Hard Drugs Vs. Soft Drugs

 

Drugs are used for both medical treatment and for recreation, due to their euphoric and other mind-altering effects. Well known hard drugs include heroin, cocaine, morphine, alcohol, barbiturates, amphetamines, and nicotine, while soft drugs include caffeine, marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms, and even LSD.

Soft drugs are less inhibiting and addicting than hard drugs, often being defined as causing psychological, but not physical addiction. Hard drugs are often defined as being both physically and psychologically addictive, while also posing serious risks to users. These drugs can easily be overdosed and can also cause significant harm to a user’s health, sometimes even leading to death.

Many criticize the deciphering between hard and soft drugs, arguing that defining a drug as soft takes away from highlighting dangers of drug use. Others argue that since some hard drugs are legal in the U.S., such as alcohol and nicotine, while others are prescribed legally by doctors, users fail to question the effects of those drugs. Take an in-depth look into the effects of several hard and soft drugs and compare their traits to those of LSD.



Hard Drugs

Alcohol

 

Common names: liquor, beer, alcohol
How it works: depressing the brain and slowing down its ability to control the body and the mind by slowing down muscle coordination, reflexes, movement, and speech
Method used: drank as liquid
Recreational uses: sedation and relaxation
Effects: impaired judgment and coordination, blackouts, aggression, double vision, slurred speech, disturbed sleep, nausea, vomiting, hangovers (characterized by headache, nausea, thirst, dizziness, and fatigue)
Possible long-tem effects: permanent damage to vital organs, cancer, ulcers, malnutrition, sexual dysfunctions, high blood pressure, lowered resistance to disease, withdrawal symptoms
Physically addictive: yes


Amphetamines

 

Prescription names: Speed, Ritalin, Adderall, Methamphetamine
Common names: kiddy cocaine, crystal meth, dexies, speed, uppers
Usage method: taken orally in pill or capsule form, injected, snorted, smoked, rubbed on the gums, dissolved in liquid
Used to treat: chronic sleepiness, short attention span and over activity, obesity, mild depression
Recreational uses: mood elevation, general sense of well-being, weight loss
How it works: stimulation of the central nervous system
Effects: increased heart rate and blood pressure, reduced appetite, dilation of the pupils, feelings of happiness and power, reduced fatigue, tense jaw, teeth grinding 
Possible long-tem effects: insomnia, restlessness, paranoid psychosis, hallucinations, violent and aggressive behavior, weight loss, tremors
Physically addictive: yes


Barbiturates

 

Prescription names: Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal
Common names: barbs, block busters, red devils, reds & blues, yellow jackets
Usage method: swallowed or injected
How it works: impairment of biochemical reactions, which provides energy and depression of selected areas of the brain
Used to: sedate, control convulsions, or to induce sleep
Recreational uses: euphoria and relaxation, sometimes used in combination with stimulants like cocaine, amphetamines, and crystal meth.
Effects: slurred speech, shallow breathing, fatigue, disorientation, lack of coordination, dilated pupils, mild euphoria, relief of anxiety and sleepiness, impairment of memory, irritability, paranoia, suicidal ideation
Possible long-tem effects: chronic tiredness, inability to coordinate, vision problems, dizziness, slowed reflexes and response, sexual dysfunction, menstrual irregularities, breathing disorders
Physically addictive: yes


Cocaine

 

Common names: crack, coke, super-speed
Usage method: sniffed, snorted, injected, or smoked
How it works: blocks the removal of dopamine from the synapse, stimulating euphoria
Recreational uses: euphoria
Effects: increased energy, alertness, euphoria, self-confidence, increased heart beat, hallucinations, unclear speech, confused thinking, short temper, tension, irritability, insomnia, dilated pupils, nausea, convulsions, vomiting
Possible long-tem effects: high blood pressure and pulse, increased risk for seizures, strokes, heart attacks
Physically addictive: yes


Nicotine

 

Common products: cigarettes, dip, cigars, hookah tobacco
Street names: smokes, cigs, chew, spit tobacco, and snuff
Usage method: smoked, absorbed through patches, gum, nasal spray
How it works: through delivering nicotine to the brain, neurons are stimulated to release unusually large amounts of dopamine, stimulating and a sedating to the central nervous system
Recreational use: stimulant and sedation
Effects: raises heart rate and respiration rate, increases the amount of glucose released into the blood
Possible long-tem effects: addiction, lung and other cancers, bronchitis, emphysema, exacerbate asthma, the risk of heart disease, earlier menopause, reduction of sense of smell
Physically addictive: yes



Opiates

 

Prescription names: opium, codeine, morphine, heroin, fentanyl, and OxyContin
Street names:  China white, laudanum, paregoric, big O, and hop
Usage method: taken orally, injection, sniffing, and smoking
Uses: alleviate severe and moderate pain, often before or after surgery, relieve coughs and diarrhea
Recreational uses: achieve a high or rush resulting in sedation and euphoria
How it works: attaches to specific proteins called opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract, blocking the transmission of pain messages to the brain
Effects: sedation, euphoria, dizziness, fatigue, constipation, extreme irritability, depression, tremors, sleeplessness, flu-like symptoms, dry mouth, pupil constriction, itching, hallucination, sweating, muscle and bone pain, confusion, muscle spasms
Possible long-tem effects: severe addiction, stools can become rock hard, infectious disease and Hepatitis B (from dirty needles), collapsed veins, abscesses, infection of the valves, arthritis
Physically addictive: yes


Soft Drugs

LSD

 

Street names:  acid, Bart Simpson, microdots, boomers, and yellow sunshine
Usage method: often packaged in small bottles or applied to blotter paper, sugar cubes, gelatin squares, or tablets
Recreational uses: produces delusions and visual hallucinations that distort the user’s sense of time and identity
How it works: binds to serotonin receptors in the brain, causing changes in the sensory pathways of the brain
Effects: hallucinations, distortion of time and space, pleasant feelings and thoughts or paranoia, panic, and agitation, subtle changes in body temperature, blood pressure, and pulse, sweating, chills, headache, nausea
Possible long-tem effects: random flashbacks, may develop long-lasting psychoses, such as schizophrenia or severe depression
Physically addictive: no


Marijuana

 

Prescription names: medical cannabis
Street names: weed, hash, pot, refer, Mary Jane, chronic, and ganja
Usage method: smoked, baked, and brewed
Uses: alleviate nausea, treat glaucoma, potential role to modify autoimmune disorders, neurological disorders, reduce spread of cancer cells
Recreational uses: elevation of mood, relaxation, euphoria, hallucinations
How it works: affects the nerve cells in the part of the brain where memories are formed
Effects: mild euphoria and relaxation, impaired motor control and memory, higher blood pressure and pulse, increased appetite, dry mouth, dizziness, sometimes panic and paranoia
Possible long-tem effects: reduced ability to fight infection, increased risk of developing mental illnesses, increased chance of heart attack, changes in the activity of nerve cells containing dopamine, daily cough and phlegm production, heightened risk of lung infections
Physically addictive: no



Caffeine

 

Common products:  soda, energy drinks, energy shots, food
Usage method: drank or eaten
Uses: increase energy, reduce fatigue
How it works: binds to the adenosine receptors of brain, causing cell activity to increase and the blood vessels in the brain to constrict, causing heart rate to increase and the liver to release more sugar into the blood
Effects: increased energy, jitteriness, abnormally rapid heartbeat, convulsions, increased urination, delirium, headache, insomnia
Possible long-tem effects: increased body level of cortisol, which can lead to rapid weight gain, irritability, heart disease, diabetes
Physically addictive: yes


Psilocybin mushrooms

 

Common names: shrooms, magic mushrooms
Usage method: eaten or brewed
Recreational uses: relaxation and psychological reflection
How it works: psilocin is absorbed into the blood stream where it is taken to the brain, causing mortification of the brain’s control over sleep, appetite, sensory perception, temperature regulation, pain suppression
Effects:  increase emotional awareness, reduction of psychological confusion, confusion, panic, stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea, even death
Possible long-tem effects: triggered underlying mental disorders and schizophrenic-type symptoms, recurring episodes of anxiety, panic months
Physically addictive: no

Read more: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/explorer/4094/Overview#tab-druginfo#ixzz0b4jU5HHU


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