The practice of addiction to drugs and alcohol is commonly found among the youth of today. This drastically affects their future by motivating them to do one crime after another in addition to spreading deadly infectious diseases as well. Since youngsters around the world are more susceptible to drug addiction, nations are threatened with huge loss in human capital and productivity. A person addicted to drugs and alcohol makes life for his family members and others in the society burdensome since they have to face the consequences of his or her deeds in inebriated conditions. There are many signs, including the physical appearance, behavior patterns and psychological factors, through which a person reveals to others about his addiction. Timely treatment of the condition depending upon its seriousness would help to free a person from his addiction. Addiction is a serious social problem since an addicted person, through his crimes and other actions, in fact, hurt many others.
Drug addiction continues to be a problem world over in spite of the prohibition enforced by countries across the globe. Prohibition of drugs, as experienced by many societies today, only leads to increased crime rate and violence and spread of deadly infections like HIV (Brown, 2008). Drug use has a wide range of negative implications on the society, the most dangerous one being exposure and addiction at a very young age. Accident deaths induced by drug addiction, huge economic loss to nations because of decline in output yield and employment, and degradation of family values, breaking down of relationships and degeneration of entire neighborhoods are some of the dangerous consequences of drug addiction. Many believe that Drug addiction affects only the drug user. As known to families, friends and neighbors of people affected with drug addiction, drug abuse is a social menace that affects not only the users and their families but also the entire society. For example, a person addicted to drugs cannot control himself and may be exposed to various diseases in addiction to self-inflicted injuries that may affect other family members and friends. Also, drug addiction leads the persons to commit a chain of unfavorable deeds including telling lies or stealing money for buying drugs, continuous absence at workplace that warrants firing from job which in turn affects the entire family, and committing serious crimes that affect many other families in the neighborhoods and society. Thus, developing the habit of drug addiction can lead to committing crimes and the practice of substance abuse there by hurting many others.
Drug addiction is defined as a persistent and degenerating brain disease characterized by uncontrollable seeking and use of drugs in spite of the harmful consequences. Drug addiction is categorized as a brain disease since it changes the structure and functioning of the brain. The brain change which lasts for a longer period leads to a wide range of harmful and mostly self-destructive behavior patterns (“The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction: The Basics”, 2014). This complex disease of drug addiction, in addition to putting the life of the user in danger, continues to threaten the family, neighborhood and the society the concerned person is a member of. It is estimated that in America alone addiction to substances like alcohol, nicotine, illicit and other prescribed drugs costs the population annually more than $ 700 billion toward additional healthcare costs and expenses associated with crimes and loss of productivity (“The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society,” 2011). Besides, in America, each year death of around 90,000 citizens is attributed to drugs, both illicit and prescribed, and alcohol over use. Tobacco is associated with the death of more than 480,000 people in America (“Alcohol related disease impact,” n.d). In the beginning, a drug user takes voluntary decisions concerning use of a particular drug or alcohol. But, when addiction to the habit takes control of the person, he loses the ability to exert control on his own self. Alcohol and drugs, on entering the brain, result in effecting significant changes in the areas of brain that are crucial for making decisions, judgments and learning. Addiction motivates the persons to repeatedly use the substances without any control or fear about the consequences. The fact that individuals lose memory on overuse of drugs and alcohol puts their friends and family members in embarrassing situations that hurt them mentally.
A person indulges in drug abuse when he uses a drug, regardless of its legality, in inappropriate ways. People may use drugs and other intoxicating substances for different purposes. Drug abuse is associated with cases in which the substances are used for getting pleasure. For example, repeated use of a drug or any other substance for getting pleasure, reduce mental stress, altering or avoiding the reality and using a prescribed drug in manners other than indicated by the prescriber are said to be cases of drug abuse. More often, teens across the world are known for indulging in abuse of prescribed drugs, mainly narcotics that are prescribed to relieve pain, and certain stimulant medications that treat various disorders. Almost all individuals addicted to alcohol and drugs are said to be victims of drug abuse. This compulsive and excessive habit of damaging one’s one body, mind and spirit seriously injures body parts like the heart, liver and kidney apart from causing dysfunctional patterns of behavior, memory loss and hallucinations that ultimately leads to death. Addiction of youngsters leading to death at a younger age therefore hurts the near and dear ones of the victim.
Physical addiction has to do more with a person’s bodily feelings in response to taking alcohol or drugs, and it happens when a person is aware of his or her bodily response of feeling high to the intake of the substance. It is a biological state where a human body adjusts to the existence of a drug so that in due course the drug loses it effect gradually. This is also known as tolerance of the human body. A person is said to be physically addicted to a substance or drug when he or she has an increased bodily tolerance for the substance. For example, physically addicted people often experience certain physical symptoms in their body when they try either to stop or reduce the quantity of intake in a substantial manner. Referred to as symptoms of withdrawals, they include body aches of different kinds, nausea and vomiting, seizures, change of blood pressure and pulse rate, body tremors, high temperatures, sweating, diarrhea and change of respiratory rate. Physical addiction has got another form in which the brain over reacts either to the presence or cues associated with certain drinks or drugs. Cues drive a person to feel an additional pull for having a drink or drug. Physical addiction occurs on someone’s brain appearing to feel a pleasure on using a drug repeatedly. In fact, the drug that addicts the individual causes several physical changes to the nerve cells of the brain. The changes remain in the brain even long after the person stops drinking alcohol or using a drug. A person using drug or alcohol and is in a highly inebriated state may badly require the help of others; say for driving home or taking a key mental decision.
However, many times addictive behaviors of individuals may not be related either to physical tolerance or prompted by cues. Individuals may be mentally dependent on certain substances even as they may be aware of the harm those products pose to themselves and their families. For example, many people use drugs compulsively, over-eat, gamble or even shop nearly every time in response to situations that make them emotionally stressed. Thus, individuals addicted to certain habits are only dependent on certain experiences, and the response to certain chemicals or drugs is just an example. Because these psychologically driven addictions are neither based on brain effects of drugs, they explain why individuals often change addictive acts from a particular drug or drink to an entirely different one. In psychological addiction, the focus of an individual is never on what matters; on the other hand, it is only the need to take an action under a particular circumstance of stress. Psychological addiction ranges from a wide range of symptoms including an intense craving to consume alcohol or a drug, feeling of anxiety toward satisfying the addictive behavior, less or no appetite for food, hiding personal feelings and problems, restlessness, mental obsession with drugs, alcohol or some other substance, insomnia, mood swings and loss of memory (Physical and psychological addiction, 2015).
Even as different drugs have dissimilar physical effects in human bodies, the indications of addiction appear to be one and the same. Several bodily signs begin to show up in the individual’s body and its functions. The major physical sign is that addicted individuals begin to lose appetite and change sleep pattern. They also lose body weight since certain drugs stop appetite and block the quantity of fat and other nutrient absorption of the body. Drugs like alcohol, heroin, marijuana and barbiturates act as depressants of the central nervous system. These drugs on reaching the brain through the blood stream slow down vital body functions like heart beat, breathing and digestion and thus making the body lose weight (“Drugs that make you lose weight,” 2014). Similarly, the junk and other high fat food taken along with alcohol increase the body weight. Lack of exercise and healthy eating habits of individuals addicted to alcohol and drugs also make them gain weight rapidly. Drug and alcohol addictions also adversely reflects in the physical appearance of the individuals. Uncontrollable obsession with drugs and alcohol motivate them to pay less attention toward dressing and keeping their body clean. Frequent use of needles for injecting drugs leave their skins with bruises or blood spots. Irritating throat and cough, slow speech, bloodshot eyes, tripping and constant scratching of skin are some of the prominent physical signs of individuals addicted to drugs and alcohol. The breath and body of drug addicts give unusual smell to other family members at home or fellow colleagues close by at the workplace (Robinson & Smith, 2015). Many drugs induce sweat with strong obnoxious smell that gives the other family members of drug users an embarrassing situation, particularly during social gatherings or parties.
Many times individuals addicted to drugs and alcohol enter adulthood with no proper preparation to face the challenges of adult life, which motivates them further to turn to drugs, which in turn is reflected in sudden attitudinal change about the workplace on the part of the individuals (“How does a drug addict think, feel, and behave while actively addicted?” 2014). Absenteeism and poor performance at school or college are common behavioral signs of drug addicts. Other prominent behavioral changes in individuals given to drug and alcohol addiction include deterioration of relationships, frequent arguments with friends and family members on trivial issues, secretive and erratic behaviors characterized with more forgetfulness and indecisions, paying less importance to personal appearance and hygiene and restlessness associated with increased physical activity. Also, individuals addicted to drug are more likely to lose their job that leaves them with no steady source of income. Hence they often indulge in fights with friends and other family members over money. They are also susceptible to other illegal activities like drug trafficking and theft. The antisocial activities they involve in bring shame upon others and give their friends and family members a tough time.
Drug addicts also indicate certain distinct psychological behaviors and attitudes that are mostly unnoticed by other family members. For example, a youngster who had been more cooperative and friendly with other family members and neighbors would suddenly change his personality or attitude toward them without any significant reason. This unexplained attitudinal change could be interpreted as a possible chance of the individual falling prey to the habit of drug addiction with friends at school. Mood swings and sudden outbursts of anger are also more linked to addiction. Since drug addicts do not have any significant goals in their life, they lack self motivation and the ability to focus on certain important things. Appearing fearful for no apparent reasons, withdrawal and anxiety are some other key psychological symptoms of drug and alcohol addiction.
With proper care and treatment through thousands of outpatient and residential clinics countless people are freed from the habit of drug and alcohol addiction every year. Brody (2013) reports that only about ten percent of the 23.5 million adults and teenagers addicted to drugs and alcohol receive treatment, which too fails to keep them fully drug-free. A study undertaken by Columbia University reports that around forty million Americans aged 12 and above qualify the criteria for addiction associated with alcohol, nicotine or other drugs. This outnumbers the number of people suffering from diabetes, heart conditions or cancer (“Addiction Medicine: Closing the Gap between Science and Practice,” 2012). Many drug addiction programs fail to bring intended results since they fail to adopt proven methods that focus on various factors underlining the addictive behaviors of individuals. Evidence based treatment and care that is consistent and reliable in tune with established scientific knowledge is essential in treating addiction.
Residential rehabilitation centers give drug addicts an opportunity to reside along with other fellow addicts while still getting the guidance and help to defeat one’s addiction. These centers insist that patients live there for a certain period depending upon the seriousness of the addiction. Some residential treatment programs require the patients stay at the center for the entire period of treatment without allowing any visitors during the time whereas yet other programs are flexible and allow patients to come and go. Ambulatory or out-patient treatment method allows addicts for a few hours of treatment every day at a de-addiction center. Medical detoxification done under medical supervision in hospitals is another popular method of treating addiction. Detoxification is advisable for patients addicted for a quite longer period and hence are expected to experience heavy withdrawal symptoms. Strict supervision and care at a medical center and medication to fight withdrawal symptoms are the essential factors of detoxification. The 12-step recovery program is a spiritual de-addiction program that took inspiration from Carl Jung, eminent Swiss Psychotherapist (Lance, 2015). This spiritual remedy involves surrendering one’s addiction problem to the divinely wisdom or God, and living with a self awareness to transform one’s self.
Drug abuse is one of the leading causes of death across the world today. In-depth knowledge on drug addiction is highly important to successfully eradicate the social evil that affects the society, friends and relatives of the victim more than the victim himself. Societies across nations need to give more emphasis to fight addiction since it drains considerable youth human power. Most of the crimes occurring today are rooted in one evil - addiction to alcohol and drugs. Drug mafias mostly target the youngsters and make them dependent on narcotics and drugs of various kinds, which prompt youngsters to commit crimes one after another. To save future generations from the trap of drugs, young minds need to be taught the truth that developing drug-addiction tendencies would deprive them of their future by making them commit crimes and drug abuse which in turn hurt many others in the society.
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