Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Alcohol and Drug Abuse by teens is very common and can have serious consequences. In the 15-24 year age range, 50% of deaths (from accidents, homicides, suicides) involve alcohol or drug abuse.

Drugs and alcohol also contribute to physical and sexual aggression such as assault or rape. Possible stages of teenage experience with alcohol and drugs include abstinence (non-use), experimentation, regular use (both recreational and compensatory for other problems), abuse, and dependency. Repeated and regular recreational use can lead to other problems like anxiety and depression.

Some teenagers regularly use drugs or alcohol to compensate for anxiety, depression, or a lack of positive social skills. Teen use of tobacco and alcohol should not be minimized because they can be “gateway drugs” for other drugs (marijuana, cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, and heroin).

The combination of teenagers’ curiosity, risk taking behavior, and social pressure make it very difficult to say no. This leads most teenagers to the questions: “Will it hurt to try one?”

A teenager with a family history of alcohol or drug abuse and a lack of pro-social skills can move rapidly from experimentation to patterns of serious abuse or dependency. Some other teenagers with no family history of abuse who experiment may also progress to abuse or dependency. Therefore, there is a good chance that “one” will hurt you.

Teenagers with a family history of alcohol or drug abuse are particularly advised to abstain and not experiment. No one can predict for sure who will abuse or become dependent on drugs except to say the non-user never will.

Warning signs of teenage drug or alcohol abuse may include:

  • a drop in school performance,
  • a change in groups of friends,
  • delinquent behavior, and
  • deterioration in family relationships.

There may also be physical signs such as red eyes, a persistent cough, and change in eating and sleeping habits. Alcohol or drug dependency may include blackouts, withdrawal symptoms, and further problems in functioning at home, school, or work.

Basics of Each Drug

Alcohol (ALC)

Alcohol is a depressant drug, which means it slows down the messages traveling between the brain and the body.

Other names Booze, grog, piss, liquor, charge, nip.

Amphetamines

Amphetamines are stimulant drugs, which means they speed up the messages traveling between the brain and the body. Some types of amphetamines are legally prescribed by doctors to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (where a person has an uncontrollable urge to sleep).

Other types of amphetamines such as speed are produced and sold illegally. The more potent form, crystal methamphetamine (ice), is covered on a different page.

Other names Speed, fast, up, uppers, louee, goey, whiz.

Anabolic steroids

Anabolic steroids are drugs that help the growth and repair of muscle tissue. They are synthetic hormones that imitate male sex hormones, specifically testosterone. They can increase lean muscle mass, strength and endurance, but only if used in conjunction with certain exercise and diet regimes1. They can also help people reduce fat and recover quicker from injury.

Anabolic steroids are classed as performance and image enhancing drugs (PIEDs). These substances are taken by people with the intention of improving their physical appearance or enhancing their sporting performance.

Corticosteroids are a class of drug used to treat inflammatory arthritis and other inflammatory conditions such as asthma. They are commonly referred to as “steroids,” and people often believe them to be the same thing as anabolic steroids.

Other names roids, gear or juice

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine (pronounced bew-pre-nor-feen) is a prescription drug. It is taken as a replacement in the treatment of heroin and methadone dependence. Replacing a prescribed drug to treat a drug of dependence in this way is known as pharmacotherapy.

As well as improving wellbeing by preventing physical withdrawal, pharmacotherapy helps to stabilize the lives of people who are dependent on heroin and other opioids, and to reduce the harms related to drug use.

Buprenorphine pharmacotherapy can be used to: Help people to withdraw from heroin and methadone. Reduce the need to use heroin – this is known as buprenorphine maintenance. Treat severe pain.

Pharmaceutical name

There are two formulations of buprenorphine available for people on pharmacotherapy treatment in Victoria: Suboxone Sublingual Film® – A combination of buprenorphine and naloxone (also known as Narcan®). This is the most widely used form Subutex Sublingual Tablets® – Contains only buprenorphine.

Other names Bup, B

Cocaine

Cocaine is a stimulant drug, which means that it speeds up the messages traveling between the brain and the rest of the body. Cocaine comes from the leaves of the coca bush (Erythroxylum coca), which is native to South America. The leaf extract is processed to produce 3 different forms of cocaine:

  • Cocaine hydrochloride: a white, crystalline powder with a bitter, numbing taste. Cocaine hydrochloride is often mixed, or ‘cut’, with other substances such as lactose and glucose, to dilute it before being sold.
  • Freebase: a white powder that is more pure with less impurity than cocaine hydrochloride.
  • Crack: crystals ranging in color from white or cream to transparent with a pink or yellow hue, it may contain impurities.

Other names C, coke, nose candy, snow, white lady, toot, Charlie, blow, white dust or stardust.

Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a depressant drug, which means it slows down the messages traveling between the brain and body. It belongs to a group of drugs known as opioids. It is prescribed for the for chronic, severe pain as a result of cancer, nerve damage, back injury, major trauma or other causes.

In Australia, fentanyl is a schedule 8 drug. It is about 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl is available in many forms. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is used for managing acute or chronic pain. Illicit fentanyl can be manufactured for use in the illegal drug market.

GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate)

GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) is a depressant drug that slows down the messages traveling between the brain and body.

GBL (gamma butyrolactone) and 1,4-BD (1,4-butanediol) are chemicals that are closely related to GHB. Once GBL or 1,4-BD enter the body, they convert to GHB almost immediately. GHB usually comes as a colorless, odorless, bitter or salty liquid, which is usually sold in small bottles or vials. It can also come as a bright blue liquid known as ‘blue nitro’, and less commonly as a crystal powder.

Other names

G, fantasy, grievous bodily harm (GBH), juice, liquid ecstasy, liquid E, liquid X, Georgia Home Boy, soap, scoop, cherry meth, blue nitro, fishies.

Ketamine

Ketamine is used by medical practitioners and veterinarians as an anaesthetic. It is sometimes used illegally by people to get high. Ketamine can produce hallucinogenic effects, causing a person to see, hear, smell, feel or taste things that aren’t really there or are different from how they are in reality.

When it’s sold illegally, ketamine usually comes as a white crystalline powder. It can also be made into tablets and pills, or dissolved in a liquid. A number of clinical trials and studies are currently being undertaken to assess ketamine as a treatment for depression, early indications are showing good results.

Other names Special K, K, ket, kitkat, super k or horse trank.

Marijuana (THC)

Marijuana is a preparation of the cannabis plant for use as a psychoactive drug and as medicine. The principal psychoactive constituent of marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of hundreds of compounds in the plant. It is and historically has been used as a recreational drug, as a medicine, and in religious ceremonies.

Most countries have laws restricting the use and sale of marijuana, although that in changing in some place, including the United States. In recent years, many states have legalized the controlled medical use in pain and muscle spasm control and to reduce side effects of cancer treatment, such as nausea and vomiting.

A few states have recently legalized the recreational use of marijuana, although the use, cultivation and sale of marijuana is still a crime under federal law.

Other names pot, weed, dope, joint, reefer, Maryjane, 420, smoke, bhang, herb, hash, hashish, ganja, skunk

Methadone

Methadone is a prescription drug, and is part of a group of drugs known as opioids. Opioids are depressant drugs, which means they slow down the messages traveling between the brain and the rest of the body. Methadone is taken as a replacement for heroin and other opioids as part of treatment for dependence on these drugs.

Replacing a drug of dependence with a prescribed drug in this way is known as pharmacotherapy. As well as improving wellbeing by preventing physical withdrawal, pharmacotherapy helps to stabilize the lives of people who are dependent on heroin and other opioids, and to reduce the harms related to drug use. Methadone is also used to relieve pain following heart attacks, trauma and surgery.

Other names Done or ‘the done’.

Opium

Opium is a depressant drug, which means it slows down the messages traveling between your brain and body. Derived from the poppy (Papaver somniferum), it was traditionally cultivated in the Mediterranean and Asia. The Opium Poppy is one of the oldest plants in recorded history, with information dating back to 5,000 BCE.

A milky exudate called latex is collected from the poppy, air dried and manufactured into a brown powder or resin. This latex contains a combination of active chemicals such as morphine and codeine.

Other names Aunti, Aunti Emma, Big O, O, Black pill, Chandu, Chinese Molasses, Dopium, Dream Gun, Fi-Do-Nie, Gee, Guma, Midnight Oil, Zero.

Oxycodone hydrochloride

Oxycodone hydrochloride belongs to a group of medicines called opioid analgesics. It is a depressant drug which means it slows down the messages traveling between the brain and the body. Depressant drugs do not necessarily make a person feel depressed.

Other depressants include alcohol, cannabis and heroin. Oxycodone is most commonly prescribed by doctors to relieve moderate to severe pain. However, there is increasing concern among medical professionals about the risks of using these drugs, particularly when they are used for a long time.

Under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), oxycodone is a Schedule 8 drug. Doctors must follow state and territory laws when prescribing oxycodone and must notify, or receive approval from, the appropriate health authority. Some people misuse oxycodone to become intoxicated, which can result in serious side effects.

Other names
Hillbilly heroin, oxy, OC and O.

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