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DRUG FACTS & MYTHS

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Myths & Facts About Marijuana
Do you know the facts about marijuana? Here are some common myths.
MYTH: Marijuana is harmless.
FACT: Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug among youth today and is more potent than ever. Marijuana use can lead to a host of significant health, social, learning, and behavioral problems at a crucial time in a young person's development. Getting high also impairs judgment, which can lead to risky decision making on issues like sex, criminal activity, or riding with someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
MYTH: You can't get addicted to marijuana.
FACT: Don''t be fooled by popular beliefs. Kids can get hooked on pot. Research shows that marijuana use can lead to addiction. Each year, more kids enter treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined.
MYTH: There's not much parents can do to stop their kids from "experimenting" with marijuana.
FACT: Most parents are surprised to learn that they are the most powerful influence on their children when it comes to drugs. But, it's true, so this message needs to start with parents. Kids need to hear how risky marijuana use can be. They need to know how damaging it can be to their lives. And they need to begin by listening to someone they trust. By staying involved, knowing what their kids are doing, and setting limits with clear rules and consequences, parents can keep their kids drug-free.
Tell Your Kids to Say No...
Even if You Didn't
MYTH: There are no long-term consequences to marijuana use.
FACT: Research shows that kids who smoke marijuana engage in risky behavior that can jeopardize their futures, like having sex, getting in trouble with the law, or losing scholarship money. Marijuana can also hurt academic achievement and puts kids at risk for depression and anxiety.
MYTH: Marijuana isn't as popular as other drugs like ecstasy among teens today.
FACT: Kids use marijuana far more than any other illicit drug. Among kids who use drugs, 60 percent use only marijuana.
MYTH: Young kids won't be exposed to marijuana.
FACT: Not only are they exposed to marijuana, they are using it. Between 1991 and 2001, the number of 8th graders who used marijuana doubled from one in 10 to one in five.
MYTH: Parents who experimented with marijuana in their youth would be hypocrites if they told their kids not to try it.
FACT: Parents need to make their own decisions about whether to talk to their children about their own drug use. But parents can tell their kids that much more is known today about the serious health and social consequences of using marijuana.


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Ecstasy MDMA, called "Adam," "ecstasy," or "XTC" on the street, is a synthetic, psychoactive (mind-altering) drug with hallucinogenic and amphetamine-like properties. Its chemical structure is similar to two other synthetic drugs, MDA and methamphetamine, which are known to cause brain damage.
Beliefs about MDMA are reminiscent of similar claims made about LSD in the 1950s and 1960s, which proved to be untrue. According to its proponents, MDMA can make people trust each other and can break down barriers between therapists and patients, lovers, and family members.

Health Hazards

Physical and psychological symptoms. Many problems users encounter with MDMA are similar to those found with the use of amphetamines and cocaine. They are:
Psychological difficulties, including confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, severe anxiety, and paranoia during and sometimes weeks after taking MDMA (in some cases, psychotic episodes have been reported).
Physical symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, faintness, and chills or sweating. Increases in heart rate and blood pressure, a special risk for people with circulatory or heart disease.
Long-term effects. Recent research findings also link MDMA use to long-term damage to those parts of the brain critical to thought and memory. It is believed that the drug causes damage to the neurons that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons.
MDMA is also related in structure and effects to methamphetamine, which has been shown to cause degeneration of neurons containing the neurotransmitter dopamine. Damage to dopamine containing neurons is the underlying cause of the motor disturbances seen in Parkinson's disease. Symptoms of this disease begin with lack of coordination and tremors, and can eventually result in a form of paralysis.

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Cocaine
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug of abuse.
Individuals who have tried cocaine have described the experience as a powerful high that gave them a feeling of supremacy. However, once someone starts taking cocaine, one cannot predict or control the extent to which he or she will continue to use the drug. The major ways of taking cocaine are sniffing or snorting, injecting, and smoking(including free-base and crack cocaine).

Health risks exist regardless of whether cocaine is inhaled (snorted),injected, or smoked. However, it appears that compulsive cocaine use may develop even more rapidly if the substance is smoked rather than snorted. Smoking allows extremely high doses of cocaine to reach the brain very quickly and results in an intense and immediate high. The injecting drug user is also at risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV infection/AIDS if needles or other injection equipment are shared.

Health Hazards
Physical effects. Physical effects of cocaine use include constricted peripheral blood vessels, dilated pupils, and increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Some cocaine users report feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety, both while using and between periods of use. An appreciable tolerance to the high may be developed, and many addicts report that they seek but fail to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their first exposure.
Paranoia and aggression. High doses of cocaine and/or prolonged use can trigger paranoia. Smoking crack cocaine can produce particularly aggressive paranoid behavior in users. When addicted individuals stop using cocaine, they may become depressed. This depression causes users to continue to use the drug to alleviate their depression.
Long-term effects. Prolonged cocaine snorting can result in ulceration of the mucous membrane of the nose and can damage the nasal septum enough to cause it to collapse. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory arrest.
Added Danger. When people mix cocaine and alcohol, they are compounding the danger each drug poses and unknowingly causing a complex chemical interaction within their bodies. Researchers have found that the human liver combines cocaine and alcohol to manufacture a third substance, cocaethylene, which intensifies cocaine's euphoric effects and possibly increases the risk of sudden death.

Club Drugs
Club drugs are being used by young adults at all-night dance parties such as "raves" o "trances," dance clubs, and bars. MDMA (Ecstasy), GHB, Rohypnol, ketamine, methamphetamine, and LSD are some of the club or party drugs gaining popularity. NIDA-supported research has shown that use of club drugs can cause serious health problems and, in some cases, even death.
Used in combination with alcohol, these drugs can be even more dangerous.

No club drug is benign. Chronic abuse of MDMA, for example, appears to produce long-term damage to serotonin-containing neurons in the brain. Given the important role that the neurotransmitter serotonin plays in regulating emotion, memory, sleep, pain, and higher order cognitive processes, it is likely that MDMA use can cause a variety of behavioural and cognitive consequences as well as impair memory.
Because some club drugs are colourless tasteless, and odourless they can be added unobtrusively to beverages by individuals who want to intoxicate or sedate others. In recent years, there has been an increase in reports of club drugs used to commit sexual assaults.

Marihuana is often a major revenue source for organized crime groups. On average, a mature marihuana plant will produce approximately 500 joints.

By targeting and shutting down these illegal operations, ALERT directly impacts the ability of organized crime groups to finance other criminal activities.

Tips for homeowners

Get to know your neighbours. The presence of one or more of the following does not necessarily indicate a grow operation, but they do typically share many of these features:

  • occupants of the home are rarely seen, distant or secretive;
  • windows are covered with black plastic, newspaper or heavy curtains;
  • condensation on windows, frost build up on eaves and vents during winter, lack of snow on roof;
  • sound of electrical generators or fans;
  • lights that are much brighter than normal home lighting;
  • "skunky" smell of growing marijuana;
  • unusual traffic at the home at odd times of the day or night;
  • unusual piles of garbage such as fertilizer containers, pots, and soil left beside the house;
  • garbage is never or rarely laid out for collection;
  • the residents are rarely seen taking groceries or other items such as furniture into the home;
  • the property has excessive security (cameras, guard dogs, "keep out" signs, high fences, etc); and
  • there is evidence of tampering to the electric metre (damaged or broken seals) or the ground around it.

Tips for landlords

  • obtain a credit history, photo identification, and check all references of potential tenants;
  • interview all prospective tenants or renters;
  • check your property regularly (a marihuana crop can take two to three months to grow); and
  • ensure you have a detailed rental agreement and that your renters are actually living in or using the premises.

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