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Essay/Term paper: Drugs

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Alcohol and Drugs

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Tobacco is a plant grown for its leaves that are smoked, chewed, or sniffed for a variety
of effects. It is considered an addictive substance because it contains the chemical nicotine.
The tobacco plant is believed to have originated in the Western Hemisphere. The cultivated
species most often grown for North American and European tobacco products is Nicotine
Tabacum. The leaves of the plant are prepared for smoking, chewing, or sniffing. In addition
nicotine tobacco contains over 45 carcinogens and more than 4,000 chemicals. Prior to
European influence in the Americas, the Indians of Mexico and Peru used tobacco for the
ceremonies, medical purposes and to alleviate hunger pains during famines. Columbus is
credited with introducing tobacco into Europe. Tobacco use became widely accepted by the
Portuguese, Spanish, French, British, and Scandinavians. Explorers and sailors who became
dependent upon tobacco began planting seeds at their ports of call, introducing the product
into other parts of Europe and Asia. The colonist introduced tobacco on the American
continent in the early 1600's. It became a major crop and trading commodity of the Jamestown
Colony. Over the years tobacco has been claimed as a cure for a wide range of ailments with
varying forms of administration. Its social importance also grew over the years, even the point
of denoting the "modern women" during the 1st part of the twentieth century. It was not until
the 1960's, with the introduction of medical research related to cigarette smoking that the
adverse health effects of the tobacco became widely publicized. Unfortunately, most of the
health hazards were only associated with cigarette smoking. While the number of cigarette
smokers in the United States has continually decreased over recent years the number of
smokeless tobacco users has steadily increased. Since the 1970's a 15-fold increase in
smokeless tobacco has been noted in adolescents 17 to 19 years old. This has most likely been
related to the emphasis on smoke free environments, availability, increased advertising of
smokeless products, and the false belief that smokeless tobacco is a safe alternative for those
convinced they should stop smoking but who still want the nicotine effects of tobacco.
Although over 40 million people in the United States have quit smoking, about 50 million
continue to smoke (about 25% of the population). Each year, approximately 1.3 million
Americans quit smoking. In addition about two thirds of current smokers report they have
never tried to quit. About 30 to 40% of those who have not tried to quit say they do not believe
that the health risks of smoking will ultimately decrease their risks for disease. Young men are
at highest risk for using tobacco products but the incidence in women is increasing. Smokeless
tobacco use patterns are higher within the following occupations; athletes, ranchers, farmers,
fishermen, lumberjacks, and industrial workers, who have jobs requiring hand freedom.
Nicotine has both stimulant and depressant effects upon the body. Bowel tone and activity
increases along with saliva and bronchial secretions. Stimulation is followed with a phase that
depresses the respiratory muscles. As an euphoric agent, nicotine causes arousal as well as
relaxation from stressful situations. On the average, tobacco use increases the heart rate 10 to
20 beats per minute and it increases the blood pressure reading by 5 to 10 millimeters of
mercury (because it constricts the blood vessels). Nicotine may also increase sweating, nausea
and diarrhea because of its effects on the central nervous system. Nicotine's effect upon
hormonal activities is also present. It elevates the blood level of glucose and increases insulin
production. Nicotine also tends to enhance platelet aggregation, which may lead to blood
clotting. The positive effects of nicotine upon the body should also be noted. It stimulates
memory and alertness, enhancing cognitive skills that requires speed, reaction time and work
performance. As a mood-altering agent, it tends to alleviate boredom, reduces stress, and
reduces aggressive responses to stressful events. It also tends to be an appetite suppressant
specifically decreasing the appetite for simple carbohydrates and disturbs the efficiency with
which food is metabolized. People who use tobacco products frequently depend upon it to
provide these side effects to help them accomplish certain tasks at specific levels. With all the
information that is out today why do people continue to smoke? Since 1964, the Surgeon
General has warned that smoking is a health hazard this announcement promoted the U.S.
Public Health Service and The American Cancer Society to publicize the dangers of tobacco
smoking, and offer suggestions to those trying to quit. Cigarette packages were required to
carry the warning " may be hazardous to health." Later the wording was strengthened to read "
Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health." The reason cigarette smokers do not give up this
harmful habit easily is simple; Nicotine is a highly addictive substance like many other drugs.
Smokers are hooked as surely as is any heroin or cocaine addict; giving up cigarettes creates
painful withdrawal symptoms and a craving that many people cannot overcome. The Public
Health Service has declared cigarettes and tobacco to be our most common form of drug
dependency. Researchers discovered that nicotine is carried to the brain via the bloodstream
within a minute or two of smoking; it's then eliminated about a half-hour later, and then the
craving returns. Scientists and farmers have long known that nicotine is a deadly poison. They
use a concentrated spray of the chemical, extracted from tobacco leaves as a potent
insecticide. In humans, nicotine constricts the blood vessels, decreasing blood circulation to
the skin and vital organs. Long term smokers tend to look much older than non-smokers- a
result of the contraction of the capillaries on the skins surface, which prevents absorption of
tissue building nutrients. Furthermore, smokers afflicted with arterial hardening and
cholesterol deposits suffer a significantly higher number of heart attacks than non-smokers.
The damaged blood vessels give way sooner, when shriveled by nicotine. Until the early
1900's tobacco was usually chewed, inhaled as snuff, or smoked in cigars and pipes without
being inhaled. In other words, nicotine was being absorbed into the bloodstream through the
membranes of the mouth, nose, and bronchial passages, not through the lungs. The invention
of cigarette paper and automatic rolling machinery changed all that, and soon tobacco users
were puffing away on white wrapped sticks of tobacco. This introduced new toxins deep into
the body, known collectively as "tar". These toxins are byproducts of the combustion of paper,
tobacco, and chemicals in tobacco processing. The most lethal byproduct inhaled from
burning tobacco is benzopyrene; a carcinogenic chemical also emitted by automobile exhaust
pipes and factory smokestacks. In numerous tests, benzopyrene has been applied to the
respiratory tracts of laboratory animals, and has usually resulted in malignant tumors. The
leading killer among all forms of cancers, lung cancer currently claims about 140,000 victims
annually. The American Cancer Society estimates that 87% of lung cancer deaths could be
avoided if only people would stop smoking. Lung cancer isn't the only concern. The chemical
irritants absorbed into the blood are excreted almost unchanged in the urine, and they can lead
to the development of cancer of the kidneys, prostate glands, and bladder. The last 10 years
have seen a shift inner awareness of the dangers of smoking. While we have known for three
decades that smoking is a leading cause of cancer death, we have finally acknowledged that
second hand smoke can cause the same problems as firsthand smoke. In early 1993, in fact,
the EPA classified second hand smoke a Class A carcinogen. That label means Environmental
Tobacco Smoke (ETS) is every bit as potent as arsenic, asbestos, and radon in its ability to
cause cancer. In 1988, following years of study, the Surgeon General stated that sidetream
smoke could be deadly for non-smokers. In addition to causing respiratory problems, ETS is
responsible for 3,000 to 5,000 lung cancer deaths a year in non-smokers, as well as 35,000 to
40,000 deaths from heart disease. It is easy to see why tobacco smoke is so deadly. It contains
more than 4,000 chemicals and at least 45 of its ingredients are known or suspected to be
cancer causing. But what is truly alarming is that secondhand smoke contains greater
concentrations of certain carcinogens than primary smoke. It also contains greater amounts of
nicotine and tar, both strong and addictive toxins. The first interview I had conducted was with
my grandmother who happily admits she has never been a smoker or tobacco user. Even
though she has never used tobacco, she has firsthand experiences of what tobacco can do to a
person and their family. The first story she told me was about how her husband and my
grandfather, needed to have triple by-pass surgery. The surgery was performed in the spring of
1991 and was successful; my grandfather still lives today. The doctor had told him that his
smoking over the last 40 years was one of the biggest factors that made him need the surgery.
My grandfather has since quit, but will be on medication for the rest of his life. The second
story my grandmother had told me did not have such a happy ending. Her sister was only 52
years old when she was diagnosed with emphysema. The contributing factors were obvious, it
was tobacco use. She sat and told me the stories of how she would sit by her sister's side
feeling helpless because they were told that nothing could be done. My grandmother said of
how her sister wished she knew the dangers of smoking when she was younger; because by the
time she had found out she had no desire to quit because she had been smoking for so long.
After a period of time the emphysema finally killed my aunt and left her husband, two children
and many family members behind. These were two stories with different endings that my
grandmother will never forget. Stories like these should make society realize that tobacco is
not a personal problem, it is a global problem. Everyone is affected by tobacco smoke, and it
is time we all should get the proper education to learn about the dangers of cigarette smoke.
More Americans are deciding to quit smoking due to its negative effects on their health, so the
tobacco companies must find new ways to market their products. Studies show that most
smokers start smoking as teens (80% before the age of 18) and if they don't start then, they will
probably never smoke. The tobacco companies know this, so they target these children
through advertisements. They also target the women more because women are more likely to
be influenced than men are. The third most targeted population is the minority group.
Currently in the United States the minorities' make-up 25% of our population, this is a lot of
people with a lot of money to spend on tobacco products. Tobacco companies spend $700,000
an hour trying to convince people smoking is fun and exciting. These companies need to
recruit 5,000 new smokers each day, because 1,000 smokers will die and another 4,000
smokers quit each day. There are a lot of different methods that these advertisements
companies use: such as using good looking models to make smoking look fun and exciting.
They put ads in magazines and on billboards, they sponsor car races, rodeos, and sporting
events to make smoking look like winners. They use cartoon characters so young people will
recognize their brands and they also try to use "free stuff" coupons so you buy more cigarettes.
With all this advertisement how can we prevent our children from smoking? The Federal
Government along with state and local government have started their war with these tobacco
companies. They are trying to educate students on the dangers of smoking, through health
educators and programs such as D.A.R.E. They have also used the same advertising techniques
as tobacco companies, with their own anti-smoking campaign. Except they make smoking
look terrible and show that to be a real winner you don't need to smoke. What about all these
people who are currently addicted and want to quit smoking, what are we to do as health
professionals? Numbers show there is a high percentage of American adults that want to quit
smoking but just can't. Like other addictive behaviors, tobacco use is difficult to stop and
maintain, particularly if acting alone. The best success in quitting has been noted with
comprehensive programs that may combine various strategies including education, peer
support, behavior recognition, behavior modification methods, recognition of potential relapse
situations, and strategies for confronting such situations. Medications that are nicotine
substitutes, such as transdermal nicotine or nicotine chewing gum may be used but their
effectiveness ranges between 25%-40%. There are also alternative methods such as hypnosis,
acupuncture, or even cold turkey. Anyone of these methods can work with the proper support
and total mindset upon quitting. The benefits of quitting are almost instant. Within 20 minutes
blood pressure and pulse rate drop, body temperature of extremities increase to normal. Within
8 hours, risk of sudden heart attack decreases. After 48 hours nerve endings begin to
regenerate and sense of smell and taste begin to return to normal. Between 2 weeks and 3
months of quitting, circulation improves and walking becomes easier. Lung function increases
up to 30%. These benefits will increase the longer the person has not smoked. Given all the
dangers of cigarette smoking it is not surprising that many states have taken legal action to
protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke. More than 40 states and at least 480
communities have passed legislation to restrict smoking in public places. A majority of
companies now have smoking policies that restrict or ban smoking in the workplace. We
spend some 22 billion a year on medical care related to smoking, and lost productivity exceeds
another 43 billion a year. As of 1986 smokeless tobacco commercials were banned from TV
and radio. As of 1987 smokeless tobacco companies were required to have warning labels on
them. The second interview I had conducted was with the Chief of City 1 Tobacco Control
Office, person 1. He told me about all the consequences and adverse effects that tobacco will
produce, but more importantly we talked about what this city is doing to stop tobacco use
among the people who live here. The city's first requirement is that all tobacco sellers need to
have a tobacco permit, this allows the city to monitor the tobacco in the city. This also allows
the tobacco control office to set up a database for compliance checks. These compliance
checks will test stores for sale to minors and for signage in the stores. They have also created a
new ordinance that will ban smoking in all restaurants, effective July 1, . They also work in
conjunction with the D.A.R.E. program to educate children on the dangers of tobacco. These
programs and ordinances work together to slow down tobacco use in this city. I have stated
facts and figures on tobacco and the society it affects. This is a problem that people on all
levels need to address. The government needs to put an end to tobacco companies. Cities and
states need to ban smoking in all public places to keep those who do not smoke healthy. Most
importantly parents and all adults need to show children that smoking is dangerous, by not
smoking ourselves. By everyone doing a little something to help this alleviate problem we can
make our environment a much healthier place to live. There are billions of dollars invested in
health care cessation programs, education, and prevention. Tobacco affects everyone; even if
you do not smoke, all taxpayers are being affected and do not even realize it. People are dying
everyday from a drug that if not so socially and financially acceptable would be banned by
now. Everyone has a reason to help in this cause whether it is global warming, pollution,
taxes, or pain and suffering. Our society has been kept in the dark to long, and it is time we all
fight to take back what is ours "HEALTH".

alcohol abuse

Alcohol Abuse Alcohol is liquid distilled product of fermented fruits, grains and
vegetables used as solvent, antiseptic and sedative moderate potential for abuse. Possible
effects are intoxication, sensory alteration, and/or anxiety reduction. Symptoms of overdose
staggering, odor of alcohol on breath, loss of coordination, slurred speech, dilated pupils, fetal
alcohol syndrome (in babies), and/or nerve and liver damage. Withdrawal Syndrome is first
sweating, tremors, then altered perception, followed by psychosis, fear, and finally auditory
hallucinations. Indications of possible mis-use are confusion, disorientation, loss of motor
nerve control, convulsions, shock, shallow respiration, involuntary defecation, drowsiness,
respiratory depression and possible death. Alcohol is also known as: Booze, Juice, Brew, Vino,
Sauce. You probably know why alcohol is abused some reasons are relaxation, sociability, and
cheap high. But did you know that alcohol is a depressant that decreases the responses of the
central nervous system. Excessive drinking can cause liver damage and psychotic behavior. As
little as two beers or drinks can impair coordination and thinking. Alcohol is often used by
substance abusers to enhance the effects of other drugs. Alcohol continues to be the most
frequently abused substance among young adults. HERE ARE SOME STRAIGHT FACTS
ABOUT ALCOHOL.... Alcohol abuse is a pattern of problem drinking that results in health
consequences, social, problems, or both. However, alcohol dependence, or alcoholism, refers
to a disease that is characterized by abnormal alcohol-seeking behavior that leads to impaired
control over drinking. Short-term effects of alcohol use include: -Distorted vision, hearing, and
coordination -Altered perceptions and emotions -Impaired judgment -Bad breath; hangovers
Long-term effects of heavy alcohol use include: -Loss of appetite -Vitamin deficiencies
-Stomach ailments -Skin problems -Sexual impotence -Liver damage -Heart and central
nervous system damage -Memory loss Here are some quick clues to know if I, or someone
close, has a drinking problem: -Inability to control drinking--it seems that regardless of what
you decide beforehand, you frequently wind up drunk -Using alcohol to escape problems -A
change in personality--turning from Dr. Jekyl to Mr. Hyde -A high tolerance level--drinking
just about everybody under the table -Blackouts--sometimes not remembering what happened
while drinking -Problems at work or in school as a result of drinking -Concern shown by
family and friends about drinking If you have a drinking problem, or if you suspect you have a
drinking problem, there are many others out there like you, and there is help available. You
could talk to school counselor, a friend, or a parent. Excessive alcohol consumption causes
more than 100,000 deaths annually in the United States, and although the number shows little
sign of declining, the rate per 100,000 population has trended down since the early 1980s.
Accidents, mostly due to drunken driving, accounted for 24 percent of these deaths in 1992.
Alcohol-related homicide and suicide accounted for 11 and 8 percent respectively. Certain
types of cancer that are partly attributable to alcohol, such as those of the esophagus, larynx,
and oral cavity, contributed another 17 percent. About 9 percent is due to alcohol-related
stroke. One of the most important contributors to alcohol-related deaths is a group of 12
ailments wholly caused by alcohol, among which alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver and alcohol
dependence syndrome are the most important. These 12 ailments together accounted for 18
percent of the total alcohol-related deaths in 1992. Mortality due to the 12 causes rises steeply
into late middle age range and then declines markedly, with those 85 and over being at less
than one-sixth the risk of 55 to 64-year olds. The most reliable data are for the 12 conditions
wholly attributable to alcohol. The map shows these data for all people 35 and over. The
geographical distribution for men and women follows much the same pattern, although men
are three times as likely to die of one of the 12 alcohol-induced ailments. The geographical
distribution for whites and blacks follows roughly the same pattern but the rates for blacks are
two and half times higher. In the late nineteenth century blacks, who were then far more
abstemious than whites, were strong supporters of the temperance movement, but the
movement in the South was taken over by whites bent on disenfranchising black people by any
means possible, such as propagating lurid tales of drink-crazed black men raping white
women. Consequently, blacks became less involved in the temperance movement, a trend that
accelerated early in the twentieth century with the great migration of blacks to the North,
where liquor was freely available even during Prohibition. The geographical pattern of
mortality from the 12 conditions wholly caused by alcohol is partly explained by the average
alcohol consumption among those who drink, which tends to be higher in the Southeast certain
areas of the West and than elsewhere. In New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, and in many counties
in the Plains and Mountain states, the rates are high, in part, because of heavy drinking among
Native Americans. Another possible contributor to high rates in the West is lower family and
community support than elsewhere, as suggested by high divorce and suicide rates, low church
membership, and the large number of migrants from other regions. In the South Atlantic states,
black males contribute heavily to the high mortality rates, although white rates there are above
average. One unexplained anomaly is the comparatively low rates in the area stretching from
Kentucky through Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, to Louisiana, all states with high alcohol
consumption among those who drink. There were at least four cycles of high alcohol
consumption in the last 150 years with peaks in the 1840s, in the 1860s, the first decade of the
twentieth century, and again in the 1970-1981 period. Each of these peaks was probably
accompanied by an increase in alcohol-related deaths, as suggested by the course of liver
cirrhosis mortality, which, since the early twentieth century, has followed more-or-less the
same trend as consumption of beverages alcohol. America is now in a phase of declining
alcohol consumption, so one would expect that the rate of alcohol-related deaths would
continue to decline. Among westernized countries, America in the early 1990s was somewhat
below average in both alcohol consumption and liver cirrhosis mortality. If you have been
arrested for DWI, you may be court ordered to go to counseling for alcohol abuse. Does that
mean that you're an alcoholic? Sometimes people get the idea that alcohol abuse and
alcoholism are the same thing. They are not. The National Council on Alcoholism says,
"Alcohol Abuse : a problem to solve. Alcoholism: a disease to conquer." In case you have
wondered what the difference is, here's some help: Alcohol Abuse is the misuse of the
substance, alcohol. You know you are abusing a substance when: -You continue to use it, even
though you're having social or interpersonal problems because of your use. -You still use it
even though it's causing you physical problems. -Using it the way you do is causing you legal
problems. -You don't live up to major responsibilities on the job or in your family. Alcoholism
refers to being addicted, or dependent on alcohol. You may be dependent on a substance if any
three of the following are true: -You must use larger and larger amounts of it to get high. -You
have withdrawal when you try to stop or cut down. -You use it much more and for longer
times than you really want to. -You can't seem to cut back and feel a strong need or craving for
it. -You spend a lot of your time just getting the substance. -You'd rather use than work or be
with friends and family. -You keep using, no matter what. The National Council on Alcohol
Abuse and Alcoholism estimates, based on research, that a Blood Alcohol Concentration
(BAC) between .02 and .04 makes your chances of being in a single-vehicle fatal crash 1.4
times higher than for someone who has not had a drink. If your BAC is between .05 and .09,
you are 11.1 times more likely to be in a fatal single vehicle crash, and 48 times more likely at
a BAC between .10 and .14. If you've got a BAC of .15, your risk of being in a single-vehicle
fatal crash is estimated to be 380 times higher than a non-drinker's. How much do you have to
drink to get a BAC that high? A 160 pound man will have a BAC of about .04, 1 hour after
consuming two 12-ounce beers on an empty stomach. Your BAC will depend on how much
you weigh, how much you drink, amount of time since your last drink and your gender.
Women metabolize alcohol differently from men, causing women to reach higher BAC's at the
same doses. Recent research is showing that true substance dependence may be caused, in
part, by brain chemistry deficiences. That is one reason that substance dependence is
considered a disease. And, as with other diseases, there is the possibility of taking medicine to
get better. There is now promising evidence that taking medicine can correct some of the
deficiences that may cause drug dependence. It is beginning to look like a combination of the
right medicine along with talking therapy and behavior therapy, will help us treat this disease
as we have never before been able to. One drug is Naltrexone, sometimes known as ReVia.
Fluoxetine (Prozac) and Desipramine (Norpramin) have also shown promise. Alcohol abuse is
also a serious medical and social problem, but is not the same as alcoholism. Alcohol abuse is
the intentional overuse of alcohol, i.e., to the point of drunkenness. This includes occasional
and celebratory over-drinking. Not all people who abuse alcohol become alcoholics, but
alcohol abuse by itself can have serious medical effects. Overuse of alcohol is considered to
be: -more than 3-4 drinks per occasion for women -more than 4-5 drinks per occasion for men.
One drink equals one (12-ounce) bottle of beer or winecooler, one (5-ounce) glass of wine, or
one and a half ounces of liquor. Alcohol, probably the oldest drug known, has been used at
least since the earliest societies for which records exist. Of the numerous types of alcohol,
ethyl alcohol is the type consumed in drinking. In its pure form it is a clear substance with
little odor. People drink alcohol in three main kinds of beverages: BEERS, which are made
from grain through brewing and fermentation and contain from 3% to 8% alcohol; WINES,
which are fermented from fruits such as grapes and contain from 8% to 12% alcohol naturally,
and up to 21% when fortified by adding alcohol; and distilled beverages (spirits) such as
WHISKEY, GIN, and VODKA, which on the average contain from 40% to 50% alcohol.
Drinkers may become addicted to any of these beverages. Physical Effects of Alcohol The
effects of alcohol on the human body depend on the amount of alcohol in the blood
(blood-alcohol concentration). This varies with the rate of consumption and with the rate at
which the drinker's physical system absorbs and metabolizes alcohol. The higher the alcohol
content of the beverage consumed, the more alcohol will enter the bloodstream. The amount
and type of food in the stomach also affect the absorption rate. Drinking when the stomach is
filled is less intoxicating than when it is empty; the foods in the stomach, which contain fat
and protein, delay alcohol absorption. Body weight is also a factor; the heavier the person, the
slower the absorption of alcohol. After alcohol passes through the stomach, it is rapidly
absorbed through the walls of the intestines into the bloodstream and carried to the various
organ systems of the body, where it is metabolized. Although small amounts of alcohol are
processed by the kidneys and secreted in the urine, and other small amounts are processed
through the lungs and exhaled in the breath, most of the alcohol is metabolized by the liver. As
the alcohol is metabolized, it gives off heat. The body metabolizes alcohol at about the rate of
three-fourths of an ounce to one ounce of whiskey an hour. Technically it is possible to drink
at the same rate as the alcohol is being oxidized out of the body. Most people, however, drink
faster than this, and so the concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream keeps rising. Alcohol
begins to impair the brain's ability to function when the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC)
reaches 0.05%, that is, 0.05 grams of alcohol per 100 cubic centimeters of blood. Most state
traffic laws in the United States presume that a driver with a BAC of 0.10% is intoxicated.
With a concentration of 0.20% (a level obtained from drinking about 10 ounces of whiskey), a
person has difficulty controlling the emotions and may cry or laugh extensively. The person
will experience a great deal of difficulty in attempting to walk and will want to lie down.
When the blood-alcohol content reaches about 0.30%, which can be attained when a person
rapidly drinks about a pint of whiskey, the drinker will have trouble comprehending and may
become unconscious. At levels from 0.35% to 0.50%, the brain centers that control breathing
and heart action are affected; concentrations above 0.50% may cause death, although a person
generally becomes unconscious before absorbing a lethal dosage. Moderate or temperate use
of alcohol is not harmful, but excessive or heavy drinking is associated with alcoholism and
numerous other health problems. The effects of excessive drinking on major organ systems of
the human body are cumulative and become evident after heavy, continuous drinking or after
intermittent drinking over a period of time that may range from 5 to 30 years. The parts of the
body most affected by heavy drinking are the digestive and nervous systems. Digestive-system
disorders that may be related to heavy drinking include cancer of the mouth, throat, and
esophagus; gastritis; ulcers; cirrhosis of the liver; and inflammation of the pancreas. Disorders
of the nervous system can include neuritis, lapse of memory (blackouts), hallucinations, and
extreme tremor as found in delirium tremens. Delirium tremens ("the DTs") may occur when a
person stops drinking after a period of heavy, continuous imbibing. Permanent damage to the
brain and central nervous system may also result, including Korsakoff psychosis and
Wernicke's disease. Recent evidence indicates that pregnant women who drink heavily may
give birth to infants with the FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME, which is characterized by face
and body abnormalities and, in some cases, impaired intellectual facilities. Additionally, the
combination of alcohol and drugs, such as commonly used sleeping pills, tranquilizers,
antibiotics, and aspirin, can be fatal, even when both are taken in nonlethal doses. Many
studies have been made of attitudes toward drinking in different societies. Every culture has its
own general ethos or sense of decorum about the use and role of alcoholic beverages within its
social structure. In some cultures drinking is either forbidden or frowned upon. The Koran
contains prohibitions against drinking, and Muslims are forbidden to sell or serve alcoholic
beverages. Hindus take a negative view of the use of alcohol; this is reflected in the
constitution of India, which requires every state to work toward the prohibition of alcohol
except for medicinal purposes. Abstinence from alcohol has also been the goal of temperance
movements in Europe and the United States. Some Christian religious groups strongly urge
abstinence, including the Christian Scientists, Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists,
Pentecostalists, and some Baptists and Methodists. In some ambivalent cultures, such as the
United States and Ireland, the values of those who believe in abstinence conflict with the
values of those who regard moderate drinking as a way of being hospitable and sociable. This
accounts for the plethora of laws and regulations that restrict the buying of alcoholic
beverages. Some psychologists say that this ambivalence in the culture makes it harder for
some people to develop a stable attitude toward drinking. Some cultures have a permissive
attitude toward drinking, including those of Spain, Portugal, Italy, Japan, and Israel. The
proportion of Jews and Italians who use alcohol is high, but the rates of alcoholism among
them are lower than in Irish and Scandinavian groups. Some cultures may be said to look too
favorably upon drinking, as do the French. In France the heavy consumption of alcohol has
been related to the fact that many people are engaged in viticulture and in the production and
distribution of alcoholic beverages. Various surveys indicate that subgroups within a society or
culture do not all have the same attitudes toward alcoholic beverages or the same drinking
patterns. Drinking behavior differs significantly among groups of different age, sex, social
class, racial status, ethnic background, occupational status, religious affiliation, and regional

Marijuana Abuse
By: Lissa

"Marijuana is the second most popular drug after alcohol in the country today. So many people
smoke marijuana that the numbers alone seem to legitimize and condone its presence in
people's lives. Yet, even in moderation marijuana is not 'safe.' Somehow this information had
not filtered down to people who think they are smoking a fairly innocuous drug. Our society
perpetuates the myths about pot being a fun, harmless, recreational drug. These myths feed
into people's denial of marijuana's problems" (Baum 6). However, the abuse of marijuana is a
problem. It is not only a personal problem, but also more importantly a social problem.
Throughout history marijuana has been used to serve various purposes in many different
cultures. The purposes have changed over time to fit in with the current lifestyles. The
cultivation of the marijuana plant in the United States began as far back as the Jamestown
settlers around the year 1611. At that time the main focus was on survival rather than for
psychoactive purposes. Medicinal uses of marijuana eventually changed to enjoyment
manipulation. Beginning in the 1960s marijuana use saw a reemergence with the rebellious
youth, and the "hippie movement." This evolved into increased use among the older
population as well. This trend continues to this day. Marijuana use can be termed abuse.
Today the debate over marijuana is a major controversy that affects our society as a whole.
During the 60's it was easy to depict marijuana as a beneficial and completely harmless
substance because there was not enough scientific research done during this time (Grolier
Wellness Encyclopedia). Today we know that the levels of THC, the psychoactive component
of marijuana called tetrahydrocannabinol, in marijuana are four to ten times more than they
were in the 60s. We also know that THC had shown negative affects in the learning process.
It's destructive to the learning performance, memory, and attention span. It has insidious side
effects including lung damage and cancer risks. It also impairs ability to work, drive, and
make clear decisions, not to mention, the lack of motivation, depression, and paranoia. In
addition, "daily marijuana use has been associated with a doubling of the risk for psychosis.
The most common type was a brief acute organic reaction characterized by mental dulling,
distortion of time, dreamlike euphoria progressing to fragmenting thoughts, and
hallucinations. More potent marijuana can cause even more severe reactions" (Baum 16). This
means marijuana has tremendous costs on those who use it as well as society. The effects of
marijuana abuse on an individual can be substantial, but the costs to society are innumerable.
The effects can be felt in the rising of health care to increased insurance premiums. As the
number of marijuana users increase, the number seeking medical attention also increases. In
addition, being treated for various illnesses caused by marijuana abuse, results in missed days
at work. Productivity levels fall not only because of absenteeism, but also as a result of
impaired abilities. Workers under the influence of marijuana suffer from cognitive disorders
that hampers their productivity. Further, as a social problem, marijuana costs society billions
of tax dollars every year in an effort to obliterate drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse
(NIDA) estimates that drug abuse costs the United States as much as $246 billion each year
(Torr 12). Functionalist theorists would see marijuana abuse as a social problem in that it
causes a disturbance in the equilibrium of society. Functionalist theory states that the many
institutions (government, education, religion, etc.) of society must be integrated in order to
operate effectively and proficiently. In essence, if members of society were all under the
influence of marijuana, the functions of the structures could not be carried out. If one of the
structures is poorly integrated, it becomes dysfunctional to society. In terms of marijuana
abuse, many institutions of society would be dysfunctional if its members were marijuana
users. For instance, family would be dysfunctional if parents were not able to raise future
productive members of society. This would be true if either the parents or child were
marijuana abusers. Likewise, the same outcome could be seen in the other structures of society
such as members of the educational system, or government institutions, and production in the
workplace. Functionalist theorists would view marijuana abuse as a potentially far-reaching
social problem given that every structure would be involved. Conflict theorists would consider
marijuana abuse as a social problem because of the power struggle involving law enforcement
and drug abusers. "This perspective focuses on the creation of rules, especially criminal
law"(Herman 83). Specifically, by making the commodity of marijuana an illegal substance it
creates an atmosphere of control. Thus, when members of society are forced to commit illegal
acts it allows law enforcement agencies to wield power and force against them. This in turn
creates conflict. Additionally a power struggle ensues between people who have and control
the supply of marijuana and people who want it. This is a classic example of "the haves"
versus "the have-nots," of the powerful versus the powerless. Conflict theory seems to fit best
in examining the issue of marijuana abuse. Conflict theory addresses the many issues
surrounding marijuana use. For example, due to the fact that the powerful control the
marijuana industry there is a disparity in the criminal prosecution of certain classes, races, and
socioeconomic groups. These less powerful groups are victims of discrimination. While the
use of marijuana definitely inhibits an individual's life, the abuse of power surrounding
marijuana, is far more harmful to society. Conflict theory addresses this on a macro level.
Functionalist theory examines the issue from the standpoint that society as a whole feels the
same about the problem. It assumes everyone's values are identical. Therefore, marijuana
abuse as a social problem is better examined from the conflict perspective because it doesn't
take peoples values into consideration. Conflict theorists would most likely solve the problem
of marijuana abuse by suggesting legalization. When considering the underlying current of a
major power struggle between the groups who control the drug supply and the groups who are
in need of the drugs, legalizing marijuana would virtually eliminate this. Control of this illegal
substance would no longer be in the hands of the huge drug cartels, but would be readily
available to anyone. Additionally, the power struggle between law enforcement agencies and
drug users would no longer exist either. All the laws and prisons used against groups of lesser
power would be useless. This move would go a long way towards removing the disparity
between races, classes, and socioeconomic groups now in prison for drug offenses. On the
other hand functionalist theorists would opt for a more conventional solution. They would lean
towards eliminating marijuana usage. Their approach would include drug education in the
schools and treatment facilities, thereby decreasing the drug demand. This would cover all the
levels of society. Functionalists perspective focuses on micro, middle, and macro levels in
society, thus a full-scale war on drugs would be their ideal solution.

Works Cited Baum, Joanne, PH.D. It"s Time to Know. Minneapolis: Johnson Institute, 1996
Grolier Electronic Encylopedia. Electronic Publishing, Inc., 1995. Herman, Nancy J.
Deviance. Dix Hills, NY: General Hall, Inc., 1995. Torr, James D., ed. Drug Abuse: Opposing
Veiwpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1999.


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