At one time or another some shooters have probably tried a sedative drug or tranquilizer to see what effects it would have on their shooting. Drugs affect different people in different ways, so dosage would be a problem even if they did any good toward reducing anxiety, nervousness, etc. Any time medication or drugs are used that affect the body functions, there is a chance that the side effects will do more harm than good to the shooter's performance.
Some shooters no doubt prescribe certain remedies for themselves when they have a cold, a stopped-up nose or a headache. Here are some of the effects of the drugs found in these and other preparations. Most of the effects are not conductive to good shooting. Most drugs are habit forming and all are a deterrent to good health if used frequently without proper medical advice. There is not substitute for good clean living, a healthy body and just plain GUTS!
1. A depressant slows reflexes, lessens the desire to win, promotes carelessness, causes loss of concentration and coordination.
2. A stimulant causes nervousness, hypertension, increases heartbeat, excessive movement of the hands, trembling, etc.
3. Drugs in daily use.
a. Barbiturates. (To induce rest and sleep)
Phenobarbital has special effects against insomnia. Continued use increases tolerance and leads to dependence. Acute anxiety may result if the drug is abruptly discontinued after long use. Alcoholics substitute barbiturates for alcohol and become just as devoted to it. Even after moderate doses, lassitude, dizziness, headache, nausea and diarrhea may occur. Other toxic effects are respiratory depressions peripheral vascular collapse, feeble heart beat, low body temperature and continued stupor with depressed reflexes.
b. Analgesic (Pain relief and reduction of symptomatic discomfort)
Aspirin - acetylsalicylic acid (relief of headache, fever and other symptomatic discomfort).
Gastrointestinal distress due to irritation is common. Continued dosage symptoms same as quinine (Cinchonism): Dizziness, ringing in ears, impaired hearing, acidosis and depressed blood clotting mechanism.
c. Stimulants or adrenergics (Relief from drowsiness, depression, curbing the appetite and relief from nasal congestion. )
Benzedrine, amphetamine and ephedrine elevate blood pressure, accelerate the heart beat, causes headaches, nervousness, insomnia and spasms of the urinary bladder's sphincter. (Muscular control that permits urination)
d. Antihistamines (Relief of colds and fever and relief or prevention of allergy symptoms)
Exerts a potent sedative effect. There is a danger of toxic action, especially drowsiness. A form of antihistamine namely, methapyrilene, is used for sedative purposes. Used in conjunction with alcohol, this sedative action is especially dangerous as alcohol heightens the depressant effect.
e. APC pills: (Relief of headache and other symptomatic discomfort) Basic ingredients usually are acetanilid or acetophenetidin and caffeine. Continued use developes a blood condition known as methemoglobinemia or simply a union of oxygen and iron in the blood instead of oxygen and hemoglobin, the natural state. The oxygen in this instance is retained in the blood and not exchanged normally. Another combination used is aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), phenacetin and caffeine. The phenacetin adds the property of antipyretic (reduction of fever). Other effects similar to above.
f. Decongestant tablets. (Relief of colds, fever and prevention of allergy symptoms) Basic ingredients quite similar, usually as follows:
(1) Phenylephrine hydrodoride. A stimulant of the sympathomimetic group. It is a local vasoconstrictor, elevates blood pressure, reduces swelling of nasal membranes. It is usually mixed with a local anesthetic to retard rate of absorption. Used in treatment of vasomotor collapse which is a condition where the nervous system cannot control the dilation and contraction of the blood vessels.
(2) Phenindamine tartrate. An antihistamine. The tartaric acid may be detrimental to the kidneys.
(3) Acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). See aspirin described above.
(4) An antipyretic (reduce fever) and analgesic.
(5) Caffeine. A stimulant, produces wakefulness and respiratory stimulation. When combined with an analgesic it is used to relieve headache. Continued use may produce nervousness and insomnia.
(6) Vitamin "C", (ascorbic acid): large dosage leads to gastrointestinal upset.
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