Illegal drugs topics for research papers

While many issues related to illegal drugs can be contentious or political, several make good potential topics for research papers. For your term paper you could write about the increase in heroin drug abuse and addiction that has emerged out of prescription drug abuse, driving under the influence of drugs and dangerous new drugs like K2 a.k.a. spice.

Learn more about illegal drugs for your research paper. (Credit: Northern Sound)

Learn more about illegal drugs for your research paper. (Credit: Northern Sound)

Consider taking a look at these illegal drugs ideas for your next research paper.

Rise in heroin abuse

For a research paper on illegal drugs, consider writing about the rise in heroin abuse. While in the past heroin abuse was seen among the poor, males, minorities and those without health insurance, the United States is experiencing a dramatic rise in heroin abuse, particularly among whites, women and the middle class and wealthy. These new groups are typically those who are susceptible to become addicted to prescription opioid painkillers (such as Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet) but who have now switched to illegal narcotics such as heroin to feed their habit. Another culprit is heroin’s lower price and greater availability.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that over the past decade, heroin use and abuse has increased 63 percent. Deaths by heroin overdose have nearly doubled just in the two years between 2011 and 2013. In “Heroin use rising among women and wealthy,” by Dennis Thompson posted on CBSNews.com July 7, 2015, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden explained that prescription drug abuse is “the strongest risk factor for heroin abuse or dependence” because prescription narcotics are “essentially the same chemical, with the same effect on the brain” as heroin.

Testing drivers for illegal drugs

Another topic for a term paper is to write about modern drug testing methods. For example, the British are conducting a test to detect drivers who are driving under the influence of illegal drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy. The Medical Bureau of Road Safety devised an oral liquid test, or spit test, to determine if the driver is high. The devices are hand-held, and law enforcement officers will be trained on their use. Once a driver is confirmed to be on an illegal substance with the spit test, he will be brought in to undergo a urine or blood test.

The new test is controversial. Some drivers don’t think being on drugs and driving is as dangerous as being drunk. In the article “Roll-Out of New Devices for Gardai to Test Motorists Caught Driving under the Influence of Drugs” by Ali Bracken posted in the London Daily Mail August 15, 2015, an officer said: “These new [testing] devices are a long time coming. There is a big problem with some motorists high on drugs. They don’t think it’s as risky as driving after a couple of drinks.”

Dangerous new drug K2/spice

Another good research paper topic is to describe new, dangerous drugs on the market. One new drug that has surfaced over the last few years goes by several different names: K2, spice, synthetic marijuana and herbal incense. The drug is a mixture of herbs and chemicals that, when smoked together, provide a high that mimics that of marijuana, but in reality causes negative side effects such as high blood pressure, vomiting, seizures, hallucinations, blurred vision and heart attacks. Users, who never know exactly what is in the K2 they buy, are showing up in Emergency Rooms across the country.

The difficulty in stopping the spread of K2 or spice is that it is not a single brand, and batches rarely contain the same ingredients. Manufacturers create a variety of molecular compounds that they spray onto dried plant material, which is then smoked by users. The ingredients in K2 are difficult to identify, and the psychoactive effects are unpredictable. In “Chemical Change In Synthetic Marijuana Suspected Of Causing Illnesses,” by Angus Chen posted on NPR.org April 27, 2015, Marilyn Huestis, chief of a research division at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, explained that identifying K2 is like putting a 1,000 piece puzzle together without a picture. “So here we are in the hospital or police lab, and they have no idea what to look for,” said Huestis.

For more information, check out Questia’s library on Drug Abuse.

What are some other topics in the field of Illegal Drugs that would make a good term paper?

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