Friday, January 07, 2005

Drugs: Damage Inflicted/Damage Reversal

The British newspaper The Guardian ran a story today about not giving up hope, that it's worthwhile to quit bad habits because your body can heal from the most serious side effects of the bad things people do to themselves in the name of "fun."

The author, Peta Bee, looked at the prospects for a healthy recovery for smoking (very good), drinking (good), caffeine (excellent), poor diet (excellent) ... and "recreational" drugs (only average to good). Bad damage/tough recovery -- best to never do them!

Here's what Bee had to say about "recreational" drugs:

Damage inflicted: A study presented to the British Psychological Society in 2004 found that ecstasy restricts mental ability, causes long-term sleep disturbance and encourages psychological dependence. Cocaine toxicity can occur with a recreational habit and symptoms include chest pains, a burning throat and an overwhelming sense of anxiety and paranoia. Frequent cannabis use has also been linked to psychological problems, with researchers recently claiming in the British Medical Journal that it increases psychotic symptoms. Eighteen-year-olds who have used cannabis 50 times have a nearly seven-fold increased risk of developing psychosis over the next 15 years. Cannabis contains more tar than tobacco and a high concentration of carcinogens (cancer-causing agents).

Damage reversal: Depending on the extent of your recreational habit, you may suffer some bouts of paranoia or depression after you stop using any type of recreational drug. Cognitive behaviour therapy can be helpful in getting back on track as can activities such as yoga and meditation. Aerobic exercise will not only trigger the production of feel-good chemicals in the brain, but will also strengthen the cardiovascular system, which can become weakened by drug use, says Dr Robert Lefever of the Promis Recovery Centre in Kent. A balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables is vital.

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