What is Drug Abuse?
Drug Abuse Or Substance Use Disorder or Substance Abuse is a progressive mental health disease. Drug Abuse or Addiction refers to a person’s inability to control their consumption of legal or illegal drugs or medications, despite the worsening consequences of repeated drug use.
Substance Abuse can start as experimenting with recreational drugs in social gatherings or taking prescription drugs, particularly Opioid. With time, the frequency of drug intake increases, which slowly builds the dependency on the drugs.
At first, one starts consuming more drugs just to reach a certain level of high. Then eventually, they consume the drugs to feel good or normal. This increased dependency on the drugs might make it difficult for them to go on without it, even for a day or a few hours.
If one attempts to ween off the drugs, they can feel intense cravings for the drugs and might even feel physically sick. These are known as withdrawal symptoms, and this happens because the body is so used to the additional stimulants it finds it difficult to cope without them.
Also, extended periods of substance abuse affect a person’s brain functions and behaviors. That’s why it’s termed a mental health disease. It even affects a person’s ability to make rational decisions for their excellent health and happiness.
List of Substances that lead to drug addiction
- Stimulants – Cocaine, Meth
- Hallucinogens – LSD, PCP, DMT
- Inhalants – Aerosol Sprays, Gasoline, Glue, Paint Thinners, Nitrates
- Cannabis – Marijuana, Hashish
- Club Drugs – MDMA (Molly), GHB, Ketamine, Roofie
- Opioid Painkillers – Morphine, Heroin, Codeine, Methadone, Oxycodone
- Prescription Drugs
- Tobacco, Nicotine
- Sedatives and Hypnotics
- Anabolic Steroids
- Synthetic Cannabinoids – K2, Spice
Though, all the drugs have different compositions and have other effects on the body. However, due to intense regular usage, they have the power to impact and change our brain functions and make us addicted to them.
How does Drug Abuse affect us?
Repeated drug use causes weight gain or loss, nausea, and abdominal pain in the short term. The increased dopamine in our bloodstreams also leads to demotivation loss of interest and spreads negativity through our system. It makes it harder for us to focus on daily activities and work.
It also makes you anxious, irritable, and impatient. It even influences you to make impulsive decisions that you usually wouldn’t make. It may even lead to depression and paranoia.
Drugs affect our brain’s structure and cause physical changes to neurons (nerves) in the long term. It also causes physical damage to our organs such as the Liver, Kidneys, and Heart. Overconsumption of drugs can also lead to death.
Extended usage of drugs changes our behavior, our ability to learn or grasp new things, alters our memory storage, and impairs our capability to make quick or right judgments and decisions.
Apart from physical and mental changes to the body, substance abusers can experience relationship problems – with family, friends, and partners. It can result in poor outputs in school and office work, leading to financial difficulties and homelessness.
The impacts made from persistent drug abuse are life-long, and this means that even after you have quit using drugs, you’ll carry the burden of the damages done by drug consumption.
Who is at risk of Drug Abuse?
No matter the age, gender, or economic status, any person can become addicted to drugs. There are various reasons one may fall victim to addiction, such as –
- Family Background – If you have a blood relative who is already a substance abuser, you stand at significant risk of developing an addiction to drugs.
- Mental Health Disorders – If you have been diagnosed with depression, ADHD, PTSD, etc., you will turn to drugs to take away your pain and loneliness.
- Peer Pressure – Peer Pressure plays a vital role in getting addicted to drugs. This is common among young people.
- High Addictive Drugs – Some drugs are highly addictive, such as cocaine, meth, and opioid painkillers. One has a higher chance of getting addicted to these drugs, even after a single-use.
- Disconnected Familial Relations – People who have complex familial relationships or no bonding can lead to reliance on drugs.
How do you know if you have a drug abuse problem?
Substance Abuse problems can be self-diagnosed. There are various ways to tell if you are addicted to drugs, such as –
- You have been consuming large quantities of drugs frequently.
- You always need to stay or feel high.
- Your thoughts revolve around consuming drugs.
- An increase in drug usage has been affecting your work and relationships.
- You have been experiencing intense mood swings.
- You have lost interest and motivation to do things you usually enjoy.
- You have separated yourself from your peers, family, and friends and spend increasing amounts of time alone.
- You have become paranoid or have trouble sleeping (insomnia).
Seeking Treatment for Drugs Abuse
As mentioned before, substance abuse can be self-diagnosed. If you feel you are addicted to drugs, you should seek help. Treatments for substance abuse are available in detoxification programs, outpatient rehab, or inpatient/residential rehab.
Detoxification is the first step towards stopping drug consumption. It’s also one of the tedious and challenging steps for any substance abuser to power through as they face severe withdrawal symptoms.
Post the detox program; they might need to get admitted into an inpatient facility or seek intensive treatments from an outpatient facility. During this stage, the patients are taught coping mechanisms, how not to relapse, make mindful decisions, and live a healthy and fulfilled life without being influenced by drugs.
There’s no cure for substance abuse, but with treatment and time, you can become clean. However, one should note that drug rehabilitation is a long and gruesome process, and it needs a lot of support from your family, friends or maybe support groups. You have to be willing and patient to become unaddicted to drugs.
Treatment Plans for Drug Abuse
Every drug abuser receives a personalized treatment plan. And there are various types of treatments and therapy programs to help ex-drug addicts, such as – Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT), Contingency Management (CM), Individual, Group or Family Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, 12-step Facilitation, etc.