A guide to why you should listen to mom
With the independence that comes with your first year at university comes lifestyle choices that could make or break your university career and even life after studying. Your parents are no longer around to tell you to not do drugs, so Perdeby is here to stand in and give you some reasons not to do drugs.
(Dagga, weed, grass, boom, kush, marijuana)
The general perception of cannabis has become somewhat more positive in recent years, as it has no addictive properties and can be used as a treatment for various illnesses. Although some believe that cannabis is safe and harmless, the compounds in it do have some negative effects, both short and long term. Negative short term effects include impaired memory and difficulty with thinking and problem solving. In the long term, cannabis can inhibit brain development in teenagers and young adults. According to a study conducted by Duke University, those who begin smoking cannabis heavily during teen years, followed by persistent cannabis usage through adulthood lost eight IQ points between the ages of 13 & 38. However, those who only began smoking during adulthood showed no significant IQ loss.
Psilocybin (Sil-oh-sy-ben) is the chemical compound found inside “magic mushrooms”. It contains no addictive properties, but tolerance can be built up. The compound produces euphoria, as well as hallucinations. They sound harmless but can cause users to behave erratically and irrationally, while some may experience outbursts and panic attacks. Toxicity is a potential danger when Psilocybin containing mushrooms are consumed. According to hallucinogens.com, “while the lethal dose is relatively high, about 1.5 times higher than that of caffeine, psilocybin can be deadly if enough mushrooms containing the drug are consumed”. A person weighing approximately 72 kg would need to ingest 16.7kg for a lethal dosage.
(Molly, E, ecstasy)
3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens. MDMA is commonly associated with raves and dance parties, and according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), it increases the brain chemical levels of Dopamine (causes a surge in euphoria and increased energy/activity), Serotonin (affects mood, appetite, sleep, and also triggers hormones that affect sexual arousal and trust), and Norepinephrine (increases heart rate and blood pressure, which are particularly risky for people with heart and blood vessel problems). Negative effects experienced by users include: nausea, muscle cramping, blurred vision, involuntary teeth clenching, sweats and chills. The effects of MDMA last three to six hours, and there are prolonged negative effects experienced over the course of the following week. These include aggression, irritability, depression, problems with sleep, anxiety and memory problems.
If you are surprised to see alcohol on this list, you might want to pay attention. Alcohol is possibly the most dangerous of all drugs. Readily available at countless liquor stores and supermarkets, but more dangerous than you might realise. Short term effects include slurred speech, drowsiness, sleep disruption and emotional changes. Excessive consumption results in nausea, vomiting, memory loss, lack of bladder and bowel control, loss of consciousness and even death. A hangover and dehydration are also consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. Long term side effects of alcohol overconsumption include depression, liver damage, increased risk of cancer, and reduced sexual performance. Long term overconsumption can also cause users to experience death of brain cells, leading to decreased mental and physical functioning, liver damage and disease, increased tolerance and addiction. Those experiencing alcohol addiction can have difficulty with daily functioning, and addiction can result in permanent brain damage.
Methcathinone, known by its common street name “Cat”, is a highly addictive stimulant. Many confuse it with a cheaper synthetic version of cocaine, but it is in fact closer to the methamphetamine group. Risk of overdose is high and users experience increased alertness, rapid breathing, a sense of pleasure and euphoria, similar to cocaine. It also leads to decrease in cognitive ability, focus and productivity. Persistent usage can also lead to hypertension, mental confusion and paranoia.
(Crack, meth, rocks, klip, crystal, glass)
Methamphetamine. You don’t have to watch Breaking Bad to know how dangerous this stimulant is. Short term effects such as nausea, loss of appetite, paranoia, increased temperature, blood pressure and heart rate are common. Users also experience psychosis, coupled with irritability and hyperexcitability. Permanent damage to blood vessels in the heart and brain, leading to heart attacks and strokes is a long term risk of methamphetamine use. Depression, respiratory issues, tooth decay, infectious diseases, abscesses, malnutrition and many other effects are common among long term users.
Heroin is the most addictive substance you could find, as seconds after injecting it, it will bind with opioid receptors in the body and can permanently alter brain chemistry. Short term effects, other than the most common effect of instant pain relief, include a severe euphoric rush, drowsiness, sedation, and apathy. Side effects of heroin usage are no fun either. They include nausea, vomiting, confusion, grogginess, dry mouth, light sensitivity, and decreased heart rate and respiratory function. Long term effects includes severe constipation, which is very common. Users also feel weak and sedated, while experiencing decreased dental health, excoriated skin due to scratching, sleeping problems, malnutrition and decreased sexual performance.
Image: Sally Hartzenberg