Depressants give a short term effect of relaxation, sedation and relief from anxieties. But the long term effect includes impaired attention, fatigue, reduced libido and depression. Tranquilizers are mostly abused by housewives to induce sleep. In the injectable form, the entire range of anesthetics comes, and the major misuse would come from patients who use morphine to overcome pain. Inhalants are also abused to achieve sedation and relaxation. These come in the form of solvents and sprays comprising of gasoline, paint thinner and hair spray etc. They are mostly used by the poorer sections and are sniffed and inhaled. Heroin is a semi synthetic depressant which is smoked, chased and also injected. In its natural form, opium from the poppy plant is the most common depressant. Grown profusely in Afghanistan, the pods from the plant are dried and thereafter chewed or smoked. It is also mixed with milk and given to children to soothe their anxiety and enable them to cope with harsh conditions.
Hallucinogens take the user into a dream-like state, with increased sensation of light, sound and touch, and with altered perceptions of time, space and capability. A ‘good trip’ will give heightened colours and intense sound, and is therefore popular with creative and artistic people. A ‘bad trip’ (which cannot be predicted and is largely dependent on the personality and psychological state of the user) has frequently ended in tragedy, with the user perceiving capabilities in flying (and jumping off a building) or of having immense strength (and trying to stop an oncoming train). In its natural form, cannabis comes as ganja, charas and bhang. While both ganja (marijuana) and charas (hashish) are dried and smoked, bhang is used in celebratory drinks during various festivals, especially Holi.
When a drug is called easy lay or great body harm, you get a fair idea of what it does. These date rape drugs which come as powders and pills are colourless, tasteless and odourless. Anaesthetics of this sort are usually slipped into any drink at hand in which they dissolve instantly. The instant effect is confusion, insecurity, loss of coordination and later loss of consciousness, with no memory of incidents – no wonder they are also called mind erasers. Stimulants, meanwhile, are also party drugs, which are fast acting, stimulatory and reduce inhibitions to a nonexistent level. Colorless, odourless and tasteless again, cocaine and ecstasy, also come in this category, and can be snorted, injected, popped or drunk.
Treatment methods for drug addiction
Besides addiction, what make giving up drugs difficult are the withdrawal symptoms. These range from nausea, vomiting, perspiration, sneezing, restlessness, pain, cramps, spasms, insomnia, delirium, convulsions etc. Many addicts repeat the drug simply to avoid the pain of withdrawal.
There are three basic treatment methods. The medical method involves hospitalization and detox. This usually lasts for 21 days and medications are used largely to combat the withdrawal symptoms. In post medical therapy, the patient is on lifelong group support. This comes in the form of self help groups like Drug Anon or Narcotics Anonymous which comprises of past addicts, who sit together each week to help each other along.
Group support also includes support from family and friends. Alternative therapies are now playing a large role in drug de-addiction. Acupuncture and hypnotic therapy have had great success. So also has behavior therapy and lifestyle change. With healthy food, daily exercise, sufficient sleep and family support, addiction has proved easily beatable.
Date Rape Drugs
GHB, Rohypnol and Ketamine are better known as Date Rape Drugs. These colorless and odorless drugs can easily be slipped into someone’s drink for the explicit purpose of committing a crime, often sexual assault. When drugged with any of these, the victim becomes dizzy, disoriented, loses inhibition and may even lose consciousness. They can also produce amnesia, so the victim is unclear of the crime that was committed. These drugs are particularly dangerous when combined with alcohol, though alcohol by itself is the most commonly used drug for sexual assault.
||Prof Adrian Kennedy is Consultant, WellnessRx, International guru on health, wellness and lifestyle medicine and guest faculty for Harvard Medical School, USA.