Drugs and Addiction
Substance abuse is a pattern of harmful use of a substance which is used to alter the mood of a person. It is the use of a substance for purposes other than which they are indicated for and in quantities not prescribed for. The uses of illicit drugs are potentially addictive and can cause severe health effects and are thus dangerous and abusive. Some may argue that the use of recreational drugs is not harmful and is just use, but yet they have severe long term physical, mental and psychomotor affects that may become addictive. Illicit drugs are not the only substances that are thought to be abused but many over the counter medications such as alcohol, prescriptions, inhalants, solvents, and even coffee and tobacco can be harmful when in excess.
In a nation with a population exceeding 1 billion people, it is not alarming to note that more than 7.5 crore Indians are addicted to drugs. Recent trends indicate that it is increasing more and more among the semi urban and rural populations. The heightened abuse of substances is more among high risk groups such as commercialized sex workers, labor groups and street children. The usage of substances is higher in the north eastern states and border areas. More than 8% of women in India are addicted to substances which shows that drug abuse is not gender restrained and can prevails irrespective of any race, religion, caste, gender or socio economic status.
Tobacco is the most commonly abused substance in India. It is used for pleasure, improving performance, relief from depression, weight control, limiting hunger and increased vigilance. Nicotine is the primary addictive substance in cigarettes and causes severe health hazards such as heart diseases, cancers, ulcers etc. Withdrawal from nicotine can cause symptoms of anxiety, hunger, uneasiness, sleep disruption and depression.
Alcohol is another very common and prevalent substance across the globe. Alcohol depresses the brain and decreases a person’s inhibitions. It also decreases coordination, muscle control and slurs speech. Withdrawal from alcohol can create anxiety, tremors, irregular heartbeats and even seizures. It is the most common cause of liver damage and can defect most organs.
Marijuana, also known as weed, pot, grass, etc., is usually smoked and irritates the lungs. It creates feelings of pleasure, relaxation, and impairs memory and coordination. This is considered as a gateway drug as it increases one’s chances of progressing to more harmful and powerful drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
Cocaine is also called crack or coke can be smoked, injected, snorted or swallowed and can cause increased alertness and pleasure. It also creates paranoia, irregular heartbeat, and constriction of blood vessels which may eventually lead to hear damage, stroke or even death. It damages one’s heart, brain, the lungs and the kidneys and is potentially life threatening especially with increased intensity and accelerated frequency of abuse.
Heroin, also called smack, creates pleasure, drowsiness and decreased breathing. Overdose of this drug can lead to death as injecting through use of needles is the most common method of use and this can potentially increase other health complications including HIV/AIDS, tetanus, botulism and destruction of heart valves.
Other illicit drugs existent in use are methamphetamines, steroids, club drugs like ecstasy, GHB, ketamine, LSD and PCP which are life threatening and causes eventual death. These drugs alter mood and are increasingly addictive and dangerous. Inhalant such as petrol and thinners are also commonly available and are extremely addictive and causes disruption of a healthy physical and mental well-being.
Many risk factors are involved in a person’s likelihood of abusing substances such as a family history of drug abuse, chaotic family environment and ineffective parenting.Social factors such as inappropriate behavior, poor social coping skills, poor performance etc., may facilitate drug abuse and addiction. Early recognition and social support can increase chances of treatment and facilitate a better and healthier life and a stress free and effective well-being.