DRUG & ALCOHOL ABUSE
With changing times people are becoming more reckless, impatient and losing their moral grounds. Drugs and alcohol have become a part of life for a huge population of the world. Every country all over the world has seen a remarkable increase in the number of people engaging in such addictions in the last few decades. The addiction has claimed lots of lives and ruined lots of families. It is an important concern for the medical fraternity and the government of every country. Constant monitoring and stricter rules have also failed to bring down the rate much. More than imposing legal boundaries, it is important to counsel the addicted individuals. Rehabilitation and good counselling can bring these individuals back to normal lives. In this paper, we will discuss the health implications of substance abuse. We will see how it affects the psychology of the addicted individual. We will also discuss the role of home and family environment in the process of turning a normal individual into an addict. The role of gender will also be analyzed in this regard.
Drug and alcohol abuse have become quite common nowadays. The teenagers are the worst affected section of the society. By the time the teenagers reach late adolescent years, 78.2% have already consumed alcohol; as high as 47.1% teenagers would have developed the habit of regular drinking. This data specifically reflects the condition of the United States, but the scenario is no different in the rest of the world. Almost 16.4% of the teenagers report drug abuse around the same time of their lives. The average age at which the teenagers develop alcohol and drug addiction are 14 years (Burstein et al., 2012). Being addicted at this early age make them remain addicted for the rest of their lives. Most of the children who get exposure to alcohol and drugs at a tender age continue to be addicts even as adults. The earlier is the age of indulgence, more severe are the side effects. Peer pressure and familial stress are some of the common reasons for such indulgence.
Getting addicted to alcohol at early age increases the risk of developing alcohol-related disorders in the later life. The chances of disorders are the highest among the individuals who indulge in the habit of alcohol in the age group of 11 to 24 years. Even the middle aged and the elderly also do not lag much behind the teenagers in this aspect (DeWit, Adlaf, Offord & Ogborne, 2000).
Substance Abuse and Mental Disorders
Multiple researchers have validated the fact that substance abuse has a strong correlation with mental illness. Many cases have been registered in the last few decades where mental illness and substance abuse have been seen to go hand in hand (Lehman, Myers & Corty, 2000). Often cases, where the patients are diagnosed with mental disorder along with substance abuse, are referred to as “double diagnosis”. Such individuals are more likely to commit suicides, unable to adhere to the prescribed plan of treatment, show increased number of days of hospital stay after an episode of hospitalization, and become violent at trivial issues (Barrowclough et al., 2001). It is thus a matter of fact that the people who are alcoholic are at much higher risk of developing anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses. The rates of such diseases are higher among the alcoholics than the nonalcoholic population.
In a study conducted by some eminent researchers, it was found that the children suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) are more prone to develop substance abuse like indulgence in nicotine, marijuana, alcohol, and cocaine (Lee, Humphreys, Flory, Liu & Glass, 2011). Some of the major reasons for early dependence on alcohol and drugs are the environmental and genetic influences. Early exposure to stress often leads to stress development at a very tender age. In order to be able to cope up with such stress teenagers resort to alcohol and drugs (Enoch, 2014).
Larger numbers of adolescents are indulging in cannabis day by day. The myth about cannabis being harmless has promoted its usage among the teenagers. With advancements in the studies, it has been noted that prolonged cannabis usage leads to neuropsychological abnormalities (Meier et al., 2012). Cocaine abuse also increases mortality rate by four to eight times (Degenhardt et al., 2011).
The risks of developing mental disorders are higher among females than their male counterparts (Torrens, Gilchrist & Domingo-Salvany, 2011). Women who are especially detained in jails show a very high prevalence of drug abuse. Almost 72% of the detained women are likely to face drug abuse along with mental disorders. Even if these women stay away from such substance abuse during the time span of detention, they start consuming the same soon after they are released and they return to their previous lives and communities (Abram, Teplin & McClelland, 2003).
However, another literature review based on epidemiological studies had a completely different viewpoint. It stated that women are more likely to develop all the various kinds of psychiatric disorders. But the same arising as a result of substance abuse is commoner among males. The reason for this is the fact that the numbers of male addicts are more than the females (Kringlen, Torgersen & Cramer, 2011).
Thus, we can conclude that the drugs and alcohol dependence has now become some of the most serious issues that the world is facing. Early involvements of children in these substances have further worsened the situation. The stressful environment at home, peer pressure and some genetic and environmental influences increase the predisposition of the children. Some children, mainly those suffering from ADHD are more inclined to drugs and alcohol abuse. Similarly, those who are addicted are more prone to mental illnesses. Therefore, it can be called a two-way thing. The ones, who are addicted, develop mental diseases; the ones, who have mental disorders, become addicted later on. Mental disorders and drug or alcohol abuse are commoner in females than in males. Not only mental disorders, drug abuse has also increased the mortality rates to some extent. It is extremely important to teach the children about the harmful effects of these substances. If any adolescent or any individual is found to be addicted, he should be recommended for rehabilitation as soon as possible. Timely therapy, proper counselling and adequate support can bring about the desired changes in the health of the affected individual. Adolescents are the future of the nation and the world, it is important to protect them, for they can change the future of the world and make it a better place to live.
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