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The Psychological, Physiological, and Neurological effects of Marijuana and Cocaine Use in Humans.


Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Feb 19, 2009   #1
I'm writing a 3 page term paper, not bad because I'm still in second year. I'm sure it'll get worse.

So far I've managed an introduction/thesis. I need some criticism on what I've already written, and some suggestions on an outline for this paper, specifically how do you think I should approach what is essentially a really broad topic. Can you identify my thesis clearly? The topic(s) is apparent in the title. I know three pages is not hard, and I could bang it out if I didn't care so much about being neat and chronological. I appreciate your help.

The Psychological, Physiological, and Neurological effects of Marijuana and Cocaine Use in Humans.

Overview: The Physiological, and Neurological effects of Marijuana Use in Humans.

The United States has consistently been ranked among the highest in the world in terms of illegal drug use. But many contend that the problem is not confined to any normative boundaries such as race, nationality, or socioeconomic status. They posit that the use of psychoactive drugs is an inherent manifestation of a primal desire of humans to alter one's consciousness or state of mind. Others ascribe a different reason; they claim that recreational drug use is just a way to ease the burdens of work, relationships, and the hardships of life. Finally there are some who in explaining, point to the basic, underlying culprit in blame as having to do with a timeless question; what is the meaning and purpose in life? Because, they say, those who refute the question on the basis of its legitimacy are the very ones who are compelled to seek haven with drugs, away from the destitute recesses of their soul for a time. As of yet it doesn't appear that there will be any consensus on why people take mind altering drugs. There may very well be more than one reason, and for that matter the reasons may be overlapped and intertwined. Perhaps the answer varies depending on the profile of the user, or possibly the answer has not been conceived. What we are discussing here are the much debated, functional and principle reasoning mechanisms that govern people's emotive and perceptual, conscious or subconscious, attributions for why they take drugs, using a broad, anteceding approach. While a psychologist might be interested in and have something to add to that discussion, in lieu of any forthright answer, in the immediate term, there is a scholarly consensus based in decades of research, that illegal psychoactive drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, exact a toll on your health. Albeit begrudgingly, we must take a less insightful, more exigent route to understand and seek all that we can about the effects of these drugs, for our purposes marijuana and cocaine. How do marijuana and cocaine exert their effects, what is the nature of their effects, and how do they cause some people to become dependent or addicted to them?

The psychoactive drug Cannabis, commonly known today as marijuana, green, or pot, is derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant. Routes of administration include smoking, ingestion, and rarely, rectal insertion of a solution including oil and water. Tetrahydrocannibanol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, is several times more pervasive, and rapidly absorbed (in seconds) in the blood of someone who has smoked marijuana, as opposed to eating or drinking it, wherein it may take an hour to feel the effects. It is responsible for the acute, physiological effects experienced shortly after use, and a myriad of effects on the heart, brain, and lungs which may become more pronounced over long term or chronic use. It has been shown that after mere minutes smoking marijuana, a person's heart rate increases typically anywhere from 20-50%, and may sometimes double. An increase in heart rate, tachycardia is not believed to be a direct effect of marijuana on the heart; rather it is an indirect result of changes which occur in the autonomic nerves that preside over the regulation of heart rate. Other acute effects frequently reported are the reddening or prominence of bloodshot eyes, which can be attributed to a swelling of the conjunctivas blood vessels, and dry mouth, due to reduced salivation. The user will also, often times experience a shift in appetite and a ravenous urge to eat or drink. Euphoria and elation predominate initially, followed by a period of lingering drowsiness, which some users may try to delay or subvert by taking repeated doses. Performance is adversely affected as there may be difficulty concentrating, remembering, or coordinating and balancing one's movements; this is consistent with an overall decline in motor skills. Some people report being detached and to some extent cognizant of a dissolution in deed and perception known as depersonalization, which is, among the more variable effects that not all of, or even most people might experience, including altered sense of time, anxiety, and sharper vision coupled with visual distortions. While the effects described here occur often enough in people that use marijuana to be relevant and repeated with regularity, with the exception of a few, because of people's varying experiences due to common factors such as dose, prior usage history, experience, THC content, and some would even argue setting and expectations although research hasn't proven it, they don't occur in all users or in the vast majority of times following use.

Cannabinoid receptors are sites in the brain that correspond to the endogenous neurotransmitter anandamide. Tetrahydrocannibanol acts by attaching to cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells in multiple regions of the brain. Those regions of the brain with an abundance of cannabinoid receptors are therefore more prone to the influence of THC, and as a result the more consistent and apparent effects of marijuana use mostly have to do with functions that are regulated by areas of the brain most susceptible to THC. Marijuana has attained a good bit of notoriety in schools across the United States, partly because it is the most widely used illegal drug among teenagers, but also because its widespread use permeates into the classroom during school, and on the football field and other sports arenas after school. These areas have come to be emblematic of some of the most troublesome effects and shortcomings of marijuana use. Instructors and school officials may become suspicious of marijuana or drug use in the case of a student whose grades have declined considerably in conjunction with unusual behavior such as sleeping in class, displaying inattention, or missing homework assignments and being inconsistent. When THC in marijuana attaches to cannabinoid receptors in various regions of the brain, one area affected heavily is the Hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and memory vital to success in school. Other regions also influenced considerably include the Cerebellum, responsible for body movement and coordination, the Cerebral Cortex, agent of higher cognitive functions, the Nucleus Accumbens, a reward center, and the Basal Ganglia, also involved in movement control. Researchers and others alike tend to be especially interested in the Nucleus Accumbens, an aggregation of neurons in the forebrain thought to have a strong bearing on reward, pleasure, and addiction among other things. People who use marijuana may not be aware of it, but the euphoria and bliss that they seek occur in tandem with increased levels of dopamine in the Nucleus Accumbens, a finding that is also characteristic of most every other recreational drug. The Hippocampus is another region of the brain that draws a lot of attention with regard to marijuana use. Neurons in the Hippocampus control memory and related learning functions, so as people get older and lose neurons their ability to remember things decreases. THC accelerates this process by aging neuron cells prematurely, which might hasten the imminence of their death and impair memory in the user. The persistence of this effect, although not at this time thought to be permanent, is longer than the period of intoxication and probably less inclined to wear off with more chronic use.

If someone smokes cigarettes for a week and never again, we can conclude with reasonable certainty that it won't affect their long term health prognosis. However, if the same person smokes for 30 years, bravely assuming that they are not already suffering from, most likely they are at an increased risk for lung cancer, heart disease, and other ailments that only develop over long term use. Much in the same way, research today indicates that using marijuana in the short term does not have any permanent adverse effect in humans. Less certain though, is whether or not long term Cannabis use is to the detriment of the user. There are several purported long term effects of marijuana use that have been studied; some are more credible than others. These effects pertain to the individual who has used marijuana daily, heavily, for many, many years. As to which factor would have a greater bearing on our definition of a heavy, long term user, frequency of use has precedent over the quantity of dose. Research has provided considerable evidence that cannabinoids in marijuana, particularly THC, induce immunological changes in rodent animals in the cell-mediated and humeral immune system. The method used to show impaired cell-mediated immune system function is a decreased lymphocyte response in reaction to T-cell mitogens. To demonstrate an impaired humeral immune system the same method is used, except that the muted reaction is in response to B-cell mitogens, T-cells being characteristic of the cell mediated immune system, and B-cells being characteristic of the humeral immune system. Due to these changes, the result is an increased risk of bacterial or viral infection. The relevance of these findings is mitigated however, because the doses required in order to incur these changes have been very high, which adds to the stand alone problem of applying results in rodents to humans. Another obvious concern is that the evidence does not address the possibility that tolerance would develop in humans, perhaps making these findings irrelevant altogether. In the limited human experimental and clinical data, there is unresolved, likely evidence that THC impairs cell-mediated immune system function. What to make of studies that have implicated THC in suppressed immune system function is uncertain because the expectation is that reduced immune system function would result in an increase of infectious diseases, yet there has been no epidemiological outbreak of diseases among chronic heavy cannabis users. One study of HIV positive gay men suggests that their continued use of marijuana did not put them at an increased risk of worsening to AIDS. Considering the extent of marijuana use in western society, reconciled with the fact that there has been no epidemiological outbreak of infectious diseases among users, the evidence is in favor of it being unlikely that smoking cannabis leads to major dysfunction in the immune system. It is not as easy to rule out marijuana use in minor immune system impairment that cannot be as easily detected, but would instead take the form of an unsuspecting cold or other common, bacterial or viral illness.

Healthy young adults who use Cannabis do not show any prolonged strain on their cardiovascular system, as the effect is comparable to common stress. People with preexisting heart conditions such as atherosclerosis however, appear to be at a special risk and are advised to abstain from cannabis use. In chronic heavy users who smoke cannabis, the effects on the respiratory system are similar to a person who smokes tobacco. Most of the health problems in the respiratory system mutual to tobacco and chronic heavy marijuana use arise because of the method of administration, smoking, not because of anything that can be isolated as a byproduct of the cannabinoids. Coughing, wheezing, and sputum production, all which are symptoms of chronic bronchitis, can result from chronic heavy cannabis use. Additionally, chronic bronchitis and cancer of the respiratory tract are probably a more common occurrence in heavy chronic marijuana users for the same reason they are more common in tobacco smokers. A preexisting respiratory condition such as asthma might be exacerbated by smoking cannabis; the same concern with a preexisting heart condition, and the reason why people with respiratory illnesses are advised not to smoke cannabis. Evidence indicates that chronic heavy marijuana use causes microscopic changes in lung tissue, like those that occur prior to lung cancer. At this time it is debated whether or not cannabis smoke causes cancer, with certain studies indicating it does, and others, very recently showing otherwise, that it does not. Although it remains to be proven definitively, the cancer-marijuana link probably presents the most ominous risk in the perception of a casual cannabis user who does not smoke tobacco, and plausibly even in users that smoke cannabis and tobacco, out of fear that the risks may be mounting to cause for a reconsideration of their habits. It's worth noting that even if it is proven beyond any doubt that smoking cannabis causes cancer in chronic heavy users, the results would by and large be insignificant to the typical, infrequent user, but ostensibly still persuade some to discontinue cannabis use, or use cannabis less frequently, and others not to begin.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Feb 19, 2009   #2
Because, they say, for those who refute the question on the basis of its authenticity, are the very ones who are inclined to seek haven with drugs, away from the destitute recesses of their soul for a time.

This sentence confuses me! Maybe it is unnecessary?

I think you should end the first para right before that sentence, after meaning and purpose in life?.

Wow, what a brilliant way to talk about the drug use issue. No one can deny that the question about the meaning of life and reality is involved with the desire to use psychoactive drugs, which are NOT necessary pleasant like drugs people indulge in but instead can be quite disturbing or even scary (so I have heard). I am very impressed with your approach, which is actually quite unique.

Start a new paragraph with As of yet

This three page paper will need to have sections for health effects, potential for addiction, psychoactive effects, but you should organize the info correctly. In this blurb you posted, you talk a lot about peoples REASONS for doing it... but then you end with talking about a general consensus that they have negative health effects. This sentence is where you veer off to a new topic:

In the immediate term though...

I would like to see more of this paper. Your focus on that very most fundamental inclination (to solve the riddle) is interesting to me. However, be advised that it is not relevant to the purpose suggested by that title you are using!
OP Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Feb 20, 2009   #3
Sometimes my writing can suffer when I try to make it too pretty. My intention in that sentence which confused you, was to have continuity from the prior sentence. I couldn't think of any better way to illustrate that seamlessly at the time than to say "Because, they say" which should be construed that it's a continuation from the prior sentence. In short, "Because they say", serves a purpose that implies it [Because they say] should be disregarded and the words following it be considered where the last sentence ended.

"Finally there are some who in explaining, point to the basic, underlying culprit in blame as having to do with a timeless question; what is the meaning and purpose in life? Because, they say, for those who refute the question on the basis of its authenticity, are the very ones who are inclined to seek haven with drugs, away from the destitute recesses of their soul for a time. As of yet it doesn't appear that there will be any consensus on why people take mind altering drugs."

Here is a revised explanation.

"... what is the meaning and purpose in life, because those people who reject the question on the basis of its legitimacy, that is, they don't think there IS any purpose or meaning in life, will more or less be the ones who are compelled to use drugs."

I thought I would be cheating myself and the professor if I omitted the broader reasons entirely and began myopically as if the drugs and their effects were in and of themselves, the problems or issues that need to be dealt with.

I tried to merge the bigger reason into the less important reason by easing into it "Albeit begrdudgingly", but I guess it's conspicuously divergent from what I had been talking about all along. I thought it might be irrelevant, thanks for confirming it. It's going to pain me to change it, but I guess sometimes it's in your best interest to go with the script.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Feb 21, 2009   #4
alter one's consciousness

Pretty good! Now, it seems a little off topic, because almost all of this is about why instead of the effects. Perhaps that is just because this is the intro.

Also, Marijuana and Cocain are not proper nouns, so don't capitalize them.

Your last sentence will be better like this:

How do Marijuana and Cocaine exert their effects, and what is the nature of their effects, as well as and how do they cause in certain cases for a person some people to become dependent or addicted to them?
OP Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Feb 21, 2009   #5
Thanks for your suggestions, I've fixed those mistakes accordingly. Also, I decided to drop "psychology" from the topic because it adds another aspect which is too much for me to address without losing my mind. If behavioral psychological points come up then great, but I'm not going to devote so much time to it. I've started briefly on Marijuana. Let me know what you think.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Feb 21, 2009   #6
"The United States has consistently been ranked among the highest in the world in terms of illegal drug use" You need to define what you mean by illegal drugs. Obviously the U.S. will have more people convicted of using illegal drugs than, say, Amsterdam, because marijuana is only illegal in the the former country, not the latter. Or do you mean that the U.S. has some of the highest rates of marijuana and cocaine use (which are not the only recreational drugs that are illegal in the U.S.)?

"many contend that the problem" What problem? That people use them? Or that the government has made them illegal? You're begging a question here. You say you are going to investigate the reasons why people use marijuana and cocaine, but you have already assumed, without having yet discovered what they are, that these reasons cannot be legitimate. Or are you not going to investigate this at all? After reading your paragraph headings and your second paragraph, it looks like you are just going to describe the physiological effects of the drugs. If that's the case, then most of your first paragraph is off-topic.

If on the other hand, you are going to look at both the psychological and physiological effects of marijuana and cocaine with a view to understanding why people use them, you might want to revise your introduction to be more concise and focuses, without introducing non-medical moral judgments.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Feb 22, 2009   #7
Yes, I think it would be great if you could synthesize the two approaches and MAKE the intro stuff relevant by using a thesis statement that says something about the effects as a means of understanding why.

That would be extremely cool. Because, as it is now, it is definitely a solid paper but there is a lot of... what am I trying to say... this is all very basic stuff, like stating that people use drugs in America, or saying the general effects of pot an cocaine... general things that everybody knows. Try making this paper FASCINATING by giving it a theme of understanding why by using an exigent approach to examining the effects.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Feb 22, 2009   #8
If you take Kevin's approach, you could end up with a very interesting organization for your essay. The psychological effects are likely to be largely positive, at least for those who don't get addicted. After all, "bliss" and "euphoria" may not take up a lot space in your description of the effects, but really, there's a lot to be said for "bliss" and "euphoria!" That's almost certainly why most people take the drugs. The physiological effects are likely to be primarily negative. Drugs mess with your natural brain chemistry, and both pot and cocaine speed up the heart rate, which essentially accelerates the aging process, which is not good. However, the psychological feeling of bliss is likely linked to these physical changes (in other words, they are latter causes the former) so the one is the price you pay for the other. The neurological effects are likely to be a gray area, no pun intended, mostly because we still don't know that much about how the brain works, or whether or not temporarily altering the ways that it works have negative or positive effects on us.
OP Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Feb 23, 2009   #9
With regard to the psychological effects I wasn't referring to the euphoria and bliss that are sought out through drug use, as much as I was the pervading reasons at heart why a statistically important percentage of the population cannot function sober, without them. You know what I'm talking about, those people who can't go a day or a week without alcohol or marijuana, or whatever their crutch is. We are not stupid; we know the temporary utopian effects which accompany drug use. The real question is, why is it that a statistically disturbing segment of the population, more in some countries than others but all throughout still, cannot live for extended periods of time without a xanax bar or alcohol, or other drug, even when their lives have ample opportunity for moderate, nevertheless profound, sensible pleasure seeking habits. You can try to advance an argument that ordinary citizens are just trying to get a piece of the ultimate pleasure that no one can deny them, but that argument, although it becomes stronger when you compare drug use in the projects to middle class citizens, ultimately falters when you look at the elite who can pay people to paint a portrait of them of them for the rest of their life, have unlimited conventional pleasure, and seem at least on the surface to be well-rounded and mentally healthy, but succumb to extreme habits and destuctive diversions, all as a function of man's never ending desire and insatiable nature that I think, invariably comes back full circle to the question of life vision or purpose. Man cannot escape his inquisitive nature, no matter what the superficial circumstances that surround and appear to become a part of him. I was going to pursue that dynamic, of course at the same time trying to relate it to the effects of the drug.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Feb 23, 2009   #10
"why is it that a statistically disturbing segment of the population, more in some countries than others but all throughout still, cannot live for extended periods of time without a xanax bar or alcohol, or other drug," This is what I mean by prejudging the issue. Why should it be statistically disturbing that most people drink fairly regularly? And does this statistic mean that they cannot live without alcohol or other drugs, or that they just don't want to? If a lot of people have decided that the benefits of alcohol or other drugs outweigh their drawbacks, surely you should stop and consider carefully why they would make that decision. In other words, you need to look at both the benefits and the drawbacks, then decide whether alcohol and other drugs are worth using, instead of starting from the premise that they are not worth using, and that all the people who have decided to use them (which, if you include alcohol in your list, is probably a majority of the adult Western population) are wrong. I guess what I'm trying to say is you should probably approach the topic objectively, with a open-mind.
OP Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Feb 24, 2009   #11
Look, I'm not presupposing or begging the question on anything. The writing is on the wall in bold red letters, it says that drug use even sparingly, much less what is characteristic of a psychological dependence, is harmful to your health and longevity. Now, what you're arguing is that people should have the right to choose for themselves if they want to accept those risks because they're outweighed by the unique, personal benefits that they have for the person; even if it means they don't live as long, at least they live great while they live.

Do you see the problem here? You are arguing from a position of morality on the superlative of life on a personal level, as a person who will readily admit that ideally, if they could have it their way, they wouldn't be psychologically dependent on the drug.

A drug user's definition of "good" or "benefits" is highly questionable because it's from a position that could be deconstructed if I were to use a circumstancial ad hominem argument.

Really, that argument would be appropriate in this circumstance though, because most drug users themselves will tell you that this is not the way they would have it if they were making the rules. They are playing drugs as an improvisation due to some causal, personal deficience after the fact.

So, although this is an extreme example, it's similar in principle to a person who has a gun to their head and would rather die than be raped by whatever deficiency, real or perceived, that they feel is a part of them.

Take the latter away, and do you think anyone would choose objectively to be shot?
Hell no.

This is not about someone for whom drug use is an occasional trinket in light of their important life values.
It is about the person who for some reason or another, cannot function without drugs. They are psychologically dependent, and any argument they make that the "benefits" outweigh the drawbacks is nullified on two accounts, one that no one will take them seriously, which is incidentally a function of the second account, the same reason for which they will openly admit, this is not how they would have it, and frankly it's not how anyone would have, or envision it, in the beginning.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Feb 25, 2009   #12
Wow, great discussion here. This last post reminded me of my family. It costs lots of money to have my family, definitely ages me, and although I know I COULD live without them I am no less dependent on them than a severe addict is dependent on a drug. I would even have physical symptoms if I was removed from them.

Now that I am thinking of it this way, I guess your argument also applies to sugar. I was recently reading about terrible effects that sugar has on us with regard to keeping us addicted to it -- and for that reason I know many who cut it out altogether to escape its power.

I also learned something new about animal protein a few years ago... basically that animals metabolize plant protein for people, and that the reason we feel so satisfied eating meat is because much of the work has been done for us. We become so dependent on animal protein, because our systems are not conditioned to do the job anymore! When I found that out, I realized that in this way my little sister (who is an ethically motivated vegetarian) was more rugged than me. I immediately stopped eating meat.

Anyway, what comes to mind is that this argument, as it seems to me now, is not so much about drug use as it is about compulsion and habitual patterns. You run into controversy when you talk about this drug or that drug, because... well... by the definition of drug, many of life's stimuli qualify as drugs. It becomes a controversial argument.

The people who have addictive tendencies that are more prominent than average... the problem is within them, and it seems that Mustafa is talking more about that phenomenon than about any particular drugs. Does this make it a psychology paper instead of a paper about substance abuse? Anyway, this is very insightful stuff.

Getting back to the point of your essay... do you still want to focus on these three categories of effects of cocaine and marijuana? If so, it will be like a compare contrast essay, and you will have to give attention to all three categories for both drugs. That is a lot for 3 pages!
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Feb 25, 2009   #13
Your essay as it is currently written doesn't make the distinction you mention in your post. Obviously, people who are addicted to a drug, any drug, have a problem. But you talk about people who "take" drugs and about "drug use". The vast majority of people who take alcohol or who use marijuana do not become addicted to them (most sources put the addiction rate for each in the 10%-15% range, and these are sites dedicated to warning people about the evils of drug use, so those numbers are probably exaggerated). Cocaine is much, much worse, though I can't track down the exact number off-hand. I believe it was somewhere in the 25%-50% range. So, the majority of people who use cocaine are still avoiding addiction, though the risk is much higher. Of course, recent studies indicate that is probably still far less addictive, than, say, sugar. So, if your essay is about people who suffer from drug addiction, then you should make that clear from the outset. If you are dealing only with the subset of drug users who suffer from addiction, then your arguments are considerably stronger than they first appeared.
OP Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Feb 25, 2009   #14
Are you trying to back me into a corner by using a loaded, limited word like addict that has a stigma which is pretty much universal, so what it does here is diminish my points by arousing feelings of antipathy to patronization?

Or are you misinterpreting what I'm referring to when I say drug use, and just as importantly, why I say drug use, through no fault of your own, but my own ineptitude in defining things clearly and comprehensibly (which is good, because that's what we're here to work on) ?

I think you would be wise to understand why I didn't mention the word addict in my opening paragraph. First of all, in a drug using society such as America, the word addict applies only to a limited number of people, if we are going by what the word really symbolizes. As I've already mentioned, it has an incredible stigma, which for a lot of people conjures up mental images of a raggedy unkempt person in the back of an alley shooting up their smack next to a homeless guy.

Addict doesn't begin to define the issue at hand because it precludes many drug users who also have a problem, and who don't happen to fit the definition/label of an "addict."

Again, in your last post you are not only missing the gist of what I'm saying, but also you are oversimplifying, marginalizing, and perverting what I mean so it sounds like something a junior high kid or elementary kid school could understand.

"Oh, addicts are bad." - that's what joe in the 8th grade can surmise

I'd be happy to point out something that is simple at face value. I don't feel the need to overcomplicate and belabor petty things because it only obscures the point and in most cases it is transparent.

My contention here:

- Addiction is a limited word AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, it has a medical distinction from dependence. Addiction is when you will stop at nothing, and bear just about any consequence to satiate your compulsion, until the next time. A dependence, in order to function in your newly adapted state, is not as serious, and even though it may be quite bothersome and cause disruption, it can be worked through more easily than addiction.

Drug abuse can occur in one use when you either use too much of a substance, or use it for non medical purposes.

Do you see Sean, how drug use encompasses all those facets without precluding one to the detriment of another?

Your post on "making judgments" refers only to drug abuse. But in any case, surely I can pass judgment on drug abuse alone when it has been proven that it can lead to dependence or addiction.

That's just the route of taking the most precaution, but drug abuse can be harmful on its own merit, with just one use. People die through overdoses and deadly interactions between different drugs.

But to be fair, as I outlined in the beginning, I really hoped to point out that I'm not dogging drugs because of the risks, but I am trying to shed some light on the psyche's of people who are dependent, were dependent, or are on the route to becoming dependent; people who ever worried about addiction at some point, people who became addicted, people who were formerly addicted. Even to some extent I'm including drug abuse although it's harder to ascertain, because even though it might not even lead to a second instance of abuse, the motive for using it the first time could well be rooted in the same reasons as people who have progressed to further, more chronic use. The statistics on addiction will not reflect the mind of a person who was discontented and decided to use drugs, became scared as hell for some reason, and decided not to use it again. So, I'm purposefully not going to define who exactly I'm talking about because we just don't know peoples motives all the way through. However, If I'm pushed hard enough, I can defend myself and give reasons why I'm not going to limit my scope. This is a dynamic issue which has no concise answer. It's not as simple as "it's obvious addicts have a problem."

On that point, somehow you fail to address the problem which I tried explaining numerous times (feel free to scroll), and make it all black and white instead.

We are not only dicussing addicts, but also we are discussing the people who may have been on the road to dependence but maybe suddenly never used drugs again. Sure, they may have averted the more serious fate, but we would like to know what enticed them to use drugs in the first place. So in my opinion, the very broad class of drug users, is parallel with the very broad class of people who probably face the same demons that I described above, but don't necessarily meet the same fate as an "addict" per se.

Why would I include those people if they never progressed to a dependence or addiction? Because many times their drug use has a common reason and less importantly for our purpose, but pragmatically (to appease the dedicated scientists and "black and white" posterboys), carries serious health risks much like their peers' use which emanates from dependence or addiction.

In short, I can isolate and decry drug abuse which I'm entitled to, but I feel that it's harder to make salient points due to the possibility of varying motives, even though my suspicion would lead me to believe they're not AS varying as I grant for arguments sake.

So the only solution I have is to be accomodating to everyone and say "drug use", and if I'm forced to defend that term, I am well capable of doing it.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Feb 26, 2009   #15
Actually, no, you have defended, fairly strongly if somewhat verbosely, using the term "drug abuse." However, my whole point is that you are presupposing that "drug use" is synonymous with "drug abuse," which is not something you should presuppose at the beginning of your investigation. You could conclude that, at the end, though I believe that would be unlikely if you based your conclusion on an objective assessment of drug use, but you do need to carry out an objective assessment, which is impossible if you start out assuming the thing you hope to prove.

The distinction between dependence and addiction is pedantic. If you can't stop using, you're an addict. If you can, you're not. The word is neither loaded nor limited. You claim that "For a lot of people [the word 'addict']conjures up mental images of a raggedy unkempt person in the back of an alley shooting up their smack next to a homeless guy." This may be what the word conjures up for you, but it is not the meaning of the word. People can become psychologically addicted to just about anything. Sugar, as I mentioned, is more addictive to rats than cocaine. Gambling is addictive to many because both wins and near-wins result in increased dopamine levels in the gamblers brains. Video games can be addictive because they give a quick sense of accomplishment for little actual effort. If the word addiction carries a stigma with it, it is because it is bad. An addict by definition has lost control of his life to whatever he is addicted to. However, the fact that something can cause addiction (or even a dependence) doesn't mean no one should ever do it. If you never ate any form of sugar at all, you'd die. Gambling, in a limit form, can be entertaining and no more financially costly than a night out drinking. Video games, when played on a limited basis, can be quite educational.

In the case of drugs use (as opposed to abuse), there are many reasons why one might want to try them that are perfectly reasonable (though of course in the case of illegal drugs one should obey always obey the law). Curiosity, for example. For the drugs you are most concerned with in your essay, you might consider the following:

In the case of alcohol, most people who drink socially do so because it acts as a social lubricant. And by that, I don't just mean that it lowers inhibitions, though it does that too. It also provides a shared experience for the people who are drinking. Perhaps most importantly, it provides the people who are drinking with something to do, other than just sitting around talking. This last may sound odd if you've never thought about it, but psychologically, it's probably at least as important as the physical effects of drinking

In the case of marijuana, as I mentioned in a previous post, one of the effects listed on most sites about the drug is "bliss," and "euphoria." So, one of the main reasons people use it is because it makes them feel really good. It also alters your brain chemistry. Depending up on your original brain chemistry, this may or may not be desirable to the marijuana user. So, some people who smoke become paranoid, which is obviously bad. But some people who are really tense and introspective become more mellow and relaxed. Such effects don't necessarily wear off when the drug does, either. For these people, marijuana takes the place of various legal drugs they would probably be prescribed if they went to see a psychiatrist.

In the case of cocaine, most people who use it do so for the energy boost it gives them. It's a stimulant, and as such can keep you awake, which is why it's so popular with people who like to party all night long. It is also popular among people who drink fairly heavily, because the stimulative effects of the drug counteract the depressive effects of the alcohol.

Now, obviously using any of the three above-mentioned drugs can lead to addiction, or dependency, or drug abuse, or whatever you want to call it. However, this does not mean that drug use that does not lead to addiction is necessarily to be frowned upon. You mention that even one-time or occasional use of these drugs can be unhealthy, and that is true: it just isn't a good argument: everything you do poses some type of health risk (driving in a car is especially dangerous, compared to most other activities people engage in on a regular basis.), but the real question is whether the benefits outweigh the risks or not. You can argue that they don't, that's fine, but at the moment you just assert it, without offering much in the way of any defense.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Feb 26, 2009   #16
All of this feedback and discourse is going to make for quite an impressive essay. I can't wait to see the finished product!

Mustafa, keep in mind that the service being provided by Sean is to give you a reader's thoughtful reaction -- because we all know that our writing seems different to us than it seems to readers. In order to help you make a stronger paper, he tells you about what does not seem right, so try not to have your feelings hurt by the critique. In fact, even if you prove your consultant wrong about some aspect of the discussion, you are still missing the point if you don't go back and see how to change your essay so that other readers, including your teacher, will get the clearest and most credible idea possible. For that reason, it is good to give you a hard time about everything so that you can refine your essay very well. It is no good to write an essay that makes a reader think you have a faulty argument and then explain it after the fact. Take the criticism to heart so that you can come up with ideas about how to best present your case.

At this point, if you still want to talk about the physical and neurological effects, I think you are way off base to be dwelling so much on questions of "why." Put the word "why" in your title if that is what you want to write about.

BTW tachycardia is not a proper noun.

:)
OP Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Feb 26, 2009   #17
Let's try bullet points. If you have an objection to what I say, just point out the bullet.
Here we go.. You like to simplify things, so I've simplified my points in such a manner that is more compatible with your views.

- Drug use for "social purposes" is non medical, therefore it is drug abuse. There is nothing to talk about. It is drug abuse.

- There is a medical distinction between addiction and dependence. Call it pedantic, I could argue for a long time the monumental differences, but inevitably you will hijack the argument and turn it into something way departed from what it was originally. So, we'll leave it at that first sentence. Addiction and dependence are medically different, and I think we'll have to leave it to the PhD's and MD's on that.

I'd be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that if we took a survey of people on the street, the first thing people would admit to thinking of when they heard the word addict would be drug related and in line with what I was talking about. Stop making idealist jibes and try being realistic for once. However, since this is not black and white to your liking, I've "de-bulleted" it so it can be stricken from the "record", or your consideration I should say.

- I'm going to neglect almost every other point you make about sugar and video games and so on because it wouldn't conform to the high standard that is required of a bullet. We are talking black and white here, Sean here. In an earlier post you mentioned the respective "addiction" rates for marijuana and cocaine. If I recall correctly, it was 1/7 and roughly 1/3 respectively.

Do you HONESTLY think 1/7 people who drive, will be seriously injured or impacted in a life-changing auto accident?

Even though, unfortunately this doesn't conform to the bullet standard (most things don't) I still have to mention it; but don't get all ruffled, it will be stricken from the record, you can disregard it and be confident that you are not obliged to take it into consideration.

I've tried time and time again to avoid pointing out the direct, quantitative and qualitative damages that result from drug use, because that wasn't the approach I had in mind when I began. (see most people contend that the problem..) I tried to point out the broader reasons, but in the interest of shortsightedness, which is a recurring theme around here, drug use can be tracked back to too many problems for someone to argue in its favor. I understand and appreciate that there are actually people out there who use drugs responsibly and limitedly like they would any product in their pantry or cupboard. But these people are overshadowed by others who can't and don't use it for the purposes they do. For that reason we have to lump them in there as part of the problem. What is the problem?

-10's of thousands of people die from alcohol related crashes each year.
-The economic cost of drug users who cannot contribute to society, and instead make themselves a drain on society. We are talking the productivity, health, and other losses that add up to 100s of billions of dollars annually in the United States.

- The emotional and real suffering that drug users and their families must deal with.

These three points shut down your rebuttals categorically, and that's just a bare minimum so I can preserve the white space.

On a side note. I think I've concluded that I'm going to have to focus only on the physiological and neurological effects because I only have 3 or 4 pages to work with
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Feb 26, 2009   #18
I see that Sean was asking about your treatment of "drug use" as synonymous with "drug abuse," and I don't want to interfere with this very cool sparring match, but I'll just give my impression of it all...

Sean seems to be talking about personal freedom, and you seem to be talking about pragmatism, health, and safety.

Your first point is about how drugs are bad when operating heavy machinery, like cars. This is reasonable to say, but it does not mean that people should not have the freedom to experience drug "use" when not behind the wheel.

Your second point is that some drug users do not contribute to society, but instead leach off of society. This is not a point about drug users, but rather about people who leach off society. Freud, Einstein, Deepak Chopra, the guy who created the Hubble telescope... lots of people have used drugs and made contributions.

Your third point is that people who use drugs suffer and cause their families to suffer. That certainly can be true... it makes me wonder... and I think it is alright for me to digress a little and ask you a question, since this whole thread is a great, crazy digression from the neurological and physical effects of cocaine and weed... and just because you are an interesting person and I am curious... when you say, I understand and appreciate that there are actually people out there who use drugs responsibly and limitedly like they would any product in their pantry or cupboard. But these people are overshadowed by others who can't and don't use it for the purposes they do. For that reason we have to lump them in there as part of the problem. am I correct to infer that you believe that drugs should only be used for the purpose of curing illnesses? Do you believe that drug use for recreational and spiritual purposes is fundamentally irresponsible?

Personally, I have been trying to get over my neediness lately, and that includes drugs, alcohol, eating animals, etc., and I recently quit cigarettes... so personally, I am trying to get away from all habitual patterns. But I don't know if I would suggest that allof humanity should abstain from consuming natural plants, like marijuana and cocaine.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Feb 27, 2009   #19
Hmmm . . . well, we seem to be getting to the point where we're going to begin repeating ourselves, so I'll forbear continuing the thread in like vein, but hopefully our discussion has given you plenty to think about. I agree with Kevin -- I can't wait to see what you ultimately come up with. If you are just going to deal with the neurological and physiological effects, then I'm afraid most of what we have discussed won't be of that much use to you. Just try to avoid mixing in unsupported assertions of personal opinion on the psychological effects in with your discussion of the medical effects of using the drugs you are discussing.
OP Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Feb 28, 2009   #20
I think I've found what my problem is in making you understand. I keep pointing out relevant stuff, but stuff that deviates from my most important assertion. First in response to Kevin, I didn't mean that you shouldn't try drugs for non medical purposes. The pantry and cupboard remark is just my vague way of saying the following:

*Your motivation for trying drugs, I think, will determine in most cases if it becomes a habit, and should also probably be the deciding factor that shapes the verdict on whether or not your use is in good faith, or if it is a futile attempt at escapism; an attempt that in good fortune, is many times discontinued, but appears to some people like a fleeting glance at sanity, and in desperation they pursue it, completely oblivious that they will walk in place, treading those first few steps of "harmony" time and time again, until they realize that there is no point forward in the route they have taken, and usually by that time, it's of coure too late to back out of the dark and destructive tunnel which they have entered, and the door closes on them.*

I don't know but you seem to think that I'm one of those people who accept what they are told and stick to it regardless what the circumstances. You think I read books and monograms and pontificate on things which I've never even seen firsthand? On the contrary, I'm hesitant to comment on something that I haven't seen or experienced in some form myself, which should tell you that I've abused drugs, by my own definition before.

I've tried lsd, mdma, speed, oxycontin, percocet, and cocaine, all once, and marijuana at least 5 times on different days.

I went in with a clear purpose to chronicle each drug to make a personal guide to their effects for my use, in a safe, mitigating environment. Also, of course I wanted to see what was so captivating about them.

What I found varied depending on the drug I used, but the one consistency was that there were definitely some appealing characteristics, especially with mdma and cocaine, but then a "comedown" or cash that should indicate to any educated person right away, one, this cannot be sustained, two, the secondary effects make it not worth using.

What came as a complete surprise to me was after using mdma, my attitude and personality actually changed to be more altruistic and I found myself thinking about people and things in such a positive light that I had never seen before. I was myself in a few days after that.

I ended up arriving at the conclusion that any positive effects drugs are rooted in self-interest. Second, that people who use drugs non-medically, have to be willingly crazy to believe they have much value.

- There is a very good reason that the effects of drugs are so sorrowfully temporary. It is inherently stupid, unnatural, and unattainable to try to change who you are fundamentally by becoming intoxicated. It should be self-evident when the vast majority of drugs lead to rapid tolerance and the effects are shortlived for mere hours following use; they cannot offer any sustained value.

- The favorable effects of drug use on your personality, they make you "less critical", etc etc, have their own problem in my opinion. They emanate from euphoria and bliss, and so they are incredibly selfish and vested in self-interest. Hedonism cannot yield any virtue, even hedonists will admit. When you are feeling the best you have in your life, what reason do you have not to treat others well? It's all about you, a turpitude that is mind-bogglingly damaging and causes far too many problems, probably if one had to choose, the biggest reason for drug use.

-* So I find it hard put in words, to relay, how preposterous I think it is that people would appeal to hedonism and essentially, cosmetic surgery on the soul, to try to find the answer in life. It shows a weak will, feeble character, and a diseased mind that so many people follow this convenient, dead end trap-route.

- I respect what I perceive Sean is saying though, in a limited sense, because there ARE some people who might abuse drugs from the outset, knowing full well not to expect much from them and relegating them to their rightful place as a terrible scourge. It's only when this understanding falters, or when it escalates as it often does, to even the tinest hope that drugs have something intangible and of worth to offer you, that you are letting the drugs abuse you and not vice versa.
OP Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Feb 28, 2009   #21
that concludes this thread, there is nothing more to discuss because I won't be writing about what we have discussed because it's too time consuming.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Feb 28, 2009   #22
Yeah, our conversations cover way more than three pages of material. Still, it was a decent discussion, and fun, too. Do post what you do decide to write about, though -- I'm curious to see what your paper actually ends up saying.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Mar 1, 2009   #23
Well, there's plenty you can cut. Most if not all of the first paragraph, for instance, can go. It rambles on without really saying anything either pertinent or interesting.

Pretty much all of the amplifiers and qualifiers that you've scattered haphazardly throughout your body paragraphs can also be removed without detriment to the essay. For instance:

"It has been shown that after mere minutes smoking marijuana . . ." Not only is the amplifier here unnecessary, it's probably misplaced. I suspect you planned to put it before the "after."

"Some people report being detached and to some extent cognizant of experiencing a dissolution in deed and perception known as depersonalization"

You could also eliminate many of the redundant phrases you seem so fond of:

"The user will also, often times experience a shiftincrease in appetite and a ravenous urge to eat or drink " The last phrase merely repeats, in a wordier way, the information contained in the key phrase "an increase in appetite," mentioned earlier.

"Performance is adversely affected as there may be difficulty concentrating, remembering, or coordinating and balancing one's movements; this is consistent with an overall decline in motor skills" Or "Smoking weed impairs motor skills." Not only is the latter version far more concise, it is more accurate, too. You can't say that "performance" is adversely affected without specifying, what, exactly, is being performed, and without showing that the motor skill impairment isn't balanced out by other factors, say more confidence and relaxation.

And, of course, the digressions that wander completely off-topic should be cut, too. For instance:

"People who use marijuana may not be aware of it," So? Most people aren't aware of the chemical process that go on inside their bodies when they put stuff into it, unless they are trained biologists.

"Marijuana has attained a good bit of notoriety in schools across the United States, partly because it is the most widely used illegal drug among teenagers, but also because its widespread use permeates into the classroom during school, and on the football field and other sports arenas after school. These areas have come to be emblematic of some of the most troublesome effects and shortcomings of marijuana use. Instructors and school officials may become suspicious of marijuana or drug use in the case of a student whose grades have declined considerably in conjunction with unusual behavior such as sleeping in class, displaying inattention, or missing homework assignments and being inconsistent." None of this has anything whatsoever to with the neurological effects of marijuana.

"If someone smokes cigarettes for a week and never again, we can conclude with reasonable certainty that it won't affect their long term health prognosis. However, if the same person smokes for 30 years, bravely assuming that they are not already suffering from, most likely they are at an increased risk for lung cancer, heart disease, and other ailments that only develop over long term use." This is a bit more relevant, since you go on to make a comparison, but you could just state the facts about marijuana directly, without losing your main points.

Finally, you get rid of the phrases that you have included merely because they use vocabulary that you think makes you look intelligent, but that really only make you seem pretentious. So, for example:

"While a psychologist might be interested in and have something to add to that discussion, in lieu of any forthright answer, in the immediate term, there is a scholarly consensus based in decades of research, that illegal psychoactive drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, exact a toll on your health." How about the more straightforward: "Medical researchers agree that smoking marijuana is bad for you."

"which might hasten the imminence of their death." This really isn't necessary at all. It's implicit in the concept of aging, so this could also fall under the category of redundant phrases, too.

"but ostensibly could still persuade some to discontinue cannabis use" "Ostensibly" just isn't the right word to use here.
OP Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Mar 1, 2009   #24
ahhhhhhh, good stuff. If it takes a pretext to make your spine show, I'm all for it.

Personality baby, I can't stand people who are not hyper opinionated..

I've incorporated much of what you said, with the exception of the first paragraph that I'm debating whether or not to drop.

Also, I'm on the prowl for amplifiers and redundant phrases, both of which are just part of my writing at this stage.

I have to issue a few clarifications.

"While a psychologist... that was after reading a bunch of journal abstracts, the language has an influence on you like an accent in a foreign country. That reminds me that I have to read some challenging books to help better my writing skills.

"the aging process.. actually, at the time I felt it was important to add the bit about hastening the imminence, so in some way it must be relevant from an accuracy standpoint.

Ostensibly. That was my first attempt at using the word although I've encountered it many times in reading. I always thought it meant something like perceptible. In any case, you have to misuse words a few times before you can understand and get a feel for the proper context for its use.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Mar 1, 2009   #25
Mustafa,

Prof's do indeed dock points because of exceeding maximum page counts. However, not in all cases. Might as well ask him if it's alright. With a research paper, I think it is pretty weak for teachers to dock points for exceeding length, but it depends on circumstances. If it is for biology, the guy would have to give me a pretty good reason for insisting on a maximum word wound if he did not want me to think he is just to lazy to read it.

This needs some citations!! Is the prof okay with no citations??

Additionally, chronic bronchitis and cancer of the respiratory tract are probably a more common occurrence in heavy chronic marijuana users for the same reason they are more common in tobacco smokers. (those are very different-- too much to tackle in one sentence. "Like what reasons?" comes to mind, and the reasons are different.

How about studies showing marijuana to reduce tumor growth?

Even if your prof does not require citations, this seems useless without citations...

Totally irrelevant: It is great that you have command of language. Use your powers for good and justice, haha! I found while growing up that I got in lots of arguments and it was because I enjoyed doing something I was good at... but the end result was just... being in a lot of arguments.. For you, it would be great to learn the principles of neurolinguistic programming -- how to really make the most of verbal communication. Less is more, and you can really influence people's "subconscious" minds if you use your talent with the principles of hypnosis (i.e. Ericksonian indirectness, impact words, and other cool principles that I did not discover til a few years ago.
OP Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Mar 1, 2009   #26
neither of you caught "green" in the second paragraph. Haha, I was giving props to black people too!

whenever they mention slang for weed they never say "green" or "bud" or "purp", at least not in any writing

the prof mentioned something about cse, that's all I got
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Mar 2, 2009   #27
You latest draft is looking good. Of course, you don't have any citations in it, and so you will probably get a 0 on it after facing accusations of plagiarism, but you could fix that without too much difficulty. You can just throw in in-text citations next to all of the medical facts about marijuana -- you don't even need to replace them with direct quotations from the research to do this, though that might not be a bad idea. Don't forget to make sure you use whatever citation style the person you are handing it in to is expecting you to use. Good luck.
OP Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Mar 2, 2009   #28
I just garbled up some crap and sent it to him. I can't stand citations. Especially all the different styles. Put a . here and a . there. Give me a break. Hopefully he won't look very closely at that page.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Mar 3, 2009   #29
I must admit, citing sucks. Really, its deadly dull, involves arcane rules that make no sense, and comes in a bewildering variety of types, none of which are compatible with one another. However, they do serve to acknowledge your sources in a way that, when properly done, frees you from those pesky charges of plagiarism and all the unpleasantness that follows them. This is especially important in this sort of essay because you include a lot of factual information that clearly comes from external research, because it just isn't common knowledge. So, if you have no citations, you are pretty much ipso facto guilty of plagiarism. If you made up citations that have no connection to your actual sources, you could likewise be in trouble if the person you hand it into bothers to check any of them. This is especially likely to be a problem if you used web sources, because if you didn't paraphrase, of if you only barely paraphrased, the passages are likely to be flag by anti-plagiarism software. If the parts that are flagged are clearly quoted and/or cited, then you're in the clear, but if not, you may find yourself having to answer some tough questions. So, if you decide not to cite, or to make citations up, be careful.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Mar 3, 2009   #30
Hey, you might like the author-date system of APA.

Citation can be like an extremely sophisticated conversation among friends. People who are trying to discuss some field -- from medicine to psychology to international relations -- if they are serious, they are all going to be knowledgeable about the current articles, advances, controversies, etc... so they have to refer to what is going on, who said what and when... you know, it's like, for people who are leaders in their fields and trying to talk to colleagues, communication would be sort of incomplete without citation.

Enter your chosen field and you don't write general stuff anymore. You have to refer to what is going on in your field. So, for every assertion you make, and, oh my god especially research based discussions... every other thing you say, you have to say what writer you are talking about.

So, that is one good thing about citation, in its defense! But I hate it, too...
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Mar 3, 2009   #31
Oh, the principle of letting people know where you get your facts from is fine -- after all, you need to be able check the validity of the sources. It the fact that there are over a dozen different competing standards that all involve horribly unnatural formats that is annoying. I mean, hanging indents? The complete reverse of the formatting of all other text? Someone thought this was a good idea?
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Mar 4, 2009   #32
Ha ha!! You are right! And that stuff about using a comma vs a period vs a colon, and the right way to do end notes verses the works cited... and in MLA and one other style the reference list is called Works Cited, but in APA it is called References, and in other styles it is called Bibliography... the different styles and their trivialities are very annoying, for sure.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Mar 4, 2009   #33
I wonder, though, how much most profs care. I remember sometimes having mistakes in my formatting circled in my works cited page on essays I got back from my profs, but I can't recall ever actually losing marks as a result.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Mar 5, 2009   #34
Yes, that's right, and I have been thankful about it.


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