Question: I’ve heard a lot recently about teenagers taking drugs like Ecstasy at parties. I have a teenager. How would I know if he had been trying Ecstasy?
There is no easy or definite way in which to determine if someone is using Ecstasy unless a specific blood test is performed. From a parent’s point of view, it is almost impossible, as the symptoms of its use could also be explained by the variable moodiness of the average teenager.
The symptoms of Ecstasy are rapid in onset and brief in duration. The rapid onset explains its popularity as the user gets a high quickly after taking the tablet. The effects are increased if used with alcohol, as this increases its rate of absorption, and this also explains the fatalities that can occur. Serious adverse effects result in an irregular heart beat that may become so serious that a heart attack and death occurs. Most users experience a period of increased perception of sounds, sights and smells that makes the world seem a more exciting place. It can also result in sexual disinheriting, hallucinations and general euphoria.
After the high has worn off the user may be moody, drowsy, have red and sore eyes, be nauseated and vomit, and have poor coordination. Teenagers need to be made aware of the dangers of the use of Ecstasy but parents are unlikely to be able to detect specifically if their child is using the drug unless they observe them during the hour or so that the drug is active after its use.
Question: Where does heroin come from? Does it have any medical uses?
Heroin is refined from the milky juice of the opium poppy, which is grown legally for medical purposes in north-eastern Tasmania. Most illegal supplies reaching this country originate in Afghanistan and south-east Asia, particularly northern Thailand and Burma. Heroin is one of the most addictive substances known.
Codeine, pethidine, morphine and oxycodone are all derived from heroin and can be abused if taken regularly or excessively. These substances are collectively called narcotics. Codeine and oxycodone are found in low doses in many readily available pain-killers, diarrhea medications and cough mixtures. Codeine in higher doses, along with pethidine and morphine, are used by doctors as tablets or injections to relieve severe pain after operations, in cancer patients, and in other similar situations.