Hard addictive street drugs

There are several psychotropic substances that are used for their effects on mood and other mental functions. Many of the severe problems are due to withdrawal of the drug. Symptomatic behaviour common to the hard addictive drugs includes:

• rapid disappearance of clothing, personal belongings from home

• signs of unusual activity around hang-outs and other buildings

• loitering in hallways or in areas frequented by addicts

• spending unusual amounts of time in locked bathrooms

• inability to hold a job or stay in school

• rejection of old friends

• using the jargon of addicts

Newer drugs include 'crack', which is a cocaine base where the hydrochloride has mostly been removed, usually in a microwave oven. Crack can be inhaled or smoked. It is the crude form of methamphetamine, a derivative of amphetamine.

A summary of the effects of 'hard' street drugs is presented in Table 18.2 . Table 18.2 Illicit substance abuse: A summary of hallmarks

Drug Physical symptoms Look for

Dangers

Barbiturates

Narcotics (a) opiates, e.g. heroin

(b) cocaine

Phencyclidine (angel dust)

Severe hallucinations. Feelings of detachment. Incoherent speech. Cold hands and feet. Vomiting. Laughing and crying.

Drowsiness. Stupor. Dullness. Slurred speech. Drunk appearance. Vomiting.

Stupor/drowsiness. Marks on body. Watery eyes. Loss of appetite. Bloodstain on shirt sleeve. Running nose.

Similar effects to amphetamines— muscle pains, irritability, paranoia, hyperactive, jerky movements.

Lack of co-ordination. Feeling of increased physical strength. Hallucinations. Mood disorders.

Cube sugar with discolouration in centre. Strong body odour. Small tube of liquid.

Jars of pills of varying colours. Chain smoking.

Pills of various colours.

Needle or hypodermic syringe. Cotton. Tourniquet— string. Rope, belt, burnt bottle, caps or spoons. Glassine envelopes.

Powder: in microwave ovens

White powder. Tablets—unbranded. Syringes. Smoked in conjunction with marijuana.

Amphetamines

Aggressive or overactive behaviour. Giggling. Silliness. Euphoria. Rapid speech. Confused thinking. No appetite. Extreme fatigue. Dry mouth. Shakiness.

Suicidal tendencies. Unpredictable behaviour. Chronic exposure causes brain damage. LSD causes chromosomal breakdown.

Death from overdose. Hallucinations. Methamphetamines sometimes cause temporary psychosis.

Death from overdose or as a result of withdrawal. Addictions. Convulsions.

Death from overdose. Mental deterioration. Destruction of brain and liver. Hepatitis. Embolisms.

Death from overdose— sudden death from arrhythmias. Seizures, mental disorders. Severe respiratory problems.

Suicidal tendencies. Death from overdose. Mental disorder. Self-injury.

Marijuana

Glue sniffing

Initial euphoria. Floating feeling. Sleepiness. Wandering mind. Enlarged eye pupils. Lack of co-ordination. Craving for sweets. Changes of appetite.

Aggression and violence. Drunk appearance, slurred speech. Dreamy or blank expression.

Strong odour of burnt leaves. Small seeds in pocket lining. Cigarette paper. Discoloured fingers.

Tubes of glue, glue smears. Large paper or plastic bags or handkerchiefs.

Inducement to take stronger narcotics. Recent medical findings reveal that prolonged usage causes cerebral lesions.

Lung/brain/liver damage. Death through suffocation or choking.

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