20 January 2012

The Most Famous Addictive Substances

Addictive substances can affect the brain in different ways. Stimulants make a person feel more energetic, and depressants bring a feeling of relaxation. Hallucinogens change the way someone experiences reality, (the most famous hallucinogens are LSD and ecstasy). Many drugs fall into more than one classification. Most often addictive substances change brain chemistry by flooding the brain with dopamine, a chemical that adjusts pleasure, attention, cognition and other functions. They perform this in one of two ways: imitating brain chemicals or causing the brain to release more naturally occurring chemicals.

Many of these addictive substances are legal. One of the most famous and popular stimulant is caffeine. Maybe it's the world’s most widely used drug. Caffeine is not just coffee, but also tea, chocolate, soda, sports and energy drinks. Coffee has roughly twice as much caffeine as other beverages. Moderate consumption is three cups or less of coffee per day. Ten cups is considered excessive and results in nervousness, insomnia, tachycardia, headaches, anxiety and nausea.

Yet another legal addictive substance, alcohol is generally consumed in the form of beer, wine, liquor and spirits. Alcohol is a depressant and relaxant that affect neurons in the central nervous system, it lessens anxiety in the user, finally alcohol consumption leads to relaxation, drowsiness, lack of inhibition, sleep, coma and even death. Eventually, erratic and unpredictable behavior would pop up and more often than not mess things up. Alcohol, when abused in the long term, also takes its toll on the liver, pancreas, and the heart. And it goes downright dangerous when mixed with other drugs like heroin, cocaine or barbiturates. Addiction to alcohol is named alcoholism.

There are some other addictive substances less known than listed above like inhalants - aerosols, solvents, gases and nitrates. Even one-time-only use of inhalants can kill or cause heart failure. Also there are some addictive substances that are legal by prescription only like amphetamines, sedative-hypnotic drugs and opioids.

Amphetamines - speed, crystal meth. Stimulants that increase alertness and concentration normally prescribed for treatment of attention deficit hyperactive disorder. Sedative-hypnotic drugs - benzodiazepines Xanax, Valium, barbiturates, Seconol, phenobarbital. These drugs are prescribed for insomnia, anxiety, seizures and symptoms of bipolar and manic depressive disorder. Even a small overdose of barbiturates used for anesthesia can result in coma, respiratory distress or death. Opioids - heroin, morphine, oxycodone, codeine and other narcotic pain relievers can be very helpful when prescribed. Opioids interfere with the way pain messages are sent to the brain and how they brain receives them. Morphine is regarded as the gold standard of analgesics used to relieve severe pains and suffering. Instead, heroin is treated as an illegal drug that processed from the poppy-plant product, morphine, and like the morphine is highly addictive.

Heroin is definitely one of the most dangerous drugs. Processed from morphine, heroin often looks like a white or brown powder. When ingested, it immediately gives the user a euphoric sensation, as it goes straight to the brain where it tinkers with the ability to feel pleasure. But the pleasure doesn’t last long. In as little as one or two hours from the last dose, users may feel themselves extremely uncomfortable or frightening and experience withdrawal symptoms, ranging from muscle and bone pain to diarrhea and vomiting.

Cocaine maybe is as famous as the heroin these days. Extracted from the leaves of the coca plant, cocaine is one of the most popular illegal drug. Cocaine attacks the central nervous system and toys with its ability to reabsorb dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is directly associated with pleasure. With this, cocaine makes the user euphoric, confident, alert and hyper-stimulated. These effects, however tend to be short lived, and withdrawal symptoms like high incidence of stroke, seizure, respiratory failure, convulsions, death, aggression, hallucinations may set in in as little as one to two hours from the last dose.

Marijuana, also named as cannabis, grass, pot, hashish sometime described as a 'gateway' drug, sometimes like 'terminus' drug. While not addictive to many casual users, marijuana decrease user's motivation, poor communication due to difficulty focusing, that leads to isolation from others due to behavior changes. Its active chemical compound, Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), produce psychoactive effects, including increased appetite, feelings of relaxation, a feeling of slowing of time, and also the mood fluctuations. Impaired concentration, increased heart rate and lower blood pressure are some of its physiological and neurological effects.

It's hard to say which substance is the most addictive. The results will always vary, but maybe you’d not be surprised that nicotine is possibly the most addictive substance of them all. Cigarettes, cigars, nicotine patches contain nicotine that are stimulant (like caffeine) and not only increase dopamine levels, but boost adrenaline. Increased adrenaline raises the user's heart rate and blood pressure, and interferes with the release of insulin by the pancreas, leading to elevated blood sugar. Nicotine is widespread, legal, available, and worst of all, very addictive. Smokers often pick up the smoking habit during their teen years, and as years of smoking go by, they finally become hardly addicted to nicotine and in most cases become smokers for life. And there’s no question about the deadly effects of long-term use of nicotine like lung cancer, oral cancer, heart disease, strokes and emphysema and other hard health problems.

If you think that you or someone you care about is addicted to addictive substances, recognizing the problem is the first step in getting help. Many people think they can kick the addiction on their own, but that rarely works. Find someone supportive and understanding, someone you trust to talk to – it is your best option for getting help. The odds are that overcoming addiction is not easy. Quitting drugs, drinking or smoking is probably going to be one of the hardest things you or your friend have ever done. Most people who try to kick the addiction need professional help or a treatment program to do so.