents, de greasers (dry-cleaning fluids), gasoline, and glues o Art or office supply solvents, including correction fluids, felt-tip-marker fluid, and electronic contact cleaners. Gases o Gases used in household or commercial products, including butane lighters and propane tanks, whipping cream aerosols or dispensers (whippets), and refrigerant gases o Household aerosol propellants and as associated solvents in items such as spray paints, hair or deodorant sprays, and fabric protector sprays o Medical anesthetic gases, such as ether, chloroform, halothane, and nitrous oxide (laughing gas). Nitrites.

Aliphatic nitrites, including nitrite, which is available to the general public; amyl nitrite, which is available only by prescription; and butyl nitrite, which is now an illegal substance Although different in makeup, nearly all abused inhalants produce effects similar to anesthetics, which act to slow down the body's functions. When inhaled via the nose or mouth into the lungs in sufficient concentrations, inhalants can cause intoxicating effects. Intoxication can last only a few minutes or several hours if inhalants are taken repeatedly. Schreiber 7 Initially, users may feel slightly stimulated; with successive inhalations, they may feel less inhibited and less in control; finally, a user can lose consciousness. Sniffing highly concentrated amounts of the chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can directly induce heart failure and death.

This is especially common from the abuse of fluorocarbons and butane-type gases. High concentrations of inhalants also cause death from Suffocation by displacing oxygen in the lungs and then in the central nervous system so that breathing ceases. Other irreversible effects caused by inhaling specific solvents are as follows: . Hearing loss - toluene (paint sprays, glues, .