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Stimulant Drug Abuse

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This essay is discusses the effect the use of drugs such as cocaine, opium, over the counter drugs and amphetamine has on people under its influence. Some of the signs and symptoms of the drug abuser are also explained. The essay uses the case study of a lady called Jane whose husband has been complaining of considerable change of her behavior and suspects that she may be under drug influence.

There are several steps that can be taken to confirm that a person is using stimulant drugs. One of them is checking some of the common signs and symptoms of the person under the influence of the stimulant. It is also important to ask the people around the suspected drug user of any strange behaviors that may suggest use of drugs. There are many types of drugs that can be abused, and each one of them has symptoms and signs that can be recognized to confirm if a person uses the drug. It is important to know these symptoms as early as possible before the person is fully addicted, and the situation becomes out of control.

The symptoms are either internal or external. At times it is difficult to recognize the internal symptoms, which normally affect the brain and the body organs. The external signs are physical and can be easily recognized as they appear outside the body of the abuser. The physical signs that are common for a meth, cocaine and other forms of stimulants abuser are such as an increased pulse rate, increased blood pressure and also increased body temperature. The person’s appetite decreases, such that the person can stay for several days without eating. Abusers of stimulant drug often seem to be nervous and always have an appearance of suspicious alertness at all times. They sweat a lot and seem to be thinking and moving very fast, often with a high energy, which is not normal of them.

Another symptom of a person under the influence of stimulants can be seen in the eyes. The eyes of a normal person dilate in dim lights in order to get more light and compress when in a bright light to regulate the amount of light getting into the eyes. This, however, is not the case for people who abuse the drugs. When exposed to various light conditions, stimulants user’s eyes always seem to be dilated, taking the appearance of big and black holes. It is difficult to see any

color around the pupil and the eyes seem to be popping out, especially when the person is high. However, if a person is an addict of any of the stimulants, the pooping out of the eyes becomes a permanent effect, no matter the light conditions the person is exposed to. This is a clear sign of a person under the influence of stimulants since even in very bright sunlight; her eyes will always remain big, and not adjusting to regulate the amount of light entering. Jane, she showed some of the symptoms such as wasting of the body tissue, being highly energetic and change of her normal behavior. (Drug and alcohol treatment centers, 2007)

Cocaine is derived from the cocoa plant. It is a very addictive stimulant and one of the narcotics that have been used for the longest time for medicinal value as an anesthetic and as medicine for treating diseases. It affects the brain by causing a feeling of euphoria to the person using it, resulting to addiction. There has however been no proof of the psychological damage caused by this stimulant, though there have been debates if it causes a physical dependence. The use of cocaine has been dated back to the 80’s and the 90’s when there was a cocaine boom. There have been good news though, that the number of people being rehabilitated due to coccaine addictions has decreased although many Americans have continued to use the stimulant. (Drug and alcohol treatment centers, 2007)

Cocaine can be sold in the form of cocaine hydrochloride, which is a mixture of cocaine powder and water. This form is taken through intravenous injections. The other form is created by mixing the baking soda with the cocaine hydrochloride, then heating it to form a solid substance, which is then cut into rocks and smoked through pipes. This form of cocaine is called crack. Symptoms of Cocaine are as the aforementioned, such as high blood pressure and increased heart rate, mental alertness, dilated pupils, lack of appetite, paranomia, extreme weight loss and so on. They also engage themselves in a lot of sexual activity and other dangerous social activities. Crack is more addictive and its symptoms are more serious than those of the hydrochloric form of cocaine. Jane displayed some of these symptoms and there may be a possibility that she was a cocaine addict.

            Amphetamines can be categorically defined as potent stimulants of the central nervous system and they have the capacity to cause dependence due to their inherent euphrorigenic properties as well as their ability to effectively eliminate fatigue. However despite their proven addictive effects they are legally on the list of prescription drugs (Tinsley & Watkins 1998). This means that individuals who are hooked onto these drugs have an easy and legal access to amphetamines (Hanson et al 2005). First synthesized by a German pharmacologist called L. Edeleano in 1887 and tested in laboratory animals by 1910, its was accepted as a recommended drug in the reduction of fatigue, increase alertness and create a sense of euphoria when taken orally. These were the main reasons behind its growth as an over the counter stimulant prescription in America. Lack of initial restrictions on the use of drugs led to the amphetamine prescription for a myriad of unrelated ailments. For example, its was prescribed for treatments of obesity, schizophrenia, head injuries, seasickness, bed wetting, depression, persistent hiccups and even caffeine mania (Hanson et al 2005).

Generally, amphetamines are classified synthetic chemicals that physiologically affect the body in the same manner as natural neurotransmitters in the body such as dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline. Their pharmacological effect increase the release and blocking of the natula metabolic cycle of catecholamines such as serotinin bothy in the brain as well as the sympathetic nervous system. Since they have the capacity to release norepinephrine, they are classified under sympathominetic drugs hence the capacity to activate or arouse physiological reactions that are similar to normal reactions occasioned by emergency situations.

Such an arousal can be pleasant in itself as the hypersensitivity to stimuli creates the feeling of being turned on. This means that even in the absence of external stimuli or sensory input, amphetamines have the ability to activate the pleasant experience. Successive activation of the brain and sympathetic system exhibit as anxiety, panic or severe apprehension. When amphetamines are administered intravenously they exert their potent effects hence creating a physiological response of intense pleasure or a sensation that is sometimes described as a whole body orgasm. It is this whole body intense sensation that is exhibited as intense sexual feelings. (Hanson et al 2005).

With reference to Jane’s case where she exhibits notable anxiety (restlessness) associated with sleeplessness and looking pretty wild, these symptoms may be classic of amphetamine abuse. The nervousness displayed during the interview can only attest to the repeated excitation of the sympathetic nervous system. Symptoms such as severe apprehension are associated with the feeling of agitation that was also inherent at the time of the interview. Since amphetamines have an effect on the arousal of sexual activity even though the actual effect of amphetamine on sexual behavior is notably variable and dose dependent, overly sexual behavior can also be used as an indication of amphetamine abuse.

Over The Counter stimulants include caffeine, anti depressants, sleeping pills, diet pills and many others. They can be used to improve the mood, manipulate alert ness, and have of late become supplements of many energy drinks. Research has however shown that their negative effects are evident and has proposed that some of the OTC stimulants that were recognized as legal be declared illegal.

I would say that Jane has been using Hallucinogens. This has been proofed by the fact that she has shown some of the physical symptoms of a person who uses hallucinogens such as speaking about things that make no sense, sleeping a lot, which may be a result of using sleeping pills to induce sleep, nervousness and agitation. Other symptoms of a person influenced by hallucinogens include: elevated blood pressure and heart rate, lack of muscular coordination, convulsions, lack of sensitivity to pain, dilated pupils, a dry mouth and even failure of the heart or lungs. The psychological symptoms include confusion, abnormal mood swings, the violent behaviors, belief in force things or things that don’t exist and flashbacks, which may occur many years or months after the drug has been used.

The use of hallucinogens may lead to severe addiction, resulting to a permanent damage of the brain. Hallucinogens mainly affect a person’s thinking and emotions, sensations, self awareness and perceptions, that is, how a person under their influence perceives of themselves and their surroundings. The signs of an overdose are very serious and may result to death. They include going in to a coma, rupturing of the blood vessels especially in the brain, failure of the lungs and the heart, which may all lead to death. (eGetGoing, 2005).

Opiates are drugs like heroin, morphine, oxycontin and vicodin and they affect the body and the brain by slowing down its functions. The opiate users appear tired and may fall asleep just any how, and their speech is slurred. They find it hard to sit and to stand straight and they often lack body coordination and balance. Opium is said to be the opposite of stimulants, in that they always seem to be relaxed and will not show any concern of their surroundings and don’t seem to care about anything. When a person is under the influence of opium is high, she seems to be asleep. She finds it hard to concentrate on what she is doing as his eyes will want to always remain shut. Another reason why opium is considered as the opposite of opium is because the pupils of the opium abuser appear very small and almost look like pins. (Drug and alcohol treatment centers, 2007)

Jane can be classified as a polysubstance user. It is evident by the description of her behavior that she is under drug influence and that she displays symptoms for different drugs. This is because her behavior changed considerably and her husband could not help but notice that she had become weird. Polysubstance users display some of the following symptoms at any time, given a period of one year:

  • The user can not tolerate the feeling of not being under drug influence. Due to the user’s desire to feel a strong effect on the drug and to always want to remain high, he uses an increasingly amount of drugs than before. The effect of the drugs however feels less strong with a prolonged use, and the user finds that she uses twice the amount he would use before in order to get high.
  • Reduced activeness. The user does not involve anymore in social or recreational activities as much as he used to as a result of the drug usage. Instead of involving in activities like going to work, visiting friends or doing any fun activities, she spends most of his time doing drugs.
  • The person is unable to stop herself from using the drugs despite his will to do so.
  • Even when the drug abuser can see the physical and the psychological harm that drugs have caused him, he still craves for more and more of the drugs, so his body continues to grow weaker.
  • The person can no longer decide when to use the drugs. He either uses the drugs repeatedly to he extent that if he would use the drugs only on weekends, he finds himself using them on weekdays.


1) Hanson, R. Glen., Venturelli, J. Peter., Fleckenstein, E. Annette. Drugs and Society.(2005). John & Bartlett Publishers. p. 283-287

2) Tinsley, A. Joyce., Watkins, D. Dean. (1998).Over the Counter Stimulants: Abuse and Addiction. Mayo Clin Proc; 73: 977-982

3) http://www.treatment-centers.net/signs-and-symptoms.html

4) http://www.egetgoing.com/drug_rehab/hallucinogens.asp

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