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Title: Drugwise: Growing Up Straight in a Chemical Culture
Author: Jim Parker
Publisher: Do It Now Foundation
Publication Date: September 2003
Catalog Number: 212


Narcotics

As we mentioned earlier, narcotics are prescribed by doctors to relieve
pain that won’t respond to everyday painkillers,
like aspirin.

What we didn’t mention, but which
you
probably already know, is that they’re also self-prescribed by people who take them to
get high.

There are two
main groups of narcotics:
opiates
and
synthetics. Opiates are derived from the opium
poppy and include such drugs as
morphine,
codeine, and heroin. Synthetic
narcotics are
similar, but are created from other chemicals
in drugs laboratories.

The undisputed world heavyweight champion of all the narcotics is heroin. It’s sold as a brown or white powder
or as a tar that can be injected, sniffed, or smoked. Heroin
causes
intense physical and psychological dependence.

Tolerance to heroin develops so quickly, in fact,
that addicts have to constantly
up
their dosage to produce desired effects. And as tolerance goes
up, so does the risk of
overdose–and
overdose-related problems.

One reason heroin use is so
risky stems from the fact that the drug is
illegal–and
its potency is
unpredictable. Users can never
be sure of the purity of the drug they’re using–and sometimes,
they only find out
the
hard
(and
final)
way.

Another problem that’s linked
to heroin is
AIDS. That’s because users often have to
share needles and
sharing needles is one of the best ways of spreading the
AIDS virus. That’s why heroin addicts are one of the
highest-risk groups for AIDS infection.

Synthetic
narcotics
are like heroin
in their effects, producing the same kind of high–and the same
kind of
addiction.

Common synthetic narcotics include
Demerol®, Dilaudid®,
and
Percodan®. Methadone,
another synthetic narcotic, is distributed to addicts in clinics
as a
substitute for heroin.

“Designer”
drugs
are chemicals made
by changing the molecular structure of other drugs, which is
kind of like switching pieces around in a
jigsaw puzzle.

Designer drugs are dangerous because their effects are usually unknown and unpredictable. In fact, a few years ago, a heroin-like designer
substitute permanently
paralyzed several
people who were unlucky enough to try it.

And that brings up one of the
most important dangers of all drugs sold on the street:
Users
never
know for sure
what they’re getting.

The only
way they can find out dosage strength and purity is to
experiment on themselves.

And sometimes when they do find out, it’s already too late.


Want to jump ahead (or go back)
to a particular drug or drug category? Click in the table below
to go there, or use the links, below right, to continue with
the main text.

Alcohol Downers Speed
Cocaine Marijuana Hallucinogens
Inhalants Narcotics Other Do It Now Info


Continue with Chapter 3: Speed
Continue with Chapter 4: Locks &
Keys

Go to Table of Contents


.


This is one in a series
of publications on drugs, behavior, and health published by Do
It Now Foundation. Check us out online at www.doitnow.org
.

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