Do you know what a drug actually is? Do you know the characteristics of the different types available throughout the world? We all have our own perception, but see what the experts, Cynthia Kuhn, PhD., Scott Swartzwelder, PhD., and Wilkie Wilson, PhD., of Duke University and Duke University School of Medicine, have to say on the topic. In today's world, there is an extreme amount of information available at our fingertips. Learning about drugs and the causes they have on our body is interesting and informative. Take the time to test your drug knowledge-Someday it may save you or someone you know.
What Is A Drug?
We all have our beliefs regarding how individuals do drugs. Some can be eaten, inhaled, injected, etc. But is one method harsher on the body compared to other methods?
“A drug is any chemical put into the body that changes mental state or bodily function.”
“How a drug enters the body makes a huge difference in its effects.”
“Inhaling drugs into the lungs can deliver a drug to the circulation almost as quickly as intravenous injection.”
“The most common way that people get drugs into their system is by swallowing them.”
Let's Talk About Time
Now that we know there are multiple methods that users utilize regarding their substances, it is important to focus on the duration. Some drugs last longer than others, but is that typical per drug category or do they vary?
“The length of time a drug affects the central nervous system varies tremendously across drugs.”
“The effects of drugs can change with time as our bodies adapt to the drug.”
How Much Is Too Much
Some individuals are very meticulous with their dosages, while some are more careless when it comes to dosages. While drugs can cause harm regardless, how much of a drug is too much? Some drugs actually perform better when taken over a longer duration (like an antibiotic) while some can cause immediate harm (a hallucinogen). The lapse between an average amount and dangerous amount may be closer in range than you think.
“Many drugs produce good effects at one dose and bad effects at a higher dose.”
“The larger the dose, generally, the bigger the effect, until a maximum is reached. Usually this maximum is reached because all the available receptors are occupied by the drug.”
“The difference between an effective dose and a toxic dose is not great.”
Our Body Is An Open Book For Drugs
We all have learned that different drugs can affect us differently. Do certain parts of our body respond differently? How does our body accept these substances? Do they only go through the bloodstream, or is our body an open canvas ready to take various drugs? Once they are in the body they need to find a receptor that can either send pain or rewards of happiness to our brain, but can they work if no receptors are available?
“A drug can affect any bodily function if it can bind to some element of the cell that influences that function.”
“Most drugs must go much farther than the skin to act.”
“Once drugs are in the circulation, getting into most tissues is no challenge.”
“Drugs must get to their receptors to act.”
Do You Want More
Just like how Pavlov’s dog was classically conditioned to salivate for food when he heard a bell ring, does our body expect drugs? We all expect breakfast at some point after we wake up so is it different when it comes to drugs? When we take drugs, what makes us want to use more? Is it because it feels right or because we just want to do more harm? When we are ready to quit abusing drugs, will we go through withdrawal? Is that only for extremely potent drugs or antibiotics I can get from my doctor too?
“Drug levels shoot up, then plummet, taking the user to an intense high followed by a “crash,” which motivates him to take another dose of the drug.”
“Our brains “learn” to expect the drug, and act accordingly. Sometimes this means activating processes that tend to oppose the effects of drugs.”
“A person can be dependent and go through withdrawal even from drugs that are not addicting, like nose drops.”
Dealing with drugs, or someone abusing them can be tough. It can be stressful, emotional, expensive and physically draining. It does not have to be hard anymore though. There are a growing amount of drug and alcohol recovery centers available to make the process of quitting drugs easier. Don't be afraid to take the first step towards a healthier you.
Kuhn, Cynthia, et al. “14: Drug Basic.” Buzzed: the Straight Facts about the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy, W.W. Norton & Company, 2014, pp. 315-326.