1 Drugs…An Overview
Did You Know That… Some 16 million Americans currently use illicit drugs. Over 1.5 million Americans currently use cocaine. The most common drugs used by 12 year olds are inhalants, but by the age of 14, the most commonly used drug is marijuana. The highest rate of illicit drug use is between 18 to 20 year old. About 45 million Americans age 12 and over engage in binge drinking. Approximately 57 million Americans report smoking cigarettes, 12.1 million smoke cigars, and 7.6 million use smokeless tobacco. Drug-use is learned. Over 2 million high school students use anabolic steroids on a consistent basis. The federal government’s expenditures to prevent drug use were over 2 billion in 2003. Over 70% of the American population has experimented with marijuana. Some drugs such as alcohol and cocaine are more likely to produce violent behavior while others such as marijuana and heroin are more likely to produce a passive response. The Office of National Drug Control Policy places the health and social cost of drug use at 67 billion dollars annually. Over 60% of drugs purchased on the streets are not the drugs that the purchaser intended to buy. The hardest aspect of drug addiction to overcome is psychological addiction. Over 96% of the people who use drugs know and believe that they are hazardous to their health.
Generally, I start my drug class out by having my students take out a piece of paper and write down all the drugs that they took during the past week. As soon as I give them the assignment, they look at me like I am intellectually constipated. I get the impression that they think I am going to report them to the nearest narcotic agency. It is a thought, but I would never do it. Before we go on though, why don’t you do the same thing? Take out a piece of paper and write down all the drugs that you took last week. Go ahead and do it…I will wait right here for you. Go ahead now…this isn’t your mother talking here. Okay, if you are anything like the majority of my students, your paper is still blank. Of course, I will question them: “You have not taken a single drug all last week?” To which most of them respond in that cute little Bill Cosby manner…“I don’t know!” That is their first right answer…they don’t know. When we really start looking into what they are taking, it’s usually a truck load of drugs. You see, most people have this idea that the only people who take drugs are those guys on the streets snorting coke or smoking dope. Well, that isn’t even close. We all use drugs. In case you doubt what I am saying, let me give you a few examples of some of the more commonly used drugs in America: coffee, tea, vitamins, aspirin, birth control pills, Ice Hot (I love that stuff), Epson Salt, Coca-Cola and chocolate (yes chocolate is a drug). In fact, you can overdose on
chocolate…isn’t that a great way to go? By the way, you can also overdose on coffee. All of the aforementioned substances are drugs and that is just the tip of the iceberg…the very tip. CRITICAL POINT: Deaths in the United States in a typical year are as follows:
Tobacco kills about 400,000 Alcohol kills about 80,000 Workplace accidents kill 60,000 Automobiles kill 40,000 Cocaine kills about 2,500 Heroin kills about 2,000 Aspirin kills about 2,000 Marijuana kills 0
. Like I said, we all take drugs. Yet, we are quick to point out how terrible it is that people on the streets smoke marijuana and take crack cocaine. Moreover, we will sit home guzzingly down beer after beer and throwing down depressants and stimulants like there is no tomorrow. Yet, we are so condescending when it comes to others. Like my father would always say, “Judd, you have a wonderful propensity for always seeing the splinter in someone else’s eye, but you never seem to notice the two by four in your own eye.” CRITICAL POINT: There has never been a recorded death due to marijuana at any time in US history. All illegal drugs combined kill under 20,000 per year, or a small percent of the number killed by alcohol and tobacco In fact, there is what they call the house wife syndrome, which is a prime example of what I am talking about here. Let me give you a quick overview. The good little housewife gets up early in the morning to get her kids ready for school. Before she gets the kids out of bed though, she has to drink a half pot of coffee and smoke three or four cigarettes just to get her blood circulating. Once she gets the kids ready and off to school, she finishes the rest of the coffee and smokes a couple more cigarettes so that she can get a little energy boost to clean up the house. If she is one of those professional housewives, she might even down a few diet pills or maybe a couple No-Doz to help her along. After she has the house nice and tidy, she will sit down for lunch. By this time, she is so wired from the coffee, nicotine and pills that she will have a few glasses of wine just to take the edge off. A few hours later, the kids are on the way home and
now Mom needs to get a little high again so that she can take care of the kids and start preparing supper. She will achieve this by downing another pot of coffee and a few more cancer sticks. By the time supper rolls around, she is buzzing from all the caffeine and cigarettes. So she will have a few cocktails with her husband right before dinner just to take the edge off. After supper, she has to pump herself back up in order to clean up the kitchen and get the kids ready for bed. In order to do that, she will have a few more cups of coffee and a couple of cigarettes. By the time she is ready for bed, she is flying high from the day’s proceedings. Consequently, in order to sleep, she will take a sleeping pill. The next morning she will drag herself back out of bed and the whole process starts all over again. Yet, she will be the first one to point out all those terrible kids who smoke pot. What hypocrisy! With that in mind, before we venture on any further, it might be a good idea to define what a drug is and some of the other terms that are related to drug use. Okay then…what is a drug? I guess we could define a drug as anything that will alter our body chemistry. What do you think? With that definition, just about everything you stick in your body could be considered a drug. In all candor, that is probably the best definition we could come up with to define what a drug is. Vitamins, aspirins, candy, soda, liniments, teas, coffees…they are all drugs. CRITICAL POINT: America has only 5% of the world population but consumes 60% of ALL illegal drugs produced in the world. Now that we know what a drug is, what is this thing called drug misuse? Well, actually it is exactly what the word suggests. It is when you use a drug for the wrong purpose. For instance, I know a lot of guys who use alcohol to go to sleep at night. In reality, this was a very common practice when I was in college. Guys would be so keyed-up during the day that they would use alcohol to put themselves to sleep when it came time for bedie-bye. Do I need to tell you that alcohol is not a sleeping aid? Okay, alcohol is not a sleeping aid. Oh, yeah! It will knock you out if you drink enough of it, but it is not designed to induce sleep. Actually, alcohol interferes with sleep…it alters the sleep patterns to the point where the body loses vitality rather than gains it. We will talk about that in depth in Chapter 9. Consequently, if you used alcohol to go to sleep, you would be misusing the drug. Any time you take a drug for
something it was not designed for, you are misusing that drug. CRITICAL POINT: There are 47 million school age kids in America, currently over 27 million of them try drugs and alcohol each year. Now that we know what a drug is and what drug misuse is, what is drug abuse? That is an easy oneâ€Śdrug abuse is when you continually misuse a drug. It is one thing when you drink a few beers to go to sleep one night, but when you start doing that night after night, and then you are getting into drug abuse. Therefore, people who abuse drugs are those who continually take drugs for the wrong purpose or as stated they repeatedly misuse drugs. One last point hereâ€Śyou have to understand that drugs are not good and bad in their own right. For instance, as you will see later on, drugs can be used to benefit us significantly in many different aspects of life, but those same drugs when used inappropriately can literally destroy us. In short, it is how we use a drug that is important, not the drug per se.