Past and Current Trends Paper
September 22, 2008
Past and Current Trends
Drugs and alcohol have played a role in American society for many years. Survey indicates that nearly 39% of the American population admits to using illegal drugs, 51% drink alcoholic beverages in one form or another and youths between the ages of 2-17, 11% have used some form of an illegal drug in the last month. Alcohol and a wide variety of drugs have increased in availability today more than ever before and with this wider variety there comes a wider range of addictive qualities and health related risks that individuals who take these drugs are ...view middle of the document...
This increase in teenage drug use indicates that peer pressure is strong, family problems have heightened, and curiosity to experiment with drugs has risen. Unfortunately, in a society where economic class, popularity, good looks, and the student's learning or athletic ability are often the markers for success more undue stress is being placed on teenagers than ever before. Thus society has unwittingly supported an increase in drug use not only among teenagers, but adults as well.
Habit forming drugs were introduced into American society as far back as the 3000 B.C. These drugs were widely used for medicinal purposes without any knowledge of the addictive properties and the health risks involved with taking them. One such drug, opium, was widely available in the 1700s and in the 1800s. Opium was the only narcotic used until the nineteenth century when it was found that opium extract could be turned into morphine and eventually heroine. These drugs and others such as codeine were considered wonder drugs when first introduced and given to treat aliments in infants, children, and adults. These drugs were more than just legal; they were commonplace (Carroll, 2000).
Cocaine and Crack
The use of cocaine in the United States has declined over the last 20 years. Carroll (2000) states cocaine is the most powerful stimulant of natural origin. Most users snort or inject the drug to enable a quicker "high." Cocaine use brings on many health problems. Fatal complications occur from regular use, for example, liver damage, seizures, elevated blood pressure causing stroke, heart failure, or heart attack. The use of crack has increased over the years. People use to generally avoid the use of crack because of the harmful chemicals used in creating the drug. One reason why crack has become popular is the fact that it does not need to be injected thus reducing risks of being infected by the AIDS virus.
Heroin use has changed over the years. Injection is the best way to administer higher levels of heroin in the body. Along with cocaine users, heroin users also fear contracting the AIDS virus from needles. The fear has led heroin addicts to snorting the drug through the nasal passages and smoking the drug. Heroin is highly addictive and is one drug many have a hard time withdrawing from and staying clean. Withdrawal from heroin can sometimes take several weeks or months. Respiratory depression, nausea, and other health problems related to opioids are normal health problems associated with heroin use.
The use of methamphetamine, known mainly as "meth" was first known in the late 1980's. The crystal form is cooked and smoked as crack cocaine is used. Methamphetamines in the past was injected, but as the other drugs discussed users fear the risks of "dirty...