Drugs and Homeostasis

1. ) Clinical Depression – is the most frequently encountered mental illness. Clinical depression is now considered a physical condition in which there is a fault in the brain chemistry. It may afflict up to 5% or more of the population. Symptoms of depression include a distinct change in mood accompanied with an extreme feeling of hopelessness. Other symptoms include: loss of appetite; weight loss; headaches; sleeplessness; loss of energy; and tiredness. Symptoms of anxiety are also quite common. Suicide is common in about 15% of depressed patients. Bipolar Disorder – is also known as manic depression.
It affects about 5 in 1000 people. It is characterized by severe mood swings ranging from mania to depression, with normal periods in between. During a manic phase, the individual may think that they are invincible, behave recklessly or believe in delusions such as ones of fame. During the depressive phase, the individual loses interest in their usual activities, may sleep excessively or suffer from insomnia. They may also be at risk of suicide during the depressive stage. Schizophrenia – includes disturbance of thought patterns, disturbance of affective reactions and autism or withdrawal.
Secondary symptoms include hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. These symptoms all represent a loss of contact with reality. 2. ) Alcohol – is probably the most commonly abused drug in society. Of all abused drugs, it is presently the only one considered legal upon reaching of age. It has been a large part of our culture for many years and is often associated with social functions and celebrations. However, alcohol use definitely has its dark side. It is known to alter personalities and cause people to behave in manner outside their normal personalities.

A night of abusing alcohol can lead embarrassment and regret once the effects have worn off. Poor judgment while drinking alcohol can lead to making deadly decisions such as drunk driving. Also, people have abused alcohol to the extent they vomit in their sleep and choke to death. Marijuana – is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) works by binding to CB1 receptors found on presynaptic membranes in the brain. These receptors function in blunting pain. THC also causes the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine which elevates mood and controls muscle movements.
It has the ability of enabling the user to block out pain, frustration or confusion. In high concentrations can cause hallucinations, anxiety, depression, and psychotic symptoms. Smoking marijuana can cause lung cancer, sinusitis, and bronchitis. It increases the level of carbon monoxide in the blood which, in turn, reduces the amount of oxygen reaching the heart. Long term use can result in: impaired speech; memory loss; difficulty in understanding complex ideas; insomnia; impaired visual perception; and infertility. Cocaine – Cocaine is derived from the plant Erthoxylon coca and can be inhaled, smoked or injected.
It results in a feeling of euphoria followed by depression. Cocaine acts by first stimulating the release of norepinephrine and dopamine and in higher doses the release of serotonin. Cocaine then interferes with the re-uptake of these neurotransmitters and these neurotransmitters build up in the synapse. Prolonged use will cause the body to produce less dopamine and the user will need more cocaine. Side effects include mental impairment, convulsions, hallucinations, stroke, heart attack and death. Heroin – is a highly addictive derivative of morphine.
It is normally injected but can also be snorted or smoked. It operates by binding to ophioid receptors in the brain in which natural chemical endorphins are involved in the relief of pain. Prolonged use can cause less endorphin production. Side effects include: depressed respiration; impaired coordination; and decreased tolerance to pain; long term effects can include: collapsed veins; infections of heart valves and liver disease. Death can result from overdose. Rohypnol – is a drug associated with rave parties and comes from the benzodiazepine family.
It is considered to be the “date rape” drug and has become famous for its use in committing sexual assault. It is often given to an unsuspecting victim by dissolving it in beverage while they are unaware. It is similar to Valium TM but has ten times its strength. In combination with alcohol, it can be deadly. Rohypnol is highly addictive and has severe withdrawal symptoms. Its use can cause deep sedation, respiratory distress, blackouts for up 24 hours, and amnesia. Ecstasy – is known as Methylene Dioxy Meth Amphetamine (MDMA) and has street names such as X, Rolls, E, Adam, Beans and Buddies.
The initial use of ecstasy results in: increased heart rate; increased blood pressure; dilation of pupils and bronchi; brain stimulation; increased motor activity; tightening of jaw muscles; grinding of jaws; overheating; sweating; heat stroke; and dehydration. The long-term use of ecstasy can result in irreparable brain damage. 3. ) Higher doses of designer drugs can result in paranoia, depression and violent irrational behaviour. In general, designer drugs can create a wide range of physical problems such as: hypertension; uncontrolled tremors; total paralysis; seizures; permanent drain damage; and death. . ) Opioids – are typically used to treat pain. They can produce a feeling of euphoria by affecting regions of the brain that enable us to perceive pleasure. However, they can result in physical dependence and addiction. Tolerance of opioids can result in the need to take higher doses to achieve the same effect. Withdrawal will cause: restlessness; muscle and bone pain; insomnia; diarrhea; vomiting; cold flashes; goose bumps; and involuntary leg movements. A large dose can lead to respiratory depression resulting in death.
CNS Depressants – often used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders by slowing normal brain function. Common CNS depressants include barbiturates and Valium TM. Most CNS depressants act on the brain by affecting the neurotransmitter gammaaminobutryic acid (GABA). The function of GABA in the human body is to decrease brain activity. Therefore, increased doses will create the drowsy effect required to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Individuals can build a tolerance to CNS depressants over time and require larger doses. Withdrawals can cause the opposite effects of the drug.
The mind can race out of control, possibly resulting in seizures and other problems. Stimulants – used to treat narcolepsy, obesity, depression, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These drugs enhance brain activity and result in increased alertness, energy, elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate and respiration. Examples of stimulants include Ritalin TM and Dexandrine TM. The chemical structure of stimulants is similar to the chemical structure of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine. Stimulants work by increasing the amount of these neurotransmitters to the brain.
An increase in dopamine results in an increase in blood pressure, increase in heart rate, constriction of blood vessels, increase in blood glucose and it opens the pathways of the respiratory system. Stimulants do not result in physical dependence or withdrawal. However, they can be used compulsively and high doses repeatedly can lead to feelings of hostility and paranoia. High doses can cause body temperatures to rise to a dangerously high level. They can also create an irregular heartbeat leading to the risk of cardiovascular failure. There is also the potential of lethal seizures.
Extensions: 1. ) The pros of marijuana are that they are less harmful to use then alcohol, It also reliefs us from pain and reduces spasticity due to multiple sclerosis. It has been shown to help sufferers of severe arthritis. It can be used as an anti – epileptic and anti – depressant. It is also believed to be less addictive then many prescribed painkillers. The cons of marijuana in the treatment of chronic pain are that It increases the level of carbon monoxide in the blood which, in turn, reduces the amount of oxygen reaching the heart.
Repeated use tends to lead to the inability to deal with everyday challenges. Long term use can result in: impaired speech; memory loss; difficulty in understanding complex ideas; insomnia; impaired visual perception; and infertility. Marijuana use has also been linked to reducing immunity towards disease. 2. ) The cause of manic depression is still uncertain. There appears to be a genetic link and episodes can also be triggered by stress. Chemical changes are also being studied. Manic behaviour is believed due to a high level of noradrenergic activity.
This activity continues until the neurotransmitters system is depleted. It is believed that lithium may prevent mania by preventing noradrenalin depletion. 3. ) Marijuana should be legalized. For one, it is less harmful than alcohol. If they legalized it, it would allow for better regulation and taxation of the drug. It would also save money in law enforcement. Many grave that prohibition of the drugs like marijuana supports organized crime, others raise concerns about addictions and health problems. There are also concerns that it may be the “gateway” to the abuse of more dangerous drugs.

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