Drugs O’Connor Forensics
Drug • Defined as a natural or synthetic substance that is used to produce physiological or psychological effects in humans or other animals. • Criminalists are concerned with a small number of drugs, mostly illicit- that are commonly used for their intoxication effects.
Some common problem drugs • Marijuana (most widely used illicit drug) • Alcohol- (legal to consume, but not to drive under influence of) • Ecstasy • Cocaine • Heroin • Crack • GHB
Drug Use Has Grown in US • It used to be considered a problem of members of the lower socioeconomic ladder. • We now know it cuts across all social and ethnic classes of society. • As of 2008 it was estimated that 23 million people in the US use illicit drugs.
Terms to know • Illicit- Breaking social norms; Unlawful • Depressant- is a chemical agent that diminishes the function or activity of a specific part of the body. The term is used in particular with regard to the central nervous system. • Stimulant- A class of drugs that enhance brain activity. Prescription stimulants were used historically to treat asthma, obesity, neurological disorders, & a variety of other ailments, before their potential for abuse and addiction became apparent.
Crime Evidence • 75% of evidence evaluated in crime labs in the US is drug related. • New crime labs have been built and old ones expanded to deal with the case loads
Drug Dependence • Long recognized by society is generally looked at in two ways: • Psychological dependence • Physical dependence.
Psychological Dependence • Many reasons behind drug use • Addicts are often functioning human beings, not just social dropouts. • Whatever the reason for a persons use, underlying psychological needs & a desire to fulfill them create a conditioned pattern of drug abuse. • Take drugs for perceived emotional “well- being” they believe they need them to feel happy, cope, relax, etc.
Impact varies by type of drug and individuals who use them. • Alcohol, heroin, amphetamines, barbiturates, & cocaine generally result in a high involvement of psychological dependence. • (there is social use of alcohol, but an addict is dependent on it to deal with life’s stresses & anxieties.)
Physical Dependence • A physiological change that produces the need for continued use. • Abstaining from the drug will cause severe physical illness called withdrawal sickness or abstinence syndrome in addicts. • Taking more drugs to avoid the symptoms of withdrawal sickness proves physical dependence.
Withdrawal Sickness Symptoms • Body chills • Vomiting • Stomach cramps • Convulsions • Insomnia • Pain • hallucinations
Strong physical addictions • Alcohol, heroin, & barbiturates show strong levels of physical dependence.
Societal Aspects of Drug Use • More pre-occupied an individual is with the drug (addicted) the more they will allow personal health, economic relationships, & family obligations to suffer. • This leads to serious implications for the public’s safety, health & welfare.
Good or Bad Drug • Laws governing drugs are determined by weighing the beneficial aspects of the drug against the ultimate harm its abuse will do to the individual & society as a whole. • Tobacco & coffee are addictive, but do not cause dangerous societal effects in a high enough degree to require laws prohibiting them.
Faces of Drug Use • Faces of Meth | Meth Photos | Effects of Meth
Types of Drugs • Narcotics- substances that relieve pain or produce sleep. • Opiates- painkiller derived from opium, a gummy, milky juice exuded through a small cut made in the unripe pod of an Asian Poppy. (examples: heroin, morphine) • Synthetic Opiates- not from plant, but man made to have similar effects as opiates. (example: methadone)
Hallucinogens • Are drugs that cause marked alterations in normal thought processes, perceptions, and moods. (Marijuana, LSD)
Depressants • are psychoactive drugs that temporarily reduce the function or activity of a specific part of the body or brain. Examples of these kinds of effects may include sedation and hypotension. Due to their effects typically having a "down" quality to them, depressants are also occasionally referred to as "downers". • effects may include: cognitive/memory impairment, dissociation, muscle relaxation, lowered blood pressure/heart rate, respiratory depression, anesthesia, and anticonvulsant effects. Some are also capable of inducing feelings of euphoria.
Common Drugs • Cannabis- commonly referred to as Marijuana. The narcotic is also known as; Pot, Reefer, Grass, Weed, Herb, Joint, Doobie, Blunt, Chronic, Skunk Weed, etc…It can have a depressant effect in low doses, but can have a hallucinatory effect in moderate to high dosage. • Ecstasy- Commonly referred to as; "X, XTC, Zen, M, Beans, Rolls.." It is a powerful stimulant psychedelic drug related to methamphetamine.
G.H.B.- Commonly referred to as "Grievous Bodily Harm", the drug Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid. It depresses the central nervous system, & it is often abused for euphoric, sedative & anabolic effects. GHB is odorless & nearly tasteless. GHB has reportedly been used in cases of date rape. Coma & seizures can occur following abuse of GHB. • COCAINE- Commonly referred to as; "Coke, nose candy, powder, blow, snow…" Cocaine is a naturally occurring stimulant found in the coca bush plant; it is processed into cocaine by hydrochloride; generally in a white or off-white color. Users can overdose due to the constriction of blood vessels & increased heart rate, often causes heart failure.
L.S.D.-is the most common hallucinogen. It is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. It’s commonly referred to as "acid," is sold on the street in tablets, capsules, or occasionally in liquid form. It is odorless and colorless, with a slightly bitter taste, & is usually taken by mouth. LSD is usually sold as "blotter acid", where the drug is imprinted on small, colorful sheets of paper. • CRACK COCAINE- is commonly referred to as; "Rock, Parley, Slab, Cookie, Piece…." The cocaine is boiled down in water using a combination of baking soda to remove the impurities. This produces rock like pieces that are smoked with homemade glass pipes, base pipes, or bent aluminum cans. Crack cocaine is even more addicting than cocaine.
HEROIN- Commonly referred to as; "Smack, Junk, Powder, Scag, Brownstone, China…" It was once thought to be the answer for a non addictive solution to morphine addiction, but turned out to be the one of the most highly addictive drugs of all. Ranging in color from white, brown, & black, heroin has traditionally been injected. Heroin is much more potent today that in previous years & just as dangerous & addictive. • SPECIAL K- is ketamine hydrochloride, a drug widely used as an animal tranquilizer by vets in pet surgery. Normally found in injectable form, it is converted into a powder & re-packaged in small zip lock bags or capsules. It is a powerful hallucinogen. Ketamine is generally snorted but is sometimes sprinkled on tobacco or marijuana & smoked. Special K is frequently used in combination with other drugs, such as Ecstasy, heroin & cocaine.