Parents Informations

Why drug abuse by youth is difficult to prevent

There is simply no guarantee that a parent or anyone else can prevent drug abuse or even drug addiction in a given individual. Despite the best social and economic conditions, religious training, family relations, discipline, and education, some persons will still go ahead and abuse drugs to the point of becoming addicted. Notwithstanding these facts, the best scientific evidence indicates that prevention can be accomplished in most children most of the time. Most methods to prevent drug abuse are fairly simple and can be learned quickly.

Why availability of illegal drugs cannot be stopped

Anything short of a world-wide ban on the growing of the opium poppy, cocoa bush, and marijuana plant will not result in any significant reduction of these drugs in north america. The production of opium and marijuana is almost World-wide. Opium and marijuana plants can be grown in such small garden plots that law enforcement agencies

Find them completely impossible to identify and eradicate. Enough heroin, which is derived from the opium poppy, can be put on the head of a pin to overdose and kill several persons. Enough cocaine or heroin can be put in the heel of a shoe, pocketbook, hatband, or a body cavity to keep a few hundred persons addicted for several weeks. Laboratories that have the capability of making illegal amphetamines and phencyclidine are so simple to construct and take up such small amounts of physical space that the entire laboratory apparatus can be put into a suitcase. Despite the best efforts of customs, border patrol, post office, and other enforcement agencies, it is impossible to completely stem the flow of illegal drugs into north america.

These facts simply mean that we must proceed with prevention of drug abuse on the assumption that availability of drugs will continue and perhaps even Increase. In addition, there is so much money in the sale of Drugs that there is always someone willing to take the Risk to sell them.

Genetic influences

It is clear that abuse of alcohol by some individuals has genetic influence. Although the evidence is less clear for other drugs including nicotine, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, evidence is beginning to accumulate that abuse and dependence upon these drugs may also have some genetic influence. When the term "genetic influence" is used, it means that an individual may be at higher risk or susceptible to abuse alcohol and drugs because of a family trait that is passed from generation to generation. This does not mean that every child born to an alcoholic parent will become an alcoholic, and it does not mean that a child born to a non-alcoholic parent will necessarily not abuse alcohol. It only means genetic influences may make a child more susceptible. The major question to ask about a child's risk for drug abuse is whether any first-degree relatives, including parents, Grandparents, aunts, or uncles, have experienced alcoholism, drug dependence, or mental illness. If so, a parent should acknowledge that alcoholism, and perhaps drug addiction, could occur at a greater rate in their children. There are anecdotal reports that children who are born to families that have a significant amount of mental illness also have a greater risk of alcoholism and drug abuse.

Grade-school children who are at highest risk to become drug abusers

There are now a number of studies indicating that some children have characteristics which are associated with drug abuse when they become adolescents and adults. These children are primarily those who have learning disorders, behaviour problems, and/or exhibit evidence of hyperactivity, now usually called "attention deficit Disorder." Evidence suggests that these children are sometimes born with biochemical defects in the nervous System and that these defects may not only produce problems when they are in grade school, but they make these individuals more prone to use drugs when they become adolescents and young adults.

Grade school children who exhibit hyperactivity, learning disorders, or other abnormal behaviour should be given intensive professional treatment. In particular, it is important that these individuals learn enough in school, at home, and at church to become mature, stable persons.

In recent years a large number of children who were diagnosed as having learning disorders, hyperactivity, or other behaviour problems are now in clinical treatment for cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol abuse. A common problem appears to be that these children did not learn enough in grade school or have their learning disabilities or hyperactivity controlled enough in order to become mature and develop an appropriate amount of self-esteem and respect for their bodies. Based on clinical experience, it is very apparent that these problems in grade school Children have not been taken seriously enough. Parents and teachers expected the child "to grow out of it" only to find that children in their later years severely began to abuse cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, and perhaps other drugs. There has been fear that the treatment of hyperactivity with medical drugs in childhood might somehow make the child more prone to abuse drugs in later life. This has not proven to be the case. Current clinical evidence actually indicates that the reverse may be true. Therefore, I strongly recommend that whatever medical and behavioral treatment is necessary to help the child behave, learn, and function like other children be provided. Additionally, this child should be observed very closely when he/she becomes a teenager for early evidence of drug abuse.

Types of families from which drug abusers come

A number of studies have asked young drug abusers to describe their perception of their family. In general, they Describe their families in negative terms such as: "Uncaring," "unloving," "uncommunicative," "unclose," and "unconcerned." Although these same persons' parents usually disagree with these descriptions, these are common perceptions of drug abusers. There are studies that show that broken families and single parent families have a higher prevalence of drug abuse. This does not mean that a single parent cannot raise a child very well and/or that a single parent's children will automatically abuse drugs. In fact, many single parents raise children who don't use drugs or abuse alcohol.

Primary and secondary prevention

Primary prevention refers to keeping someone from abusing drugs in the first place. Secondary prevention refers to identifying early-stage drug abuse before it becomes severe and to the point of dependence. Although primary prevention is obviously preferable, there are plenty of data and experiences to indicate that early identification Of drug use can lead to abstinence if the user is educated. Anyone interested in prevention needs to understand both types of prevention and attempt to be effective with both.

Things a parent can do to prevent drug abuse by youth

Over the past decade, a number of studies indicate there are some specific child-rearing techniques that appear to be preventive when it comes to abuse of some drugs. Although little has been shown to predictably prevent abuse of alcohol and marijuana, there are some specific things that a parent can do to prevent abuse of heroin, amphetamines, or other "hard" drugs.

Characteristics of youth who abuse hard drugs

Several years ago, a study was done of several thousand young abusers of military age. Compared to control subjects who did not abuse drugs, young men who abused hard drugs had the following characteristics:

Based on these studies, parents should do everything they can to keep a child from smoking before age 15 years. The dosage of nicotine found in a common cigarette (about 1 mg), when taken by a child under the age 15, represents a much greater dose of drug than when taken by a mature adult. This dose is enough to provide a significant degree of intoxication, and learned behaviour to intoxicate oneself by the nicotine route appears extremely deleterious.

Studies also show that drug abusers reported little religious training. Generally, they had attended church or sunday school less than 50 times before age 15.

Practically all of the hard drug users had rarely, if ever, been disciplined by spanking. It is important to point out that there was a small group of subjects who had been Over-disciplined and probably were spanked enough to represent some form of abuse. These individuals had a high rate of drug use.

Some myths about drug abuse prevention

The studies referred to also point out a lot of myths. An important one is that television watching enhances drug use. These studies show that non-drug users watch just as much television as hard-drug users.

Low socio-economic conditions have been associated with drug use. Some studies do show that some forms of drug abuse are higher in poverty communities. On the other hand, many severe drug abusers come from wealthy families, and many poverty-level families raise children who do not become drug abusers. Some of the most affluent countries in the world, such as countries in western europe, have the highest prevalence of drug use of all countries in the world today. In other words, affluence, leisure time, and drug use tend to go hand in Hand.

The influence of peers appears overrated as a cause of drug abuse. While it is true that practically all children and teenagers will be offered drugs, and many teenagers may try a drug like marijuana once or twice, a child who has the right amount of self-esteem, moral values, respect for his/her body, a sound education, and a feeling of self-worth will resist peer pressure to do anything more than experiment with drugs.

Schools are frequently blamed for drug use. There is no evidence that good or bad schools contribute to, or prevent, drug use. On the contrary, most schools want to do everything they can to prevent drug abuse, but society often unrealistically expects schools to substitute for effective parenting.

When drug education should be started

Preschool, or children about age 5 or 6 years old, should be taught the hazards of drugs. There are a number of Studies that show children of this age will change their attitudes about cigarette smoking, alcohol, and other drugs when given appropriate education. Only study conducted clearly shows that children in kindergarten are well aware of many of the complications of nicotine, alcohol, and drug use. Educating grade school children to wear seat belts or brush their teeth appears to be far more effective than educating junior and senior high school students about these behaviours. Many health authorities believe that teaching young children respect for their bodies is a skill needed in order to resist peer pressure to abuse alcohol and drugs when they grew older.


It is impossible to know how effective education is because no one has tracked young children for 20 years or more to compare persons that did not receive health and drug education at a young age with persons who received this Education. While it is unclear if teaching self-esteem, self-worth, ethical and moral values, and motivation at a very young age will prevent drug and alcohol abuse over a lifetime, I highly recommend that it be done. It appears that the earlier age the training, the more likely it will be effective in preventing drug and alcohol abuse. In addition, it is recommended that parents do not allow their children to smoke cigarettes, that parents take their children to sunday school or church of their own choosing, and that parents discipline their children moderately when appropriate.

What young children should be taught to prevent drug abuse


Some high risk indicators of drug abuse

School behaviour problems which indicate high risk

An intervention strategy for high risk children

How to know if a young person is taking drugs

With the widespread abuse of marijuana and cocaine among today's youth, many parents wonder if their child is taking drugs. Although it is impossible to always be 100 percent accurate, there are some signs and symptoms of drug use that are extremely reliable. Parents can use these to obtain a "high index of suspicion."

For purposes of discussion, "youth" refers to anyone between the ages of 13 and 19 years old. When the term "drug" is used, it refers to the illegal drugs: marijuana, cocaine, phencyclidine (pcp), and heroin. It does not refer to alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine.

Why it is so difficult to recognize drug abuse

Parents may have great difficulty in recognizing when a youth is taking drugs because they are confused about what are "acute" and what are "chronic" drug effects. Acute drug effects are those that result from recent, usually within a few hours, ingestion of a drug. Drinking Too much alcohol causes obvious symptoms that we all recognize: slurred speech and a staggering gait. The drugs that are commonly used by youth may not cause obvious signs of intoxication. Therefore, acute drug use signs require explanation. Recognition of acute signs of drug use can be extremely helpful in identifying early use.

Parents, teachers, coaches, and other persons not educated in drug abuse identification will usually not suspect drug use until it is chronic (continuing for a long time). Symptoms that cause suspicion are usually due to the effects of long-term drug use. The major long-term effects that cause one to be suspicious are those that affect the internal time clock of the brain and those that affect motivation.

A third way to confirm drug use is to identify drug paraphernalia and other evidence relating to the actual mechanism as to how the drug is used. For example,phencyclidine (pcp) is almost always smoked on brown cigarettes known as "sherms" and cocaine may be sniffed from a small spoon.

Which illicit drugs are used by youth

The two most common illicit drugs used by youth today are marijuana and cocaine. The most recent nationwide survey by the national institute on drug abuse shows that about 30 percent of high school seniors report they have used marijuana within the past 30 days. Approximately 16 percent say they have used cocaine before graduating from high school. Phencyclidine (pcp) is commonly used in some communities throughout the united states, but it is seldom or not used at all in other communities. Other drugs that are sometimes used are amphetamines and heroin. Some youth may use toluene, which is the substance found in solvents, glue, and paint thinner. Lysergic acid diethylamide (lsd) is rarely used today, although some communities in the united states have experienced a small, recent upsurge in its use. Other drugs that teenagers may attempt to use from time to time Include mushrooms and clove cigarettes.

Identification of marijuana, pcp, and cocaine use should be the primary focus where youth are concerned. The other drugs mentioned above may be used occasionally, but they are usually secondary drugs that are used only after a teenager has considerable experiences with marijuana.

Youth most likely to suspect

Cigarette smoking is the single biggest indicator that a youth may be using illegal drugs. In the adult population over age 19 years, approximately one-third smoke cigarettes and, of these one-third, about 25 percent of these persons abuse drugs and/or alcohol. This figure is even higher for youth. Over 99 percent of heroin users smoke cigarettes. In my experience, well over 80 percent of pcp and amphetamine users smoke cigarettes. Although some marijuana and cocaine users do not smoke cigarettes, the percentage of cigarette smokers who are between 13 and 19 years of age and who use other illegal

Drugs is very high (probably about 50 percent).

One reason a youth who smokes cigarettes is a likely candidate to use illegal drugs is because he/she is already knowledgeable about inhaling and tolerant to the heat irritation produced by ordinary cigarettes. Physically and psychologically, it is a short step from cigarette smoking to marijuana or cocaine inhalation.

Why make a diagnosis of drug abuse

A parent should try to recognize drug use by their teenagers as soon as possible. Many young persons will simply quit using drugs once they are told that someone else suspects they are using. Drug-using youth are often surprised if told their internal time clock, motivation in school, or physical appearance has changed, and that the signs of drug use have become obvious. Just the information that other people recognize this can be enough of a stimulus and incentive to stop further use. In the event that professional treatment in the way of Counselling or medical intervention is required, such treatment will be far more effective if it is begun at an early stage, and prior to the time that a youth becomes addicted or so dependent that permanent neuro-chemical damage has occurred. In summary, diagnosis of drug use should occur in the early stages of use in order to protect youths' ability to mature, obtain an education, and prevent long-term or permanent neuro-chemical abnormalities from occurring.

Physical signs of acute drug use

The major signs of acute drug use can usually be recognized by simply looking at the face of the individual. For example, the pupil will dilate above 6.5 millimetres in diameter with acute cocaine use, and the individual may sniff a great deal. The typical red or "bloodshot" eye frequently occurs with marijuana and sometimes with cocaine or pcp use. Other acute effects which a parent might observe are slowed speech, confused thinking, Inability to pay attention, and sleepiness at inappropriate times.

Physical signs of chronic and covert drug use

The chronic and covert user of marijuana and cocaine will usually display physical signs which are basically

Complications of drug use. The signs include irritation or infections of the respiratory tract, improper eating habits, and skin problems. Because these drugs decrease the appetite, as well as motivation to eat and wash properly, weight loss and skin color may change. For an unknown reason, these drugs tend to cause the skin to be hyperactive and itch a great deal, particularly with chronic cocaine use. This may cause excessive scratching resulting in sores and scabbing. The poor hygiene that results from a lack of motivation to properly care for the body may worsen acne, dandruff, or other common skin conditions that normal nutrition and proper skin care will keep under control.

Chronic drug effects

The effects that occur with chronic drug use are easier for a parent, coach, or teacher to associate with drug use than the effects that occur as a result of acute use. Even if a youth uses marijuana as infrequently as twice a week, he/she will probably show some signs of use after a period of time. Any persistent use of cocaine or phencyclidine will probably also produce some chronic signs. The most common chronic effects are time distortion, lack of motivation, and loss of accurate self-perceptions about school, athletics, or job performance.

Time distortion

Chronic use of marijuana and most other illegal drugs alters the brain chemistry so that normal time patterns are not maintained. To illustrate, the normal person tends to know when three meals per day should be eaten, when to go to sleep at night, when to take a 15-minute coffee break, or when to leave for school or work to Arrive on time. A youth whose internal time clock has been disturbed by chronic drug use will have distorted behaviours, including inability to keep appointments and meet time deadlines. They will also stay up late at night.

Motivation disturbances

In addition to a disruption of the brain chemicals that allow one to keep time, other chemicals in the brain are required to keep one motivated to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Lack of motivation exhibits itself in a number of rather typical ways. Particularly affected are such common motivations, such as eating a proper diet, maintaining normal hygiene, and treating one's fellow man in a civil and decent manner.

Abnormal self-perception of job or school performance

Cocaine, marijuana, and pcp may markedly impair a person's job or school performance. For unknown reasons, however, the drug user may have little or no Accurate perception of this. They may insist that they are "doing fine" and that they do not deserve criticism in spite of failing grades or poor athletic or job performance. Unfortunately, this loss of accurate perception of self-performance may persist after drug use is stopped.

Summary of physical and behaviour indications to suggest drug abuse

What to do after you suspect drug abuse by a young person

The worst thing to do

The worst thing to do is to do nothing because a young person may have little time left in which to continue drug use without risking permanent neurological changes. If you suspect drug use by your child, it is important to take action that will either confirm or discount your suspicions.

Informing the suspected user

Step one is to find a quiet, uninterrupted time to inform the drug user of your suspicion. There is one common downfall when most persons do this. That is to fail to tell the drug user the precise reasons drug use is suspected. In other words, don't simply say, "i think you are using drugs." Say, "here is a list of specific reasons that make me think you are using drugs." Then read the list. Be specific and include all the behaviour and physical symptoms that make you suspicious.

What if your child denies drug use?

If this occurs, do two things:

What if your child admits drug use?

First, if your child admits drug use:

If the drug is:


Recommended program to eliminate drug use

The following is a recommended program to ensure that young persons living at home do not continue to use drugs once your suspicions of use have been confirmed.

Strategies if drug use continues

If a child living at home persists in drug use:

Urine testing:

Only guarantee of abstinence

New technology to detect drug use

Sophisticated, low-cost technology to identify abusable drugs in urine became available in about 1984 and has Radically changed the approach to drug abuse identification, prevention, and treatment. For example, prior to 1985, drug-using youth of all ages might be referred to professional treatment. Today, with urine testing, professional assistance is not always necessary.

Only guarantee of abstinence

"There is no possible way to guarantee drug abstinence except by urine testing." Users of illegal drugs may fabricate, deny, and be so tolerant that they show no physical evidence of drug use. Due to these facts, parents, teachers, coaches, employers, and other persons who desire abstinence in someone else must monitor drug use by urine tests.

Treatment of youth with drug dependence

Misconceptions about treatment

There are some major misconceptions about the treatment of drug dependence that are costing many youth their life Potential and not getting them off drugs. Some are listed here.

Recommendations for treatment

How to fail the treatment

The fundamental aspects of treatment are:

The biggest mistake

The biggest mistake in treatment is that the drug user, as well as his or her parents, coach, teacher, or employer, gets very excited when the user first quits. Most drug users, however, relapse after being abstinent for about 10 to 16 weeks. The first time for any jubilation after someone quits is when they have been abstinent for 120 days without a single drug usage. The second "jubilation point" is 12 months clean. No one should be considered "safe" until he/she has been abstinent five years. It is wise to have a "relapse plan" so that a user will rapidly get off drugs when/if relapse occurs.

Some things to tell youth about drug use

Why bother to talk to youth

There is some reluctance on the part of parents, teachers, physicians, and ministers to talk to youth about drugs. And with some justification. Experience in the past decade or so shows that youth have pretty well, as a group, shut out any anti-drug messages. And some studies have indicated that educating teens is generally a waste of time since they are too old to be influenced. Today's youths, however, appear to be a "new breed" in that they want to know about drugs and alcohol and how these substances will affect them.

Some questions commonly asked by youth

Here are a number of questions which young persons frequently ask.

Question #1 will marijuana ever be legalized?


I seriously doubt it. I know of no responsible medical authority who now recommends legalization since new research shows that marijuana stays in the body for several days and, therefore, may have very negative effects over time.

Question #2 are employers and sports teams really doing urine testing?


Yes, it is increasing all the time. Youth of today must be prepared to urine test if they plan to enter some occupations.

Question #3 why do some of my friends who use marijuana start looking bad and their school performance drops?


They may start looking bad and their grades may drop because of the accumulation of marijuana in the body. A Single dose of marijuana will last from five to eight days. A regular user will, therefore, accumulate marijuana in the fatty tissues. Most medical authorities believe that it is the accumulation of marijuana in the body that produces a lack of motivation to take care of one's appearance, to keep one's grades up, and to effectively interact with family and friends.

Question #4 how can I tell if marijuana is hurting me or a friend?


Try to stop completely for ten days. If you or your friend cannot totally stop (not even one inhalation from a joint) for ten days, it means that you or your friend is probably addicted or dependent. It is time to get medical help!

Question #5 how long does it take to recover or return to normal after being on marijuana?


Marijuana clears the blood after about ten days and Clears the urine after about 30 days. The mind begins to think clearly after two to six weeks. Many marijuana users claim they do not feel totally normal until they have been off for about six months.

Question #6 how can I help a friend who is on drugs?


Do the following:

Question #7 I am going with someone who has been on drugs. Should I get serious about them?


Very few ex-drug users are able to be good husbands or wives. I recommend you go together for two years before you get married. Make sure the other person has been off drugs for at least two years, has money in the bank, is working (school attendance does not count; ex-drug users can usually handle school, but not a regular job), has all legal obligations settled; and has shown you that he/she has sound mental temperament. Be aware that many drug users have violent tempers.

Question #8 does marijuana hurt my sex organs, or will it hurt my chances of having a normal baby?


In some persons, marijuana causes decreases in the body's sex hormones and they do not return to normal unless marijuana is totally stopped. It is uncertain whether marijuana causes birth defects, but there are more and More studies which suggest this is possible.

Question #9 are the famous sports figures who have been addicted going to be okay?


It is doubtful in most cases. I estimate that only 10 to 20 percent of the famous athletes who have been addicted will be able to recover, return to normal playing, and sustain playing without relapsing or having excessive injuries due to weakening of nerves and muscles by the drugs.

Question #10 how can I help keep other youth from using?


Educate them. A message that comes from a peer can be powerful. Get accurate literature on drugs and spread the knowledge. Let other youth know that one does not have to take drugs to be part of the "in-crowd."

Marijuana information

What is marijuana?

Marijuana is made from dried parts of the plant, cannabis sativa. Hashish is a gum-like substance that comes from the flower.

How is it consumed?

It is usually consumed by smoking a marijuana cigarette or "joint."

How often is it taken?

Most marijuana users smoke every few days, on weekends, or at parties. Some persons are habituated in that they like to smoke it on a regular schedule such as once per day or once every other day. A few persons become so dependent they smoke it every two to four hours.

Usual amount taken

The amount is extremely variable because marijuana is

Purchased from the illicit market. Since the strength is Unknown, many unwanted reactions occur.

Acute or immediate effect

The immediate effect is a feeling of euphoria or "high" with considerable tranquillization/relaxation effect.

Duration of action

Immediate or acute effect or euphoria lasts about two hours. The primary compound that produces euphoria is tetrahydrocannabinol (thc). This compound changes to carboxy thc and dydroxy thc, and these compounds remain in the bloodstream for five to eight days. They also are trapped in fatty tissues for this period of time and probably longer. Interestingly, carboxy thc and hydroxy thc are deceiving to the user as they do not produce euphoria but they do produce continuous effects on the nervous system.

Long-acting secondary compounds

Carboxy thc and hydroxy thc will likely accumulate in the fat, plasma, and bloodstream if marijuana is used as infrequently as once or twice per week. These compounds Last five to eight days after a single dose.

Laboratory tests for marijuana use

Recently developed urine tests are becoming widely used for detection. They are very accurate. Marijuana can be found in the urine for as long as 30 days after someone has used it.

Signs of acute impairment

There may be considerable impairment, particularly in an inexperienced user:

Complications with chronic user

Low grade constant intoxication may produce a lack a motivation, paranoia, irrationalization, poor hygiene, loss of interest in school or work, alienation from society, respiratory problems, or sinusitis and bronchitis, and possible effects on hormones, liver, immune system, and brain. Cancer has not yet been proven to occur in humans, but studies indicate that marijuana has some cancer potential.

Common complications of chronic use are:

Effects of combining marijuana with alcohol and other drugs

Alcohol and other drugs multiply the impairment caused by marijuana, particularly in teenagers and other inexperienced users. Combinations of drugs commonly cause auto accidents.

Changes in brain chemistry

Recent studies show that marijuana causes changes in brain chemistry. In particular, the brain chemicals that are necessary for stimulation and stress control are affected.

How to recognize a marijuana abuser

Only a blood or urine test will definitely diagnose marijuana use. However, you should suspect marijuana use if you observe any of the following:

Common social problems associated with marijuana use

Effects on passive bystanders

Persons in the same area with a smoker may inhale the drug and become intoxicated.

Marijuana addiction

The modern definition of an addict is someone who keeps a minimal quantity of drug in his/her bloodstream at all times. Many persons now use marijuana often enough to accomplish this. Some marijuana addicts use it as often as every one to four hours. Others use it two or three times per week and are unable to stop without medical assistance. The more potent marijuana now sold in the united states has led to increasing numbers of marijuana Addicts who seek medical withdrawal.

Common withdrawal symptoms

Marijuana addicts report the following symptoms when they stop using: aching, headache, dizziness, irritability, insomnia, nausea, loss of appetite, depression, and craving for marijuana. Symptoms gradually diminish after the first three weeks.

Treatments for withdrawal from marijuana use

The marijuana user who uses less often than once per week is probably not addicted. To totally stop, this infrequent user must usually solve personal problems related to stress, peers, family, interpersonal relations, motivation, self-esteem, and/or lifestyle. Persons who use marijuana one time per week or more often may actually be addicted since the secondary compounds remain in the body for several days. Consequently, these persons may require professional medical assistance to totally Eliminate the drug from the bloodstream and help to solve personal problems. The need for treatment has become so great that special marijuana treatment programs are being established in some communities. A marijuana user should be urine tested every week for at least several months following withdrawal to detect any possible relapse.


Relapse is very common. Of persons who have been addicted to marijuana off and on for over ten years, many switch and become dependent on alcohol.

Cocaine information

What is cocaine?

Cocaine is a white powder extracted from leaves of the cocoa plant, which grows primarily in south america.

How is it consumed?

How often is it taken?

Most cocaine users inhale every few days, on weekends, or at parties. Some persons are habituated in that they like to use it on a regular schedule, such as once per day or once every other day. A few persons become so dependent they smoke it every two to four hours. Cocaine users on a binge may take it every few minutes.

Usual amount taken

Illicit use is extremely variable. I estimate that each dose ranges from 20 to 100 mg. Average potency is about 15 to 30 percent.

Acute or immediate effect

A "rush" or "flash" of intense euphoria lasts 15 to 30 minutes with lesser euphoria for up to three to four hours. Unless a person is tolerant to cocaine, pupils dilate, speech is rapid, and there is excitation.

Duration of action

Duration of action averages two to four hours depending on the dose taken.

Long-acting secondary compounds

None have been identified.

Laboratory tests for cocaine use

Laboratory tests can detect cocaine in the urine for about 36 hours following usage. It can be found in small quantities in the blood for as long as 6 to 12 hours after someone has used it.

Signs of impairment

The nervous system is accelerated or stimulated at low doses. This produces abnormal nervous system function while accompanied by euphoria. Short-term use affects the ability to drive a car, to do complex mental tasks, and to perform precise muscle functions. High doses may cause sedation.

Complications with chronic use

Chronic use may produce severe impairments.

Effects of combining cocaine with alcohol and other drugs

Alcohol and other drugs multiply the impairment caused by cocaine, particularly in teenagers and other inexperienced users. Combinations of drugs commonly cause auto accidents.

Changes in brain chemistry

Studies show that chronic cocaine use may deplete the brain of the chemicals, norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, and produce changes in brain chemistry.

Common social problems associated with cocaine use

Some problems are often devastating to the chronic cocaine user. These problems include:

Recognizing a cocaine abuser

Only a blood or urine test will definitely diagnose cocaine use. However, you should suspect cocaine use if you observe any of the following:

Effects on passive bystanders

There are no known effects on bystanders.

Cocaine addiction

Using the modern definition of an addict as someone who keeps a minimal quantity of drug in his/her bloodstream at all times, addiction to cocaine does occur. Cocaine addicts take it a minimum of four times per day in an effort constantly to keep the drug in their bloodstream.

Common withdrawal symptoms

Cocaine addicts report the following symptoms when they stop using:

Treatments for cocaine use

The cocaine user who uses less often than once per day is probably not addicted. To totally stop, this infrequent user must usually solve personal problems related to

Stress, peers, family, interpersonal relations, motivation, self-esteem, or lifestyle. Persons who use cocaine several times per day may require medical assistance to stop. The need for treatment has become so great that special cocaine treatment programs are being established in some communities. A cocaine user should be urine-tested every week for at least four months following withdrawal to detect any possible relapse.


Relapse is very common. Many users switch to alcohol abuse.

Phencyclidine (pcp) information

What is phencyclidine (pcp)?

Pcp is a chemical which can be cheaply made in clandestine laboratories.

How is it consumed?

Pcp is usually smoked on a cigarette (usually called a "sherm"). Sometimes it is sniffed or injected.

How often is it taken?

Most pcp users smoke every few days, on weekends, or at parties. Some persons are habituated in that they like to smoke it on a regular schedule such as once per day or once every other day. A few persons become so dependent they smoke it every two to four hours.

Usual amount taken

It is extremely variable because pcp is purchased from the Illicit market. Since the strength is unknown, many unwanted reactions occur.

Acute or immediate effect

The immediate effect is euphoria or "high" for three to four hours with a combined feeling of stimulation and tranquillization.

Duration of action

The immediate effect is usually three to four hours but it can last 12 to 14 hours. Longer lasting effects may occur due to secondary compounds of pcp that may stay in the body for a long period.

Long-acting secondary compounds

Pcp converts to other secondary compounds in the body. Some of these may stay in body fat for several days. Although not proven at this time, some authorities believe they may even "leak" out of the fat and cause a reaction Just as if the person had taken pcp again.

Laboratory tests for pcp use

Pcp can usually be found in the urine for about 48 to 72 hours after usage. It can also be detected by blood test.

Signs of impairment

Unless a person is tolerant to pcp, there is almost always inability to properly drive or perform at work or school. Pcp may also produce toxic reactions with hallucinations, delusions, memory loss, and muscle rigidity. Persons under the influence of pcp may become violent. Pcp also causes a hyperthermic or overheated reaction which compels the user to shed clothing and soak in cold water. Several drownings have resulted from this effect.

Complications with chronic use individuals

Effects combining pcp with alcohol and other drugs

Alcohol and other drugs multiply the impairment caused by pcp, particularly in teenagers and other inexperienced users. Combinations of drugs commonly cause auto accidents.

Changes in brain chemistry

Animal studies show that pcp may markedly alter brain chemicals.

Common social problems of pcp use include:

Recognizing a pcp user

Only a blood or urine test will definitely diagnose pcp use. However, you should suspect pcp use if you observe any of the following:

Effects on passive bystanders

A bystander may unknowingly inhale pcp. It has never been proven, however, that pcp can cause any permanent damage if exposure was unintended, since dosages in these cases are usually very low.

Pcp addiction

The modern definition of an addict is someone who keeps a minimal quantity of drug in his/her bloodstream at all times. Persons who use pcp at least once per day can accomplish this.

Common withdrawal symptoms

Pcp addicts report the following symptoms when they stop using: aching, headache, dizziness, irritability, insomnia, tremor, nausea, loss of appetite, depression, and craving for pcp. Symptoms usually last four to six weeks, although most symptoms are gone after the first three weeks.

Treatments for withdrawal from pcp use

The pcp user who uses less often than twice per week is probably not addicted. To totally stop, this infrequent user must usually solve personal problems related to stress, peers, family, interpersonal relations, motivation, self-esteem, or lifestyle. Persons who use pcp one time per day or more often are likely addicted. Consequently, these persons may require professional medical assistance to eliminate the drug totally from the bloodstream plus help to solve personal problems. The need for treatment has become so great that special pcp treatment programs Are being established in some communities. A pcp user should be urine-tested every week for at least four months following withdrawal to detect any possible relapse.


Relapse is very common. Some users switch to cocaine or heroin or become alcoholic.

A plan for achieving schools without drugs





The foregoing are excerpts from an article by forest s. Tennant, jr., m.d., dr. p.h., entitled "how to identify, prevent, and guide treatment of drug abuse by youth". It is made available by the international narcotic enforcement officers association of albany, new york.

Self-test to determine if your child is taking drugs


Ask yourself each of the following questions to determine if you should be highly suspicious that your child may be taking drugs. Interpretation is attached.

1. Does your child eat three meals per day at the normal eating times?

Yes no

2. Does your child make it to school on time practically every day?

Yes no

3. Does your child voluntarily go to bed on weekdays by 11:00 p.m.?

Yes no

4. Can you easily awaken your child in the morning to get him/her ready for school?

Yes no

5. Does your child meet the curfews you set the vast majority of the time?

Yes no

6. Is your child's weight holding steady or slightly increasing?

Yes no

7. Does your child comb his or her hair every morning?

Yes no

8. Does your child brush his or her teeth at least morning and evening?

Yes no

9. Does your child attend church or sunday school at least once a month?

Yes no

10. Does your child invite friends to the house whose behaviour is open and normal?

Yes no

11. Has your child resisted the temptation to begin cigarette smoking?

Yes no

12. Does your child have a good attention span?

Yes no

13. Does your child usually mind when you ask him or her to help with the household chores?

Yes no

14. Does your child take care to appear neat and clean?

Yes no

15. Does your child frequently like to play rock music after midnight?

Yes no

16. Does your child play "heavy metal" music?

Yes no

17. Has your child's acne worsened in the past 90 days?

Yes no

18. Has your child lost interest in a school activity he/she used to enjoy, such as band, sports, or clubs?

Yes no

19. Is your child having trouble getting along with teachers, coaches, or friends?

Yes no

20. Is your child having trouble getting along with you or other members of the family?

Yes no

21. Has your child lost interest in the clothes that he/she wears or changed the type of clothing worn (for example, "dressing down")?

Yes no

22. Has your child suddenly had a drop in grades?

Yes no

23. Has your child had over three colds, sinus infections, or other respiratory ailments in the past year?

Yes no

24. Does your child sniff a great deal or have a chronic reddened appearance under the nose?

Yes no

25. Does your child smoke a brown type cigarette?

Yes no

26. Has your child failed to come home at night on more than one occasion during the past 90 days?

Yes no

27. Does your child complain that a lot of people don't see things his or her way?

Yes no

28. Does your child constantly complain that people, including the family, don't understand him/her?

Yes no

29. Has your child had more than two motor vehicle accidents or other traffic violations in the past year?

Yes no

Interpretation of test

To suspect drug use

Questions 1 through 14:

A. Answer no to three or less:

drug abuse doubtful

B. Answer no to four to six:

drug abuse very likely

C. Answer no to seven or more:

drug abuse almost certain

Questions 15 through 29:

A. Answer yes to three or less:

drug abuse doubtful

B. Answer yes to four to six:

drug abuse very likely

C. Answer yes to seven or more:

drug abuse almost certain