Drug abuse and addiction are a wide-spread problem in many countries. However, very few countries have found long-lasting ways of completely dealing with the causes and effects of drug abuse and addiction even though many of them provide the necessary education and awareness about drug abuse and addiction.
What is drug abuse
Drug abuse, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is the misuse of, or overindulgence in drugs. Drug abuse is also known as substance use disorder. Most often, the mental health of individuals involved in drug abuse is what is affected most. Chronic use of drugs may result in long-term or short-term effects on the brain. The effect of drugs on human body is beneficial when they are taken for the right reasons and in the right way. However, when the opposite is done, the side effects of drug abuse cannot be ignored. There are cases where individuals suffer from paranoia, aggression and even hallucinations.
Causes of drug abuse
The youth in society are most often the ones plagued with the issue of drug abuse. This may not be realized but then, the things that drive most of the youth to taking and abusing drugs are just around them. Some of these things are depression, stress, the ‘burden’ of being expected to be a notable person in future, peer pressure and even parental pressure among others. The signs that youth may be nearing the edge are almost always there but because of our culture, we perceive them (the youth) incapable of being depressed or under stress. Parents majorly fall under this category. If we could change our perspective to this, there may be a drastic reduction in the number of youth who resort to drugs to solve their problems.
Effects of drug addiction on health
Short term effects
Below are 5 effects of drug abuse which last for a short term
- Sleep anxiety
- Mood swings
- Difficulty in breathing : Drugs such as tobacco and cocaine among other cause respiratory depression also known as hypoventilation, which is a breathing disorder characterised by slow and ineffective breathing.
Long term effects
Long-term effects include
- Liver damage
- Heart diseases such as heart valve disease, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary artery disease.
- Anxiety disorders which are characterised by significant feelings of fear and worry either about the near future. Chronic anxiety and excess stress hormones can also lead to suppression of the immune system. Physical symptoms of anxiety may include a very fast heart rate or being shaky very frequently.
- Lung cancer
Effects on pregnancy
Pregnant women who engage in drug abuse will most likely have complications in their delivery, complications during and after pregnancy or even give birth to deformed children as a result of the amount of drugs pumped into their systems. Drug abuse by pregnant women can also lead to foetal damage or developmental disorders. Foetal damage or foetal alcohol syndrome, according to the Reverso Dictionary, is a condition in new-born babies caused by excessive intake of alcohol by the mother during pregnancy and is characterised by various defects including mental retardation.
These situations can be avoided if there are suitable aid centres for such women and if they are able to get the needed support from wherever, to deal with their drug problems. Rather than making innocent babies suffer with so many diseases that were handed to them by the mother, steps could be taken to prevent the babies from diseases from drug addict mothers.
Drug abuse and the society
The resultant effects of drug use are not only reflective on the individual but on the people around them too, such as their families, partners, friends and loved ones. A drug addict is a person who is sick, or suffering from a disease just like any other person suffering from malaria or cancer or a brain tumour. The most significant difference could be the fact that drug addicts are the cause of their illnesses. Hence, one could say that they hold the key to their cure. But then like any other sick person, they also need family support and love to get better and eventually cured.
These effects become even worse when abuse becomes addiction, because then, the cycle never ends unless the individual seeks help from good rehabilitation centres or therapy centres. Addiction, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is a state that is characterised by compulsive drug use or compulsive engagement in rewarding behaviour despite negative consequences. Drug use and addiction most often cause disruptions in families and destroy relationships if not treated soon enough.
Addiction to drugs is probably the worst case scenario in the cycle of drug use. When drug abuse becomes addiction, it is much more difficult to stop. This is because, the individual who now becomes the drug addict feels dependent on whatever drug he or she is taking and feels that they cannot live without it. To them, it could probably feel like going for days without food or water.
At this juncture, getting them free from their addiction requires intense treatments such as rehabilitation centres for drug addicts.
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Increase in social vices in society
Individuals who become addicted to drugs and refuse to seek help may end up engaging in social vices such as
just so they can have the means to manage their drug supply.
Some individuals sometimes resort to sexual assault on innocent people in a bid to satisfy their intense addiction when they do not have access to the drugs. This may happen because of the effects the prolonged use of the drugs have had on their mental health. In a right state of mind, the individual may not have engaged in such a despicable activity.
The indirect social effects of drug abuse
Hence, such situations assert that the society as a whole is also affected by the drug addicts in that society and not just their family, friends or partners. This is the indirect effect of drug abuse and addiction on society.
Drug abuse and addiction is a major plague in every society and it should be known that pretending that it does not exist does not mean it is not there. Rather than the pretence, this problem as to be acknowledged as one and proper measures must be put in place to curb the situation.
In this part of the world, most individuals feel like drug addiction is not a thing but that is false. There are a lot of individuals with drug addictions who refuse to come out and ask for help because they feel they would be stigmatised rather than helped.
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Although dealing with individuals suffering from drug abuse and addiction may be difficult, it is important to note that, stigmatizing them will also make them go deeper into the hole of addiction. Rather than stigmatization, love and support from people around them during those trying times, and rehabilitation will encourage them to give up their addictions. It may be a slow process of recovery but it is one that would definitely deliver them from the effects of drug abuse and addiction they've been suffering from.