Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the hemp plant. All marijuana is mind-altering. Short term effects of marijuana include problems with memory and learning. Individuals experience distorted perceptions, difficulty thinking and problem solving, loss of coordination, increased heart rate, anxiety, and panic attacks. The main area of the brain affected by marijuana is the limbic system, responsible for learning, memory, and integration of sensory experiences with emotions and motivations. Users are at a great risk of developing respiratory problems similar to tobacco smokers. (Information taken from Hobart and William Smith College).
MDMA (Ecstasy) is marketed as a feel good drug. Devotees say it produces profoundly positive feelings, empathy for others, elimination of anxiety, and extreme relaxation--hence the nickname "hug drug," or "love drug." MDMA is also said to suppress the need to eat, drink, or sleep, enabling club scene users to endure all-night and sometimes two, or three-day parties. It is taken orally, usually in tablet or capsule form. MDMA tablets are often "stamped" with icons or logos intended to appeal to a young audience. Its effects last approximately four to six hours.
Tablets sold as Ecstasy are not always pure MDMA. As demand for Ecstasy has increased, so has the appearance of Ecstasy "fakes" often containing other substances such as amphetamine, caffeine, codeine, DXM, ephedra/ephedrine, ketamine, MDA, methamphetamine, and PCP. When used alone, MDMA is dangerous. It is even more dangerous when used in combination with other substances, as the physical and psychological effects are difficult to determine or predict.
Crack cocaine, a form of cocaine base, is derived from powder cocaine. Because crack is smoked, the user experiences a high in less than 10 seconds. This rather immediate and euphoric effect is one of the reasons that crack became enormously popular in the mid 1980s. Another reason is that crack is inexpensive both to produce and to buy.
Heroin, an illegal opiate drug known on the street as smack, junk, brown sugar, dope, horse, skunk and other names is derived from the resin of the poppy plant which grows predominantly in southeast and southwest Asia, Mexico and now in Colombia. Pure heroin is a white powder with a bitter taste. Most illicit heroin is a powder form which may vary in color from white to dark brown because of impurities left from the manufacturing process or the presence of additives. Pure heroin is rarely sold on the street. A "bag" --slang for a single dosage unit of heroin--may contain 100 mg of powder, only a small portion of which is heroin. The remainder could be sugars, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. Traditionally the purity of heroin in a "bag" has ranged from one to ten percent. More recently, heroin purity has ranged from one to ninety-eight percent, with a national average of thirty-five percent.
Black tar heroin combined with a cold medication is known as Cheese. It is highly addictive and very dangerous. Cheese is a tan-colored powder usually snorted through a tube, straw, or ball point pen. It causes drowsiness and lethargy, euphoria, excessive thirst, disorientation, sleepiness, and hunger. There was a surge in youth deaths as a result of this drug coming on the scene in Texas between 2005 and 2007.
Anabolic Steroid abuse has become a national concern. These drugs are used illicitly by weight lifters, body builders, long distant runners, cyclists, and others who claim that the drugs give them a competitive advantage and/or improve their physical appearance. Once viewed as a problem associated only with professional athletes, recent reports estimate that 5 to 12 percent of male high school students and 1 percent of female students have used anabolic steroids by the time they were seniors.
Inhalants are common household and workplace substances that are sniffed or huffed to give the user an immediate head rush or high. Inhalants are "sniffed" from an open container or "huffed" from a rag soaked in the substance and held to the face. A new trend, "dusting," involves inhaling common computer cleaners several deaths have occurred. Inhalants include a diverse group of chemicals that are found in consumer products such as aerosols, plastic cement, nail polish remover, lighter fluid, hair spray, insecticides, and cleaning solvents. Their easy accessibility, low cost, and ease of concealment make inhalants, for many, one of the first substances abused.