Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Illegal Drugs 101: Information for Writers


Are you trying to choose which drugs your character is taking?



English: A woman smoking crack from a glass pipe.
English: A woman smoking crack from a glass pipe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are writing a violent crime there is a 40% chance that the criminal had alcohol in his system. (link) And we know the heroine increases her risk of becoming a victim with the use of alcohol which is still the number one rape drug. But did you know that according to the Department of Justice, approximately 25% of all criminals who end up in the penitentiary do so committing crimes that somehow include drugs in the scenario? This might include:
* Growing/producing illegal drugs
* Selling 
* Crimes that are the result of having the
   drugs in the body
* Crimes such as robbery or burglary perpetrated to have the
   funds to get more drugs.






HarmCausedByDrugsTable
HarmCausedByDrugsTable (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Drugs are a high profit - high risk undertaking

* With each step from farmer to consumer the drug is "cut" to 
   make the profits.
* When a substance is seized it is sent to a toxicology lab
   (Toxicology Forensics 101 blog link) for analysis. There it is
   determined what percent of the substance is drug and which is
   filler - like sugar in cocaine.
* A person charged with possession will be tried on the total weight
   of drug and cutting agent. So even if there is a very small
   percentage of actual drug, say 10% or 1 gram of coke in a
  10 gram seizure, the trial and sentencing would follow the
   guidelines for the 10 grams of product.
* There does have to be a certain amount of illegal substance
   involved in order to bring charges.




English: Drug Enforcement Administration logo
Drug Enforcement Administration logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is in charge of illegal substances. If you are writing a DEA agent's involvement they are tasked with:
Drug Enforcement Administration special agents
Drug Enforcement Administration special agents (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
...Enforcing the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States, the DEA's primary responsibilities include:
  • Investigation and preparation for the prosecution of major violators of controlled substance laws operating at interstate and international levels.
  • Investigation and preparation for prosecution of criminals and drug gangs who perpetrate violence in our communities and terrorize citizens through fear and intimidation.
  • Management of a national drug intelligence program in cooperation with federal, state, local, and foreign officials to collect, analyze, and disseminate strategic and operational drug intelligence information.
  • Seizure and forfeiture of assets derived from, traceable to, or intended to be used for illicit drug trafficking.
  • Enforcement of the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act as they pertain to the manufacture, distribution, and dispensing of legally produced controlled substances.
  • Coordination and cooperation with federal, state and local law enforcement officials on mutual drug enforcement efforts and enhancement of such efforts through exploitation of potential interstate and international investigations beyond local or limited federal jurisdictions and resources.
  • Coordination and cooperation with federal, state, and local agencies, and with foreign governments, in programs designed to reduce the availability of illicit abuse-type drugs on the United States market through nonenforcement methods such as crop eradication, crop substitution, and training of foreign officials.
  • Responsibility, under the policy guidance of the Secretary of State and U.S. Ambassadors, for all programs associated with drug law enforcement counterparts in foreign countries.
  • Liaison with the United Nations, Interpol, and other organizations on matters relating to international drug control programs. quote link


Besides the DEA Who Is Looking for Drugs in Your Character's System?

* Corporations - when hiring or doing random tests
* Sports events looking for specific drugs "doping" that would
   increase the contenders abilities
* School systems
* Medical facilities - especially if a patient is brought in
   unconscious 
* Other law enforcement officers
* Coroners 

When a drug is found in the system:

* Toxicology is mainly tested with blood or urine samples.
* Lab techs will identify the drugs and quantity of drugs in the body
* If there is a death, the coroner tries to determine if the drug on
   board 
   a. Caused the death
   b. Contributed to the death
Blog article - Forensic Toxicology


Quick Guide to Drug Categories 

There are four ways to formulate a drug
1. Naturally occurring - like marijuana and mushrooms
2. Plant extracts -  cocaine
3. Semi-synthetic - manufactured from a plant like heroine or LSD
4. Synthetic - entirely man made

DRUGS: 


A pile of crack cocaine ‘rocks’
A pile of crack cocaine ‘rocks’
Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Stimulants
Include - 
* Amphetamines
* Cocaine
* Khat 
* Methamphetamine

Might cause - 
* Elevated mood 
* Increased blood 
   pressure/heart/respiration
   rates
* Reduced depression
   and create euphoria 
* Created energy - such as
   caffeine.

Samogon Cocktail, Tales of the Cocktail, New O...
Samogon Cocktail, Tales of the Cocktail, New Orleans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Depressants
Include - 
* Alcohol
* Barbiturates
* Benzodiazepines
* GHB
* Rohypnol

Effects might include - 
* Kill people by paralyzing
   the respiratory center in
   their brain
* Mixing alcohol and barbiturates often causes death
* Sudden withdrawal (cold turkey) can cause death
* They effect the brain and central nervous system, slowing
   breathing, lowering heart rate and blood pressure.
* Depressants also reduce the R.E.M. stage of sleep so will effect
   cognition and mood over time. 
* Also, they can stimulate the nervous system to produce energy
   mimicking a stimulant (why parents take their kid's ADD meds.)
* Can last minutes or up to 48 hours.


Heroin powder
Heroin powder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Narcotic
Include - 
* Heroin
* Hydromorphone
* Methodone
* Morphine
* Opium
* Oxycodone

Resulting in possible - 
* Euphoria, rush, hallucinations
* Restlessness
* Loss of appetite, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting
* Dry mouth
* Lethargy, drowsiness, nodding, difficulty being roused
* Unsteadiness, confusion
* Suppression of pain
* Constricted (pinpoint) pupils
* Scars (tracks) caused by injections
* Difficulty urinating
* Constipation
* Sweating
* Difficulty breathing

Chronic / long term use of narcotics may cause -
* Develop tolerance
* Decreased heart rate
* Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)  
* Decreased/loss of coordination (ataxia)
* Delayed Encephalopathy (brain disorders)
* The brain may stop producing the bodies natural painkillers
   (endorphins), making withdrawal very painful.
* Infections of the skin
* Speech abnormalities
resource link
English: Main long-term effects of heroine, in...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


English: Four ounces of low-grade marijuana, u...
Four ounces of low-grade marijuana, usually referred to as a quarter-pound or QP. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hallucinogens
Include - 
* Ecstasy/MDMA
* K2/Spice
* Ketamine
* LSD
* Peyote and Mescaline
* Marijuana
* Steroids
* PCP (angel dust)

Effects might include - 
* Dilated pupils
* Rapid Heart beat
* Cold chills, shivering/hot flashes
* Dizziness
* Tremors/shaking
* Paranoia
* Panic (bad trip)
* Changes in sensory perceptions
* Hallucinations
* Body numbness, can't feel pain such as a stab or bullet wound

* Violent or aggressive behavior
* Psychosis


Salvia divinorum flower detail
Salvia divinorum flower detail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Other Drugs of Concern
* Bath salts or designer
   Cathinones
* DXM
* Salvia Divinorum




See how this article influenced my plot lines in my novella MINE and my novel CHAOS IS COME AGAIN.


Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.





4 comments:

  1. PI Jake Knight sent me here to do research. He shows up in GOAT-RIPPER and GURL-POSSE KIDNAP. Right now he's watching some evil dudes, preparing for GUT-CHECK GREEN. Drugs aside, it's a thrill ride. On'Ya FIONA.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks so much for this information. None of the characters in my WIP uses/sells drugs, but who knows about the next book. I will keep this information around in case I need it. It was very generous of you to share it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My great pleasure.

      There are lots of researched articles here - I hope there's something you'll find helpful. You'll find them listed under the tabs above. Happy plotting!

      Fiona

      Delete
  3. Being an erotic writer, i believe, this post really gonna help me allot with my work as most of my work is well hooked up with vulgarity. However, indeed it's true, i always wanted to write smth like this on drugs, cocain, & high stimulating stuffs... cos stirring drugs with erotica, & erotica with vulgar romance always hit the list. And im always much into such things, philosophically. Happy to read the post! Lookin forward to readin more. Keep posting! much helpful, & appreciated as well.

    ReplyDelete