Is it a disease or a choice?
Drug Abuse: A synopsis
While no single cause for addiction has been found for drug addiction, three main factors have been identified. These factors are:
Peer pressure, stress and a person's life in general plays the largest role in the abuse of drugs.
A person with depression or many other mental illnesses are more likely to result to drugs. If drug abuse runs in a persons family they are also more likely to abuse drugs.
If drugs are introduced into a person's life at a younger age, they're body is more likely to think it is necessary than an adult's.
The mind tells you the you need the drug. This can result in withdrawal symptoms from irritability to serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia, severe paranoia/anxiety or major depression.
When drugs are not taken, the body begins to notify you it NEEDS the drug. A person can show either minor withdraw symptoms, such as irritability and itching, or some as major as death.
HOW DRUGS WORK
Drugs tap into the communication center of the brain and alters either how it sends out signals OR what the signals tell your body to do. This can be either a minor change, like a pain reliever, or a major change such as changing your perception entirely.
Never mind the physical toll, but the financial one. A drug can cost from $5 to $100 per dose. Now multiply that by a number as small as 5. It's a big number right? That isn't even close to the price of an addiction. This is not even factoring in the price of medical treatments necessary to live through some drugs.
EXAMPLES OF THE EFFECTS OF DRUGS
The brain on a high lights up because the pleasure center is being elevated considerably. A drug addict without drugs is on the left while an addict on drugs is to the right.
LSD and other hallucinogens
Many users report a psychedelic effect, similar to this.
The receptors are much less sensitive in the brain of an addict.
Positive Effects of Drug Use
A drug users main reason for returning to drugs is the high. A high is the climax of taking a drug and usually has strong effects such as:
- relief of pain
- dramatic feelings of happiness or invincibility
- anxiety is tranquilized
During a high, most drugs cause intense pleasure because the drug attacks the dopamine receptors. Euphoria is the main reason that people with serious depression or anxiety return to drugs. Euphoric feelings make a person feel excited and happy, almost like they are ready for anything and nothing can damper their mood. This usually is what causes reckless behavior while under the influence because it makes the user feel like nothing can stop them.
Friends almost always have something to do with a person's choices. Mainly in teenagers, peer pressure is a big deal. Many times a person will try a serious drug to impress their friends. Most times it works, but the price is the serious risk of addiction.
The therapeutic properties of drugs are mainly used for treating pain and SEVERE depression. Currently a large debate is on the table as to if illicit drugs should be legally used medicinally.
NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF DRUG USE
Depending on how frequently the drug is taken and the drug itself, withdrawals can occur in hours to days and last from days to years. Symptoms can include:
- Flu-like symptoms (sweating, fever, etc)
- violence/violent episodes
- lethargic behavior
- hyperactive/restless behavior (insomnia)
- (hallucinogenic drugs mainly) schizophrenic behavior including seeing/hearing things (unlike a high, these things cause serious anxiety or fear)
- loss of pleasure/interest in previous interests
- breathing problems
- other mental illnesses
In more serious addiction cases, an addict will no longer enjoy old hobbies and activities. An addict will probably neglect their family and friends. The most frequent habit of addicts is the constant hunt for more of a drug.
An overdose can easily be fatal, if not extremely detrimental to your health. Overdosing is more frequent in drugs such as heroin and 'club drugs' due to the varying in strength per dose. Some minor drugs are laced with other, much more dangerous drugs. Lacing causes almost harmless drugs to result in emergency room visits. Legal drugs such as nicotine, alcohol and caffeine are overdosed on frequently as well, not being seen as harmful.
SPREAD OF DISEASE
Many drugs are injected, or shot, into the body. Shooting drugs gives an almost immediate high. The problem is, many people:
- Don't dispose of needles properly
- Reuse/share needles.
The brain has receptors known as the pleasure center. Drugs such as cocaine target these receptors, depleting them and making them less sensitive. This draws back to the pro of euphoria. While high a person feels happy, but is actually dulling themselves to the feeling.
The prices of commonly abused illegal drugs.
This chart shows the likelyhood of someone hurting themselves or another person while on specific drugs.
Injectable drugs help the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Bellum, Sara. "Why Does Peer Pressure Influence Teens To Try Drugs?" NIDA for Teens. USA.gov, 8 May 2012. Web. 14 Dec. 2014.
"Definition of Physical Dependence - NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms." National Cancer Institute. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.
"DrugFacts: HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse: Intertwined Epidemics." National Institute on Drug Abuse. USA.gov, May 2012. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.
"Glossary of Psychological Terms." American Psychological Association. American Psychological Association, 2014. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.
Goldberg, Joseph, MD. "Drug Abuse and Addiction Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention Facts." WebMD. MedicineNet, 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.
Time. EBSECOhost, 9 Aug. 2014. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Web. "Drug Abuse." Drug Abuse. Remedy Health Media, 18 Mar. 2010. Web. 09 Dec. 2014.
Web. Drug Abuse. Perf. Tim and Moby. BrainPOP. BrainPOP, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2014.
Web. Goldburg, Cassie. Opposing Viewpoints. GALE CENAGE Learning, 2013. Web. 8 Dec. 2014.
Web. Riggs, Paula DeGraffenreid. "Drug abuse." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2014. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.
Web. Stamm, Stephanie. "Drug Habits." Opposing Viewpoints. GALE Cenage Learning, 5 Dec. 2014. Web. 8 Dec. 2014
Web. Wood, Debra, RN. "Drug Abuse And Addiction." Salem Press Encyclopedia Of Health (2012): Research Starters. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Web. World Book, Inc. World Book Advanced. World Book, Inc. Web.