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Illegal and Prescription Drugs

Illegal Drugs

Q. Since marijuana is legal in some states, why is it illegal in other states?
A. “Marijuana is a potentially dangerous drug with some serious short term and long term side effects. It can be addictive. No states recommend its use but some have decided that it’s too expensive and difficult to enforce the law. It still is illegal in most states (including South Carolina)!” — Dr. Harold Morse

Q. I’ve heard a lot about meth lately, what is it and why is it so bad?
A. “Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant that is closely related to amphetamine, but has longer lasting and more toxic effects on the central nervous system. It has a high potential for abuse and addiction. Some of its’ street names are: speed, meth, chalk, ice, crystal, glass. It increases wakefulness and physical activity and decreases appetite. Chronic, long-term use can lead to psychotic behavior, hallucinations, and stroke.” — Joe Feleppa, Director of AnMed Health Behavioral Health Services (source from NIAA and NIDA)

Q. Why do people become addicted to drugs?
A. “If and how quickly you might become addicted to a drug depends on many factors including your genes (which you inherit from your parents) and the biology of your body. All drugs are potentially harmful and may have life-threatening consequences associated with their use. There are also vast differences among individuals in sensitivity to various drugs. While one person may use a drug one or many times and suffer no ill effects, another person may be particularly vulnerable and overdose with first use. There is no way of knowing in advance how someone may react.” — Joe Feleppa, Director of AnMed Health Behavioral Health Services (source from NIAA and NIDA)

Q. I’ve been thinking about trying to use some steroids to get bigger and become a better athlete. What do steroids do your body?
A. “Steroids are chemical substances that are similar to a lot of natural occurring chemical substances in your body known as hormones. Fortunately, your body knows how much of each to produce at a safe level. Taking steroids not only interferes with your body’s ability to regulate those hormones but in excess can cause damage to your body. Side effects include breast development in males, shrinkage of the testicles, liver damage, heart disease, stunting your growth, and making you susceptible to infection.” — Dr. Keith Hart

Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drugs

Q. My parents have a prescription for some pain medicine. If I’m hurt or have some kind of pain, can I just take their pain medicine?
A. “Probably not a good idea. You may be allergic to the medicine. It may not be the right dose for your age and body weight. It may not be the appropriate treatment for your condition. Never take someone else’s prescription medication regardless of the medicine.” — Dr. David Turner

Q. Why are some over-the-counter drugs behind the pharmacy counter now?
A. “Pseudophedrine, which is found in many cough and cold medicines, can be used to make illegal substances like methamphetamine, a very addictive and harmful drug. Drug stores are now required by law to keep a log of all individuals who purchase these types of drugs in order to keep a record of who, how much, and how often they’re being purchased.” — Dr. David Turner

Q. The doctors prescribed some medicine and told me to take one pill every 4 hours. If my symptoms are still not better in 4 hours, can I take a pill every 2 hours instead?
A. “All medications have potential for benefit and potential for harm. Recommended doses are based on blood levels that give maximum benefit and minimal side effects based on careful scientific study. Taking more than the recommended dose will not help your symptoms any more and will more likely give you more side effects. Doubling the dose will very likely make you sicker and with some drugs even kill you!” — Dr. Harold Morse

Q. I’ve heard about kids who huff or sniff paint or other things to get high. What can that do to you?
A. “Huffing solvents is very bad for you. It is toxic to the brain, kidneys, heart, lungs, and liver. Every time you huff you kill some brain cells. Some kids have suddenly died because of paint huffing. Huffing is addictive and can also lead to other drug addictions.” — Dr. David Turner

Q. My friend has some ADD/ADHD medicine and said I should try some to help me study better. Is that OK?
A. “DEFINITELY NOT! Most prescription ADHD medications are what are called ‘controlled substances’ and not only could they cause serious harm to those that take it without a prescription, it is illegal to possess them without a prescription. It is also a serious crime for your friend to distribute these same medications.” — Dr. Keith Hart

Q. I’ve heard that drugs like Ritalin and Adderall are stimulants. If they’re a stimulant, then why do they prescribe them for hyper kids?
A. “They do fall into the category of ‘stimulant medications’. Those that have the disorder of ADHD have deficiencies and some excesses of those chemical substances that regulate the flow of information from one nerve in the brain to the next. If those that do not have the disorder take a stimulant it will alter those transmitting substances to a point that will cause them to appear ‘hyper’. The same drug in a person with ADHD will modulate those same transmitters to a more ‘normal’ level and allow the person to focus and be attentive.” — Dr. Keith Hart