"Come on darling, please don�t die, just please don�t die," Tony Wood said, holding his ecstasy loaded daughter, Anna, as she lay in the intensive care ward of a Sydney hospital. She had been admitted earlier that morning. This was 10 hours after attending an inner Sydney club. Afterwards she had gone home to a girl friend�s flat. The next morning she was found in a coma from which she never regained consciousness, she was taken by ambulance to hospital and died two days later.
What led to Anna�s death? On that Saturday in October, Anna had joined with her friends and headed to the city for a dance party at the Phoenician Club in Ultimo.
She had wanted to try ecstasy and had bought a tablet for $70. She swallowed it just before she entered the club. Within a few hours she had suffered a violent reaction. She was vomiting uncontrollably and returned to a friend�s flat.
Her distraught parents felt that they had to warn other teenagers about ecstasy. Her mother and sister have travelled to England to try and warn of the dangers of ecstasy, which is a rave drug in British night clubs. In simple terms, victims become overheated through ecstasy�s stimulation and burn to death inside. Their mind keeps pushing them long after their body is crying out to stop.
Anna Wood�s parents said, "They think ecstasy is safe enough. If they could have seen Anna there on the floor...they�d know what ecstasy really does, it can kill".
This was the real agony of ecstasy. What a contrast in terms. This was the worst experience she or her father had ever had. These were the last few moments of Sydney girl, 15 year old Anna wood. Like 18 year old Deborah Hanger of Brisbane and a string of deaths of teenagers in British dance clubs, she had found out too late that ecstasy can kill.
A year before Anna�s death in Sydney, the teenage daughter of a prominent Brisbane family, Deborah Hanger, died in similar circumstances, after swallowing three ecstasy tablets during a night out.
Deborah�s mother, psychiatrist Dr Maria Hanger, said "a post mortem had revealed that she had died from the effects of a lethal form of a drug".
She said, "The chemical that killed Deborah was known as PMA. Strictly speaking it is not ecstasy. It is sold as ecstasy in its most lethal form".
"Deborah did not suffer an allergic reaction. She had one and a half times the lethal dose of PMA in her body. She would never have known what was in it".
"A number of drugs are passed off as ecstasy," Dr Hanger said. "But they are not ecstasy. The drug traffickers don�t care what�s in it. The simple answer is don�t take any drugs at all".
Ecstasy is a tablet or capsule containing the purest form of MDMA and is short for methylenedioxymethamphetamine.
Most bad experiences are brought on by high dosages and can also include anxiety, insomnia and psychosis. So far the recorded deaths from MDMA have related most to respiratory failures which are brought on by blood coagulation which means that the blood collects where it should not such as in the lungs causing breathing difficulties and the heart to beat faster.
Ecstasy is manufactured illegally and so the tablets or capsules contain varying amounts of MDMA mixed with other substances. Some tablets contain no MDMA at all and may be another drug, for example a mixture of LSD and Amphetamine, while other tablets may contain anywhere between 5% - 60% MDMA. Sometime a dealer will attempt to sell non-MDMA type drugs (such as pain killers) simply to make money. Assuming that the drug being used is MDMA based, there are dangers to be aware of. Ecstasy causes the body to heat up, especially if in a dance (ie. rave or night-club) environment, so a user must drink plenty of non-alcoholic drinks (about 600 mls of water each hour). Alcohol dehydrates, so this should be avoided at all costs. If after taking ecstasy, the user feels nauseous or dizzy, or unable to go to the toilet, these could be signs that they are overheating. If this happens, they should move to a cooler, calmer environment and "chill out" until recovery. A sober friend should stay with them and seek medical assistance if their condition deteriorates.
No research has been carried out on the long term effects of ecstasy use, the only way to be sure of no risk is not to use the drug. The medical experts are not sure exactly what it does to the body and have issued strong warnings against its use, particularly on its sudden effects on some users. Ecstasy is illegal.
Drugs both legal and illegal in Australia have become a problem. Some drugs cause great harm to our bodies and even cause harm to others by our actions. It is drug abuse that concerns society.
It is also true that unlike legal drugs, there is no quality control with illegal drugs. If you get drugs from the chemist/supermarket or by prescription, you can be almost certain the drugs have been carefully checked for content and quality. With illegal drugs there is no such guarantee. When you use illegal drugs you do not know what you are using.
Some drugs can cause pain, suffering and even death if used in excess or combined with other substances or used when they are not needed. By understanding more about the drugs being used around you and their effects, you may be able to help yourself and others. A basic rule is never take any substance if you don�t know what it is.
How can you tell the difference between drugs that help and those that harm? What can you do to help yourself or others if there is a drug problem? Who can you turn to or what can you do about drug abuse? That�s what this booklet is about.
Any chemical substance that brings about a change in a person�s emotional state, body functioning or behaviour. They include alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, aspirin, panadol, codeine, amphetamines, heroin, cocaine, speed, LSD, uppers, downers etc. The main drugs used by high school students are marijuana, alcohol, nicotine, amphetamines, over-the-counter and prescription drugs.
Often the basis for drug taking can be related to problems at home where the person finds difficulty in their relationships with parents, brothers, sisters, friends or even the circumstances of the home.
Drugs begin to take control. Students must question whether they want to be controlled by a substance which robs them of the only true control they have; their freedom.
Ever since he went to high school, he had found everything and everyone was putting increased pressure on him. At home things weren�t too good either. Mum and Dad seemed strung out most of the time. All Nick wanted to do was to escape all the hassles. He found his answers in alcohol. That had been okay for a little while.
But everything had begun to turn bad. There were fights, loss of control, wasted time and even boredom. All these seemed to be directly related to his alcohol use. He had enjoyed athletics, but he was losing interest in that as well. Then, Broncos player, Wendell Sailor, visited his school to give a footy clinic.
Wendell, who has played for Australian and State of Origin teams, has also fronted up for two premierships which the Broncos won. He soon showed that he knew what it was like to grow up in a pressurised environment.
"Where I came from was a very small community," he told Nick and his mates. "The kids were really into drinking and smoking. Well, alcohol kills more young Australians than any other drug, but worst of all it kills the dreams of many others".
He said that there had always been a lot of pressure on him to join his mates and really get into the alcohol - hard. Fortunately he enjoyed sports and was strong enough to say "No".
"I knew that alcohol and cigarettes were no good for me. I had a real strong desire to succeed, so I knew that if I got into that scene, I�d never reach my full potential," he said.
Wendell pointed out that excessive alcohol can cause physical and mental problems for a person of any age. But school kids are at an important stage in their lives when set-backs can really affect them. Miss a few weeks school even and it�s hard to catch up. Alcohol could even effect a teenager�s physical growth and mean a less healthy body. Young people were more easily affected by alcohol. It takes away control and the fun of life.
Nick realised that Wendell was right. Nick had noticed that since he had started drinking, his football had dropped. Even his coach had noticed it. He thought about his school work too, which he had noticed was falling badly behind...
Wendell said he knew when he was younger, he had to make a choice; go with some of his mates and �fit in� or go for his dreams. He decided that he was young enough to make his choices and he went for his dreams.
"Once I made the decision to refuse alcohol and cigarettes, people knew and respected me for it," he said. "I had no problem refusing them when I knew they weren�t any good for me".
After the training session, Nick got to Wendell and said, "Me and most of my mates drink and a lot of them do drugs and they want me to do it too, what should I do?"
Wendell didn�t seem surprised. He said, "If your mates are doing drugs and alcohol and they want you to do it too, then you have to realise deep down that everyone wants to succeed at something. What you have to decide is to be willing and confident enough to stand on your own two feet and go for what you want.
"You have to ask yourself: �What makes me want to do drugs and alcohol�? Nick, in the long run, it is not better for you or your parents. They will be hurt and wonder what they did wrong.
It comes down to freedom; the freedom of choice. It�s yours."
Talking to Wendell inspired Nick to realise that he could live without drugs if he wanted to. But it was still a struggle. Nick�s problems didn�t suddenly disappear. However, Nick was lucky. His Dad was a keen follower of Australian Rules. One morning, not long after his talk with Wendell, his Dad took him to a footy function at the Brisbane Bears AFL Club. He met Roger Merrett, the club captain and assistant coach. Nick was able to talk to him as well. He asked him about sport, drugs and alcohol.
Roger said, "I know from personal experiences that it is not easy to say �No�. But you do have to be strong and make the decision in your own mind".
Roger Merrett has played at the top level of Australian Rules for almost 20 years. He said that he had seen many young men with great potential get involved early in alcohol abuse.
"They were trying to be top sportsmen, but they enjoyed the night life too much. Unfortunately their careers didn�t continue".
He said, "Nick, you have to make a decision and you have to make the right one. When I was a kid, we were easily led, but kids today are better informed about problems. A lot of people are now much stronger about their way of handling alcohol.
"To get off drugs and alcohol has to come from within. If you desperately want to give drugs up, it will hurt, but you can succeed. You will only get out of life what you put in. This is how I have tried to live most of my life".
Roger gave some good advice about setting goals. What did Nick want to achieve? How was he planning to do it? What would he have to do to achieve those goals? The short-term and long-term goals. The most important thing he said was about taking control of his own life.
Susie had joined a group of mates who enjoyed partying. That meant music, and lots to drink. She wanted to be with her friends and when she drank lots it made her happy and she felt accepted. But she had begun to notice school was becoming boring and her grades were slipping. There were problems with her family. Drinking helped her ignore the problems.
Susie enjoyed netball and was a good player. She had played rep netball in her early teens, but was now struggling to be considered.
She was excited when she heard that the Australian Team, Vicki Wilson, was going to visit her netball club and work out with the girls.
She and some of her team-mates talked to Vicki afterwards. One of the players asked about socialising, really meaning partying and how did that effect sport?
Vicki knew straight away what she was really talking about. She said, "My biggest concern about alcohol is the amount of binge drinking that young people get into. It�s a group thing to be part of and it�s seen as the cool thing to do". She said she had noticed good players fall away because of alcohol abuse.
Vicki, a high school teacher, was able to talk to the girls. She said that it was more dangerous for girls because of their lower tolerance.
"Try not to feel pressured," Vicki said. "Be your own person. I know it�s easy to go along when your friends are doing it and want you to be part of it.
"But you are a bigger and braver person to say, �No�. If you binge drink, it�s often because you are easily influenced by those around you. You do have to make your own decisions and do what you know is best.
"I know what it is like because I have a few friends who went the wrong way but a good network of mates has helped them to recover. "Really get into your sport. Keep your mind active as well as your body, and don�t make the mistake of having too much free time".
"Nothing in life is easy. There aren�t many shortcuts. Have a dream and then work towards that goal to make it come true. If you don�t work hard, it will just be a fantasy."
Steve Renouf, Broncos and State of Origin Rugby League player, first began playing league in his home town of Murgon, in central Queensland. He said that he had noticed many promising players drop away because of their alcohol abuse.
Recently when talking to some young players, he said: "Fellas, have a look around you and see the effect of alcohol. Think about what you want to achieve and say, �No�.
"I have seen many blokes like you playing football when I began playing. Many of them could have made it to the top sides like me. But the fact is that plenty of them missed out because of alcoholism.
"I know plenty of good footballers who could play better than those out on the paddock now who don�t because they got sidetracked by their drinking."
Steve grew up where he knew it was sometimes difficult not to drink a lot when there didn�t seem much else to do and time seemed to drag. "It�s really hard if lots of your mates are drinking heaps. "Yeah, I know what it�s like. It is very bad in the Aboriginal community. But people can be different and I did and stayed away from drinking. You can take it from me, that it will bring you down and you don�t play good football when you�ve had a heavy drinking session. It just doesn�t work that way. You are not going to get anywhere in your life if you don�t make your own stand."
Steve�s final words, before he went back to his training session, was to tell them to make a choice, even when young, about what their habits would be. "Look around you. Look at the experience of others who have had bad experiences with alcohol. Make the right decision and stick with it and maybe I�ll see you out on the paddock soon."
Alcohol is Australia�s most abused substance. It kills more people under the age of 25 years than anything else. 65% of drug deaths in Australia are alcohol related. Binge drinking is more dangerous than drinking the same amount of alcohol over a week. Alcohol is a major factor in heart and kidney disease. It is often a significant factor in crime, industrial and road accidents.
About 30% of drivers and motor cycle riders killed have a blood alcohol level over the legal limit.
Alcohol is absorbed directly into the blood stream through the walls of the stomach and small intestine. The liver is the main organ in the body responsible for removing the alcohol from the blood stream. Prolonged alcohol use causes massive liver damage. Surveys undertaken recently have shown a close relation between early binge drinking and later life alcoholism.
Alcohol abuse can be a major factor in the causes of brain damage, stomach cancer, diabetes, glandular fever, liver problems and memory loss.
Its abuse is a significant factor in domestic violence, rape, incest and child abuse. It can affect marital relationships and lead to violent arguments and poverty.
Alcohol, when mixed with other chemical substances, can produce unpredictable and sometimes serious health problems. If it is combined with another drug, it can have more impact together than the effect of either drug on its own. It is particularly dangerous to mix alcohol with antibiotics, antihistamines, tranquillisers, benzodiazapines and cannabis.
It has been shown by studies that girls react more quickly to the same amount of alcohol than boys, it seems that girls can only handle half as much alcohol as boys. Excessive alcohol can adversely affect pregnant women and the developing child�s health.
At 16, Allen�s life was okay, but when his stepfather lost his job, things changed.
Allen, 16, lived on the southside with his mother and his stepfather, Peter. Allen and Peter were not really close, but they got along well enough.
Peter lost his job. This led to him becoming a heavy drinker and an increased number of arguments started at home. Seeing his mother so upset made Allen angry. He blamed his stepfather and said so. That led to further intense arguments. Allen became bitter and resentful. One day when he was feeling depressed a friend offered him a joint. He accepted and afterwards he felt much calmer about everything.
After that, whenever he felt down, he would get hold of another joint or whatever was available and used it to try to ignore his problems.
Allen�s Mum soon found out what was happening. There were some obvious signs such as his slipping grades at school, his lack of concentration, that he seemed vague and distant and he found it difficult to remember quite recent things.
Allen�s Mum talked to him about it and Allen was quite up front about why he was using drugs. With his agreement, his Mum decided to take some positive action and contacted the Marijuana Anonymous group at DRUG-ARM in Brisbane. She and Peter also attended a support group for parents called Grasshoppers.
Allen was told at the group that the "marijuana trap begins when you first try the drug. Initially, marijuana has little or no effect and many people begin using it because their friends recommend it. Then after a while it becomes the way to get relief from stress. Before long, a user will need it every day just to get through the day. It then begins to make the user feel strung-out most of the time".
"If you do not like yourself or you cannot handle problems well and your family has a history of substance abuse, then you are at risk of becoming dependent on drugs too".
Later that week, the group was invited to a function where the Bronco�s coach Wayne Bennett was speaking about substance abuse.
He said, "There are many sport�s people out there with loads of potential. Unfortunately, we never see them at the Broncos because if they have started using drugs or getting heavily into alcohol they never reach this level of sport. There are plenty of people with the talents, who never get there, because they let themselves down with drugs".
A father of three teenagers himself, he said to the young group with Allen, "Don�t destroy your life by a poor decision you make now. Be careful, it�s easy to destroy your life by a poor decision you make now. Be careful, it�s easy to destroy your life with what you might think is a trivial action now.
"As a coach, I�m on about performance. If drugs were good for you and if they were harmless, we�d have everyone on drugs. But we know the difference, we run a drug free program."
The cancer causing agents in a marijuana joint or inhaled smoke is five to ten times higher than that found in a regular tobacco cigarette. With each puff, marijuana smokers inhale more than 150 cancer causing substances and almost twice as much tar as they would from a cigarette. Continued marijuana use can cause lung cancer and, once it is established, it is one of the most deadly and untreatable forms of cancer.
Permanent brain damage can be caused by marijuana use. Medical research has found that marijuana use temporarily impairs the short term memory. It alters a user�s sense of time and their ability to perform tasks that require concentration, swift reactions and coordination.
The long term lasting effects of continued marijuana use are typified by apathy, depression, showing slow confused thinking and a lack of interest in planned activity.
The human immune system is designed to prevent illness and to fight infection when a disease or injury occurs. The immune system fights diseases such as AIDS and cancer and is damaged by marijuana use. Research has again indicated that chronic or heavy marijuana use reduces the immune system�s ability to fight infection. Frequent users often have abnormal white cells which closely resemble those found in AIDS patients.
Marijuana use reduces the level of the male hormone testosterone. With abnormally low testosterone levels, little boys stay that way. It has also been found that it affects the genital functions, even some time after marijuana use has stopped.
Boys aged between 10 and 20 years particularly need testosterone for development to allow their physical growth to become a mature man. Low testosterone means a smaller size, poor muscle development, reduced energy and the inability to grow a beard or moustache.
In girls, the frequent use of marijuana appears to have the opposite effect by increasing testosterone levels showing in darker hair colouring, facial hair and acne.
The Australian Medical Association (Queensland branch) and US research has shown that people with a predisposition to schizophrenia can trigger that condition by using marijuana. The AMA said, this possible telescoped effect is more likely, it depends on the amount of marijuana used, the frequency of use before, its combination with other substances and the way in which it is used.
It has been estimated that marijuana use increases the risk of schizophrenia by ten times. An unfortunate side effect of schizophrenia is suicide, thereby increasing the suicide risk too.
At first there were few indications that Zoe was a heroin user. Like many users, she inhaled heroin smoke rather than injecting it. This meant there were few tell-tale signs like needle tracks or bloodstains on her clothes. She had been a bright, happy, northside teenager, but her mother had noticed some changes from her normal behaviour patterns; she seemed paler and had been recently losing her appetite. But when her Mum asked if she was all right, she�d replied, "It�s nothing Mum. I�m just tired."
Her mother found some charred foil in Zoe�s bedroom a few weeks later. She then found a whole roll in her school bag. When questioned, Zoe claimed this was part of an art project at school. Her mother was not convinced, but was unable to get any more information.
Not long afterwards, Zoe�s health began to deteriorate. She began missing her monthly periods and became regularly constipated. She became frightened and told her mother. She took her immediately to see the doctor about her heroin habit. She said to the doctor, "Everyone seemed to be using it -most of my friends anyway. I didn�t want to feel left out".
Their doctor referred her to DRUG-ARM, where she was able to get some very constructive help from one of the counsellors. Because of the loving support of her family, she was able to pull through her addiction.
Heroin belongs to a group of drugs called opiates. They are all derived from the opium poppy and include opium itself, morphine, heroin and codeine. They are strong pain killers and highly addictive accompanied by intense cravings.
Heroin is a white powder which can be swallowed, injected, sniffed or smoked. It stimulates the higher centres of the brain resulting in depression of activity in the central nervous system which subsequently affects balance, concentration and coordination.
An overdose can cause convulsions, acute breathing difficulties and death. Apart from this risk, there are other complications with contaminated substances added to the heroin, which is rarely pure and there is no guaranteed quality control. Heroin is often sold mixed with other foreign substances which can be dangerous.
A side effect for men is a lowered sex drive and even impotence. For women, heroin use can mean irregular menstruation and sometimes infertility. Its use during pregnancy can seriously effect the baby and mother�s health.
Its use can often lead to social problems including lying, cheating, family fights, stealing, anxiety and fear which creates a strain on relationships with family and friends.
Withdrawal symptoms fade after a week and withdrawal is not dangerous. The main problem with people who have given up their heroin habit is their intense craving for the drug for some time afterwards, as it does take some time to clear their body system.
It is possible to give up heroin use and there are support groups who can assist. Having a strong caring family member or friend to provide love and support will greatly assist recovery.
Sally was 13 and enjoying life at school and with her friends. She went with a group of school friends all her own age and they enjoyed doing things together. One evening she went to a friend�s house when their parents were out. Most of her friends were there.
But it became a bit boring. One of the girls got out a can of anti-perspirant and suggested they should liven things up by each having a sniff to get high and have "dreams". Everyone inhaled from the can and it had a strange effect on some, like being drunk. Others didn�t seem to react to it at all. When Sally tried it, she took a deep breath and the effects made her feel frightened. She ran up the stairs to go to the toilet but collapsed on the landing.
Fortunately one of her friends knew some basic first-aid and lay her in the "recovery position" and cleared her airways, then because her breathing had stopped, gave her the "kiss of life", mouth to mouth resuscitation. The others had called the ambulance.
The doctor at casualty who treated Sally said she had been very fortunate. He knew of cases where young people had died from sniffing aerosols on their first attempt. When her parents arrived at the hospital and were told what had happened, they were pretty upset and hurt that she had even tried to inhale from an aerosol can. Everybody was very upset, but pleased that Sally seemed to be okay. They did get help from a counsellor who was able to give them more information about the dangers of inhalants.
Inhalants clog and irritate the air passages and the lungs. Some inhalants can cause seizures, heart attacks, muscle incoordination, permanent brain damage and death.
Some inhalants can suddenly decrease blood pressure which can bring on shock and death. They can also damage the kidneys and liver.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups and people living in rural communities appear to be more at risk from inhalant and sniffing abuse than others in Australia. It appears to be abused more by younger boys than others. It severely affects their mental and physical growth and functions.
Cocaine is a highly addictive drug made from the leaf of the cocoa bush, grown mainly in South America in the mountains of Colombia, Bolivia and Peru. The leaves are cut and soaked in kerosene, paint thinner or other solvents to make a thick paste which is then refined into the fine, white powder that is cocaine.
It is almost impossible to know the purity level of street cocaine as most pushers "cut" or dilute cocaine with other substances, some of which also may cause permanent brain damage. Cocaine is often "snorted", that is users sniff it up their nostrils where it is absorbed by the blood vessels in the nose and sinuses. Liquid cocaine is injected into a vein, usually the arm. Once in the bloodstream the drug passes to the heart and brain. Crack (a rock form of cocaine) is burnt and the vapour inhaled.
It is quickly addictive. Even after one use, the body wants more. A cocaine user becomes quickly dependent on it to make them relax and feel good. Before long a cocaine user will need it regularly, sometimes as much as every hour.
The brain relies on chemical reactions to relay messages from one nerve cell to another. Cocaine use causes these chemicals to be released in the brain and to remain active for a longer time than normal. This gives what users refer to as the "high". But it slows down the brain�s ability to manufacture more of the chemicals once the cocaine is out of the system.
That means that the brief high from cocaine use if followed by a devastating low which is often accompanied by anxiety and insomnia. Addicts then feel they need more cocaine and will be desperate for their next dose.
Cocaine increases the blood pressure and can cause blood vessels in the brain to burst causing instant brain damage or death. Cocaine can also cause seizures which can stop the breathing.
Cocaine causes the heart to beat faster and sometimes irregularly or even to stop beating. This extra stress on the heart can cause severe chest pain and bring on a heart attack.
If cocaine is injected or taken too quickly or if not fully dissolved it can cause a life threatening blood clot to develop in the lungs. Cocaine smoke can clog the tiny sacs in the lungs reducing the lungs ability to "breathe". Smoking and inhaling cocaine can lead to infection and irritation in the lungs which then create severe respiratory problems. It can lead to a build up of fluid in the lungs and then also damage the heart.
Respiratory failure is a common cause of death for cocaine users. Because many cocaine users "snort" through the nose, this causes a constant snuffy and sniffling nose run. Nosebleeds are common. Frequent users experience nasal sores and nasal passage damage, including the loss of the cartilage between the nostrils.
The human immune system prevents illness and fights infections. Cocaine places unusual stress on the body�s immune system which retards it from functioning and therefore weakens the body�s ability to cope with illness and infections. This can make users susceptible to contagious diseases such as hepatitis (liver disease), meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain) and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
Cocaine users often suffer weight loss, malnutrition and physical exhaustion which arises because of their pre-occupation with its use and their impaired judgement.
Pregnant cocaine users have a greatly increased risk of miscarriage. Babies of cocaine addicted mothers are born addicted. The new born often suffer medical complications including low birth weight, susceptibility to seizure, stroke, kidney disorders and lung problems.
Crack is a rock-like white or tan form of cocaine that is used to produce cocaine vapour by heating which happens at that time to make a "cracking" sound. Crack is the most powerful form of cocaine and is quickly and overwhelmingly addictive. It is cheap in the US and children appear to be common users.It is cocaine refined and is normally packaged in a relatively pure form so that is can be inhaled as a vapour rather than snorted or injected. It does not need sophisticated equipment to be produced. When sold in the US, it is not diluted and contains about a 90% purity compared to the normal street cocaine which is about 20% pure.
Because crack is inhaled, it is absorbed into the body more quickly than cocaine powder. When cocaine is snorted it penetrates the mucous membranes slowly and begins circulating into the brain in about eight minutes producing a so called "euphoric" effect much milder than the effect of crack. The euphoric effect lasts for about 30 seconds and is followed quickly by depression. The speed with which crack affects the system appears to intensify the euphoric effect but it also multiplies the drug�s toxicity.
Cocaine users lose interest in their normal activities and have an unreal sense that they are achieving as well as before or even better. The reality is otherwise. Their work and study performances suffer. They tend to back away from their relationships with family and friends and become suspicious and afraid of others. Their thinking becomes confused and illogical. They appear to have wide mood swings and become short tempered. They are pre-occupied only with getting their next high. Some users have experienced a sensation when off cocaine that bugs are crawling under their skin. Panic attacks occur with some users. Their judgement becomes impaired and they lose their sense of pride and self respect.
Nicotine is the drug that kills more Australians every year than any other with the latest figures showing about 19,000 deaths in 1992. This was 72 per cent of the estimated 26,500 drug related deaths in that year with 800 deaths recorded for illicit drugs. The figures also show that one in five deaths in Australia is drug related. (Source: The National Drug and Alcohol Statistics Unit of the Australian Bureau of Statistics.)
Nicotine is the primary addictive substance produced from the tobacco leaf. It is obvious that the legal drug tobacco causes more harm to our society than any other. Tobacco abuse is therefore an important topic. There is an abundance of good material available from many sources, including DRUG-ARM, for anyone interested in getting more information.
Tobacco smoke is a mixture of many different chemical compounds, including tar, nicotine and gasses, such as carbon monoxide. There are more than 400 chemicals found in cigarette smoke of which 40 are carcinogens, a primary cause of cancer. Nicotine is a stimulant which restricts the blood flow through the body. The tar stimulates the growth of some cancers, particularly in the mouth, lungs and throat. The long term impact of tobacco use includes various cancers, heart disease and respiratory problems.
It is mainly ingested through smoking cigarettes or cigars, but it is also smoked in pipes, sniffed as snuff or chewed. It can also be ingested through passive smoking. The health effects from passive smoking, ie those who find it difficult to be removed from smokers, include cancer, upper respiratory tract infections, increased frequency and severity of asthma symptoms and a high risk of serious health problems for the unborn.
In 1993 a national survey showed about 28 per cent of Australians over the age of 14 years smoked regularly. A further 42 per cent were ex-smokers indicating that many have successfully given up tobacco use. It can be done. The same survey found that many people were concerned about passive smoking. There was also strong support for stricter enforcement of the laws against selling cigarettes to underage customers.
In the past decade Australia has seen a successful move away form tobacco smoking and its promotion in advertising. It has now become common for many workplaces, offices, schools, restaurants, theatres, airlines and shopping centres to ban smoking.
The health reasons against smoking tobacco are almost overwhelming and it is obvious that smoking legally still continues. Nicotine is very addictive and is hard to give up. The best defence is not to start and if you do want to give up, see your doctor or any of the agencies experienced in achieving a nicotine free life.
For many, the change comes when smokers are suddenly struck by a smoking related life threatening disease or a pregnancy or they see the effect it has on their own children . For others it has taken legal action to warn them of the dangers.
However a person wishing to give up smoking should be positively encouraged and supported as much as possible. As any ex-smoker will tell, giving up is not easy but worth it. It is unhealthy, expensive and unhygienic and provides almost no benefits.
Other names include: `Trips�, `Acid�, `Tee�. LSD is usually impregnated on blotting paper, and the designs on the paper give rise to the name of the particular trip, for example: Purple OM, Strawberry Field, California Sunrise, Shields or Blue tar. LSD is usually on small squares of blotting paper (about a quarter of the size of a postage stamp). It is sometimes also made as a microdot, which looks like a tiny brown, blue or red pin-head sized ball. Microdots generally contain a larger dose of LSD than the impregnated paper form of the drug. Between 100 and 300 micrograms (millionths of a gram) is a normal dose of LSD.
LSD can take anything up to ninety minutes to work at a normal dose. The user will usually start to feel the effects of the drug after forty five minutes, although this will depend on the surroundings. It may cause panic being with people they don�t know, or being in a hectic environment (like a night-club) and make the trip very confusing and scary. If a person is feeling low, using LSD will not make them feel better. It could make a person very reflective, depressed and/or remorseful possibly even suicidal.
The physical changes that occur are slight compared to the emotional and physchological changes that are happening during a trip. There is a slight rise in body temperature, pulse rate and a dilation of the pupils. Often someone who is using LSD will appear to be completely normal, with occasional bouts of unexpected hilarity. Dangers?
If a person experiences a `bad� trip they go through an intense emotional experience which will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Any emotional experience throughout their lives that comes close to the emotional experienced during the trip will send them into a `flashback� which can lead to an extreme state of depression that lasts up to a week. LSD is illegal.
Speed is also known as Ice. Its commonest form of illegally sold amphetamines is Amphetamine Sulphate, a coarse, white powder usually sold in paper "wraps". The wraps contain a mixture of Amphetamine Sulphate and any number of adulterants such as caffeine, lactose or glucose (most "street" Amphetamine Sulphate contains less than 10% of the drug).
The powder can also be formed into tablets or sold in capsules, although this is less common. Amphetamines in this form can be sniffed, eaten (most often in a drink), or injected. Pharmaceutically produced amphetamines such as dexamphetamine or methylamphetamine may be sold as tablets. This can be converted through a chemical reaction to a crystalline form, known as "ice" or "crystal". Designed purely for smoking, in this form the drug is almost 100% pure. Ice is currently very rare.
How quickly speed takes effect will depend of whether it is injected, sniffed or swallowed. Swallowing amphetamines is the least dangerous method; within half an hour the effects will be felt and will last from two to six hours, depending on the dose taken and the strength of the substance.
The user will feel exhilarated, energetic and more focused on their surroundings. Amphetamines can make users feel powerful, confident, strong and reduce tiredness. It may have the effect that people around appear to be very talkative or slightly aggressive. As the drug starts to wear off, the user will begin to feel edgy, easily annoyed and the high energy experienced all goes, to be replaced by tiredness and hunger.
Amphetamines are stimulants of the Central Nervous System and can cause a wide range of reactions. Common changes include dilated pupils, dry mouth, loss of appetite, insomnia and stomach upsets and at a higher dosage, sweating, jaw tension, disturbances of heart rhythm, flushing and cold hands and feet. Less common are an increase in blood pressure, tremors, palpitations and an altered libido (sexual feelings may increase OR decrease). Amphetamines can give a huge burst of energy, but once the drug starts to wear off, the user becomes tired, depressed, anxious and hungry . Amphetamines use up chemicals in the body that exist in very small amounts and the only way to replenish these stores and feel better, is to rest and eat properly afterwards.
If a user continues with amphetamines to keep on going, they will need more each time and get less of an effect. If used regularly, they will very soon become paranoid and very depressed. In this state, using amphetamines will make the person feel worse, not better.
A toxic reaction (or overdose) can occur at relatively low levels, 50 milligrams of pure drug for a non-tolerant user. The ration can involve muscle spasms, high temperature and a racing pulse. Sometimes breathing difficulties can be experienced.
More severe overdoses can lead to death as a result of blood vessels collapsing in the brain or heart failure. Some users of amphetamines experience a state called "Amphetamine psychosis", which mimics aspects of classic paranoid schizophrenia. Symptoms can range from irrational fear to auditory hallucinations and are likely to occur after using amphetamines constantly for a few days. Different peoples� metabolism works at different rates and drug strengths vary, so there is no way of stating that a level of dosage is either "safe" or "unsafe". Users of amphetamines can die from overdoses easily, as only a small amount is required to overdose. Amphetamines are illegal.
My parents reminded me of that well known statement that: `for evil to grow it only takes good men to do nothing". Sweating and still out of breath, I�d just come off the basketball court. We had won in overtime by one point in a very tight game. I was exhausted. One of the very popular prefects at our school came up to me and said, "That was a very close game."
I said "Yeah, tell me about it."
He said, "I�ve got just what you need, they�re called ... Luke, try them, you won�t know yourself. In a few months you�ll have more muscles and be able to run faster, longer and dunk all day."
"They will make you the basketballer you have always wanted to be. You�ll be on the starting five. Just think about it. All it costs is $50 a month and since you work at the week-ends, I know you can afford it."
I was stunned. I could not believe what I was hearing. "Taking drugs for my sport?" I had never considered that before. I�d heard talk that some of the other kids at our school had used drugs for sport, but no one in my group. I thought, `What do you say when one of the most popular boys in our school and a prefect offers you steroids?�, something that even I know is illegal?
I just grinned and walked away, but I wanted to punch his light out. There were so many things flying through my head. It came right out of nowhere. Straight after school, I grabbed one of my friends, Brendon, and told him what happened and what I had been offered.
I thought a lot about it later. I knew that for some kids it was part of their sporting lives. I always thought they were pretty stupid. But I also thought about my parents. They had worked hard to put me and my three brothers into a private school, to try to get away from that sort of thing.
I wanted to ignore what had happened and pretend I hadn�t been asked. But I had and it bothered me. Lots of thoughts raced through my mind. Do I do anything about it? Do I tell my parents? How do I tell them? What about the prefect? How are my parents going to react if I tell them a guy at school offered me steroids? After all, what do they really know about what it�s like at school now? My Dad, yeah, he�d probably be calm about it. But Mum, she�d throw a fit and want to go to the police straight away or the headmaster and that could be worse. That could create all sorts of problems.
After dinner that night, I decided to talk to my Dad on his own; then let him tell Mum. That�s what happened. They didn�t act badly and I was relieved. The last thing I wanted was for them to go to the school. I�d have a fit if they did that. My parents talked to me later. They said it was like throwing a rock in a pool. Once it hits the surface it creates a lot of ripples that spread out. Some things seem small at first but can have a much wider effect. Things that maybe have to be thought about or even do something about.
They asked me what if I do nothing about it and same offer is made to someone else? I could be partly responsible? Is that fair to my friends? Maybe years later, I may feel responsible that because I did nothing other kids got hurt by steroids. I�d would always wonder if I could have done something to stop it happening to them. At that point, my parents reminded me, it was my word against the prefect. He wouldn�t admit it, would he? After talking it over with my parents, we decided to do a few things.
First, as a family we would find out what we could about steroids. Second, I knew the school captain as he was a good friend of mine and his mother was also a teacher at the school. I would talk to him about it.
I did and his mother took it up with the school. To accuse someone is serious, but I was happy that I did and I then let the school handle it. I think it was sorted out properly.
Ben Johnson, famous Canadian track and field star, made headlines many times. But the time that caught the world�s attention most was in the 1988 Olympic Games in Montreal. He was hailed as the fastest man alive when he won the 100 metre title in record time, only to have it stripped from him when it was revealed that he tested positive to steroid use. He was banned from international sport. He bought shame on his country, Canada and shame on himself. He cheated on the other athletes who hadn�t used steroids.
What are anabolic steroids and what do they do?
They are a group of synthetic drugs, derivatives of the natural male hormone; testosterone. The term "anabolic" means tissue build up. Anabolic steroids were first developed for the medical treatment of certain anemias, osteoporosis, growth defects and debilitating illnesses related to muscle wasting.
Have you ever wondered why most mean are bigger and usually stronger than women? Testosterone is partly responsible because men have more in their bodies. This hormone makes most men more hairy and have a deeper voice than most women.
People who take steroids are trying to gain an unfair advantage over the other athletes. However the use of anabolic steroids affects men and women in different ways;
The use of anabolic steroids can permanently change a person. Most significantly, it effects the reproductive system, meaning that a man or woman may be unable to have their own children after using anabolic steroids.
Warning: Once a women has developed these steroids induced symptoms, she will not be able to reverse them. She may never be able to have children.
The founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin said in 1908:
"The important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part; The important thing in life is not to triumph, but to struggle; The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well."
For certain medical conditions, anabolic steroids are available on restricted prescription otherwise their use is illegal.
Australia�s champion Olympic swimmer, Hayley Lewis, is a person who knows about setting goals. She thinks setting goals is the most important first step to achieving anything worthwhile and if the decisive factor which provides the excitement and happiness we all strive for.
"one of the most important things is to set goals," she said. "When I was younger, I found it hard with swimming because I didn�t know what I wanted to achieve. But when I began to set my goals I found it much easier to focus and to achieve them.
"We all need both short and long term goals because then you know what you want to achieve and where you want to go. Goals make you realise the hard work you have put in to reach the things you want to do in your life."
This power of setting goals was illustrated by the story of Dr John Goddard. It was published in Life Magazine in 1972. When he was 15 years old he overheard his grandmother and aunt having a conversation saying; "If only I had done this and that when I was young," with such remorse that John resolved that he would not be part of the "if only�s" in life.
He then sat down and decided what he wanted to do with his life. He wrote down 127 goals, among them were:
In 1972, when John was 47 years old, he had achieved 103 of his 127 goals. When he died he had achieved all but two of his goals. At 15 years of age he was not an expert mountain climber nor a skilled scuba diver. However as he had set his goals, he found all the talent and ability to develop the skills required to accomplish his goals. When you commit yourself to a goal you will find a way to make it happen.
The power of setting goals was further illustrated by the results of a famous study conducted in 1953 with graduates of Yale University in the United States. The graduates interviewed were asked if they had a clear, specific set of goals written down with a plan to achieve them. Only three per cent had written goals. Twenty years later, in 1973, the researchers returned to the surviving members of the 1953 graduating class. They found that the three per cent with written specific goals had obtained more financial wealth than the other 97 per cent measured in the more subjective terms of happiness and joy appeared to be more satisfied than the others. This shows that the setting of goals can be an ability to fully tap into their personal resources.
The captain and assistant coach of the Brisbane Bears, Roger Merrett, lives by the creed that you only get out of life what you put into it.
"You have got to set goals, set them realistically and then put them slightly out of reach so that you have to stretch even further.
"Set goals every year and don�t be too disappointed or discouraged if you don�t reach them all. Goals focus your mind on what you can do. "Some people unfortunately, go through school and through life with no idea where they are heading."
HOW TO STAY AWAY FROM DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE
Alcohol Drug Information Service: 1800 177833 (24 hours)
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Teen Challenge: 3252 3118
Lifeline: 131114 (24 hours)
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Parents Helpline: 1300 301300 8am - 12pm
Other Services in Greater Brisbane:
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Anti-Smoking Program: 3221 7972
Hot House Youth Program: 3870 9122
Narcotics Anonymous: 3391 5045
Salvation Army Youth Outreach Service: 3847 1285
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