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Comparative harms of legal and

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Comparative harms of legal and

There is much harm that comes about due to the use of drugs, legal or illegal. For starters there are many health risks that one takes if he or she abuses the power of drugs. Someone that is addicted to drugs, either legal or illegal, puts an awful strain on their bodies. They also put an awful strain onto their family and friends. Attempts will be made in this paper to compare the harms that occur from the abuse of legal and illegal drugs.

Throughout U.S. history there have been many attempts to control drug use. The first attempt to control drugs in the U.S. came about in 1868. In that year the Pharmacy Act of 1868 was passed (Drugs 78). The act required the registration of anyone that was dispensing drugs, such as prescriptions. Around 1987 the first amounts of cocaine began to appear in the country, it was mainly used as a substitute for opium and a cure for asthma and toothaches (Drugs 78). The next major step to enforce drugs in the country came by the passing of the Harrison Act in 1914. The act though was not a major force to prohibit the use of drugs. It was mainly a means to collect revenue from the sale of prescribed drugs. It also did make it unlawful to poses narcotics unless the drug was prescribed by a doctor (Drugs 79). The next major act the came about to try and enforce drugs was in 1970. It was the Controlled Substances Act and the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act. These two acts created schedules for drugs amended the penalties for violation and also gave strength to the regulation of the pharmaceutical industry. What the federal government meant for these acts to do was act as a model for the states legislation to follow, and more often than not have been followed (Drugs 82). Then during the beginning of the 1980's the government began what is known as the War on Drugs. During this time many task forces, drug enforcement offices and drug polices began to appear and the focus of the drug control began to come down to punishment rather than treatment.

Lets try to define abuse and what it means to abuse drugs. Drug abuse consists of taking more than the prescribed amount of a medication without the medical advise of a physician. Drug abuse also includes the use of any illegal substance such as marijuana, cocaine, LSD and heroine (Microsoft Drug 1). It is also possible to abuse legal substances such as nicotine or caffeine through excessive use. The word abuse also could be used along side of the word addiction. One is said to be addicted if their pattern of use, or any kind of activity, interferes with their everyday responsibilities in their life, such as their job or family.

There are many types of treatment that can be used to try and get the drug abuser off of the drugs. As far as tobacco is concerned one survey found that the majority of former smokers, (approximately 91%), quit on their own, without any professional assistance (Skaar 3). And the most popular method for those who quit was cold turkey, an all of the sudden stopping of smoking without any type of medication or gradual reduction (Skaar 3). Another method that is used to quit smoking is a nicotine patch. A nicotine patch is an actual patch that goes onto the smokers arm and delivers small doses of nicotine to the smoker instead of actually smoking the cigarette. The doses are then gradually reduced until the smoker's body no longer needs the nicotine in their body. As far as illegal drug abuse is concerned there is other types of treatment. Some of those other types of treatment include psychotherapy, psychological counseling and other types of detoxification programs, which is a supervised type of treatment that gradually takes the drugs out of the user's system (Microsoft Drugs 1).

During illegal drug abuse there is often crime that can become part of the user's life. Not only is it illegal to buy, sell and use illegal drugs, many users can't afford their habit. To support their habit they then have to become involved in various types of crimes. These crimes often include burglary, robbery, and petty theft in which they then sell to afford the drugs. So the user then becomes deeply involved in the life of crime. It does not have to happen that way though. There is an enormous part of illegal drug abuse that involves people that have money to afford their habit.

In the course of this paper both legal drug abuse and illegal drug abuse will be discussed. Four drugs in each category will be discussed. In the legally abused drugs alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and herbal medicines will be discussed. The illegal drugs that are commonly abused that will be discussed in this paper are, the most commonly used or abused drug in the world marijuana, cocaine, LSD and heroine. Of these drugs both the harms of the drugs themselves will be discussed and also some type of treatments that try and suspend the use of the drug will be discussed.

Tobacco is the first of the legal drugs that will be talked about. The addictive agent that is in tobacco is nicotine. It is very well known that smoking contributes to higher rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and many other respiratory diseases such as emphysema. Although even smokers very well know all of this, approximately twenty-five percent of the United States population continues to smoke (Skaar 1). In the United States in 1990 tobacco related deaths reached upward of 400,000. This number represented nearly nineteen percent of all deaths and almost forty percent of all deaths resulting from a preventable cause (Skaar 1). Also as noted by Breslau, there has been observation in both men and women of a more than twofold greater risk for major depression in persons with nicotine dependence (Breslau 1). Also stated was that even though there is a more common chance of major depression in women nicotine dependence and depression did not vary between the sexes. All of this means that both nicotine dependant men, and women are at a greater risk for major depression.

As far as death from cancer, smokers are at a two times greater risk than a nonsmoker, and a heavy smoker is at a four times greater risk than a nonsmoker. Of the 400,000 deaths that are accredited to smoking each year cancer accounts for close to 150,000 of those (Skaar 2). There are two major cancer-causing agents that are found in cigarette smoking. These agents are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines (Skaar 2). These substances can interfere with the process of cellular replication; often cause genetic damage and mutations. Smoking also has another way to kill, second hand smoke. Second hand smoke or passive smoking also has a large death rate. It is estimated that somewhere around 53,000 deaths are caused each year due to second hand smoke (Skaar 2).

Another disease that smoking has a great toll on is cardiovascular disease. Smoking results in a three to four times greater likelihood of myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest and stroke. Of the 400,000 smoking related deaths that were reported in 1990, 180,000 of them were a result of some cardiovascular problem (Skaar 3). Patients that have been found to have some sort of cardiovascular disease and smoke have experiences a rapid decrease in the conditions of the disease once they quit smoking. One last major concern of smoking is when a women smokes when she is pregnant with a child. There are a few concerns that are associated with smoking and being pregnant. There is an increased risk of pre and prenatal mortality, placenta abruptia, placenta previa, low birth weight, preterm delivery and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) (Skaar 3). One other problem that the United States is currently having with smoking is paying for all of the people that are in the hospital with smoking related illnesses. The states are stuck paying for illnesses that cigarette companies caused by putting their product on the market. So the states organized and filed a class action suit against the companies and won. The settlements then made the cigarette companies raise the prices for their cigarettes and smokers end up footing the bill for their own habits.

There is many ways for someone to quit smoking. The most popular way of smoking cessation is cold turkey or stopping smoking abruptly without any assistance. The majority of people, ninety-one percent, quit this way (Skaar 3). Other methods of quitting include gradual reduction from their high levels of nicotine by switching to a different brand of cigarette that has a lower nicotine dose, cutting back on daily consumption over a period of time and quitting with family members or friends.

Alcohol is probably the most common legal mind altering drug found around the home and in fact everywhere. The alcohol related costs to the United States have been estimated at 100,000 deaths and one hundred billion dollars each year (Dufour 1). It has recently been found that small amounts of alcohol can actually give the body protective efforts against coronary heart disease (Dofour 1). Alcohol affects each person's body different so each everyone must be aware of how their bodies react with alcohol. We have many of the obvious harms of alcohol use such as driving while intoxicated and possible causing an accident. Another situation in which alcohol is very harmful is that of a pregnant woman drinking. Alcohol can be very harmful to the developing fetus. Some other risks that arise from the use of alcohol include violence, alcohol poisoning from excessive consumption, as well as the combination of alcohol and medicines can be dangerous. There is also long term risks that are part of the consumption of alcohol such as alcohol dependence, where the body needs alcohol to function properly, alcohol cirrhosis, and alcohol heart muscle disease (Dufour 2).

There is two main ways in which a person can be detoxified from the use of alcohol. These include inpatient and outpatient detoxification. If one were to consider outpatient detoxification they would be looking at a cheaper and quicker route to detoxification, but there is a much greater chance of a relapse back into the use of alcohol. Inpatient offers a better chance of success but its much more costly and time consuming because of the constant care and supervision by professionals (Hayashida 1). During outpatient care the patient is expected to travel to a treatment facility daily during their detoxification. The treatment can range anywhere between three to fourteen days, averaging around six and one half days. Inpatient care requires a stay at a facility for the duration of the treatment. The usual stay ranges from five to fourteen days (Hayashida 1). The main factor for detoxification of an alcoholic is not whether of not ...

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Keywords: comparing legal systems, comparative legal study, comparative legal cultures, legal comparison, comparison of legal systems

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