Commonly Abused Drugs and Symptoms
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Commonly Abused Drugs & Symptoms

The facts are alarming :

  • 76% of illicit drug users are employed.
  • Up to 20% of work related deaths test positive for alcohol or other drugs.
  • Industries with the highest rates of drug use also have the highest rates of injuries.

Statistically speaking, at least some of your employees are using illegal drugs and could be placing your business at greater risk of injury or liability.

So, how can a manager or small business owner identify a problem?

Begin by educating yourself on the problem and learn to recognize commonly used drugs and associated symptoms of substance abuse.

There are several main categories of drugs to be aware of including:

Narcotics: Narcotics are often referred to as "pain killers" and include drugs such as morphine, codeine, heroin, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone and other drugs that are derived from opium or a semi-synthetic substitute. Many narcotics have valuable medical uses but a high potential for abuse. Others, like heroin, have little to no recognized medicinal value and are considered illicit drugs. 

Symptoms of narcotic use or abuse include poor concentration, drowsiness, constriction of pupils, flushing of the face and neck, apathy, and even nausea, vomiting and respiratory depression.

Stimulants: Stimulants are those drugs associated with energy like Cocaine, Amphetamines, Methcathinone and other drugs. They are commonly called "uppers" due to the ability of stimulants to initially cause exhilaration, excitement and energy.

Symptoms of stimulant use or abuse include extended periods of wakefulness, loss of appetite, headache, flushed skin, palpitations, sweating, agitation, hostility, panic and other emotional manifestations followed by a "crash" or period of extreme fatigue.

Depressants: Depressants are frequently used to induce sleep or relaxation as well as reduce anxiety or relieve stress. Alcohol is one of the most frequently used depressants. Other widely used depressants include Barbiturates and Benzodiazepines among a host of other lesser recognized drugs.

Symptoms of depressant use include slurred speech, impaired judgment, memory loss, confusion, sleepiness, dizziness, nausea, and other side effects. 

Cannabis: Cannabis consists of Marijuana, Hashish and Synthetic THC as well as Hashish Oil. Marijuana is one of the most widely used illicit drugs although other forms are becoming much more popular.

Symptoms of Cannabis use include a sense of well-being, alterations in sensory perception or cues, paranoia and impaired motor coordination.

Hallucinogens: One of the most well known Hallucinogens is LSD but MDMA (Ecstasy), Ketamine and others have grown in popularity particularly among the Rave crowd and other younger groups.

Symptoms of hallucinogens include perceptual disorders, alterations in perception and mood, dilated pupils, elevated heart rate and increased blood pressure. Flashbacks -fragmentary recurrences of the initial drug experience may take place weeks or even months later.

Inhalants: Inhalants are those chemicals or substances that are sniffed, snorted, huffed or otherwise inhaled. They can include common household cleaners, glues, volatile fluids and other chemicals.

Symptoms include perceptual distortions, loss of motor coordination, slurred speech, red or glassy eyes, excitability, unpredictable behavior and other side effects.

Steroids: Steroid abuse has gained widespread attention due to media coverage of well known athletes engaging in the illicit use of performance enhancing drugs including anabolic steroids. Steroids comprise a wide range of substances in a variety of forms.

Symptoms of steroid use or abuse include manic episodes, hostility, aggression, violent behavior, increased blood pressure, premature balding, reduced sexual function and abnormal gender development in both men and women.

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