DRUG AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE Reason, Causes, Consequences, Prevention and Recovery

We are in the era of third-wave of Covid-19. Many countries like India are shutting down due to the effect of the virus. People has resort to taking so many substances in order to combat the impact of this deadly disease. Individuals especially youths intake things like spirit, herbs, alcohol, marijuana to mention but a few. The illicit absorption of these drugs and substances has resulted to drug abuse in some cases.

Let us look at drug abuse itself.

Drug or Substance Abuse : Definition

Drug/Substance Abuse can be described in lay terms as the use of a substance or drug in amounts or by methods which are harmful to the individual. It is a pattern of repeated use which now has major negative consequences for the individual, Family, Community and Society.

Drug Abuse also called Substance abuse is an illness that is characterized by illegal patterned use of a drug or medication such that the condition affects the person brain or behavior. This makes them unable to control the use of the drug or substance affecting their ability to function.

According to Every Day Health , people get easily addicted with drug abuse. The most commonly used drugs include:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine among others
Drugs that are easily abused

Tobacco and Alcohol are mostly regarded as licensed killers as they are consumed by many with care free attitude.

Opioids is also regarded as narcotics. It comes in many forms e.g. Heroin, Morphine, Codeine,

We also have drugs like Tramadol which are used to reduce pain by depressing the Central Nervous System (CNS) of the body and can induce sleep; Rophynol, otherwise called rophnol which acts like date rape drug, it decrease activity of the CNS.

Drugs like Cocaine and Amphetamine can act as stimulants to increase the activity of the body by increasing heart rate and breathing, offering a sense of excitement (euphoria) to the user.

Others like Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) act as hallucinogens to offer ecstasy to its users by altering individual’s perception and thinking. It makes see images, hear sounds, feel sensations that seen real but does not exit in actual sense.

You can now understand why people behave the way they do, when they take these drugs

Drug and Substance Abuse cuts across all age groups, gender and religion. There are over 900 million drug abuse users across the globe. The number keep increasing daily especially among young adults below the age of 35 years.

In the last couple of years, Drug and Substance Abuse have grown into a “hydra headed monster” amongst our “Leaders of Tomorrow” with its resultant known and unknown complications, destruction’s which is very visible especially with the advent of Social Media.

People that abuse drugs are at risks of many diseases as it can cause long term damage to the body including HIV/AIDS, Covid-19, Hepatitis B among others.

But the big question is:

Why do people abuse drugs?

People abuse drugs for so many reasons. Some start as experimental tool for recreation purposes and others, out of curiosity or to have good time. While for many others, drug abuse start with trying to solve an ailment or as a result of prescription from someone.

As time goes on, individuals system get to adapt to those drugs and they might require high doses of them in order to achieve their aim leading to abuse. They find it hard to do without them. Attempt to stop can lead to illness or malfunctioning of the system for sometime.

Continuous abuse of drugs can result to terminal ill health or even death because each of these drugs produces different reactions to the brain which can as well crash.

HOW THEY WORK – How Drug Abuse Function

These Substances affect the body’s Central Nervous System(CNS), the Brain  and Spinal Cord. It changes how people behave or perceive what is  happening around them by their mode of action. They alter moods, thoughts, judgements, sensation (perceptions), behavior and consciousness of an individual.

Alter moods: at the initial take of the drugs, the individual can feel more alert, relaxed, more sociable, irritable or angry, depressed etc. The mood alters.

Alter thinking and judgement: drug user feel paranoia, poor judgement or decision making, distorted thoughts or even increased clarity of thoughts. Thoughts might be blurred.

Alter sensory perceptions: changes in pain, temperature perceptions. There can be increase or decrease in body temperature

Alter behaviour: decrease or increase activities, aggression or violence, increased risk taking or dangerous activities. It activates activeness.

Drugs or Substances can produce a variety of both positive and negative effects at the same time depending on the type of Substance.

Substance Users usually waste significant amount of time trying to obtain, use and recover from the effect of these substances. Eventually, the substance becomes the central point of their lives; they become slaves to their own habits. They can and will go to any length to obtain the drugs so as to satisfy their cravings.    – ADDICTION

CAUSES OF DRUG / SUBSTANCE ABUSE

 There are a number of reasons why people abuse substances but I will dwell mainly on the societal factors as it relates to Youths.

Curiosity : “let me just try it to see”!

Experimental curiosity. The first experience can produce such a state of happiness and pleasure that it motivates them to continue.   

Peer Pressure : “wanting to belong”!

This plays a major role in influencing many adolescents into drug abuse.

To feel good: most substances produce intense feelings of pleasure; an initial sensation of euphoria that is followed by other effects,depending on the substance.

e.g. cocaine: the high is followed by feelings of power , self confidence, increased energy.

Heroin on the other hand, the high is followed by feelings of relaxation and satisfaction.

Some individuals use drugs to make themselves feel better: to reduce stress, to feel less anxious, to feel more at ease, a general desire to escape life’s challenges.

There are still people who claim that intake of drugs help them to improve concentration, study longer; to feel sharper, to improve athletic performance. Even learned people like some lawyers claim that drugs make them be at alert and articulate.

Drug abuse can also be genetical as it can be hereditary and transfer through genes.

Environmental factors: This include neglect, abuse, exposure to peer groups that are exposed to drug abuse.

Others include: poverty, unemployment etc

EFFECT

Socio-Economic Conditions: decline in family values, changing societal values, parents busy making money;   

EPIDEMIOLOGY

According to a survey conducted in Nigeria in 2018 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) which focused on the use of Cannabis, non-medical use of prescription Opioids mainly tramadol and to a lesser extent codeine or codeine containing syrups; many youths engage in drugs which normally leads to drug abuse.

The prevalence of any drug use in Nigeria is estimated at 14.4% or 14.3 million people aged between 15 and 64 years i.e.  1 in 7 persons between the age of 15 and 64 years have used drugs. This is actually a high figure compared to the Annual global prevalence of 5.6% amongst adult population, in 2016.

Cannabis (Marijuana) is the most commonly used drug. 10.8% of the adult population (10.6million) had used Cannabis, followed by the opioids.

Report from Recovery Village shows that quite a percentage of teenage school students abuse alcohol in United States.

Report from Recovery Village

The use of Substances is highest among young people within the ages of 25 and 39 years and it is a known that early use of drugs increases a young person’s chance of more serious drug abuse and addiction. They are particularly vulnerable to physical and social problems, due to the effects of the Substances on a still-maturing Brain and Body.

One of the Brain area still maturing during adolescence is the prefrontal-cortex, the part of the Brain that enable us assess situations, make sound decisions and keep emotions/desires under control.

The fact that this critical part of an adolescents brain is still a Work-In-Progress, puts them at increased risk of making poor decisions of trying drugs or continuing drug use.

In addition, introducing drugs while the Brain and body are developing can have profound and long lasting consequences.

Drug/Substance Abuse and Misuse are not the same thing

Drug/Substance Abuse: the use of legal drugs is for non-medical reasons

The use of illegal drugs results in Mental health problems – a brain disorder also called Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

The abuse of the Substance has now become a Disease which must be treated

Drug/Substance Misuse on the other hand is the improper use of drugs like pain killers,  sleeping tablets, antibiotics  when not needed.

Taking medications  in large quantities that are dangerous to your health or taking medicines in ways not recommended by your Doctor, Pharmacist or the Manufacturer.

Drug or substance abuse has tremendous consequences.

SYMPTOMS

Outspoken person becoming withdrawn, quiet, reserved

Aggressiveness

Change in eating habits

Loss of interest in things, environment, school etc

Redness of eyes, watery eyes, sniffing.

CONSEQUENCES

Drug Abuse

There are various consequences ranging from health, social, legal, economic; all stemming from addiction to the drug or Substance.

It affects the Individual, the Family, the Community and Society at large.

Health Consequences

It can lead to the following:

Organ damage (liver, kidney, lungs, heart)

Hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, cancer etc

Substance use overdose leading  to fatality

Injection sores in injection drug users

Increased risk of blood born diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis

Malnutrition from poor diet

Convulsions from Overdose  or Withdrawal

Suicidal

Eventual death

Social Consequences for youths can include  Truancy in School, poor grades and  eventual dropout from school. There can be withdrawal from social activities or overdue of it. Individuals can have  loss of future ambition.

Family dysfunction – physical assault, emotional trauma, stress, loss of trust, separation, divorce etc.

Increased crime in the society

Decreased work productivity, loss of job and economic livelihood.

RECOVERY

The best way to deal with drug abuse is not to start it at all. STAY AWAY FROM ABUSING DRUGS

EDUCATION           : Create more awareness in schools, media and other public places. Communities can partner with experts on Addiction to drugs

BE INVOLVED       : Look out for early warning signs and symptoms in people around you to offer help on time.

Know what is going on around you, be your brother’s keeper  
Help is needed for drug abuse recovery

Seek Help – Don’t be quiet

Counseling for family, rehabilitation of the Substance Abusers through the help of individuals, groups, government and agencies. Training programs can still be used to achieve the desired purpose.

We must offer pain in life; it is either we suffer the pain of discipline to achieve a positive end or pain of regret.

Confront all obstacles to determine your basic life.

In recovery from drug or substance abuse, there is no one basic way to recovery from addiction as it solely depend on the individual concerned. though the first step is abstinence, followed by mental health therapy which can be accompanied with drug and peer support / encouragement. individuals find support structure that works best for them which promote their recovery.

The truth of the matter is that recovery from drug abuse (addiction) is not an easy task. There is need to do the following:

Develop a plan for recovery to have specific strategy.

Follow you plan – Ensure you discipline yourself to achieve the desired result. . Follow your plan, for it might take some time.

Build a support system – family, friends, social group. They can help to alleviate you of the situation. Get your mind busy and occupied to avoid any situation that might trigger your brain towards going back to thee addiction. Build a strategy that suits your brain chemistry.

Know and follow a healthy relationship skill and avoid stress.

Recovery and wholeness from drug abuse is a gradual process which involves discipline and determination.

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