Detection of drug abuse is very important. Here are some tips to help you identify whether your child is at risk of this malaise.
This guide is intended to provide information on the most commonly abused drugs. However, as Einstein said, "Information is not knowledge". Mere information will not help you identify drug abuse in your child. Consult qualified medical professionals for assistance in drug abuse identification and intervention.
The article only covers illicit drugs and not legal substances such as nicotine and alcohol, which are also drugs.
The most commonly abused drugs include:
Marijuana is a plant indigenous to Asia, and is commonly consumed in three forms:
- Hashish—the resin of the plant—usually reddish brown to black in colour
- Ganja—refers to the leaves and stem, and is usually greenish in colour
- Bhang—a dark brown or black preparation of marijuana leaves and flowers and other additives such as herbs and spices
Common Terms and Definitions:
- Hashish is also known as hemp, hash, charas, cream, Malana cream, Afghan snow, Kasa, Bombay Black
- Other terms for Ganja are pot, grass, dope, Mary Jane, weed, blunt, herb
- Spliff: Marijuana cigarette
- Bong: Water pipe for smoking
- Joint / Bob: Marijuana cigarette made of rolling paper
- Ganga-Jamuna: Marijuana-hash combination
How is it Consumed? Bhang is usually eaten or mixed with a cold drink of milk and dry fruits. Hashish and ganja are crushed and mixed with tobacco. The mixture is rolled in a cigarette and smoked.
- Bloodshot eyes
- Extreme form of anxiety or fear
- Uncontrollable bouts of laughter
- Lack of clear and orderly thought or behaviour
- Sluggish speech
- Eating binges
- Peculiar herbal smell in hair, clothes, or in the area where the drug was consumed
- Presence of marijuana seeds, smoking devices (chillums and bongs), smoking paper, 'roaches' (rolled-up cardboard to create an artificial filter)
- It is estimated that one marijuana cigarette is equivalent to five tobacco cigarettes in terms of damage to the body.
- A marijuana abuser risks all the dangers of smoking and many more, including brain damage, infertility, and loss of memory.
- Marijuana is a gateway drug, which means that prolonged abuse of marijuana leads to a higher tolerance to the drug, resulting in the abuser trying dangerous drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a popular party drug, which is extremely potent even in small quantities. This odourless, tasteless, and colourless drug can induce strong hallucinations where the user sees different colours and has strange experiences.
Common Terms and Definitions: Acid, stamp, Lucy, sunshine, microdots
How is it Consumed? LSD is usually licked or swallowed. It is sold as tablets, capsules, or in its liquid form added to sugar cubes, postage stamps, 'windowpanes' (gelatine or cellophane), blotters (small pieces of paper).
- High body temperature
- Dilation of pupils
- Increased heart beat and blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
- The worst effect of LSD is what is known as a 'bad trip' in which users develop extreme forms of paranoia and fear.
- 'Flashback' or a sudden recurrence of the user's experience can trigger traumatic or strange experiences, even after many hours or months of abstaining from the drug.
- Fatal accidents can occur with LSD usage, especially while driving.
- Schizophrenia and severe depression may occur with long-term use.
Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant derived from the leaves of the coca plant. It is usually a white crystalline powder. Crack, a cheaper form of cocaine, is even more addictive and dangerous than cocaine. Even a single dose is enough to trigger addiction. Cocaine abusers typically develop a tolerance to the drug, and take in higher doses to maintain the same high.
Common Terms and Definitions: Coke, namak (salt in Hindi), coca, flake, snow, heaven dust, crack
How is it Consumed? Cocaine is either snorted or dissolved in a liquid and then injected. Some also mix cocaine with cannabis and tobacco and smoke it.
- Fast speech or talkativeness
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Dilated pupils
- Runny or bloody nose
- Restlessness, irritability, sleeplessness
- Bouts of high energy followed by exhaustion
- Seizure, cardiac arrest, respiratory problems that can lead to death
- Severe paranoia
- HIV and other diseases resulting from infected needles
Heroin is a highly addictive derivative of morphine, an extract from the poppy plant. In its purest form, it is a white powder but can also be brown in colour because of the presence of impurities. However, heroin is never sold in its pure form, and is often mixed with talcum powder, starch, sugar, powdered milk, or quinine. As the drug is adulterated, it is difficult to determine the actual dose of heroin, which can be fatal.
After just few hours or days of the last administration, withdrawal symptoms such as intense craving for the drug, restlessness, pain, sleeplessness, vomiting, and kicking can be seen in the average heroin abuser.
Common Terms and Definitions: Smack, horse, junk, H, Skag
How is it Consumed? A tin foil containing heroin powder is heated underneath. This results in the solid powder turning into a liquid. Users either inhale the fumes or inject the liquid. Heroin is also smoked.
The heroin addict typically rushes to the bathroom in the morning for his morning dose. Heroin abuse also often causes constipation, leading to prolonged use of the bathroom. Here are other visible signs of heroin abuse:
- Runny nose, coughing, sneezing, fever, chills
- Mental confusion
- Staggered gait
- Lack of hygiene
- Poor appetite
- Scratch marks
- Pupil dilation
- Calmness (when high) and restlessness (when not high)
- HIV and other diseases resulting from infected needles
- Collapsed veins
Identifying a drug abuser is not easy because there are several drugs with different effects and health risks. Some drugs are available for research, medical, and other legal uses, but are often abused. If you spot any suspicious behaviour in your child, do not panic, but consult a qualified medical professional with experience in drug abuse treatment.
A few other commonly abused groups of drugs include:
For more information on other commonly available drugs and their effects, refer to the following website: http://www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/DrugsofAbuse.html
- Opiods: Opium and morphine, along with heroin, belong to the group of drugs derived from the poppy plant.
- Hallucinogens: In addition to ecstasy, drugs like mescaline and psilocybin are often used to induce altered states of perception.
- Inhalants: Paint thinners, petrol, gases (butane, propane, and laughing gas) are easily available but highly dangerous, causing death within seconds. Every year, several teenagers accidentally inhale these substances, with some developing an addiction over time.
Have you seen any of the drugs mentioned in this article? Were you able to identify them easily? Do you suspect that your child is abusing drugs? How have you tackled this social malaise? To share your views and experiences with us, click here.