Categorize Drugs According to Hazardous Scale

Most of us are aware of the effects of alcohol and tobacco. Or are we? What about other commonly abused drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin? These drugs are illegal, but does that automatically mean they are more hazardous to our health than alcohol and tobacco?

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After reviewing your text about the health hazards of the commonly abused drugs—alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin—categorize each according to the following scale:

  • 1—Non-hazardous
  • 2—Somewhat hazardous
  • 3—Hazardous
  • 4—Very hazardous
  Tobacco Alcohol Marijuana Cocaine (stimulants) Heroin (opiates)
Long-term effects 4 4 2 3 1
Disease-causing 4 4 2 2 2
Chances of addiction 3 4 3 4 4
Withdrawal effects 3 4 2 1 3
Contribution to deaths 4 3 2 4 2
Heritability of using 3 2 1 1 1
Totals: 21 21 12 15 13

Are you surprised at your results? Why or why not?

I was very surprised about the heroin. My experience with friends who have been on this drug has varied. This drug seems to be so addictive that the positive-incentive is too hard to resist, from what a friend said. He said that the anticipation is almost too much. It caused him to use more and more until it almost killed him, his words not mine. So I guess the disease-causing category is a mixed bag, mild side effects if used mildly but deadly if used in excess. I knew about the marijuana. Pot is very addictive though. I think more because of the social allure than anything else. I was aware of the problems with alcohol and tobacco.

If the drug’s social impact was a category, how might it change your totals?

It would seem like cocaine and heroin would gauge higher in this category because of the taboo attached to them. The unwritten rule is: some people do pot and that is their business but doing heroin and coke is punishable by death. It is almost like heroin and coke are more illegal. I think that alcohol and tobacco would be lowest on the list. In fact, some people find it extremely socially desirable to engage in both in order to fit into a certain crowd.

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Pinel, J.J. (2007). Basics of biopsychology. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

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