How do drugs harm society?
How dangerous are which drugs really?
Which drugs should politicians ban and what can they achieve through criminalization or drug approval? Legislators in almost every country in the world are passionate about this debate. Much is influenced by culture. Here is an overview of the most important drugs, their addictive potential, their toxicity - and whether they are accepted or ostracized in society.
Amphetamine and crystal meth
The synthetically produced amphetamine and its relative, methamphetamine - also known as crystal meth - have been around since the end of the 19th century. The euphoric but non-narcotic substances were used in medicine until the 1970s. Amphetamine was used as an antidepressant, appetite suppressant, and asthma drug. Soldiers used it as a stimulant in combat. Amphetamines are still used today to combat attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Low doses do not harm human brain cells.
The drug is popular in the techno scene. Dangerous: The amphetamine prevents people from calming down. Insomnia, tremors, racing heart - up to a heart attack or stroke - can follow.
The dependency potential is in the middle range (1.67). Amphetamine has a toxic effect if it is used for a long time or if it is overdosed: organ damage, muscle breakdown and kidney failure threaten. Since amphetamine is mainly snorted, the nasal septum can dissolve. Paranoid delusions, depression, psychoses and even coma develop.
Crystal meth is more dangerous than simple amphetamines. It leads to psychological dependence much more quickly (addiction potential between 2.39 and 3.0) and the addicts need higher and higher doses. Crystal meth addicts lose weight faster and more, their mouth and nasal mucous membranes decompose, they lose teeth.
Awareness campaigns by the US authorities: This is how crystal meth changes addicts
The active ingredient flunitrazepam, also known as Rohypnol, has exactly the opposite effect. This is why some addicts use it to calm down after an amphetamine high. It is mostly prescribed as a sleep aid. In combination with alcohol or analgesic drugs, it becomes a knockout cocktail. Victims who have ingested such mixtures cannot remember anything later.
The drug is popular among junkies as a substitute for heroin. Flunitrazepam leads to psychological dependence after about two weeks of use (addiction potential: 1.83). The drug does not always have a calming effect: it can also induce states of agitation, nightmares, and hallucinations.
Opium and heroin
Heroin is made from morphine, the main component of raw opium - that is, from opium poppy. Morphine is approved as a pain reliever. The active ingredient may only be used against the most severe pain, for example in palliative medicine or for acute pain relief in the event of a heart attack.
Unlike morphine, heroin (addiction potential 3.0) is not only numbing, but also euphoric. So it disrupts natural sleep.
Overdosing with either drug can cause breathing to become dull and respiratory failure. This risk is particularly high in addicts who use heroin in combination with alcohol or flunitrazepam.
The toxicity of heroin as a highly dangerous junkie drug may have long been overestimated. Long-term addicts were treated with heroin under supervision in Bonn. A control group received the substitute drug methadone (addiction potential: 2.08). The result: The health and social situation of the heroin patients improved compared to the methadone group. Heroin was then approved as a drug in Germany.
Cocaine and crack
Cocaine (addiction potential: 2.39) is the extracted active ingredient of the coca plant. This turns into crack when salt extracted from the active ingredient is mixed with baking powder and heated in the drug laboratory.
Cocaine has a euphoric effect, drives away hunger and tiredness - this has made cocaine a popular party drug among determined, performance-oriented men for a long time. But whoever sniffs cocaine pays a price for it: high pulse, constricted blood vessels, increased blood pressure and the risk of a heart attack.
The disturbed feeling of hunger and thirst and hyperactivity can lead to emaciation of the body. With prolonged use, paranoid hallucinations and psychosis can occur, which can also be irreversible - i.e. no longer curable. Whoever smokes cocaine destroys the mucous membranes of the mouth, who sniffs it, destroys his nasal septum.
With crack cocaine in particular, the lethal dose is almost unpredictable because the drug is far more effective than cocaine. In addition, crack has the highest psychological addiction potential (over 3.0), ahead of heroin, nicotine and alcohol.
Lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as acid, is a synthetic drug that leads to a much stronger awareness of the environment. In the 1960s and 70s, LSD was considered a hippie drug for expanding consciousness.
In people with a corresponding predisposition, LSD can trigger irreversible psychosis. The LSD user is colloquially "stuck on the trip." The risk of fatal poisoning, however, is lower than with alcohol or nicotine. The dependency potential is also in the "low" range at 1.23.
On the other hand, the risk of accidents after taking LSD is considerable, as the consumer can completely misjudge his surroundings and act irrationally through hallucinations or psychotic intoxication: believing that he can fly, an LSD consumer may jump out of the window.
The most dangerous drug on the way home: the beer on the S-Bahn
Alcohol and nicotine
Alcohol has the highest value (1.93) of the drugs with "medium addiction potential" and is therefore rated higher than marijuana, LSD, many sleeping pills, amphetamines or another popular synthetic party drug: ecstasy.
Smoking is addictive even faster, with a value of 2.21. Only cocaine, crack and heroin have higher values.
But unlike many of these illegal drugs, alcohol is widely accepted in almost all non-Islamic countries in the world. People have been drinking wine since ancient times. Up until the 1980s, smoking was also considered good practice almost all over the world.
However, acceptance rapidly disappears as soon as a person becomes addicted to alcohol and can no longer disguise this - so he is no longer a "functioning alcoholic".
Over time, alcohol destroys internal organs such as the liver, pancreas, muscles and metabolism. It also dramatically increases the risk of heart disease and increases the risk of cancer in the esophagus, stomach and intestines.
In Germany alone, around 74,000 people die each year as a result of alcoholism. Between 100,000 and 120,000 people die here from smoking. This makes tobacco and alcohol in the crowd the most dangerous drugs.
Hashish makes you indifferent and stupid - but most stoners don't care
Marijuana and hashish
Legislators in more and more countries are discussing the approval of marijuana either for medical treatment, for example as a pain reliever or appetite stimulator, for HIV or cancer.
The host substance tetrahydrocannabiol (THC) contained in cannabis has a relaxing and numbing effect. The dependency potential is rated at 1.51 as "medium".
It is virtually impossible to ingest a lethal dose when smoking or even consuming commercial amounts of hashish or marijuana.
THC initially affects drug users through a changed, more intense perception of the environment, especially music, taste and sense of time. Typical accompaniment: cravings for sweet, sour and salty.
In the long term, it can lead to a reduction in the ability to think and learn - possibly through a change in blood flow in the brain. Particularly dangerous: the carcinogenic toxins that consumers breathe in when they smoke. The dangers here are possibly greater than with pure tobacco smoke, since the combustion of the hash resin creates additional cocktails of harmful substances.
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