Drugs can be classified into different categories based on their chemical ingredients and their effects on users. Here are the five main categories and some information about each:
Central nervous system depressants
- Examples are alcohol, barbiturates, and sedatives.
- Some noticeable signs of the use of depressants include lethargy, lack of concentration, and excessive sleeping.
- Addiction to depressants is common.
- Mixing depressants with barbiturates and/or tranquilizers is extremely dangerous and can be fatal.
- Withdrawal from barbiturate addiction can be very difficult. It requires medical supervision. Going "cold turkey" can be fatal.
- Nearly 50% of traffic fatalities are alcohol related.
Central nervous system stimulants
- Examples are amphetamines (diet pills, Ritalin and Methadrine), cocaine, caffeine.
- Some noticeable signs of stimulant use include abnormal cheerfulness or talkativeness, frequent urination, sleeping difficulty, and loss of appetite. Withdrawal signs may include depression, drowsiness, weakness, lack of interest and hunger.
- Cocaine caused over 80,000 emergency room visits nationwide last year.
- "Speed" is commonly being sold in middle and high schools today. Most of these sales involve pills that look like prescription amphetamines but are really caffeine tablets. These pills are not as destructive as real "speed", but teens often consume large quantities to produce the desired effect. Teens may then assume they can consume the same quantity of real "speed" and have a serious drug reaction.
Opiates and Opiodes
- Examples of opiates are heroin and morphine. Demerol, Darvon and methadone are examples of opiodes. Opiates occur naturally; opiodes are man made drugs that create the same effect.
- These substances produce euphoria and a sense of well being - in effect, blocking out pain and problems. The user may experience drowsiness, lack of attention, and loss of appetite.
- Opiate abuse is rare among foster children, however the use of Darvon and similar prescription opiodes is common.
- Examples are LSD, mescaline, peyote, and methamphetamine.
- These substances produce changes in perception, visual illusions, and alteration of the senses.
- A person under the influence of an hallucinogen may have difficulty concentrating, flights of disconnected ideas and wide mood swings.
- MDMA is a designer drug that young people wrongly believe to be a harmless sexual stimulant. It has the street names of "ecstasy", "X-T-C," "essence," and "clarity." In smokeable form it is called "ice." It is much more likely to produce drug-induced psychosis than crack cocaine, and more likely to produce violent reactions.
- Much of what currently passes for LSD, mescaline, and other hallucinogens is really PCP (also know as "angel dust"), a large-animal tranquilizer. This is an extremely dangerous drug that can produce violent reactions, long-term psychological effects, and even brain damage.
- When mescaline is offered to your children in pill form, it is most likely PCP and therefore very dangerous.
- The use of marijuana causes many of the same symptoms as hallucinogens (above) but to a lesser degree.
- Bloodshot eyes are a symptom of recent marijuana use. The possession of products such as Visine to mask eye irritation may be an indicator of frequent use.
- There are a number of signs indicative of marijuana use; carrying rolling papers, having a small decorative pipe, using incense, having a sudden craving for sweet foods, and having paper clips with burnt carbon marks.
- Marijuana is considered a classic "gateway" drug. Its continued use often results in moving on to other drugs.
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