1. What are club drugs? What are some of the factors that support the use of club drugs?
2. What are screening tests? Why are they used?
3. What are color tests? Why are these tests used?
4. What are microcrystalline tests? What information do they provide?
5. What is spectrophotometry? How can this be useful in identifying drugs?
Critical Thinking Questions
1. Why are forensic scientists an important part of drug cases?
2. If you were a forensic scientist and you were called to a crime scene to see if drugs were present, what would you do to determine this?
3. Why is it important for forensic scientists to have as much information as possible about the place where a possible drug substance was found?
4. What are some of the difficulties in identifying particular drugs? Why is it important for forensic scientists to be able to identify particular drugs?
1. Some people believe that certain drugs such as marijuana should be legalized. Do you agree or disagree? What impact might legalization have on forensic science as a field?
Depressants slow down the central nervous system.
Law enforcement and forensic scientists often have to test for during a crime investigation, is alcohol. There are restrictions on alcohol use, such as the age of the user or the amount that can be consumed for certain activities, such as driving a vehicle. In some cases, investigators and forensic scientists will want to know whether a victim consumed alcohol before death to help them better understand what may have happened. •
Barbiturates are another form of depressants. They are often referred to as “downers,” as they tend to relax the individual and produce sleep. •
Some barbiturates are used for medical reasons, but they can also be abused by individuals for whom the drugs have not been prescribed. Some of these drugs may be referred to by their slang terms, which often relate to the color of the pills (such as “reds” or “yellow jackets”). STIMULANTS
Stimulants speed up the central nervous system.
One common type of stimulant is amphetamines, which are also known as “uppers.” When injected, drugs with methamphetamine produce a euphoria or high for several hours. After this wears off, the individual may be exhausted and depressed, which increases the desire for the next hit of the drug. Some forms of methamphetamine are also smoked, similar to crack cocaine. •
Cocaine is another stimulant drug. Cocaine is extracted from the coca plant, which is found in tropical areas of Asia and South America. The drug was once heralded as a medical drug. One form of cocaine that has gained usage is crack cocaine, also known as crack. To produce crack, regular cocaine is mixed with baking soda and water and heated. After drying, the substance can be broken into chunks, which are smoked. Both cocaine and crack produce feelings of euphoria by stimulating the pleasure center of the brain. As with methamphetamine, the highs produced are followed by depression. The highs followed by the lows are one of the reasons some individuals who are introduced to the drug become addicts. HALLUCINOGENS
Some drugs can change the ways that individuals think and perceive the world around them. This is the hallmark of hallucinogen drugs, which alter an individual’s mood, perceptions, or thought. •
The most commonly used drug in this category today is marijuana. Although marijuana is legal for medical purposes in some states, it remains the most widely used illegal drug in the United States. Marijuana is a product of the cannabis plant and it was first introduced into the United States in the early 1900s, although it had been used in other parts of the world for several thousand years. It can produce a sense of well-being and relaxation and an alteration in sensory perception. •
Another hallucinogen is lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. LSD was first produced from ergot,...
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