FIve things you (possibly) didn’t know about drugs

Learn Something New Every Day – (Lecture 11) Forensic Toxicology

Five things you possibly didn’t know about drugs and the body

1. Willow bark (the bark of Salix alba) contains naturally occurring salacin which is similar to the acetylsalicylic acid which is the active ingredient in Asparin. As such it reduces inflammation and fever and is good for pain relief.  It’s slower acting, but lasts longer.

2. When the 1982 Chicago tylonol poisonings happened in the US, 7 people died from Tylenol that had been injected with cyanide by a psycho who was never caught. Tragically, the family of the second victim held the wake at his home and his brother and sister both took tylonol from his cabinet for grief headaches and subsequently died. It was this case that led investigators to really look around at what was in his home and ultimately link all seven deaths to the poisoning.

3. Hair follicles are the tree rings of the body. Scientists can examine the hair and identify the changing chemistry of the body as it was playing out in the hair follicle over weeks and months. This makes hair excellent for gathering a chemical history on a victim or suspect.

4. Most people know that you can develop a TOLERANCE as your body adapts (or gets used to) a drug but did you know you can have REVERSE TOLERANCE (or ‘sensitisation’) where your body can get increased effects from the same dose of drug.

5. Chronic addicts can die from the too-sudden withdrawal of certain (heavy) drugs. So all those clinics slowly withdrawing people off drugs aren’t doing it as some kind of twelve step process, they’re literally saving the person’s life. Drug addiction (as distinct from drug dependence) creates a literal and physical need to continue functioning. The body cannot function if the thing is no longer present. So weaning is about creating a tolerance in the body for the ABSENCE of certain drugs.

‘Trails of Evidence: How Forensic Science Works” is a The Great Courses DVD lecture series