EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY
SUBJECT: Alcohol and Drug Testing Policy
What Parts of the Body Does Alcohol Affect
Alcohol affects virtually every organ in the body. To the body, alcohol is a poison. It either kills cells or dissolves into cell membranes so the cell can no longer respond properly. In this manner, it affects the entire body.
More specifically, studies show alcohol effects every part of the brain from the outer layer (cortex) which is the home of thinking and reasoning to the inner layers which are responsible for controlling heart rate, coordination and balance as well as the functions that mark us as humans rather than animals. Alcohol can permanently destroy brain cells.
Alcohol weakens the pumping of the heart muscle and decreases blood flow to the heart. It is the most common cause of high blood pressure. Alcohol decreases the ability of the liver to metabolize fat and kills other liver cells which can lead to hepatitis and cirrhosis which is one of leading causes of death in the United States.
Alcohol also causes the stomach to secrete more acid than normal, which can lead to ulcers and gastritis. With continued drinking, the digestive system may hemorrhage and malnutrition may take place.
The Health Risks of Drugs of Abuse
All drugs of abuse achieve their primary effects by making chemical changes in the central nervous system which includes the brain, spinal cord, and the nerves of the body. Drugs of Abuse either:
Slow actions and reactions down (depress)
Speed actions and reactions up (stimulate)
These changes in our natural chemistry change both how our
bodies work (physiology), and how we feel about ourselves and our
lives (psychology). While a person's size, experience, and overall
health play a roll in how they are effected by a drug, whenever
drugs interfere with the normal functions of the central nervous
system, changes automatically occur in the way vital organs
function. These organs include the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas,
stomach and productive systems. These changes can range from mild
to severe and, in some cases, cause death.
Cocaine over stimulates the circulatory, respiratory, and central nervous systems. Cocaine interferes with the natural chemical in the brain that stimulate and regulate the firing of nerve cells. Muscle spasms in various parts of the body can occur. Over stimulation of the nervous system can cause convulsions which can lead to respiratory collapse and death. Long term crack (rock like bits of cocaine that can be smoked) smokers have also suffered permanent damage to the cortex, the part of the brain that is used to think. Since it can be purchased legally, it is also impossible to tell what other drugs may be mixed with the street substance.
The mind altering chemical in Marijuana is Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Because Marijuana is many times also used in combination with other drugs, it is difficult to distinguish which effects are induced solely by THC. However, smoking marijuana seems to effect the structure of the brain associated with emotion, motivation the regulation of hormones. While permanent damage has yet to be proved, smokers many times have memory problems which is caused when THC prevents the brain from transferring information from short-term memory to long-term memory storage. Other health risks include sore throats and upper respiratory problems such as bronchitis and shortness of breath. Marijuana smoke is generally thought to be 15 times more harmful to the lungs than cigarette smoke. It also contains some of the same ingredients as the ones in tobacco that cause emphysema and cancer. In women, THC may interfere with ovulation and other hormone relate functions while in men, studies have proven that sperm counts decrease caused by reduced testosterone levels. Studies also indicate THC may cause cellular damage that interferes with the body's ability to fight disease and lower the bodies resistance to infections and foreign agents.
These drugs, codeine, morphine and common painkillers such as Demerol and Darvon are all legally manufactured from opium which is a by product of the poppy plant. Heroin, an illegally manufactured product, as well as those legal narcotics, all find there way into the drug market place. When taken outside a doctor's care, the user risks mental and physical dependence in the form of prolonged lethargy, apathy, slurring of speech, loss of judgement and self control. All of these may result in convulsions, coma, nausea, diarrhea, occasional vomiting, and malnutrition as the drug replaces a balanced diet.
Amphetamines are central nervous system stimulants which tend to throw off the complete bodily rest and repair system. Hyperactivity and mental anxiety are common. Repeated high dose results in lethargy, exhaustion, mental confusion and paranoid thoughts. Abnormal dyskinetic movements may persist long after chronic stimulant use stops. This can be accompanied by emotionalism which can be manifested in the form of hallucinations and finally blood pressure and heat problems.
PCP or "angel dust" was originally manufactured as an animal
tranquilizer and can cause violent and self destructive behavior in
humans. "Dust" affects brain functions and many times takes the
user both out of reality and into a mind set that overrides the
natural tendency to be cautious in dangerous circumstances.
Consequently, users many times place themselves in situations that
may cause serious injury. In effect, the user may become irrational
and think themselves to be indestructible. Use may also result in
blurred vision, diminished sensations, ataxia, hyperreflexia,
clonus, auditory hallucinations and variable motor depression which
may lead to other aggressive or bizarre behavior. Blood pressure
rises, and there may also be diaphoresis and salivation. High dose
may lead to convulsions, coma, hyperpyrexia, and respiratory
depression or arrest (death).