Recreational Drugs: Road to Hell

Interesting data was obtained from a recent poll of Russians conducted by the Public Opinion Research Center. Almost three quarters of respondents said that they did not have people in their circle that used “recreational” drugs. The truthfulness of these responses appears highly questionable. After all, according to the UN, Russia is already the third largest country in the world in terms of the number of drug addicts among citizens.

As we know, people pay their first visit to drugs black-market being completely healthy. It is later when they become sick and need serious medical care. But in most cases it all starts with the so-called recreational drugs - marijuana, hashish, etc.

As evident from the recent poll, 7 percent of Russians absolutely seriously believe that recreational drugs can be sold in stores along with tobacco or alcohol. From this statement we can make the assumption that they are potential buyers of such goods.

Fortunately, the vast majority of respondents (90 percent of them) disagrees with such a dangerous point of view and believes that recreational drugs are as dangerous as all others. At the same time, 73 percent of respondents said that their circle does not include people who use drugs. Only 12 percent of respondents admitted to have friends who use illicit substances, and another 19 percent were unsure, but admitted such a possibility.

Meanwhile, the reality still seems to be more pessimistic. According to the Ministry of Health of Russia, over the past 10 years, the number of addicted citizens in the country grew by 60 percent, and as of February 2010 was already nearly 550 thousand people. In the UN's rating, Russia takes third place it terms of the number of drug addicts, after Iran and Afghanistan.

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So it is time to destroy the illusion for those who think that recreational drugs are as appropriate as alcohol and cigarettes. It would also be worth arguing on the topic of “safety” of tobacco and alcohol for health.

Drugs do not become “soft” just because they are called this way. In fact, in medical practice, they are on par with those substances that cause a person terrible physical and mental harm.

"Most likely, the so-called “softness” of drugs is estimated based on social significance. Teenagers often think that marijuana, hemp, and smoking blends are harmless fun. But such “fun” often brings young people to specialist treatment. Damage caused by soft drugs is already manifested at the time of first exposure by typical anxiety. As a result of systemic use, humans may experience a set of irreversible changes: immunotoxicity, hormonal regulation, memory loss, problems with vision and perception. But it is all individual and depends on the intensity of the impact of the substance itself," Andrei Krachevsky, a psychiatrist, told

Entering a human body, drugs cause a sharp improvement in mood and well-being by changing biochemical processes. Subsequently, drugs affect the transmission of nerve impulses, and in addition make brain cells to “unlearn” to produce endorphins, also called “hormone of happiness.” An individual has to use drugs all the time to experience positive emotions. It is a sort of a reflex. Without these substances a person's life becomes uninteresting and bland.

"It causes very persistent psychological dependence, which is difficult to influence. Opiates cause it quickly. At the same time there are a lot of patients who have become dependent on recreational drug. The terrible social significance of the drug is reduced because of the word “recreational” in the title; yet, the risk of getting addicted is greater. There are three types of addiction: biological, psychological and macro. People that start using these drugs think they are the same fun as alcohol or cigarettes, and they do not notice that they no longer belong to themselves," tells Krachevsky.

In addition, it is evident that persistent dependence on recreational drugs may lead to transition to opiates to obtain a more tangible effect.

However, in some countries marijuana is legalized. Legislation of the Netherlands is loyal to the dissemination and storage of weed. The lists of controlled substances of the UK, Italy, Canada and some U.S. states and Australia have milder status for cannabis. It belongs to the drugs whose import, sale and possession provides only for a conditional sentence.

UN Convention still considers cannabis plant a heavy drug. Russian law also includes hashish, marijuana, hemp products and hemp oil into the list of substances whose circulation is prohibited on the territory of Russia. So the relative softness of these drugs remains relative. Both in terms of legislation and medical point of view, the consequences of their use will be most severe.

Victoria Lapko

Read the original in Russian

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov