Drug Abuse and Addiction

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Addiction is referred to as a disease which influences the brain and behavioural pattern of an individual, when such addiction is present the ability to resist the use of the substance is not possible irrespective of the harm caused by the use of the drug and this is likely to result in deeper consequences if the condition is not treated quickly. Addiction to drugs isn’t restricted to the use of nicotine, heroin, cocaine and other such harmful substances, it may also be a condition associated with alcohol, sleep, medications and other legal substances as well. The use of drug and it’s abuse is usually because it creates a certain pleasurable feeling on the brain, this pleasurable feeling is what eventually gets the individual under the control of the substance being abused, this is because the drugs changes the way a person’s brain works and then it becomes difficult for individual to gain control over their use of the substance which can cause changes in behaviour resulting in severe damaging effects. Drug abuse essentially is the use of a legal or illegal substance in an unprescribed way, and this condition can affect persons from all walks of life regardless of the age, their race and initial cause for the use of the drug. Engaging in drug abuse may also be borne out of recreational activities or as a means of easing the stress and anxieties that accompanies everyday dealings. The abuse of drugs gets to the point of addiction when the user can’t stop using the substances even when it places their lives at risk, or brings about severe financial and emotional problems for the user or their loved ones.

Causes of Drug Abuse

The use of drugs whether the legal or illegal substances may arise out of any of the following reasons:

  • Peer pressure among young adults 
  • Curiosity 
  • The transfer of the use of legally prescribed drugs from it’s prescribed purpose to being abused till it becomes addictive 
  • Recreational purposes 
  • To obtain inspiration for creativity 

Drugs that may be abused can be divided into three categories which are:

  • Depressants: these drugs result in the depression for the user such as sleeping pills 
  • Stimulants: these drugs may cause a high level of alertness and an increased level of energy resulting in increased burst of activity, the symptoms of these may include: faster heart beat rate, pupils dilated, high blood pressure, agitated behaviour, weakened judgement, occasional occurrences of psychosis may also occur as well as nauseation and puking. These are the effects of the use of cocaine and amphetamines.
  • Hallucinogens: These particular drugs create and cause hallucinations where the user is made to feel disassociated from themselves. These drugs may result in a distorted sensory perception, it may also result in depression or paranoia. LSD is a major example of this kind of drug. 

Other example of drugs that can be abused include:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Cocaine 
  • Opium 
  • LSD
  • Ecstasy
  • Heroin etc.

Symptoms of Drug Abuse 

There are certain symptoms that are usually associated with a drug user who has become addicted to the substance. They include:

  • There is the presence of continuous neglect of responsibilities whether at work, or at school or towards their families or their relationships
  • In certain situations, the user of the drug may begin to take unnecessary risks either while under the influence or in the process of taking in the substance, some examples of these risks include: having sex without protection, making use of unsterilized needles, and driving while under the influence of these substances.
  • Entering into trouble with the law for the use of such substances or for the effect of the use of such substances 
  • Persons who are addicted to substances begin to have problems with their relationships with the people around them. 
  • A person who has become more tolerant to a certain substance may be said to have become addicted to that substance. 
  • When a person begins to use these substances in order to avoid the symptoms associated with withdrawals, the person can be said to have become addicted to such substances. 
  • When a person  begins to engage in drug activity more than they planned or take a much larger quantity than they anticipated, such individual is most likely addicted to the use of such drugs 
  • Where a person begins to spend more time thinking about the use of drugs, and how to get them, and it happens in such a way that their live revolves around the use of such drugs, then it can be said that suchprson has become addicted to the use of such drugs 
  • It is a sign of addiction when a person continues to engage in the use of such drug activity even when it is obviously hurting the user. 

Some tell-tale signs of a person who is abusing drugs include:

  • Sleep patterns or appetite being affected 
  • Eyes unusually more red than usual 
  • Unexpected weight loss or weight gain
  • Affected speech, headaches and lack of coordination 
  • Reduced performance in school or work activities
  • Financial issues that are unexplained 
  • Personality and attitude change 
  • Unexpected mood swings 
  • Consistent occasions of getting into trouble
  • Absence of desire to achieve anything 
  • Anxiety, paranoia and fear

Process of Development of Drug Abuse 

A person may begin to take notice of addiction or abuse of a particular drug when they begin to notice that:

  • The drug is necessary to fulfil a valuable need and thus the reliance on the drug is increased. IT may be taken to maintain calmness, increase confidence, or even for energy, it may also be taken to relieve pain, reduce panic attacks, or improve concentration. The point remains that when the use of these drugs becomes such that there is a heavy reliance on it, there is a high likelihood of addiction. 
  • Drug abuse eventually becoming a means of connecting within a social group, this provides a breeding ground for addiction to take root
  • The use of drugs only at social gatherings may eventually become and develop into the use of drugs on a daily basis because the substance becomes more important to the user. 
  • Eventually the drug abuse can take hold of the person that the routine of the person begins to change to fit into the use of the substance, the person misses work, or goes late, the person beings to skip classes, they begin to neglect social, family and marital responsibilities, eventually the ability to stop is lost and there the addiction begins which would eventually lead to the destruction of the individual. 

How to handle Drug Abuse 

The process of handling a situation where a loved one has become addicted to a drug is a dicey situation which if not handled well, may drive the user into feeling a feeling of isolation. So here are some tips to handle a person who is addicted to any substance. 

  • It is important to speak up to the person and offer your help without judging the individual, ensuring the person is aware of your concerns.
  • IT is important to also ensure that while taking care of a person who is in need of help, the caregiver should stay safe.
  • Don’t attempt to bribe, punish or preach to the individual 
  • Don’t try to increase the feelings of guilt in the user and at the same time, they should not be shielded from the consequences of their actions. 
  • While taking care of them, it is important that they accept responsibility for their actions, where they don’t, the blame should be on them not on the caregiver.