Drugs and health

Info on drugs and health.

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  • Created on: 10-04-11 14:34
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Drugs and health
Drugs are substances that change chemical reactions in the
body. Medical drugs relieve disease and illness, and are
extensively tested before being used. Thalidomide is a drug that
caused unexpected and damaging side effects to babies in the
last century.
Recreational drugs such as alcohol and tobacco are taken by
people because they like the effects they have on their bodies,
but they are addictive. Heroin and cocaine are illegal recreational
drugs that are very addictive.
Drugs and drug testing
Drugs are substances that cause changes to the body. Some drugs can
help the body, but others can harm it. Some drugs can be extracted
from natural sources and their existence has been known about for a
long time. For example, willow bark is known to have been used by the
ancient Greeks to help cure fevers and pains. It was later discovered
that the active ingredient was salicylic acid. This was modified by
chemists into the substance we call aspirin, which is less irritating to the
stomach than salicylic acid.
Drug testing
New medical drugs have to be tested before they can be prescribed for
patients. They are tested in a laboratory to check that they are not toxic,

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At this point, any
potential side effects should show themselves. Most substances do not
pass all the tests and trials, so drug development is expensive and
takes a long time.
Medical drug trials are not without risk. Sometimes very severe and
unexpected sideeffects appear.
Thalidomide is a drug that was prescribed during the late 1950s and
early 1960s. It was developed as a sleeping pill, but it was also thought
to be useful for easing morning sickness in pregnant women.…read more

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Nicotine is the addictive substance in tobacco smoke. It reaches the
brain within 20 seconds and creates a dependency so that smokers
become addicted.
Carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide combines with the haemoglobin [haemoglobin:
the red protein found in red blood cells that transports oxygen round
the body ] in red blood cells and so reduces the ability of the blood
to carry oxygen. This puts extra strain on the circulatory system, and
can cause an increased risk of heart disease and strokes.…read more

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A smoker's lung
The images above compare a healthy lung to a smoker's lung. Tar
deposits can be seen clearly in the smoker's lung.
The alcohol in alcoholic drinks such as wines, beer and spirits is
ethanol. It is a depressant. This means that it slows down signals in the
nerves and brain.
Small amounts of alcohol help people to relax, but greater amounts lead
to a lack of selfcontrol.…read more

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Many drugs alter the chemical processes in the body in such a way that
the person taking them becomes addicted to them. They feel they have
to take the drugs, and they suffer unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if
they stop taking them. All four drugs listed above are addictive. Heroin
and cocaine are very addictive, and may cause permanent mental
The impact on health
All drugs have the potential to damage our health, because they change
chemical processes in the body.…read more


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