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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 159454 Find in a Library
Title: What Drugs Do to Users (From Drugs and Drug Use in Society, P 5-23, 1994, Ross Coomber, ed. - See NCJ 159452)
Author(s): R Miller
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 19
Sponsoring Agency: Greenwich University Press
Kent, DA1 1PF, England
Sale Source: Greenwich University Press
Unit 42, Dartford Trade Park
Hawley Road
Kent, DA1 1PF,
United Kingdom
Type: Issue Overview
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: The author claims that, in order to deal effectively with drugs, one must respect their differences. As a first step toward such understanding, he considers the characteristics of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and LSD.
Abstract: Reporters, movie makers, police and politicians have shaped the view of heroin as powerful, swiftly addictive, delivering great pleasure but at a cost of horrendous physical agony if addicts attempt to stop taking it. That picture, however, is contradicted by medical and sociological investigations, which indicate that: (1) heroin users have no physical need for the drug; (2) heroin and other opiates apparently cause no ill effects of consequence; and (3) heroin is far less harmful than alcohol or tobacco. The pharmacological basis of cocaine's appeal is unclear. Experienced users cannot tell the difference between cocaine and a nasal anesthetic, nor can they reliably differentiate the effects of amphetamine and cocaine. Cocaine does have effects but their power may be exaggerated, and afflictions associated with cocaine seem related to astonishing levels of abuse, levels at which even innocuous substances could have serious effects. Marijuana's pharmacological properties are so limited that an experienced user can perform any normal tasks without measurable impairment, whether or not the user is under the influence at the time. The weakness of the claim that marijuana is the gateway to use of more dangerous substances is demonstrated by history, reasoning, and stark experience. In a way, LSD might be viewed as an extremely powerful stimulant; it can be used as an antidote to barbiturate poisoning. It strikes down barriers between senses, so that sounds may be seen as a shifting kaleidoscope of colors. Barriers between the conscious and unconscious may fall, bringing forth deep psychological concerns. Vivid hallucinations may appear. Paradoxically, this powerful drug is also exceptionally safe; the size of a lethal dose is unknown, because no one has died from LSD. Users of LSD are not a threat to those around them, and the drug has never raised problems of public health or social cost. Abuse of drugs can have bad consequences, as can abuse of anything else. We should respect these chemicals, but we need not fear them.
Main Term(s): Controlled Substances
Index Term(s): Cocaine; Drug effects; Drug research; Drug treatment; Drug withdrawal; Heroin; LSD (acid); Marijuana
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