Health Risks of Drugs/Alcohol - Resources for Treatment
HEALTH RISKS OF ALCOHOL / DRUG ABUSE
Alcohol is absorbed into the blood through the stomach and small intestine; and, it is damaging to every cell and organ of the body. It depresses the central nervous system, causing impaired judgment, decreased self-control, impaired coordination, slow reactions, slurred speech, and sometimes unconsciousness. Alcohol may cause permanent brain cell damage and reduce the ability of bone marrow to make red blood cells, causing anemia. Alcohol also reduces the number of white blood cells and their ability to fight infections. It may weaken the lungs, leading to a greater risk of lung infections. Alcohol produces severe swelling of the liver, hepatitis, and cirrhosis. It causes inflammation and ulcers of the stomach, inflammation of the pancreas and intestines, diarrhea, weakness and loss of muscle tissue, and sexual impotence. It seems to worsen skin diseases such as acne. Alcohol may cause birth defects in babies whose mothers drank during pregnancy. Driving under the influence of alcohol is the major cause of fatal highway accidents.
Narcotics are used to relieve pain, induce sedation or sleep, or to elevate “moods.” They are highly addictive and debilitating (they can induce drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting), and are dangerous when used without medical supervision (an overdose can lead to respiratory depression, coma, and death). Severe physical and psychological dependence and a high degree of tolerance are common with prolonged, continuous use. Symptoms of withdrawal tend to be severe.
This class of drugs includes opium and its derivatives: morphine, heroin, methadone, codeine, demerol, and darvon. The drugs may be taken orally, by injection, smoked, or sniffed. They are detectable in blood and urine samples.
Heroin: According to the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, heroin accounts for the largest amount of narcotics abuse in the United States. Tolerance to the drug, which is also known as “smack” and “horse,” develops rapidly. Although they may start using the drug with a dosage of 2 to 8 milligrams, individuals who become addicts may use up to 450 milligrams per day. Usually, heroin is obtained as a white powder which is heated and dissolved; then, the solution is injected intravenously. The drug can also be sniffed or smoked. Heroin is detectable in a urine sample.
Signs of abuse include drowsiness, needle marks, and unhealthful appearance attributable to poor diet and personal neglect. Withdrawal symptoms include shaking, sweating, muscle twitching, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other symptoms include an increase in breathing rate, blood pressure, and temperature. Individuals may exhibit a feeling of desperation and an obsession with securing a “fix.”
Individuals who inject heroin may present symptoms of other diseases (e.g., AIDS or hepatitis) contracted through the sharing of dirty needles.
Morphine: This drug may be used by addicts when heroin is scarce. Usually, it is injected. The morphine addict’s signs and symptoms are similar to those of the heroin user.
Codeine: This is a weak derivative of opium, most commonly abused with cough medicines. It is less addictive than heroin and, also, less potent. When withdrawal symptoms occur, they are less severe than those associated with the stronger drug. When heroin is unavailable, addicts will sometimes consume codeine in large quantities.
Sedatives and Tranquilizers
Sedatives and tranquilizers have a depressant effect on the central nervous system. Taken in even small doses, these drugs can reduce tension and anxiety, relax muscles, cause drowsiness, and impair motor functions. Dependence and tolerance may develop with prolonged use; and, there is a danger of addiction.
Barbiturates, which include seconal, Nembutal, and fiorinal, constitute the largest group of sedatives. These chemically manufactured drugs are known on the street as “downers,” “barbs,” “yellow jackets,” “red devils,” and “blue devils.” Usually, they come in capsules (which may be red, yellow, blue, or red and blue in color) and are swallowed. Some, such as methaqualone (also known as “Quaaludes,” “’ludes,” or “sopers”) are in tablet form.
Barbiturates exert a powerful depressant effect on the central nervous system. When used under medical supervision, barbiturates can be safe and effective; when abused, they can result in respiratory failure, coma, and death. They are particularly dangerous when combined with alcohol.
Signs of abuse are similar to symptoms presented by alcoholics: staggering or stumbling, falling asleep, confusion, slurred speech, dilated pupils, disorientation, impaired judgement, and loss of balance and coordination. Users who are not “high” generally suffer from heightened anxiety or stress, are jittery, or experience insomnia; they may experience abdominal cramping, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Convulsions and delirium are among the manifestations of withdrawal from long-term barbiturate use.
Non-barbiturate sedatives are used medically to induce sleep or for sedation. Tolerance and physical and psychological dependence may occur with continued use. Signs of abuse and withdrawal symptoms are similar to those for users of barbiturates.
Tranquilizers, introduced in the early 1950's, come in tablet or capsule form and are taken orally. Valium, librium, other tranquilizers may be prescribed to counteract tension and anxiety when such feelings interfere with the ability to function normally. Persons who use these anti-anxiety agents may appear to be lethargic and slow to react.
The use of tranquilizers is widespread, but detection of misuse is complicated because the drugs are often obtained with legitimate prescriptions.
Signs of abuse are the same as those for barbiturates. Certain tranquilizers, such as Valium, may produce severe withdrawal symptoms, including convulsions.
Stimulants heighten the action of the central nervous system. Often used to improve alertness and induce wakefulness, stimulants depress the appetite and provide a feeling of well-being and increased ability. Tolerance develops rapidly with use; psychological dependence is possible. The most widely used stimulant in this country is caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, and cola; its effects, generally, are mild. Synthetic or chemically manufactured stimulants (e.g., amphetamines, such as Benzedrine) are considerably more potent.
Stimulants, usually, are ingested. They also may be sniffed, injected intravenously, or smoked. They are detectable in blood and urine samples.
Amphetamines may be prescribed for the treatment of obesity, asthma or hay fever, fatigue, Parkinson’s disease, and various behavioral disorders. They commonly are referred to as “speed,” “uppers,” “ups,” and “pep pills.” Widely available, amphetamines often are distributed illegally.
Most “uppers” are manufactured in capsule, pill, or tablet form. (Methamphetamine - a type of stimulant whose effects are similar to those of amphetamines - comes in a white powder, pill, or off-white “rock” and may be swallowed, injected, or inhaled into the nose through a tube. Methamphetamine often is called “methadrine,” “crank,” or “crystal.”
Amphetamines increase alertness, dispel depression, and produce an elevated feeling of well-being or euphoria. Their use enables some people to go relatively long periods without sleep, although once the effects wear off, physical exhaustion and depression may set in; a severe “crash” may produce suicidal behavior.
Physical effects include increased blood pressure and respiratory rates, dilated pupils, decreased appetite, dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, sweating, and loss of coordination. Depending on the dosage, amphetamines may cause tremors or physical collapse.
Injections of amphetamines can cause blood pressure to increase suddenly, which, in turn, can cause stroke or heart failure. Abuse of amphetamines can produce psychological dependence. Especially large doses can induce psychoses, which may manifest themselves in violent or self-destructive behavior.
Signs of abuse may include drastic weight loss; malnutrition; skin infections; hypertension; nervousness, irritability, and erratic mood shifts; and hallucinations, acute anxiety, paranoia, or other psychotic behavior. Generally, an abuser is talkative, excitable, and restless; a “speed” user experiences especially intense reactions.
Cocaine, a stimulant that once was valued as a local anesthetic, is believed to be used by over six million Americans. It is considered the most dangerous, commonly-used illegal drug in the U.S., with one of every two users becoming addicted. Extracted from leaves of coca plants, which are grown in semitropical climates, cocaine is referred to as “coke,” “blow,” “snow,” and “nose candy.” A white crystalline powder, cocaine usually is inhaled or “snorted” through a tube into the nostrils; however, it may be injected into the veins. When “freebased” - purified and chemically altered by the application of heat - cocaine yields a substance that is volatile (users risk injury or death from fire or explosion) and that produces intense effects rapidly upon inhalation of the cocaine fumes. “Crack” is an especially potent, extremely addictive, solid form of cocaine. It comes in light brown pellets or crystalline “rocks” and is smoked.
Cocaine, which stays in the system for two to three days after use, stimulates the central nervous system. Users experience intense (though brief) feelings of euphoria, mental alertness, and competence, which are followed quickly by feelings of depression and anxiety. Pulse, blood pressure, body temperature, and respiratory rate increase and the pupils become dilated; muscles may twitch. Users may become extremely vocal and be both emotionally expressive and physically energetic.
Prolonged use of cocaine results in a high degree of tolerance, as well as psychological and physical dependence. Addiction, ultimately, can lead to heart or respiratory failure and death.
Signs of abuse include runny nose, bleeding, and other damage to the nasal passages. A chronic user coming off a “high,” or “crashing,” may be irritable, nervous, and impatient. They may experience fatigue and seem pessimistic. Occasionally, abusers manifest signs of paranoid psychoses, hallucinate, or display other mental abnormalities.
Marijuana use is common. Next to alcohol, it is believed to be the most widely-abused drug in the U.S. (More than 20 million Americans are estimated to use marijuana regularly.) A stimulant, marijuana is derived from a weed, Cannabis sativa (Indian hemp). The drug, also known as “pot,” “dope,” “grass,” “weed,” and “reefer,” consists of greenish-brown dried and chopped leaves, small stems, and seeds. It is smoked, often communally, in pipes, hand-rolled cigarettes known as “joints,” or water pipes called “bongs.” The drug has a distinctive odor - like burning rope or alfalfa - that tends to hang in the air.
Marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which, in distilled form, comes in soft gelatin capsules that are swallowed. The higher the presence of THC, the more potent the marijuana is. Hashish, or “hash,” is a potent refined form of marijuana that comes in brown or black balls, or “cakes,” and is smoked.
Marijuana can be detected in a urine sample.
Signs of abuse are difficult, if not impossible, to detect. The drug’s effects vary from person to person, depending on the individual’s personality and health, the amount and frequency of use, and the potency of the marijuana. While one marijuana user may be talkative, excitable, and restless, another may be withdrawn and quiet. Some users say they experience the same kind of “high” they get when they are slightly drunk. Other physical signs include dry mouth and throat, increased appetite, increased heart rate, bloodshot eyes, and impaired coordination, concentration, and memory. Heavy users may suffer from respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis.
Continued medical research into the physical and mental effects of marijuana indicates that, for long-term continuous users, marijuana may present a number of risks, including deteriorating physical performance. Other risks include “burnout” manifested in lethargy, confused thinking, depression, and acute frustration. Marijuana can cause a decreased blood supply to the heart, which can have serious implications for persons with heart conditions. Additional risks can include impaired sexual development and fertility, hallucinations, damage to the brain, lungs, and pulmonary system, and uncontrolled outbursts of emotion (anger, crying, laughter).
Hallucinogens, or psychedelics, effect changes in sensation, thinking, self-awareness, and emotion. Altered or distorted perceptions of time and space, illusions, hallucinations, and delusions may occur. The intensity and duration of the effects depend on the individual and the particular drug and dosage involved.
Most hallucinogens are taken by mouth, and all produce a relatively long “high”; typically, eight or more hours. Tolerance may develop with use of some hallucinogens; there are, however, no clear signs of physical dependence.
PCP (phencyclidine) is one of the most common and most abused hallucinogens. An animal tranquilizer, the drug has dramatic effects on humans. Users frequently engage in bizarre, violent, and self-destructive behaviors; or, they appear to be experiencing acute mental illness. PCP is known as “angel dust” and “killer weed.” It may be taken orally, but more often is smoked, sometimes in a mixture containing marijuana. The drug can be detected in a urine sample.
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), or “acid,” primarily affects the central nervous system, producing changes in mood and behavior. Its effects on emotions vary with the user, but run the gamut from exhilaration to panic. Some users experience especially bad “trips” or psychological reactions, such as exaggerated suspicions, fear, confusion, anxiety, loss of control, and “flashbacks.” Use of the drug can trigger suicidal tendencies or intensify existing psychoses in some individuals. Physical effects may include dilated pupils, lack of coordination, numbness, tingling, mild hypertension, and nausea. Usually, LSD is in a liquid form and is placed on a sugar cube or cookie and swallowed. It typically is used in a group setting.
Mescaline, obtained from the peyote cactus, has a long history of use dating back to the religious ceremonies of North American natives. It is taken orally, often in capsule or liquid form; occasionally, it is injected. Its effects are similar to those of LSD.
Inhalants are found in most households and offices. They include airplane glue, paint thinners, gasoline, aerosol propellants, nail polish remover, Liquid Paper correcting fluid, and a variety of other volatile products that most people would not categorize as drugs.
Inhalants are very dangerous and can be fatal. Sniffing such products will deprive a person of oxygen, and can damage the brain, heart, kidneys, and digestive system. Milder physical effects include slurred speech, impaired coordination, and rapid pulse.
The so-called “designer” drugs, or analogs, are drugs whose molecular structures have been altered. There are analogs of narcotics, amphetamines, and PCP; these go by such names as “China White,” “synthetic heroin,” and “ecstasy,” which is known to cause brain damage. Designer drugs, produced primarily by underground chemists/drug pushers, tend to be extremely potent, and their effects are mostly unpredictable.
Resources for Treatment
Student Assistance Program
Students can receive confidential counseling for mental health concerns by making an appointment with the AC counseling center: 371-5900.
The most current referral information for substance abuse and addiction can also be obtained by contacting the counseling center at 371-5900.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
The EAP provides confidential assistance to employees, and their families, who are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse or other personal problems. Employees, or members of their families, may utilize the Employee Assistance Program by calling the Professional Counseling and Biofeedback Center at (806) 356-0404.
AGENCIES / RESOURCES for TREATMENT of ALCOHOL / DRUG ABUSE
Alcohol Abuse 24-Hour Action Helpline & Treatment 1-800-888-9383 (Call Toll Free)
Alcohol Abuse 24-Hour Assistance and Treatment 1-800-234-1253 (Call Toll Free)
Alcoholics Anonymous (Amarillo Central Office) 373-4600 (Call 24 Hours)
Services: A program to help and rehabilitate alcoholics who are trying to overcome their
Eligibility: Alcoholics and/or their families
Hours: 24-hour number, volunteers on-call through answering service
Amarillo Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse 374-6688 or 1-800-566-6688
Location: 616 N. Polk, Amarillo, Texas
Funding: The United Way
TCADA (Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse)
Junior League of Amarillo
Don and Sybil Harrington Foundation
Services: Educational programs providing current scientific and factual information on alcohol, drugs and alcoholism, and state-of-the-art programs for the prevention of substance
abuse among all age groups - particularly, teenagers and young adults
Cost: Sliding scale fee
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
AGENCIES / RESOURCES for TREATMENT of ALCOHOL / DRUG ABUSE
Amarillo Alcoholic Women’s Recovery Center “The Haven” 374-5654
Location: 1308 S. Buchanan, Amarillo, Texas
Funding: TCADA (licensed and funded in part by TCADA)
Services: 24-hour, supervised living by a trained and qualified staff;
3- to 6-month treatment program
Eligibility: Must be 18 years of age or older
Cost: Call for current information
Alcoholic Recovery Center 372-0580 or 376-7993
Location: 412 East 16th Ave., Amarillo, Texas
Funding: Texas Rehabilitation Commission
U.S. Veterans Administration
Services: Alcoholics Anonymous; Narcotics Anonymous; TCADA Level 4 Residential
Treatment Program; Texas Workforce Commission Job Training
Eligibility: Must be 18 years of age
Cost: Call for current information
Applicable Laws Concerning Alcohol/Drug Abuse
APPLICABLE LAWS CONCERNING ALCOHOL / DRUG ABUSE
The following is a partial listing of applicable laws concerning alcohol/drug abuse with special emphasis on those statutes that might apply on college campuses as well as in residential and commercial areas. The references used to obtain this information are: Black's Law Dictionary, 5th Edition;Penal Laws of Texas, 1st Edition; Texas Criminal Law and Motor Vehicle Handbook; and, the Texas Peace Officer's Basic Training Guide.
I. Alcohol Related Offenses
A. State and Local Level
1. Section 42.08. Public Inebriation
a. An individual appearing in a public place under the influence of alcohol or any other substance to the degree that the individual may endanger himself or another.
b. An offense under this section is a Class "C" misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $200.00.
2. Section 6701 L-1. Driving While Intoxicated
a. A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while driving or operating a motor vehicle in a public place.
b. An offense under this section is a fine of not less than $100 or more than $2,000.00 and confinement in jail not less that 72 hours or more than two years. Previous convictions may enhance fines and jail time.
3. Minor in Possession
This statute is interpreted in the Texas Alcohol Beverage Code.
4. Drinking an Alcoholic Beverage In or Near a Motor Vehicle
This is a local ordinance and is defined within the City Ordinance Manual.
II. Drug-Related Offenses
Note: There are approximately 280 drug-related offenses in Texas at the State level. The following represent only those that most likely will involve the College community.
A. State and Local Level
1. Section 481.112, 113, and 114. Manufacture or Delivery of a controlled substance
a. A person knowingly or intentionally manufactures, delivers, or possesses with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance.
b. An offense under this section is a felony. The punishment varies with the amount of substance and disposition of the specific act.
2. Section 481.115, 116, 117, and 118. Possession of a Controlled Substance
a. A person knowingly or intentionally possesses a controlled substance unless the substance was obtained directly from or under a valid prescription or order of a practitioner.
b. An offense under this section is a felony. The degree and punishment varies with the amount of substance and disposition of the specific act.
3. Sections 481, 120, and 121. Delivery and/or Possession of Marijuana
a. A person knowingly or intentionally delivers or possesses a usable quantity of marijuana.
b. An offense under this section is at least a Class "B" misdemeanor and may be enhanced pertaining to the quantity of substance and disposition of offense.
4. Section 481.127. Unauthorized Disclosure of Information
a. A person intentionally or knowingly gives, permits, or obtains unauthorized access to information submitted to the Department of Public Safety regarding drug-related offenses or evidence.
b. An offence under this section is a Third Degree Felony.
5. Section 4812.002. Unlawful Delivery or Manufacture With Intent to Deliver a Simulated Controlled Substance
This statute has the same interpretation as the offenses relating to actual drug violations and carries the same penalties.
6. Sections 483.041 and 483.042. Possession and "Delivery or Offer of Delivery" of a Dangerous Drug
a. A person possesses, delivers or offers to deliver a dangerous drug unless obtained from a licensed pharmacist.
b. Offenses under these sections vary as to quantity and violation disposition.
B. Federal Level
All state laws listed will coincide with Federal Law. Federal statutes may include interstate transportation of drugs or alcohol and certain customs violations that would not normally be encountered within the Amarillo College community.