The Dangers of Recreational Drug Use
The recent decriminalization of marijuana in Washington state and Colorado has drawn attention to the power of the young voter. Young voters are deeply concerned with personal freedoms. It may be important, however, to spend some time educating younger voters about the inherent dangers of some freedoms – recreational drug use being one of them. Contrary to what many young people may imagine, using some drugs even just occasionally for recreational purposes can pose an immediate threat to the health and life of a person.
With the attention focused on marijuana and prescription drugs of late, it easy to overlook the fact that some people still choose to abuse cocaine as a recreational drug. Not so many years ago the headlines were regularly taken over by stories of otherwise healthy athletes and professional people who suddenly dropped over dead because of recreational cocaine use. Today’s young voters wouldn’t remember those cautionary tales. It may be more helpful therefore to explain medically the risks of casual cocaine use.
In a study which examined the effects of cocaine use, researchers documented the physiological responses to cocaine which may explain why the heart attack rate is so much higher for those who use the drug. For study purposes, 14 subjects were given equivalent amounts of cocaine relative to their body weights. For every subject there was no prior history of cocaine use, so that the results provided data on first time cocaine use.
After receiving the cocaine, the researchers tracked heart rates and chemical changes in the blood for a period of two hours. During that time subjects underwent a gentle rise in heart rate but a significant rise in blood viscosity. This means that even with first time use, the risk of blood clot rose dramatically. This demonstrated how a single use of cocaine could result in a heart attack.
Another study examined recreational use of the street drug ecstasy. For this study participants were divided into three groups: non-drug users, those who used ecstasy on a regular basis, and those who used ecstasy and marijuana regularly. Each group was administered a series of tests designed to measure memory, attention span, mental alertness and IQ.
The study found that even small amounts of ecstasy can produce irreparable harm to the brain’s ability to function normally. The group who used ecstasy alone was found to be just as alert as the other two groups but scored far poorer in measures of ability to remember, problem solve, think logically and learn in general. Researchers discovered an inverse relationship between ecstasy and marijuana use and brain functionality. In other words, the study showed that the greater the use of ecstasy and marijuana the lower the scores in all areas other than alertness.
The notion that these and other drugs can be used recreationally without possible risks is not true. Drugs are categorized as controlled substances or named as illegal precisely because they are powerful substances which pose serious physical and psychological dangers to those who use them even occasionally.