Unit 1 – Drugs and Alcohol Revision
What are drugs?
- A chemical that alters the body and mind or has a reaction when taken.
- Some drugs are taken for medical reasons and to improve health and wellbeing. These include antibiotics, which are taken for infections.
- Some drugs are abused and used for reasons other than health.
- Some drugs are called ‘social’ or ‘recreational’ drugs. These are taken for a ‘buzz’ or for a ‘high’. Some are legal, such as alcohol, and others are illegal, such as cannabis. People take ‘social’ drugs with friends.
Effects of Drugs
- Different drugs have different effects.
- Caffeine is in tea and coffee. It is a stimulant that keeps people alert and awake.
- Alcohol is a depressant. Although it relaxes people, in the long-term it causes depression. It makes people drunk. They can lose control and have accidents.
- Cannabis is often taken as a relaxant. It can be taken for pain relief or for a high. It can cause long-term mental health issues.
- Cocaine is a stimulant that lasts for 30 minutes. It is highly addictive and expensive. It can lead to heart problems and convulsions. An overdose can kill.
- Heroine is an opiate. It relaxes people and relieves pain. It is, however, highly addictive. It causes dangerous withdrawal symptoms, which make people sick. An overdose can kill and diseases can be spread through dirty needles as most addicts inject the drug.
- All drugs can ruin family life as the pressure on loved ones can be very difficult. It can also lead to money problems.
Classification of Drugs
- Drugs are classified into A, B and C categories. A is the most dangerous with the hardest punishments.
- Class A drugs include heroine, cocaine and ecstasy.
- Class B drugs include cannabis (weed) and amphetamines (speed).
- Class C drugs include anabolic steroids and tranquilizers, such as valium.
- Class A punishments include up to 7 years for possession and life for supply (dealing).
- Class B punishments include 5 years fo possession and 14 years for supply/dealing.
- Class C varies. People can get 2 years for possession and 14 years for supply/dealing.
Reclassification of Cannabis
- In 1971 cannabis was classified as a class B drug. It was considered dangerous and was seen as leading to other drugs – a ‘gateway drug’.
- In 2004 it was re-classified a class C drug because it was seen as less dangerous than other class B drugs. Although dealers could still get time in prison and you could still get arrested for having it, police started issuing ‘cautions’ (warnings) or fines. Young people got sent for rehabilitation with Youth Offending teams.
- However, in 2008 the government decided it was too dangerous to be C. This was partly because skunk cannabis (stronger cannabis with more THC) was becoming popular.
Arguments for cannabis being a class B drug
- Some people say cannabis should be a class B drug because it causes mental health issues. Over 1,000 people get psychotic illnesses from taking it.
- It is also a class B drug because 500 people a week are admitted to…