Do all drugs have the potential be addictive?

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Answered by: Kim, An Expert in the Addictions - General Category
Drugs can be categorized into 3 classes: Uppers, downers, and all arounders. Uppers are drugs that cause stimulation in the central nervous system. In other words, it speeds up a persons heart rate, pulse, and causes a sense of happiness and a feeling of energy. Examples of stimulants are cocaine, crack, and methamphetamines. A downer causes a depression in the central nervous system, causing a person to feel relaxed. Examples of downers are alcohol, heroin, and pain pills. An all arounder can cause varied effects, however it is mostly associated with dissociative drugs. A dissociative drug is a drug that causes mild to severe hallucinations. Examples of dissociative drugs are marijuana, LSD, PCP and Ketamine.

Dissociative drugs are described as any drug that distorts perceptions of sound, sight, taste or touch. A person is able to have visual hallucinations where they are able to see things or objects that are not really there. For an example, a person under the influence of hallucinogens may see monsters coming out of the wall or ground. A person using a dissociative drug may see something that is really there, but in a distorted manner.

For example, they may see a chair that is really in the corner, but the user sees the chair as 10 feet tall with stairs. They see it in a distorted fashion. Dissociative drugs can also cause feelings of detachment to reality. Marijuana is categorized as an all arounder due to the fact that it possess THC as the active ingredient. THC is known to be a mild hallucinogen. While a person will feel relaxed under the influence of marijuana, they will also experience mild hallucinations such as objects being brighter, louder or situations that are not usually experienced as funny to become funny.

All drugs have the potential to be addictive. In the past, there were many that believed that marijuana was not addictive. We now know that this is not correct. All drugs have the potential for addiction, including marijuana. The new trend of drug is one that is available in tobacco or head shops to anyone over the age of 18. There are many concerns, including the high itself and the lack of research into the known side effects. Some of these drugs being sold are Spice, Kush and Sense. Many have tried these products in order to avoid testing positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and still obtain a high.

Others believe that because the product is legal, it is safe way to get high. These "legal" drugs are producing a high and creating addicts to chemicals that addiction counselors are just now beginning to understand the basic effects. The overall long term effects are not known. The effects that the user is looking for mirrors a downer or all arounder. There is relaxation noted and hallucinogen effects, similar to that type of high experienced by smoking marijuana.

While there continues to be effort in identifying the compounds in these products, it may be many years before we have a better understanding and ability to treat the addictions that occur due to the use. In addition, the government continues efforts to ban the sale of these drugs, but the companies that produce them alter the ingredients and place them back on the market. It is important to teach those using the products of the potential harm that is assumed to be associated with use. These drugs still have a potential to be addictive.

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