America's Drug Problem

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When you turn on the television you see many visions of problems in America. These problems include violence, poverty, crime and murder. All of these problems are either caused by, or directly related to drugs. A drug is any substance ingested into the body that is not food. The greatest problem in America is society s continuing use of drugs. If you walk into any local gas station or grocery store, it can be spotted right away. I am speaking of alcohol. Yes, alcohol though legal, is a drug. Alcohol is a form of drug use that results in addiction for millions. (Gwynne, 1988, pg. 32) Problems that alcohol cause are very widely known, yet any regulation for the drug is only for people under the age of 21. After prohibition failed miserably, the idea of controlled alcohol seemed ridiculous. This too is true for many of today s modern drugs. Stiff penalties and laws have made little progress in the ongoing war on drugs. The main types of drugs in circulation today are heroin, crack, cocaine, amphetamines (uppers), barbiturates (downers), and marijuana. (Ball, 1988, pg. 2) The three most widely used drugs are heroin, crack cocaine, and marijuana. Heroin was created by doctors as an alternative to morphine. Morphine is a pain killer that is highly addictive. Heroin turned out to be even more addictive and lethal than morphine. (Ball, 1988, pg. 10) Heroin is taken intravenously. A vein is punctured and blood is drawn into the heroin filled syringe, mixed around, and injected back into the body. Heroin causes many metaphysical problems to the user. When heroin is taken, it reacts all over the body. It will invade and take control of every cell. This does not allow for any nutrients to reach the cells and the whole body is affected for a long period of time. (Ball, 1988, pg. 11) Heroin also does not allow the body to hold or retain any calcium. This will cause a user s teeth to rot and their bones to break easily. (Ball, 1988, pg. 12) Cocaine is best recognized as America s glamorous drug of the 1980 s. Back then, cocaine was very mainstream and easily accessible. In the 80 s, 30% of all college students used cocaine at least once before they graduated. (Gwynne, 1988, pg. 74) These statistics did decrease through the 90 s as more people learned the effects of cocaine. Because it is snorted through the nose, cocaine goes directly to the brain, killing millions of brain cells immediately. The continuous snorting of cocaine can also cause the nasal cavity to completely collapse. (Ball, 1988, pg. 17) The one outstanding trait of cocaine is not the addiction. Though very extreme, it is not a physical one. The body does not need it or crave it. It is an addiction of the mind. (Ball, 1988, pg. 16) To fill this void we can look to crack. Crack is 3/4 pure cocaine and provides both a physical and mental addiction. (Ball, 1988, pg. 19) Crack can be taken in two different ways. It can be snorted like cocaine or smoked. This allows for two different types of reaction from one drug. Crack is actually a faster high than most drugs. The reaction is almost immediate but short lived. When the reaction ends there is what is called the comedown . This is a crack user's sudden crash from their high . (Oliver, 1996, pg. 26) This causes an ever emotional effect on the user as the need to maintain their high increases even more. The final in our trio of super-drugs is marijuana. Marijuana is a plant that is smoked. The reactions to marijuana can be very different. Marijuana can be a depressant or a stimulant. (Ball, 1988, pg. 22) This differing reaction is caused by marijuana s main ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol. It is also known as THC. (Ball, 1988, pg. 23) Because marijuana is smoked, it goes directly to the lungs and circulates throughout the body. This allows the THC to cause many types of reactions all throughout the body. THC has a very serious effect on the cells of the body. It blocks protein from reaching the cells. This does not allow the cells to grow and function properly. (Ball, 1988, pg. 23) Because of the fact that marijuana is smoked, it also has many of the same effects as cigarettes to the body but on a larger level. Everyone knows the effects of what heavy smoking can do to a person s body. Marijuana, on the other hand, is even worse. It has a greatly magnified effect. If a person were to smoke five joints a week it would be equivalent to smoking one hundred cigarettes. (Ball, 1988, pg. 25) That equals one joint per one whole package of cigarettes. Many people feel that the best solution to solving America s drug problem is to legalize and regulate drugs. One form of this theory is called decriminalization. This is where the selling of drugs is not illegal but the possession of drugs is. (Oliver, 1996, pg. 56) Eleven states have this law in the case of marijuana. In these states selling marijuana is legal, but possession carries very stiff penalties. (Oliver, 1996, pg. 57) The main reason for the idea to legalize drugs, is that it would be easier to control and that the government could even collect taxes. This theory is not a valid one though. In countries where drugs are legal such as Italy, the addiction rate is much higher. (Oliver, 1996, pg. 60) This would counteract any possible

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