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Biology - Abuse of Drugs (AQA Syllabus A)

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.

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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.

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  1. Some sports people cheat by taking drugs called anabolic steroids. Why?
    Steroid abuse disrupts the normal production of hormones in the body, causing both reversible and irreversible changes in the men and women who take them. Competing athletes are banned from taking these drugs
  2. The legal recreational drug nicotine is usually obtained from smoking tobacco. Which of the following statements is not true?
    Nicotine reaches the brain in as little as 30 seconds after being inhaled as it enters the bloodstream in the lungs
  3. Regular drinkers of alcoholic drinks can become addicted to them. Which of the following is the addictive substance in alcoholic drinks?
    The ethanol is produced naturally by the fermentation of sugar. Research carried out in 2004 suggest that our Stone Age ancestors were brewing alcoholic drinks
  4. Alcohol and tobacco are examples of what type of drugs?
    Small amounts of alcohol based drinks can help some people to relax but in bigger quantities they cause a loss of self control
  5. Which of the following are long term effects of regular misuse of alcohol on the human body?
    Alcohol is toxic to our bodies
  6. Drugs that are classed as stimulants ...
    Stimulants are designed to make the user more alert
  7. Which of the following statements about cannabis is true?
    Cannabis smoke contains chemicals that cause permanent damage to certain parts of the brain. It has been discovered that smoking cannabis as a teenager lowers IQ and makes learning much more difficult. Long term use has been clinically linked to mental health issues like depression, anxiety, paranoia, suicidal thoughts and a lack of interest in the world
  8. A drug is a substance that always ...
    Whether the drug is legal or illegal, it changes the normal functioning of the body. For example, painkillers interfere with the transmission of signals along nerves that are attached to pain receptors
  9. Doctors say that pregnant women should not drink alcohol or smoke tobacco or cannabis. Why?
    A foetus in the womb is easily damaged by drugs which interfere with the normal development of both the body and the brain
  10. Some people take energy drinks that contain caffeine to increase their sports performance. Caffeine is a stimulant drug, this means that it ...
    Caffeine doesn't work on everybody

Author: Kev Woodward

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