Drug Abuse is the extreme use of a chemical substance that causes interference, damage, and dysfunction to the brain and the body. Repeated and regular use of drugs can lead to its dependence.
What are Drugs?
The word ‘Drugs’ means any chemical substances, natural, or man-made that influences the body or mind. When doctors talk about drugs, they may mean ‘medicines’ that are used for treating diseases. But today, when we mention the word ‘drugs’, we mean those dangerous intoxicants that, when abused, can destroy rather than cure.
Drugs will harm your health and becoming dependent on them can make things even worse. Most people do not understand why some people take drugs. Most of us mistakenly think that people take drugs because they are immoral, for just to get intoxicated, or because they do not have sufficient willpower to avoid them. However, Drug abuse and addiction is a much more complex problem and disease that affects the brain. It can have negative consequences for both the drug abuser as well as society and can lead to failing at academics, family breakup, or to unemployment as well. People who abuse drugs are also more likely to resort to domestic violence, child abuse and more.
What exactly is meant by the term Drug Addiction?
Addiction to drugs are chronic conditions that affects the drug abuser’s brain and makes him or her compulsively want to use more drugs despite knowing that doing so can and will have serious consequences. Most people start taking drugs as a voluntary act but in some people the changes in the brain will make the person want to continue consuming more and he or she will begin to compulsively using them.This repeated exposure of the drugs in the brain further produce alterations in the brain’s reward pathways leading to a constant craving for more, thus creating a dependence on them.
Why am I addicted to drugs while others are not?
There is no one single factor that can explain why some people become addicted to drugs while others do not. However, there are a few risk factors that can make you prone to drug dependence and these include:
- Your biological makeup
Your genes and your environment account for about 50% of all addictions. Also, a person’s gender (men more than women) and ethnic background as well as certain mental disorders can also make a person become addicted to drugs.
- Environmental factors
The environment in which you live can influence the likelihood of your becoming addicted to drugs. Peer pressure and abuse (both physical as well as sexual), stress and parental upbringing can also make you prone to abusing drugs.
- Your personal development
Along with biological factors and environmental factors, the level of your personal development can also influence you and make you addicted to drugs. If your brain is not able to make decisions properly and if your judgment is poor, and if you do not have sufficient control over yourself, then you will be more likely to become addicted to drugs.
How does Drug addiction change my behaviour?
Drug addiction changes your behaviour in many ways by:
- Making you become obsessed with procuring drugs
- Not giving other important matters enough consideration
- Getting angry when confronted with your dependence on drugs
- Becoming secretive as well as evasive
- Staying intoxicated for long periods of time
- Becoming tired and irritable
- Making you careless about your appearance
- Making you lose interest in daily matters
- Making it hard for you to say ‘no’ to drug use
- Increasing drug intake to get a suitable high
- Resorting to criminal activities
- Becoming anxious or depressed or developing mental health issues
How is Drug addiction diagnosed?
A diagnosis of addiction involves talking to the drug abuser, his/ her family or close friends, about the history of the drug habit. In addition, there are several behavioral signs of dependence or intoxication that one has to keep a lookout for. At times withdrawal symptoms may also be present if the drug abuser suddenly stops using them. The drug abuser needs to also be medically examined to identify certain signs of intoxication or addiction.Laboratory testing also helps in diagnosing the condition.
Drugs Commonly Abused
TYPE OF DRUG
Ganja, Grass, Charas, Bhang, Hashish, Hash Oil
Alcohol, Barbiturates, Tranquilizers
Opium, Codeine (Cough Syrups), Morphine, Pethadine, Buprenorphine Pentazocine (Injectable), Heroin, Smack, Brown Sugar (Smoked or chased)
Cocaine, Amphetamines, Antidepressants
LSD, Designer Drugs
Why do people start taking drugs?
Research has shown that people are likely to initiate drug use for the following reasons:
- Curiosity and experimentation
- Pressure from friends
- The need to be like the rest of the youngsters
- Neglect by elders, unhappiness
- Depression, loneliness
- Falling prey to drug pushers
- Escape from problems
- Lack of parental control
- Overly strict upbringing
Taking drugs just once, is taking a step towards addiction. Even once is enough to create a need to have them a second time. Very rapidly, the body needs more and more doses, or stronger doses, to achieve the initial effect.
How to recognize Drug addiction?
Here are some of the signs that should alert you to the possibility that someone may be on drugs (although none in isolation confirm addiction): –
New or changing friends, Sudden outbursts of anger seemingly for no reason; Poor concentration; Poor memory; Lying, Stealing, Spending a lot; Irregular attendance at school, college, or work; Longer time spent in the bath/toilet; Poor academic or work performance; Dropping out from school, college, or not going to work; Lack of interest in hobbies
Tiredness; Restlessness; Glassy eyes; Blank facial expression; Pin point pupils; Drooping eyelids; dark circles under the eyes; Changes in sleep and appetite; Neglect of personal hygiene; Burnt fingertips and holes in clothing; Needle marks.
The presence of any unfamiliar powders, candle, aluminum foil pieces, capsules, ‘pudi’ syringes, and stained coins will mean that someone has been taking drugs.
Why treat Drug addiction?
Drug addiction, if left unchecked, is no temporary thing. In time, it will completely destroy a person, both physically and mentally. No longer able to live without the drugs – which are difficult and expensive to obtain, because they are illegal – the person loses touch with reality. Family, friends, studies, jobs, the futureall cease to matter. Physically, the body becomes a wreck, the person become open to many diseases, the most dreaded among them, AIDS. AIDS can be contracted from sharing needles while injecting drugs,due to promiscuous behavior to obtain drugs or after taking drugs. Life threatening hepatitis is another danger. The person becomes a host to numerous infections with his immunity and strength slowly getting depleted.
How does Drug addiction get treated?
Drug addiction is now thought of as a disease. The treatment is basically in two phases, carried out by a psychiatrist with help from a psychologist and in cases where there is serious bodily damage and other diseases, other medical specialists.
The initial treatment involves detoxification (which depending on the drug and the quantity taken may or may not require hospitalization, but requires supervision) – is getting the drug out of the person’s system. Medication is given to help the person through the painful, withdrawal symptoms that come from stopping drugs. The medication should not be given or taken indefinitely and not as a substitute for drugs. The psychiatrist may also begin in the next phase atreatment program using medication, which creates an aversion to the drug or prevent further use. Medical treatment for other associated medical problems and proper diets are also prescribed. Counseling and Psychotherapy are very essential, as this will help the addict deal with the pressure and tensions that drove him towards drugs in the first place. After care and rehabilitation is the most important part of the treatment to make sure that the person does not go back to taking drugs the moment stress becomes high. Rehabilitation generally involves an intensive day care program and attending Narcotics Anonymous, a support group to help abstain from drugs. Addiction is a ‘relapsing condition’ and the task is treatment of pretreatment, rehabilitation, and relapse prevention.
Can Drug abuse be prevented?
Fortunately, drug addiction is a preventable disease. Research shows that a prevention program that involves the family and school as well as community can effectively help reduce instances of drug abuse and addiction. Although a person’s culture affects the likelihood of him or hertaking drugs, educating young people about the dangers of drug abuse and addiction can go a long way in keeping youth off drugs. Education along with outreach will help not only young people but it will also help the general public understand the dangers of drug abuse and addiction.
Prevention is better than cure. Here are some things you can do to prevent your children, or other people you are close to, from becoming drug abusers:
- Give your children your love, guidance and support.
- Do everything you can to increase your children’ confidence in themselves – allow them to learn things and do them on their own instead of over-protecting them. Don’t make your love dependent on the marks they get but praise them for things well done.
- Be frank and honest with your children and encourage the same attitude from them. Make them feel that they can approach you with their personal problems without being afraid of strong, unpleasant reactions.
- Give your children a feeling of security and stability through family bonds.
- Encourage participation in games and healthy activities.
- Help your children make decisions in a period of crisis.
- Be aware of who your children’s friends are.
- Find out about drugs and educate your children.