The availability of drugs and medications that the youth become intoxicated with has never been as easy as today. Although young people most often buy drugs “in the real world”, more and more transactions are made on the Internet. As part of the recent study conducted by EMCDDA and Europol, over 100 worldwide “darknet” markets have been identified, where sellers and buyers alike use different technologies to hide their identities. It is estimated that two-thirds of all the purchases made on these markets were related to illegal psychoactive substances.
Which type is the most popular, what do they look like and how are they used?
Cannabis is a drug that people often turn to in all age groups. It is most often smoked and in Europe also commonly mixed with tobacco. Patterns of cannabis usage vary from occasional to regular use and addiction. Marijuana is made from the dried flowers and leaves of Indian hemp.
The drug improves the mood because it results in a sharpening of the senses. The feelings and sensations after using marijuana are strong. This is triggered by the psychoactive substance called THC. Smoking marijuana has a stimulating effect, but also a calming one. An individual who uses it experiences a feeling of euphoria. Marijuana also relieves pain, though it can increase appetite, it relaxes the muscles and dilates the bronchi.
The effects? Smoking marijuana has many harmful effects on the human body. The use of this drug can manifest itself in sudden, unexpected mood swings. Disturbances of concentration may also occur as well as memory gaps.
Smoking marijuana results in headaches and dizziness as well as dry mouth. A person smoking marijuana can also suddenly become hungry and exhibit a rapid heartbeat.
If the parents or caregivers want to determine whether someone is under the influence of a drug, they can recognise this by the individual’s impaired motor coordination. They will also have bloodshot eyes.
Smoking marijuana also results in increased sweating. These symptoms can last for about 3 hours after smoking marijuana.
Estimates of Cannabis use in the European Union (European Drug Report 2018)
The most common symptoms of drug addiction:
- changes in friends and activities
- changes in daily routines
- withdrawal symptoms like bloodshot eyes and frequent bloody noses
- changes in personality and behaviour, such as lacking motivation, irritability and agitation
- failing in attempts to stop
- undertaking risky activities when under the influence of the drug
Stimulants – amphetamine, nicotine and cocaine
Amphetamine is a stimulant drug. Amphetamine is a white or slightly pink powder. The drug can be taken orally or inhaled, and in some countries, injecting is commonly done by individuals who use these drugs in risky ways.
Depending on the dose of the drug, the state of arousal can last from two to three hours or even longer. The use of amphetamine leads to a strong psychological and physical addiction. In addition, the long-term intake of amphetamine results in various complications and risks, e.g. suicidal thoughts, depression, loss of self-control, strong arousal or amphetamine psychosis.
Depressants include alcohol and opioids, for example heroin and cocaine
The most common opioid used in Europe is heroin, which can be smoked, inhaled or injected. Many synthetic opioids are also abused, such as methadone, buprenorphine and fentanyl.
Heroin is the most widespread opioid on the European drug market, with an estimated retail value of 6.8 billion euros (likely range from 6.0 billion euros to 7.8 billion euros) in 2013. Two forms of imported heroin have been available in Europe for a long time. Brown heroin (in its basic chemical form), mainly from Afghanistan, is more common. White heroin (in the form of salt), which used to be shipped from Southeast Asia, is definitely less common, but now it can also be produced in Afghanistan or in neighbouring countries. Other opioids available on the drug black markets include opium and medicinal products such as morphine, methadone, buprenorphine, tramadol and various fentanyl derivatives. Some of these opioids may come from legal pharmaceutical supplies while others are produced illegally.
Heroin has highly addictive properties. Mental addiction to heroin can occur even after the first heroin intake. Heroinism is a strongly degrading addiction. Practically no heroin addict has been able to overcome the addiction. Heroin completely kills the body, condemning it to a slow death.
Cocaine is available in Europe in two forms, the more common of which is cocaine powder (in the form of salt). Crack, a drug in a form suitable for smoking, is less likely to be available. Cocaine is made from the leaves of the cocaine bush. This drug is mainly produced in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. It reaches Europe in various ways, including through passenger and freight flights, in postal items, on private planes, yachts and in sea shipping containers.
In people using cocaine, addiction leads to the extreme exhaustion of the body. Using cocaine results in the gradual biodegradation of all systems, e.g. the respiratory system, the circulatory system, the digestive system and the nervous system.
Unfortunately, the psychological hunger and the effects of cocaine, such as euphoria, clarity of thought, and an increase in sociability, encourage people to use the drug repeatedly. However, the stimulation of the peripheral nervous system through the use of cocaine is very deceptive.
Estimates of Cocaine use in the European Union (European Drug Report 2018)
Psychedelics include but are not limited to MDMA
The chemical name of ecstasy is 3,4 Methylamphetamine methylene-dioxide, or in short MDMA. Ecstasy was first obtained in 1914. Ecstasy is a phenylethylamine derivative (similar to noradrenaline). In the early 1970s, ecstasy was used in psychotherapy to help patients discover their emotions and feelings. Afterwards the drug was intended to be used in the fight against excessive appetite, though it was never released on the pharmaceutical market. With time, its use was also withdrawn from therapeutic activities.
What does ecstasy look like? It usually takes the form of capsules or tablets in various colours. Some pills contain inscriptions or logos, for example in the shape of a bird, sickle, hammer, cat, etc. Sometimes ecstasy has the form of powder, which contains different amounts of other drugs, most commonly amphetamines.
How to tell that someone is taking ecstasy? This can be determined by someone’s supplies of colourful pills, but also their dilated pupils, arousal, impaired motor coordination, confusion, mumbling, cheerfulness and irrational behaviour, e.g. conducting conversations with imaginary people. Usually 75 to 200 mg of MDMA are taken. The first narcotic effects can be observed after about 40 minutes, while after the next 30 minutes the ecstasy effect begins to weaken, and after about 6 hours it disappears completely.
The negative consequences of taking ecstasy include the risk of the occurrence of a neuroleptic malignant syndrome characterised by hypotension, convulsions, coma and increases in body temperature.
Medicines such as Xanax are also becoming more and more popular
Xanax is a psychotropic medication. It has calming, anxiolytic and sleep-inducing effects. It is used for relieving anxiety and treating depression. Xanax has strong addictive properties.
It must not be used by children or adolescents under 18 years of age. Alcohol consumption is strictly forbidden during therapy.
Xanax belongs to the group of psychotropic medicines, which means that it affects the nervous system. Thus, side effects cannot be avoided. At the beginning of treatment, nervous system disorders may occur, such as feelings of detachment from reality, drowsiness or insomnia, impaired motor coordination, tremors of the extremities, memory impairment and mood depression.
If your child or relative shows symptoms of drug abuse and you are looking for professional help – read our guide for parents “How to help and not harm”.
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