Drug abuse or substance abuse is an ailment characterized by harmful behaviour of consuming chemicals that lead to distress or significant problems like intolerance of withdrawing from the substance and desiring more and more of it.
Drug abuse can affect social and economic life of a person. The impact of drug abuse on society is tremendous. Economic impact is substantial such as lost wages, mental health, legal and medical impact amounting to nearly $215 billion. Crime related to drug use resulted in arrest of over 14 million in 2008. Prescription drug abuse is common among teenagers. Drug rehab facilities are on the rise.
TYPES OF DRUGS ABUSED
Any substance that can create a ‘high’ (euphoric) feeling can be abused. While most people are aware of drugs like Cocaine and marijuana, drug abuse can result from other substances like household cleaners and over the counter medication like cold medicine.
Some of the common substances abused are:
- Alcohol: Though legal, this substance is toxic especially for a fetus in a pregnant and abusive mother. Alcohol addiction has a tremendous impact on the physical well being of an alcoholic and impairs his ability to work and in his interpersonal interactions.
- Amphetamines: These drugs are derived from prescription medication like Dextroamphetamine and Methylphenidate and illegal drugs like Crystal Meth ( Methamphetamine). Drug overdose can cause death or seizure.
- Anabolic steroids: Used mostly by athletes and other sportsmen , these drugs have tremendous emotional symptoms such as paranoia and aggression. Long term impact includes organ failure and infertility.
- Caffeine: Common content in soda, tea and coffee, excessive consumption can cause tremors, insomnia, palpitation, anxiety and irritability.
- Cannabis: Common name is Marijuana. It is the most common illicit drug. Negative effects are lack of motivation and paranoia. It is commonly mixed or ’cut’ with other substances. These include cocaine, baby powder, oregano etc.
- Cocaine: It is a drug that stimulates the central nervous system. It can be smoked, ‘snorted ‘ or taken in liquid form.
- Ecstasy: Also called as MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine), this drug use results in feelings of ‘euphoria’ and extra nurturing love. Overdose causes fatal rise in body temperature.
- Hallucinogens: Example is LSD and natural forms like mushrooms. These interfere with perception like causing feelings of danger where there is no need for them.
- Inhalants: Found in common sources like bleach, ammonia and household cleaners. Even few uses can cause brain damage that can be fatal.
- Nicotine:Found in cigarettes, it is the most addictive substance.
- Opiates: These are narcotic drugs like heroin, morphine, Percodan etc. These harm the functioning of the nervous system. Overdoes halts the breathing of the abuser ( respiratory arrest).
- Anti-anxiety, sedative and hypnotic drugs: these are the second most abused illicit drugs. They suppress the nervous system. They can be fatal by interfering with breathing ( respiratory arrest), especially due to drug overdose or in combinations with other suppressants of the nervous system ( opiate or sedative drug or alcohol).
Drug addiction is not an untreatable condition. It can be controlled with behaviour therapy and even by drug rehab treatment. Not only does it need treatment of symptoms but also correcting socio-economic factors that contribute to the addiction.