Please can you advise whether it is a good thing or a bad thing to take anti-depressants for a year or two after extensive abuse of drugs such as dagga, ecstasy, and cocaine; or, is it best to allow the brain to heal itself?
I listed out the effects of the three drugs below. Drugs mess with the way the mind operates and the effects last far longer than the immediate symptoms. For example, marijuana gets into the fat cells of the body and remain detectable for months after usage has stopped. For those who quit marijuana, it is at least a year, and sometimes up to two years, before their behavior and abilities return to a normal level.
According to the National Institute for Health in the United States, the drug Ecstasy, if used in as little as four days, can cause measurable nerve damage which can still be detected six to seven years later.
All three drugs can cause severe physical damage to the body, especially the heart, lungs, and liver. Some of this damage can eventually heal, but you may never return to full physical health.
Coming off of any drug is difficult. The mind becomes dependent on the presence of the drugs and sets off extreme cravings when they are absent. In addition, the damaged chemical and neurological pathways don't respond as they ought. This leads to extremes in mood swings and irrational thoughts.
Completely stopping all drugs is the fastest way to recover from drug abuse, but it also condenses all the extremes in mental instability into a short period. As mentioned earlier, it will take at least six months before you are basically functional in society again. It will be a year or more before you feel normal. So, psychiatrists administer mood stabilizers and antidepressants to get a drug user through the recovery period. What should be done is then to slowly wean yourself off the mood stabilizers and antidepressants. This stretches out the recovery time to many years, but because the extremes are gone, it is felt to have a greater chance of success.
I'm not in a position to say which method is best. The greatest danger to recovering from drugs is the potential to relapse. It is always there and it will always remain that it is quicker to fall back into full drug abuse than it was to first become addicted. Worse, it erases almost all the progress you made in recovery, causing you to start back from the beginning. The successful people that I have met had two things going for them: 1) An absolute determination not to be on drugs. Even when they relapsed, these people immediately checked themselves into a drug rehabilitation program as soon as they came down from the high. 2) A support system of non-drug users around them. They had people who watched over them and talked them through the cravings and the weird feelings and thoughts that came periodically as they came off. These people helped them fill there lives with useful things to do; thus, distracting them from the things that first made drugs appear attractive.
I hope and pray that you are successful in recovering.
Dagga is the name for marijuana in Australia and New Zealand. It's effects are:
EFFECTS OF DAGGA
According to users, the effects of Dagga will vary from person to person.
Dagga is a light depressant and when it is smoked the effect thereof will be felt within minutes and reaches its peak after about three (3) minutes. Dagga will hold the effect on the body for a period of two (2) to three (3) hours. The stronger the dose of Dagga that is taken the longer and more intense the so-called "Trip" will be. Dagga has the effect to speed up the pulse rate of an individual and the blood pressure drop drastically. It also causes a dry mouth and in certain cases it causes hallucinations. A serious thirst, an increase in appetite especially for something sweet (which is called "Munchies"), aggression, light headedness and forgetfulness in certain users are caused, especially when it is used together with the consumption of alcohol. There are cases of synaesthesia reported, where music is seen and colours heard.
FURTHER SIDE-EFFECTS OF DAGGA
- Brain damage
- Emphysema / Lung deceases
- Emotional and Spiritual problems
- Lowered Libido
- Weakened Liver functions
- Overall deterioration in health
Dagga has a negative effect on the short-term memory and users thereof become anxious, which leads to paranoia. The long-term use of Dagga can lead to lung cancer and various sources have been quoted to state that Dagga is more damaging to the lungs than normal cigarette smoke. It has a definite effect on the development of the body and can harm unborn babies. The metabolites of Dagga stay in the lungs for a very long time and also affect the immune system.
The users of Dagga are usually very apathetic and their performance at work and at school will deteriorate drastically. Dagga is a dependence forming substance and causes the tolerance effect where people who smoke Dagga have to increase their use of this drug to create the same effect (High).
It was also found that with certain individuals Dagga has a stimulating effect. As an example: in the beginning of the Century, the Chamber of Mines instituted more breaks during working hours, in order to give the opportunity to the workers to smoke Dagga in order to improve their work performance.
There are certain cases where individuals, especially juveniles, hallucinate after using Dagga.
Ecstasy is a stimulant. Its effects are:
What are its short-term effects?
Users report that Ecstasy produces intensely pleasurable effects – including an enhanced sense of self-confidence and energy. Effects include feelings of peacefulness, acceptance and empathy. Users say they experience feelings of closeness with others and a desire to touch others. Other effects can include involuntary teeth clenching, a loss of inhibitions, transfixion on sights and sounds, nausea, blurred vision, chills and/or sweating. Increases in heart rate and blood pressure, as well as seizures, are also possible. The stimulant effects of the drug enable users to dance for extended periods, which when combined with the hot crowded conditions usually found at raves, can lead to severe dehydration and hyperthermia or dramatic increases in body temperature. This can lead to muscle breakdown and kidney, liver and cardiovascular failure. Cardiovascular failure has been reported in some of the Ecstasy-related fatalities.
After-effects can include sleep problems, anxiety and depression.
What are its long-term effects?
Repeated use of Ecstasy ultimately may damage the cells that produce serotonin, which has an important role in the regulation of mood, appetite, pain, learning and memory. There already is research suggesting Ecstasy use can disrupt or interfere with memory.
Cocaine is also a stimulant, as well as an appetite suppressant.
Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant that interferes with the reabsorption process of dopamine, a chemical messenger associated with pleasure and movement. The buildup of dopamine causes continuous stimulation of receiving neurons, which is associated with the euphoria commonly reported by cocaine abusers.
Physical effects of cocaine use include constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. The duration of cocaine's immediate euphoric effects, which include hyperstimulation, reduced fatigue, and mental alertness, depends on the route of administration. The faster the absorption, the more intense the high. On the other hand, the faster the absorption, the shorter the duration of action. The high from snorting may last 15 to 30 minutes, while that from smoking may last 5 to 10 minutes. Increased use can reduce the period of time a user feels high and increases the risk of addiction.
Some users of cocaine report feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. A tolerance to the "high" may develop—many addicts report that they seek but fail to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their first exposure. Some users will increase their doses to intensify and prolong the euphoric effects. While tolerance to the high can occur, users can also become more sensitive to cocaine's anesthetic and convulsant effects without increasing the dose taken. This increased sensitivity may explain some deaths occurring after apparently low doses of cocaine.
Use of cocaine in a binge, during which the drug is taken repeatedly and at increasingly high doses, may lead to a state of increasing irritability, restlessness, and paranoia. This can result in a period of full-blown paranoid psychosis, in which the user loses touch with reality and experiences auditory hallucinations.
Other complications associated with cocaine use include disturbances in heart rhythm and heart attacks, chest pain and respiratory failure, strokes, seizures and headaches, and gastrointestinal complications such as abdominal pain and nausea. Because cocaine has a tendency to decrease appetite, many chronic users can become malnourished.
Different means of taking cocaine can produce different adverse effects. Regularly snorting cocaine, for example, can lead to loss of the sense of smell, nosebleeds, problems with swallowing, hoarseness, and a chronically runny nose. Ingesting cocaine can cause severe bowel gangrene due to reduced blood flow. People who inject cocaine can experience severe allergic reactions and, as with all injecting drug users, are at increased risk for contracting HIV and other blood-borne diseases.