Student Health Services
Holloway Hall

Health Information & Links

Straight Facts About Drugs, Cigarettes and Alcohol
Useful links
Smoking Information

HelpGuide.org

 


HERE ARE THE STRAIGHT FACTS ABOUT... Marijuana

Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the United States and tends to be the first illegal drug teens use.

The physical effects of marijuana use, particularly on developing young adults, can be acute.

Short-Term Effects
Long-Term Effects

Sleepiness.

Difficulty keeping track of time, impaired or reduced short-term memory.

Reduced ability to perform tasks requiring concentration and coordination, such as driving a car.

Increased heart rate.

Potential cardiac dangers for those with preexisting heart disease.

Bloodshot eyes.

Dry mouth and throat.

Decreased social inhibitions.

Paranoia, hallucinations.

Enhanced cancer risk.

Decrease in testosterone levels for men; also lower sperm counts and difficulty having children.

Increase in testosterone levels for women; also increased risk of infertility.

Diminished or extinguished sexual pleasure.

Psychological dependence requiring more of the drug to get the same effect.

Marijuana blocks the messages going to your brain and alters your perceptions and emotions, vision, hearing, and coordination.

A recent study of 1,023 trauma patients admitted to a shock trauma unit found that one-third had marijuana in their blood.

HERE ARE THE STRAIGHT FACTS ABOUT...  Cigarette Smoking

Although many people smoke because they believe cigarettes calm their nerves, smoking releases epinephrine, a hormone which creates physiological stress in the smoker, rather than relaxation. The use of tobacco is addictive. Most users develop tolerance for nicotine and need greater amounts to produce a desired effect. Smokers become physically and psychologically dependent and will suffer withdrawal symptoms including: changes in body temperature, heart rate, digestion, muscle tone, and appetite. Psychological symptoms include: irritability, anxiety, sleep disturbances, nervousness, headaches, fatigue, nausea, and cravings for tobacco that can last days, weeks, months, years, or an entire lifetime.

Risks associated with smoking cigarettes:

  • diminished or extinguished sense of smell and taste
  • frequent colds
  • smoker's cough
  • gastric ulcers
  • chronic bronchitis
  • increase in heart rate and blood pressure
  • premature and more abundant face wrinkles
  • emphysema
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • cancer of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, lungs, pancreas, cervix, uterus, and bladder

Cigarette smoking is perhaps the most devastating preventable cause of disease and premature death.

Smoking is particularly dangerous for teens because their bodies are still developing and changing and the 4,000 chemicals (including 200 known poisons) in cigarette smoke can adversely affect this process.

Cigarettes are highly addictive. One-third of young people who are just "experimenting" end up being addicted by the time they are 20.

For information about smoking cessation go to: The Wellness Center

HERE ARE THE 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
Long-Term Effects

Distorted vision, hearing, and coordination.

Altered perceptions and emotions.

Impaired judgment.

Bad breath; hangover.

Loss of appetite.

Vitamin deficiencies.

Stomach ailments.

Skin problems.

Sexual impotence.

Liver damage.

Heart and central nervous system damage.

Memory loss.

HERE ARE THE STRAIGHT FACTS ABOUT... Ecstasy

Ecstasy is an illegal synthetic, or designer, drug. Designer drugs mimic an already illegal drug by slightly altering the chemical composition. Ecstasy is also called MDMA, which stands for methylenedioxymethamphetamine. The amount of MDMA needed to get "high" is close to the toxic dose. Ecstasy is similar to methamphetamine and MDA, which is another designer drug in it's chemistry; therefore it may have similar affects to other amphetamines. Ecstasy acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system. Ecstasy can be found in a capsule or pill form, of various colors. It may also be in powder form. Ecstasy is commonly used at "rave" party settings. "Raves" are all night parties known for their dance music and drug experimentation. Other names for ecstasy are wonder drug and XTC.

Immediate Effects
Long-Term Effects
Psychological Effects

Feelings of detachment.

Loss of drives such as hunger, sleep, and sexual.

Muscle tension.

Blurred vision/rapid eye movements.

Sweating or chill.

Insomnia.

Tremors.

Hypertension.

Increase in heart rate.

Decrease in appetite.

Dehydration.

Nausea.

Fainting.

Death.

Anorexia.

High blood pressure.

Kidney failure.

Stroke.

Change in emotion.

Affects memory.

Change in brain chemicals.

Confusion.

Depression.

Sleep problems.

Anxiety.

Paranoia.

Hallucinations.

Panic.

Psychotic episodes.

Ecstasy can deplete as much as 90% of the brain's serotonin supply with two weeks of use. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain, which controls activities such as regulating aggression, thinking, sleeping, eating, sensitivity to pain, and mood.

Herbal Ecstasy

The main drug in herbal ecstasy is ephedra or ma huang, a natural herb. Herbal ecstasy is legal in most states; although some states have recently banned the drug. Ephedra has been used for weight control, upper respiratory treatment, and as an energy booster. Herbal ecstasy can be found in a capsule or pill form, of various colors. Herbal ecstasy can be purchased from a variety of places, including some health food stores, record stores, nightclubs, and through mail order. Herbal ecstasy is commonly used at "rave" party settings. Other brand names of drugs containing ingredients similar to herbal ecstasy are Cloud 9, Ultimate Xphoria, X, and Rave Energy.

Herbal ecstasy, when combined with caffeine, stimulates the central nervous system.

Effects
  • Liver failure
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Stroke
  • Fainting
  • Euphoric feeling
  • Increase in sexual sensations
  • Increase in awareness
  • Seizures
  • Heart attacks
  • Death
HERE ARE THE STRAIGHT FACTS ABOUT... Cocaine and Crack Cocaine

Cocaine is a white powder that comes from the leaves of the South American coca plant. Cocaine is either "snorted" through the nasal passages or injected intravenously. Cocaine belongs to a class of drugs known as stimulants, which tend to give a temporary illusion of limitless power and energy that leave the user feeling depressed, edgy, and craving more. Crack is a smokable form of cocaine that has been chemically altered. Cocaine and crack are highly addictive. This addiction can erode physical and mental health and can become so strong that these drugs dominate all aspects of an addict's life.

Physical risks associated with using any amount of cocaine and crack
Psychological risks

Increases in blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature.

Heart attacks, strokes, and respiratory failure.

Hepatitis or AIDS through shared needles.

Brain seizures.

Reduction of the body's ability to resist and combat infection.

Violent, erratic, or paranoid behavior.

Hallucinations and "coke bugs"--a sensation of imaginary insects crawling over the skin.

Confusion, anxiety and depression, loss of interest in food or sex.

"Cocaine psychosis"--losing touch with reality, loss of interest in friends, family, sports, hobbies, and other activities.

Some users spend hundred or thousands of dollars on cocaine and crack each week and will do anything to support their habit. Many turn to drug selling, prostitution, or other crimes.

Cocaine and crack use has been a contributing factor in a number of drownings, car crashes, falls, burns, and suicides.

Cocaine and crack addicts often become unable to function sexually.

Even first time users may experience seizures or heart attacks, which can be fatal.

HERE ARE THE STRAIGHT FACTS ABOUT... Hallucinogens

Hallucinogenic drugs are substances that distort the perception of objective reality. The most well-known hallucinogens include phencyclidine, otherwise known as PCP, angel dust, or loveboat; lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly known as LSD or acid; mescaline and peyote; and psilocybin, or "magic" mushrooms. Under the influence of hallucinogens, the senses of direction, distance, and time become disoriented. These drugs can produce unpredictable, erratic, and violent behavior in users that sometimes leads to serious injuries and death. The effect of hallucinogens can last for 12 hours.

LSD produces tolerance, so that users who take the drug repeatedly must take higher and higher doses in order to achieve the same state of intoxication. This is extremely dangerous, given the unpredictability of the drug, and can result in increased risk of convulsions, coma, heart and lung failure, and even death.

Physical risks associated with using hallucinogens
Psychological risks associated with using hallucinogens

Increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Sleeplessness and tremors.

Lack of muscular coordination.

Sparse, mangled, and incoherent speech.

Decreased awareness of touch and pain that can result in self-inflicted injuries.

Convulsions.

Coma; heart and lung failure.

A sense of distance and estrangement.

Depression, anxiety, and paranoia.

Violent behavior.

Confusion, suspicion, and loss of control.

Flashbacks.

Behavior similar to schizophrenic psychosis.

Catatonic syndrome whereby the user becomes mute, lethargic, disoriented, and makes.

Meaningless repetitive movements.

Everyone reacts differently to hallucinogens--there's no way to predict if you can avoid a "bad trip."