You sent us many, many questions about drugs and drug abuse! Here are some of the most common and important ones:
Question: Why do people do drugs?
Answer: People do drugs for many reasons, including:
- Peer pressure. Sometimes when people feel lonely and bad about themselves, they think that being part of a group, even a group of drug users, will make everything better. Of course, drug use usually makes self-esteem problems worse, not better, and eventually kids who cave in to peer pressure might wake up and realize that they're hanging out with people who aren't fun to be around.
- A drug's reputation. Some people choose to do a specific drug because of all the things they hear about it. They may have heard that a certain drug makes music better to listen to, or makes you feel more relaxed in social situations. The truth is that the people making and selling illegal drugs won't tell you about all their serious negative effects.
- Depression. When people get overwhelmed by sadness or experience clinical depression, they may look at drugs as an escape from the real world for a little while. The tragic part about this is that illegal drugs almost always make depression worse.
- Boredom. Some people just aren't very creative, and can't think of healthy, legal ways to have fun. They may start doing drugs because they think it will be an interesting way to kill time, and end up doing serious damage to their bodies and brains.
- The urge to "try everything." Growing up means experiencing lots of new things in life and exploring who you are as a person. Some people take this to the extreme and think of drugs as something they have to experience for themselves in order to feel more mature. But the fact is, you can't try every experience that's out there, and it may not be the best idea to try something just so you can say that you did. Explore and experience, sure…but take the time to choose the experiences that are right for you.
- Addiction. Most drugs are habit-forming, meaning that once you start taking them, it's very difficult to stop. Maybe a person was given a prescription painkiller by a doctor, and took it more often than she was supposed to, and became addicted. Maybe a person just wanted to try a drug for a little while to see what all the fuss was about, and before he knew it, he couldn't stop. Addiction is very powerful, and can turn a drug "experimentation" into something that lasts a very long time and ruins a person's life.
Question: Who are the people who make drugs?
Answer: Many different people make drugs:
- Drug companies. Some drugs are legal if you have a doctor's prescription. These prescription drugs are made by drug companies across the world and sold by pharmacists. If they're being sold illegally on the streets, the drugs were probably stolen from a pharmacy or bought with fake doctor's prescription slips.
- Chemical companies. Gasoline, paint thinner, and other products that people inhale to get high are made by chemical companies. They're legal to buy and sell because they were never meant to be drugs. They become drugs when people use them in the wrong way.
- Criminals. Most illegal drugs are made by criminals either here or in other countries. Cocaine, which comes from the coca plant, is grown and processed overseas and then smuggled in to drug dealers in the U.S. Marijuana grows all over the world, and it's a crime to grow or sell it. Methampetamine, LSD and Ecstasy are created from chemicals by American and foreign criminals with some knowledge of chemistry.
Question: Why do people sell drugs to kids?
Answer: People sell drugs to kids to make money. Kids have allowances, or are earning money at summer jobs, or can get money from parents if they need it. The people who make and sell drugs know this, so they'll find a way to get drugs to the kids who want them and have the money to pay for them. They don't care that drugs harm, and even kill, kids. These criminals just want money, and they're willing to risk going to jail to get it.
Question: Why can't the government and police get rid of drugs?
Answer: The people in government and law enforcement spend lots of time, money, and effort trying to stop people from selling and using drugs. But as long as criminals can keep making money from selling drugs, and as long as people want to buy them, the police can only do so much. The best way to stop drugs is to never use them. If there were nobody left to buy drugs, the criminals wouldn't be able to make money, and would stop making and selling them. It's the same with anything else: if nobody's buying, then the sellers go out of business!
Next, we look at some of the most common Rumors and Myths you may have heard about drug abuse.