Is Nicotine More Dangerous than Illegal Substances?

Nicotine, a legal stimulant for those 18 years of age and older, is responsible for more than 400,000 deaths annually. Do you feel current legislative actions concerning tobacco use are sufficient when compared to “illegal” substances, which result in about 50,000 deaths annually? 



Nicotine is deadly. Cigarette smoke has over 7000 chemicals, of which more than 70 of those chemicals are known to cause cancer (Facts Overview, n.d.). Being that nicotine is responsible for over 400,000 deaths annually, my initial reaction is “no”, legislative actions to combat the deadly stimulant are not sufficient. However, There are many things that have been done over the last 20 years to deter people from smoking. For example, smoking is not permitted in restaurants and bars. Smoking is not permitted on airplanes.


There is a huge difference between the death of a person from nicotine versus the death of a person from “illegal” substances. Nicotine doesn’t typically lead to behavior that would cause a person to go to jail. For example, a person hooked on heroin might need to steal in order to support his heroin addiction. A person driving while under the influence of heroin is putting others at risk. A person driving while under the influence of nicotine is not putting others at risk because he is under the influence. Even though nicotine is deadly, the immediate effects are not deadly. The immediate effects of illegal substances can be deadly.




Facts Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Should Marijuana be Legalized?

Marijuana remains the third most popular substance of abuse behind nicotine and alcohol.  Should marijuana be legalized for general use and why? 


This is a huge question in society today. Should marijuana be legal? There are good arguments to both sides. One would argue that alcohol is worse for you than marijuana. You don’t hear many stories about people drinking on marijuana and getting into a deadly car accident. I don’t think I have ever heard about a deadly car accident where marijuana was the main drug of influence. However, I went to Aspen last summer where marijuana is legal. It seemed like everyone smoked weed. I was offered weed so many times I cannot count. Many of the people in Aspen seemed mentally slow. In other words, they were stoned. Maybe it was because I was in a mountain ski bum town? In my opinion, people are mentally slow when they are stoned. I do not like being around people that are stoned. Then again, I don’t really like being around people that have had too much to drink. So I guess I don’t like being around people that are excessive when it comes to marijuana or alcohol. I don’t like marijuana and I don’t smoke it. I used to smoke it. However, I was never a huge fan of it. That being said, marijuana is much safer than alcohol, in my opinion. If it is legal, it can be regulated and possibly controlled. 

Substance Abuse – What is the Therapeutic Index?

The text (pg. 108) describes the phenomenon of “therapeutic index.” Addiction to barbiturates can be critical in terms of lethality as measured by the therapeutic index. Provide an example, which explains how this phenomenon might lead to an accidental overdose. Why is this factor more critical with barbiturates than with other classes of depressant drugs?  For follow-up discussion, respond to at least two of your peers.


The therapeutic index is the lethal dose for 50% of mice/the effective dose for 50% of the mice. Because the lethal does should always be higher than the effective dose, the therapeutic index should always be higher than 1 (Hart, 2012). The higher the therapeutic index, the safer the drug is. For example, valium can have a therapeutic index of 770. That means that a person would have to take 770 times the amount it would take for sedation in order to take a lethal dose.


Barbiturates alter central nervous system activity. According to Barbiturates Overdose, barbiturates have a very narrow therapeutic range. In other words, the drug can be dangerous if you take an amount not much greater than the standard dosage amount (Barbiturate Overdose, 2013). This makes it much easier to overdose.


For example, let’s say a person takes a Nembutal to calm his anxiety down. He also has a couple of drinks. Then he is still feeling anxious so he takes another Nembutal. Then without giving the Nembutal enough time to kick in, he takes another four because he is impatient and wants it to start working. The standard dosage was one pill and he took six. This was six times the standard dosage amount and the therapeutic index was six. This leads to an overdose.




Barbiturate Overdose. (2013). Retrieved from


Hart, C. L., & Ksir, C., (2012). Drugs, society, and human behavior (15th Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Retrieved on February 28, 2015