Drugs and Abuse
Abuse of drugs can have effects on the user even after the use of drugs has stopped.
Different drugs produce different effects, depending on the user, type of drug, and severity of abuse. New research is done every day in the area of drug abuse that makes finding accurate results on the broad topic of drug abuse very difficult. From the most recent studies only can one find data that is presently accepted as correct. These numerous studies provide enough data to explain the effects of both legal and illegal drugs.
To understand how drugs work, it is necessary to understand the changes that take place in different areas of the body when drugs take effect. Found in the brain are the synapses, the interaction point of two neurons (Perrine, 1996). The synapses in the brain are often the main target of a drug, altering the perception of something at the point of perception. When a drug is taken, it attaches itself to receptors in the brain, which have a pattern chemically similar to the neurotransmitters that send and receive messages in the brain. Perrine makes the analogy of a drug to receptors as a hand to a doorknob. Because certain drugs can attach themselves to these receptors, they may become blocked, and the neurotransmitters originally being sent by the brain's neurons are forced to wander around the brain until it can find another similar receptor, possibly creating a false signal (Perrine, 1996). The physiological responses created by these false signals, sent by both the drug and the extraneous neurotransmitters are what are perceived to be the effects of the drugs. However, the effects of drugs vary greatly from person to person. Perrine states that are four main aspects to keep in mind when considering the effects of drugs on each individual person: ""(1) the individual, the particular human being, both as a unique biological organism with a possibly idiosyncratic response to a given chemical substance and as a unique personality and psychology; (2) the particular mental set of the person taking the drug, which often has a dramatic influence on its effects; (3) the setting in which a person takes a drug, which can range from a religious ceremony to a rock concert to an assisted suicide; and (4) the pharmacology of the drug itself.""
Opiates are a classification of drugs that include heroin, morphine, and opium. The name for opium is derived from the Latin word Papaver somniferum. It is one of the oldest drugs known to mankind, presumably being used by the Sumerians around 4,000 BC to relieve pain and help induce sleep (Perrine, 1996). Thomas De Quincey, author of Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, was an admitted abuser of laudanum, to the point where he took about 20.8 grams a day. De Quincey felt that opium enhanced his mental powers, and felt that it was much better than alcohol in many regards (Perrine, 1996).
This abuse in the long run, however, took its toll on De Quincey. After enough constant...