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Ranking the Health Hazards of Drugs

The 5 commonly abused drugs are: alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine and heroin. I would like to add methamphetamine to that list since it has recently become recognized as a significant problem. If you had to compare the direct health hazards of these six substances, how would you rank them in order of dangerousness and why? Some would say that the harm from drugs can not be reduced merely to the respective number of deaths. You may wish to make a second rank ordering of the psychosocial hazards of these 6 substances as well.

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Let's take a closer look at this interesting categorization exercise.

1. The 5 commonly abused drugs are: alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine and heroin. I would like to add methamphetamine to that list since it has recently become recognized as a significant problem. If you had to compare the direct health hazards of these six substances, how would you rank them in order of dangerousness and why?

The following six drugs are commonly abused drugs. In terms of direct health risks (e.g., organ damage, brain, lungs, stoke, heart attach, death, to name a few), the six drugs would be ranked as follows, with one being the most dangerous.

Note: Interestingly, heroine has few health risks, so is ranked as least dangerous in terms of health risks, although secondary risk like exposing themselves to the HIV virus through unclean needle use.

1. Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine has a high abuse potential and is very addictive e.g., addicted the first time, and the physical damage is rapid e.g., brain damage, and can happen soon after the first administration of the drug.

2. Cocaine

Cocaine and other stimulants have the same general effect, but differ greatly in their potency; may be inhaled, absorbed across mucosal membranes, or ingested orally.

Cocaine is very addictive; it acts by blocking catecholamine reuptake; it is a general stimulant, producing a feeling of energy, well being, and self-confidence; extremely high doses can lead to cocaine psychosis characterized by sleeplessness, nausea, restlessness and psychotic behavior. Very high doses can produce stroke, seizures, and respiratory arrest; withdrawal symptoms are mild. Clinically, cocaine derivatives are effective as local anesthetics.

3. Alcohol

Alcohol is consumed by 66% of the US population and 15 million are addicted; ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses the ranking of the health hazards of six commonly abused drugs: alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

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