Drug Abuse or Substance Abuse also called chemical abuse leads to disorder which is characterized with vicious pattern of substance usage leading to distress and significant problems. Over 7% of the population is affected by Drug abuse in their lifetime. These days, many teenagers engage themselves in drug abuse especially Narcotics (Drug prescribed for severe pain relief) and stimulating medications for treating disorder like attention deficit and narcolepsy (“Dryden-Edwards”).
Drugs Abuse and Types of Drugs
If ingesting a substance causes feeling of euphoria (high) then that substance can be abused. There are many legal and illegal drugs which people are well aware of but there are many less known substances which include household cleaners (“Dryden-Edwards”). As per a latest United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) out of 25 drugs which are most commonly recognized by forensic labs, 18 are obtainable presently as prescription drug (“Coleman”). The type of drugs which are abused:
Alcohol: Alcohol is legal but toxic, especially in case of development of fetus inside pregnant women. Alcoholism is devastating effect of consumption of excessive alcohol on health of an individual and their ability to perform tasks at work.
Amphetamines: Meth is illegally produced for of this drug group. Meth Overdose leads to death in most cases.
Anabolic steroids: Mostly used by athletes and bodybuilders and usage can lead to psychological effects such as paranoia and aggression.
Caffeine: When consumed in excess caffeine has the tendency to develop insomnia, tremors, anxiety and palpitations.
Cannabis: Commonly referred as marijuana, Cannabis can cause paranoia, lacked motivation and infertility. It is one the most addictive drug forms.
Cocaine: Cocaine can be snorted as a powder, injected as a liquid and smoked in form of rock, it stimulates the nervous system.
Ecstasy: It creates euphoric feeling for desire and love for others, any overdose can be fatal.
Hallucinogens: Mescaline and LSD are popular hallucinogens, known to alter user perceptions.
Inhalants: Easily accessible at home substance and available in house cleaners like bleach, ammonia and others which emit fumes.
Nicotine: It is found commonly in cigarettes and is considered most addictive on par with Heroin.
Opiates: It includes narcotic drugs like codeine, oxycontin, percocet, vicoden, heroin and percodan. These drugs reduce the nervous system functions.
Phencyclidine: Better known as PCP, it causes feeling of paranoia, aggression and increase in strength.
Hypnotic, Sedative or anti-anxiety drugs: These drugs depress or quell nervous system and overdose causes respiratory arrest leading to death (“Dryden- Edwards”).
Psychological & Physical Effects of Drug Abuse
Drug abuse has psychological and physical effects which vary on the basis of drug used; abusing drugs or getting addicted has devastating effects on user. Psychological effects of use and withdrawal is inhalant intoxication and paranoia in case of marijuana, euphoria in case of alcohol, steroid intoxication and suicidal thoughts and severe depression in case of cocaine & amphetamine. Physical effects of intoxication causes slowed breathing & sleepiness in case of heroin and hypnotic drugs, increased heart rate in case of cocaine and seizures & tremors in case of alcohol (“Dryden- Edwards”).
Development of Drug Abuse
Environmental factors are the foremost reason for an individual to use drugs whereas Genetic factors influence the usage and dependence on Drugs (“Tam & Foo”). People who use drugs or experiment with them carry on using them because the drug either stops bad feelings or gives them good feelings. There is a line drawn between regular use of drugs and drug abuse. Very rarely addicts identify if they have crossed the line beyond control (“Robinson et al. 2013”). The amount and frequency of drugs taken are not indicators of drug abuse; it can also be indication of problem related to drugs. Drug problems usually sneak up with increase in usage over a period of time.
In case any drug fulfills your needs, you start to rely on it. Example: people take substance for calming themselves when they feel stressed and anxious, energizing body in case of depression, boosting confidence in social situations when they feel shy and comfortable. Some people start to use prescription drugs in coping chronic pain or panic attack (“Robinson et al. 2013”). Some even start drug use in filling void in their life which endangers them to cross line of casual to drug abuse.
When drug abuse start to play its role its consequences are frequent delay in reaching school and work, performance in job deteriorates and neglecting family and social obligations.
Capability to stop drug usage eventually is compromised. Drug usage which begins as voluntary option becomes a psychological and physical need of the individual. The only way to recover from drug usage is with correct support and treatment. To start with recovery is admission of drug problem and start listening to family who explain how usage of drugs affects the individual’s life (“Robinson et al. 2013”).
Signs of drug abuse and addiction
All drugs have some sort of effect on the individual but the symptoms are usually similar. If you can identify any of these signs of drug abuse then the individual is abusing drugs and getting addicted.
Signs of Drug Abuse
- Individual neglects responsibilities at work, school or home.
- Individual starts to take risks in the euphoric high like inserting pre-used needles, driving under influence and unprotected sex.
- Individual starts having legal issues like driving under influence, disorderly conduct and steal or theft for purchasing drugs.
- Individuals starts having issues and problems in their relationships, constant fights with partner and family, fights and break ups with close friends and unpleasant relations with boss (“Robinson et al. 2013”).
Symptoms of Individual Abusing Drugs
People having drug problems always attempt in concealing their symptoms by downplaying the obvious problem (“Robinson et al. 2013”). The following are the symptoms of individual abusing drugs:
Physical Symptoms of Drug Abuse
Physical symptoms of individual abusing drugs are larger or smaller pupils, bloodshot eyes, Sudden weight gain or loss, Improper sleep pattern and changes in appetite, Deterioration of personal grooming & physical appearance, Bad breath, unusual clothing & body smells, slurred speech, tremors and impaired coordination (“Robinson et al. 2013”).
Behavioral Symptoms of Drug Abuse
Behavioral symptoms of individual abusing drugs are Drop in performance at work and attendance in school, unreasonable requirement of money for which they can borrow and steal, Suspicious and secretive behavior, sudden hobby, friends and hangout changes and frequent involvement in troublesome acts (“Robinson et al. 2013”).
Psychological Symptoms of Drug Abuse
Psychological symptoms of individual abusing drugs are mysterious changes in attitude and personality, unexpected irritations, attitude and mood swings, moments of agitation, giddiness and hyperactivity, lethargic body language, spaced out behavior, unmotivated actions, anxiety, paranoia and fear without any reason (“Robinson et al. 2013”).
Preventing Drug Abuse
There are many prevention approaches used to decrease drug abuse and its risk effectively. In teenagers changes in daily life activities like increasing daily physical work and use of other stress busting techniques are helpful in prevention of drug abuse and drug dependence. Many formal programs are also considered helpful in overcoming drug abuse like programs like Raising Healthy Children, in which parents, teachers and students are involved with intervention programs over drug abuse in children of elementary school. This program continues for more than 18 months where children are informed by their guides (parents & teachers) about ill effects of drug abusing. With technological advancement there are many computer or technology based programs for prevention. These programs are more advanced than older prevention programs as comparisons can be done and size of population that can be touched through usage of this technology (“Dryden-Edwards”).
Treatment of Drug Abuse
SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) claimed close to 23.5 million above 12 years of age required treatment for drug abuse (Drugabuse.com). Drug abuse like any addiction can be overcome with combination of behavioral therapy and medication. The combination is an important element for therapeutic process which starts with detoxification, treatment and preventing relapse. Withdrawal symptoms should be eased at the initial stage of treatment which prevents future relapse. For an individual to achieve and maintain lifestyle free of drugs, it is necessary to develop care continuum which includes treatment routine of addressing aspects of individual’s life which includes mental and medical health and options of follow-up (“Drugabuse.gov”).
Medications are used for helping during different stages of treatment process:
Withdrawal: During detoxification medications help to suppress symptoms of withdrawal. Patients who are treated with withdrawal assist and are not given any treatment further are prone to abuse drug similar to untreated (“Drugabuse.gov”).
Treatment: Medications are being used for reestablishment of normalized brain functions to prevent relapse and reduce cravings.
At present, medications available for opiods are Methadone, Buprenorphine and Naltrexone, for tobacco its is nicotine, bupropion and varenicline and for alcoholism are Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram. Other medications are being prepared for stimulants (Meth and Cocaine) and Cannabis or better known as Marijuana. Many people are polydrug addicts (usage of more than one drug) and treatment is required for all drugs consumed (“Drugabuse.gov”).
This kind of treatment helps patients remain engaged in process of treatment, attitude modification, drug use behavior and increased healthy skills. Behavioral treatments also enhance medication effectiveness and help people stick with treatment (“Drugabuse.gov”). There are many behavioral approaches which can be used for treating drug abuse:
Outpatient behavioral treatment: These treatments encompass variety of patient programs for regular visitors. These programs involve group or individual drug counseling.
Counselling is in fact most commonly used treatment as every second in a group of five episodes is treated with counseling (“Unsw”). Some of the behavioral treatments are:
Cognitive–behavioral therapy, this therapy helps patients in recognizing, avoiding and coping with scenarios in which they are bound to use drugs.
Multidimensional family therapy, this therapy is for adolescents who have problem of abusing drugs and their family who can help in addressing influences on patterns of drug abuse.
Motivational interviewing, this therapy helps in capitalization of individual’s readiness in changing behavior and entering treatment.
Motivational incentives (contingency management), this therapy makes use of positive reinforcement for encouragement if drug abstinence.
Residential treatment programs are effective for those individuals who suffer severe problems. There are many TCs (therapeutic communities) which are structured and patients reside in TC homes for 6-12 months period. Therapeutic communities are different in treatment approaches as they use staff and individual in recovery – as change agent in influencing patient perceptions, attitudes and behaviors of drug usage (“Drugabuse.gov”).
Treatment with System of Criminal Justice
Criminal justice treatment can be successful in prevention of offender’s criminal return, especially if treatment is continued when person is transitioned back in community. Past research has shown treatment is not required to be voluntary to make it effective (“Drugabuse.gov”).
Treatment is Long Term
Drug abuse leads to chronic illness of addiction. People addicted to medication or illegal drugs face recovery which is long term. Treatment for drug abuse is continuous and requires regime change as per patient’s requirements. Each patient need treatment tailored for them which include social, medical and mental problems which relate to drug abuse problem (“Nihseniorhealth”).
Possibility of Relapse
Just like other chronic diseases i.e. diabetes and hypertension, reoccurrence or relapse of symptoms is part of cycle of treatment. To simplify, relapse is not due to failure of treatment rather means treatment has to be adjusted or restarted or in some cases another form of treatment is required. Availability of time is needed in recovery from addiction and drug abuse. Sometimes plan come to fruition while sometime you end up facing failure (“Nihseniorhealth”).
Drug abuse is a serious problem in our society and there are many forms of drugs available in market for any individual to get addicted. Drug abuse has psychological and physical effects which vary on the basis of drug used; abusing drugs or getting addicted has devastating effects on user. Drug problems usually sneak up with increase in usage over a period of time. There are physical, psychological and behavioral symptoms of drug abuse. Drug abuse can be prevented as well as treated with use of medication, behavioral therapies and criminal justice. It takes time to overcome problems of drug abuse and relapse is highly possible.
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