Understanding Drug Use, Abuse and Addiction (Quit Drugs)
The first step towards success is taken when you refuse to be captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.
– Mark Caine
The word “drug” is defined as “any substance that, when taken into the living organism, may modify one or more of its functions” (WHO).
“Drug abuse” is defined as self-administration of a drug for non medical reasons, in quantities and frequencies which may impair an individual’s ability to function effectively. It also may result in social, physical and emotional harm.
“Drug dependence” is an interaction between a living organism and a drug. Responses present are those which always include a compulsion to take the drug on a continuous or periodic basis in order to experience its psychic effects or to avoid the discomfort of its absence. A person may be dependent upon more than one drug.
Addiction affects multiple brain circuits including those involved in motivation and learning. It can affect memory function. Addiction is a complex disorder affected by compulsive drug use. While each drug produces different physical effects, all abused substances share one thing in common: repeated use can alter the way the brain looks and functions.
Vulnerability to drug addiction differs from person to person. Genes, mental health, family and social environment all play a role in addiction. Risk factors that increase vulnerability in an individual include:
Family history of addiction
Abuse, neglect, or other traumatic experiences during childhood
Mental disorders such as depression and anxiety
Early use of drugs
Method of administration—smoking or injecting a drug may increase its addictive potential.
Drug abuse and addiction
People who experiment with drugs continue to use them because the substance either makes them feel good, or stops them from feeling bad. In many cases, however, there is a fine line between regular use, drug abuse and addiction. Very few addicts are able to recognize the fact that they have crossed that line. While frequency or the amount of drugs consumed do not in themselves constitutes drug abuse or addiction, they are often indicators of future drug-related problems.
As the drug usage increases over time, the drug also gradually becomes more important for the user – If the drug fulfills an inner need, the user increasingly relies on it. Drugs are often taken to help calm an anxious or stressed user. A depressed individual also tends to feel energized after the drug intake. It makes him/her more confident in social situations. Prescription drugs are initially given to cope with panic attacks or relieve chronic pain. On prolonged usage they become habitual.
If drugs are used to fill a void in life – the user is at a risk of crossing the line from casual drug usage to drug abuse and addiction. It is important for the individual to feel good in spite of not being on drugs.
Once drug abuse becomes regular job performance progressively deteriorates. Social or family obligations are neglected. The ability to stop using is eventually compromised. What begins as a voluntary choice turns into a physical and psychological need.
Commonly Used Drugs for Abuse
Cocaine is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. It is both a potent stimulant of the central nervous system and an appetite suppressant. Its effects can last from 20 minutes to several hours. Cocaine gives an euphoric sense of happiness and increased energy. The initial signs of stimulation are hyperactivity, restlessness, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate and euphoria. Sexual pleasure can be amplified. Side effects can include twitching, paranoia, and impotence.
Methamphetamime is popularly known as meth or ice. It is a psycho stimulant and a sympathomimetic drug. Methamphetamine on entering the brain triggers a cascading release of hormones nor epinephrine, dopamine and chemical serotonin. Its withdrawal results in excessive sleeping, eating and depression-like symptoms, often accompanied by anxiety and drug-craving.
Crack cocaine, often nicknamed “crack”, is believed to have been created. It is made by ether to produce pure freebase cocaine. Baking soda is now most often used as a base rather than ammonia.
Heroin is an opiate processed directly from the extracts of the opium poppy. After introduction of the drug into the bloodstream, heroin is converted into morphine, which mimics the action of endorphins, creating a sense of well-being.
Lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD, LSD-25, or acid, is a semi synthetic psychedelic drug. It is a recreational drug, an entheogen. It is a tool used to supplement various types of transcendence including meditation, psychonautics, and illegal psychedelic psychotherapy. LSD’s psychological effects (colloquially called a “trip”) vary greatly from person to person.
Ecstasy (MDMA) is a semisynthetic psychedelic entactogen. It possesses more stimulant like effects than most all other common “trip” producing psychedelics. It is considered as a recreational drug that is often used with sex and is associated with club drugs.
Cannabis, known as marijuana in its herbal form, is a psychoactive product of the plant Cannabis sativa. It has psychoactive and physiological effects when consumed, usually by smoking or ingestion. The state of intoxication due to cannabis consumption is colloquially known as a “high”. Each user experiences a different high.
Opium is a resinous narcotic formed from the latex released by lacerating (or “scoring”) the immature seed pods of opium poppies (Papaver somniferum). It contains up to 16% morphine, an opiate alkaloid, which is most frequently processed chemically to produce heroin. Opium has been superseded by a variety of synthetic opiods with progressively stronger effects.
Psilocybin mushrooms are fungi that contain the psychedelic substances psilocybin and psilocin, and other psychoactive tryptamines. The hallucinogenic effects and intoxicating effects of psilocybin-containing mushrooms last anywhere from 3 to 7 hours depending upon the dosage consumed.
The sniffing of substances such as glue, petrol, chloroform, paint thinner, cleaning fluids, typewriter correction fluid, etc is a cause of great concern, as it can result in death. The above substances are depressants of the central nervous system. Initial euphoria and exhilaration is followed by confusion, disorientation and ataxia. With increasing doses, there may be convulsions, coma and death. In chronic sniffers there is damage to the brain and peripheral nervous system.
Caffeine is one of the most commonly used drugs worldwide. This stimulant is found in coffee, tea, soft drinks and cocoa. Some over the-counter drugs such as pain killers, diet pills, cough and cold remedies may contain caffeine.
Symptoms of caffeinism (usually associated with ingestion of caffeine over 500 mg/day) include anxiety, agitation, restlessness, insomnia and gastrointestinal side effects. Caffeine can also result in a miscarriage in a pregnant woman. It often results in a low birth weight baby. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, headache, nausea and irritability.
To Avoid Caffeine Dependence
The amount of caffeine in your tea can be reduced by using a single tea bag for multiple tea servings.
Shortening the time of tea brewing.
Switching from black to green tea.
Consuming herbal tea.
Replace caffeinated beverages with decaffeinated or caffeine free options.
To prevent caffeine withdrawal symptoms, slowly decrease caffeine consumption rather than stopping it abruptly.