Impact of Drug Abuse on Health and Society
Targeted Populations in Drug Abuse
Stage PerformersDrugs are usually abused by stage performers such as musicians, singers, and dancers due to the stress or fear they feel of performing on stage.
The most commonly abused drug by pop musicians is cocaine, as it provides alertness and a feeling of euphoria. These effects make the performer feel that they own the stage and help them deliver a high-quality performance. Sometimes, this may be a wrong example to the common audience who may also want to experience this feeling, and thereby engage in misusing drugs.
The death of Michael Jackson on June 25, 2009, was due to the acute intoxication of propofol (anesthetic drug) and benzodiazepine (anti-anxiety drug).
Homeless or Street YouthThere is a high proportion of homeless youths due to several reasons like child abandonment, poverty or poor socio-welfare systems, lack of orphanages and runaway kids. They do not have enough guidance on healthy living and are easy targets for drug lords or drug trafficking.
Street youth initially experiment with drugs for recreational purposes and later get addicted, which in turn leads to drug abuse. This makes them indulge in various anti-social activities.
Drug Abuse among RefugeesThe impact of high stress on refugees leads them to use drugs or psychotropic substances. Depression due to the separation from their families, anxiety because of language barrier, racism, discrimination and physical trauma during pre-migration or illegal transit phases force these refugees towards drug abuse, mainly to deal with the stressors mentioned above.
Refugees who are addicted to drugs require money to procure these drugs and this makes them indulge in crime such as robbery, assaults and various criminal activities; this in turn can lead to the formation of gangs and can slowly become a major security threat for the nation.
Psychological Effects of Drug AbuseEuphoria and Illusion: Drugs would distort the normal perception capacity and functionality of the brain and make a ďpseudoĒ visualization and perception. It would create illusion and artificially make you feel euphoric, excited or pleasurable.
Stress: Drugs would make you feel as if it is helping you in relaxation and forget about all the issues that make you stressed. However, in reality, it is the opposite. Long-term use of drugs can cause a deep impact on the way your brain works, and lead to increased anxiety and stress.
Anxiety and Depression: Feeling low after alcohol consumption is common. Some drugs would make you feel depressed, while others make you depressed and anxious because of something that happened while you were under its impact. People often use drugs as a way to overcome their depression, but in reality, the drug use can often worsen these.
Mental illnesses: Scientists have showed that there is a link between drug use and serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia, yet itís still unclear whether serious drug use leads to mental illnesses. However, a person having any chronic psychological illness has an increased chance of drug abuse.
Health and Sexual Effects of Drug Abuse / Drug AddictionAccidents and Injuries:Drug distorts your perception and thoughts and it would make you do unwarranted acts that you would not do normally. Drugs can increase your chances of getting seriously injured or losing your life through falls and road accidents and can even pose a threat or cause harm to others around you.
Internal Organ Damages:Prolonged use of certain addictives can cause damage to the internal organs such as brain, liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, throat and stomach. For example marijuana smoking is 10 times potentially more harmful to lungs than cigarettes. 2-3 marijuana cigarettes cause more damage to the lungs and respiratory tract than 20-25 tobacco cigarettes. Continuous use of marijuana can damage your brain and destroy your memory, learning attention and understanding capacity.
Methamphetamine, a powerfully addictive drug, can destroy your teeth and damage your heart. Once the drug enters in a personís body, it causes the neuro-receptors to release a great amount of dopamine, leading to the typical euphoria. Short-term effects include extreme wakefulness, a lasting boost of energy and a lack of appetite. Long-term effects include high blood pressure, stroke and serious heart problems.
Risk of Infectious Diseases: Needle-sharing for injecting drugs would put you at risk of catching serious diseases like HIV / AIDS, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B etc. Apart from this, sharing pipes or cigars would expose the users to infections like common cold, flu, pneumonia, or tuberculosis.
Sexual Effects: Illegal drugs are widely perceived as sexual stimulants and aphrodisiacs: however the impact is often contradictory to the desired one. Cannabis drugs like marijuana are regarded as aphrodisiacs, increasing the good mood and sexual arousal by stimulating sexual activity. However, the fact is that marijuana distorts the sense of time, and an illusion of prolonged arousal and orgasm is experienced by the user. Long-term users of cannabis have low sperm counts and low testosterone levels and women can have abnormal ovulation.
Drugs like MDMA or Ecstasy impede erections and orgasms for both genders, and can cause erectile dysfunction in males. Under the influence of this drug, you will not remember to have safe sex and you would end up having risky unprotected sex with one or multiple sexual partners. It can lead to unwanted pregnancy or contracting of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as syphilis, gonorrhea and HIV/ AIDS.
Social Effects of Drug AbuseEffects of Drugs on relationships and your future
Drug abuse has an immediate impact on the body and mind but it can also affect your future and your relationship with others. When drug use becomes an important part of your life, your relationships suffer. You would behave more violently for the access of money for your need for drug. Conflict and breakdowns in communication would become a routine. Drugs would affect your ability to concentrate and focus at work. The side effects of using drugs like a hangover feeling can reduce the ability to focus. Poor performance at job can make you lose your job.
Safety: Use of illicit drugs increases chances of being in dangerous situations and compromise the safety of self and others. Under the influence of some drugs, you drive rashly compromising the safety of yourself and other road users. Drug abusers are at greater risk of overdosing.
Financial pressures and mounting debts: Drug Addiction can become an expensive affair to the family. In extreme situations, people addicted to drugs try anything from selling household goods to illegal activities like theft and robbery, to secure money to get their next dose. Drug addicts also tend to behave violently for the need of money, with family members, often ending up with crimes like murder.
Violence: Drugs can increase the likelihood of violent behavior. Drug-induced violence can lead to serious injury to the drug users and to others. Serious crimes like murder or rapes could be committed unknowingly under the influence of drugs.
Homelessness: Spending most of the money on drugs would make you poor and leave no money to cover the basic living expenses like rent, food, or utility bills.
Legal issues: Buying, selling, possessing or making illicit drugs is illegal. Itís also against the law to give prescription drugs to people who donít have a prescription from a doctor, yet several prescription drugs are routinely abused. Getting caught in possession of illicit drugs or in violent acts can land the drug user in jail or mental rehabilitation centre.
Corruption: Drug lords and people in drug trade bribe politicians and police officers with hefty ransom for securing their trade. Traffickers try to corrupt or intimidate officials for removing blocks in the drug transit and often have private armies. Judges, public officials and even police officers are lured into the trap of corruption because of illicit drug trade. Honest officials initiating courageous campaigns against the drug traffic are often killed or kidnapped.
Signs of Drug Abuse
- Neglect in grooming
- Changes in appetite and sleep patterns
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Abnormality in pupil size or bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech, lack of concentration or poor memory
- Mood swings and unusual fears or anxiety
- Secret behavior
- Strange agitation or hyperactivity
- Avoiding social places or hangouts with friends or family
Commonly Abused MedicationsPrescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as anxiety pills, sleep-inducing medicines, and pain relievers are the widely misused or abused drugs by the public. Other substances include cocaine, hallucinogens, narcotics or psychotropic injections and marijuana.
- Barbiturates - phenobarbitone
- Benzodiazepines - flunitrazepam, alprazolam, diazepam, lorazepam
- Hallucinogens such as dimethyltryptamine (DMT), Lysergic acid Diethylamide (LSD)
- Narcotics - opium, Heroin, morphine, codeine
- Stimulants - caffeine, amphetamines, cocaine
Drugs Used to Treat Drug Abuse or Addiction
Tips on How to Deal with Drug Abuse
- Before treatment is initiated, it is necessary for to find out if the patient is suffering from any pre-existing mental issues that can make them prone to drug abuse. Doing a dual diagnosis is essential for the success of treating patients with drug abuse.
- Take all the medications exactly as prescribed, and do not stop unless advised by the physician.
- Never double the prescribed dose with the intention of overcoming drug dependence.
- Knowing and handling withdrawal symptoms of abused drugs effectively.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy for developing problem-solving skills.
- Participating in drug education or drug abuse awareness conducted by educational institutions or social welfare groups.
- Proper parenting or family care and support.
- Attending motivational speeches and interviews.
- Explaining the effects of drug abuse in pregnant women or who wish to conceive to avoid possible damage to the fetus.
- Socializing with friends and family frequently or involving in a social group will be of great help.
- Taking up a part-time job or volunteering in some rehabilitation programs will keep one engaged, thereby reducing the craving for drugs greatly.
- Joining in fitness programs such as aerobics, gym or some short-term study courses is recommended.
- Adopting pets is the best way to have a companion, especially for those who live single.
- Get acquainted with the laws and punishments for illegal use or drug trafficking.
- Adolescent community support is required to reduce the negative environmental influences. This helps build positive structures for healthier societies and behavior.