One of the subjects looked at in GCSE Science is drugs. In this, the second of two quizzes on the subject, we look at the abuse of drugs - both medical and recreational. It is important to know the effects and the dangers of drugs and the damage they can do to our physical and our mental health.
Medical drugs are useful and help the body to heal or control pain. Sometimes they are modified and abused because some people enjoy the effects that they have on their bodies. Some drugs are deliberately manufactured or grown specially for recreational use. These recreational drugs can be extremely addictive and dangerous, (e.g. cocaine and heroin). When someone is dependent on (addicted to) a recreational drug, they may suffer from unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it. That makes it very hard for them to give it up.
Some recreational drugs are legal, for example alcohol and nicotine (from tobacco) but that doesn't mean they are safe. Abuse of them can cause health problems, often related to the lungs, liver, heart and brain.
Some athletes take drugs to improve their performance which is why top athletes have to give blood and urine tests at events. It sometimes takes years to discover that a respected athlete has been using drugs in this way but they usually get caught in the end. Several well-known athletes have been found cheating like this so they have been stripped of their titles and banned from taking part in their sport for several years.
Some performance enhancing drugs are legally available on prescription or even found in some medicines available to buy from the pharmacy. These substances are still banned so athletes taking any sort of medication need to check carefully to make sure they are not accidentally using a performance enhancing drug.
Performance enhancing drugs work by either increasing the number of red cells in the blood, increasing blood pressure and heart rate or building up bigger muscles. But their abuse can cause medical problems. For example, anabolic steroids are known to cause infertility and baldness as well as aggression and other psychiatric problems.