Combating Drug Addiction

 Drugs and Addiction: Treatment and Complications

Drug abuse has become one of the most critical problems afflicting all countries worldwide. Due to the major dangers triggered by drug abuse on all health, social, economic and security respects, all countries have diligently sought to fight such a problem which has no longer been confined to a definite type of drugs, neither has it been related to a certain country or social segment. In addition, new and numerous compounds have appeared to have obviously bad effects on brain and the nervous system.

What is addiction?     
Addiction is the result of continuously and heavily using narcotic substances, till such a user cannot psychologically or physically dispense with such substances. After the body develops Drug tolerance, it becomes in need for more doses of such drugs to achieve the same effects previously experienced. With such constantly increasing doses in a short period, both body and mind are so much effected that the addict is no longer able to perform his daily duties without such drugs. If the Addict attempts to stop drug abuse, a lot of dangerous physical and psychological symptoms will instantly appear. In such a case, the Addict suffers from what is called "withdrawal symptoms" which may lead either to his death or to addicting alcohol, drugs, psychotropic drugs or sedative-hypnotics drugs.

What are drugs?
Drugs (also known as: narcotics) are those plant or manufactured compounds that contain hypnotic or sedative elements, which, if used for any purpose other than that medically specified, will inflict body with apathy and lethargy. In such cases, drugs also affect the central nervous system, respiratory system and circulatory system with chronic diseases, leading to a state of familiarity or so-called (addiction). In addition, abusing drugs causes severe damage to mental, physical and social health till the user is considered "an addict".

 Reasons for Addiction:
  • ​Lack of awareness regarding dangers of drug abuse.
  • Poor religious commitment and inappropriate social upbringing.
  • Broken homes.
  • Poverty, ignorance and illiteracy.
  • Extraordinary wealth.
  • Parental negligence towards their children.
  • Lack of dialogue among family members.
  • Bad companionship.
  • Unemployment.
Signs of Addiction:
  • ​Sudden change in lifestyle and frequent absence from work or school.
  • Significant downgrade in school and deterioration of performance at work.​
  • Absence from home for a long especially at night.
  • Secretiveness.
  • Extreme mood changes.
  • Weight loss or gain.
  • Changes in social groups, new and unusual friends.
  • Tending to be Lonely.
  • Spending money without thinking and demanding for more.  Anger for trivial reasons.
  • Escaping responsibility.
Types of Drugs:
There are different types of drugs depending on how they are classified. Some of them are classified as per their impact, while others are defined in terms of production or color in addition to another classification that is based on addiction whether it is physical or psychological. Accordingly, there are many types of drugs varying in degrees of effect and functioning in the nervous system. This may include the following:
  • ​Hashish and marijuana.
  • Antipsychotic drugs.
  • Stimulant drugs such as cocaine.
  • Hallucinogens such as LSD.
  • Inhalants such as glue.
  • Medical painkillers and sedatives such as morphine.
Symptoms of Addiction:
1) Symptoms associated with the use of hashish or marijuana:
  • ​High visual, hearing, and tasting sensitivity.
  • Memory impairment, difficulties in concentration and motional inconsistency.
  • High heart pulse and blood pressure.
  • Red eyes.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Paranoia.
2) Symptoms associated with doping (amphetamine, cocaine, and methyl phenidate):
  • Ecstasy and excitement.
  • Depression and insomnia.
  • Nasal congestion and damage to the mucous membrane of the nose.
  • Weight loss.
  • Increased heart pulse, blood pressure, and body temperature.
  • Paranoia.

3) Symptoms associated with the abuse of sedatives (barbiturates and benzodiazepines):
  • Drowsiness and dizziness.
  • Memory impairment.
  • Depression.
  • Hypopnea and lowered blood pressure.
  • Motional perplexity and inconsistency.

4) Symptoms associated with the abuse of narcotic analgesics (heroin, morphine and codeine):
  • Alleviation of pain.
  • Confusion.
  • Hypopnea.
  • Constipation.

Dependence on drugs can create a number of life-changing complications. They can include:
1- Health problems. Drug addiction can lead to a range of both short- and long-term mental and physical health problems. These depend on what drug is taken
2- Unconsciousness, coma and sudden death. Taking some drugs can be particularly risky, especially if you take high doses or combine them with other drugs or alcohol.
3- Getting a communicable disease. People who are addicted to a drug are more likely to get an infectious disease, such as HIV, either through unsafe sex or by sharing needles.
4- Accidents. If you're addicted to a drug, you're more likely to drive or do other dangerous activities while intoxicated.
5- Suicide. People who are addicted to drugs commit suicide more often than do people who aren't.
6-Family problems. Behavioral changes may cause marital or family strife and custody issues.
7- Legal issues. These can stem from stealing to support your drug addiction, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and disputes over child custody.
8- Financial problems. Spending money to support your habit takes away money from your other needs, could put you into debt, and could lead you into illegal or unethical behaviors.

Treatment of Drug Addiction:
Drug addiction treatments include organized inpatient or outpatient treatment programs, counseling, and self-help groups to help you resist using the addictive drug again. Depending on your level of addiction, you may need steps to help you withdraw from using the drug (detoxification).
1) Treatment programs:
Treatment programs generally include educational and therapy sessions focused on getting sober and preventing relapse. This may be accomplished in individual, group or family sessions. These programs are available in various settings from outpatient to residential and inpatient programs.

2) Counseling: 
  • ​Individual or family counseling with a psychologist, psychiatrist or addiction counselor may help you resist the temptation to resume using addicting drugs.
  • Behavior therapies can help you develop ways to cope with your drug cravings, suggest strategies to avoid drugs and prevent relapse, and offer suggestions on how to deal with a relapse if it occurs. 
  • Counseling can also involve talking about your job, legal problems, and relationships with family and friends. 
  • Counseling with family members can help them develop better communication skills and be more supportive.

3) Self-Help Groups:
Many, though not all, of these groups tend to use the 12-step model first developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. Self-help groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, exist for people addicted to drugs, such as cocaine, sedatives and narcotics. The message is that addiction is a chronic disorder with a danger of relapse and that ongoing maintenance treatment — which may include medications, counseling and self-help group meetings — is necessary to prevent a relapse. Your doctor or counselor can help you locate a self-help group. 

4) Withdrawal Therapy:
  • ​The symptoms of withdrawal vary according to the kind of drugs used. They include: insomnia, vomiting, sweating, instability and inability to sleep, in addition to an elevation in heart pulse, temperature and blood pressure, as well as depression and suicide attempt.
  • The goal of withdrawal therapy (detoxification) is for you to stop taking the addicting drug as quickly and safely as possible. Detoxification may involve:
​1- Gradually reducing the dose of the drug.
2- Tempo​rarily substituting other substances, such as methadone, that have less severe side effects. 
3- For some people, it may be safe to undergo withdrawal therapy on an outpatient basis; others may require admission to a hospital or a residential treatment center.

5) Health Assessment of the Addict: 
Treatment programs are supposed to provide an assessment for addicts, showing wither they are infected with AIDS, hepatitis B or C, Tuberculosis, or other infectious diseases.

  • The best way to prevent an addiction to an illegal drug is not to take the drug at all. Use care when taking an addictive prescription drug. Your doctor may prescribe narcotics to relieve pain, benzodiazepines to relieve anxiety or insomnia, or barbiturates to relieve nervousness or irritation. Doctors prescribe these medications at safe doses and monitor their use so that you're not given too great a dose or for too long a time. If you feel you need to take more than the prescribed dose of a medication, talk to your doctor.

Preventing drug abuse in children:
Take the following steps to help prevent drug abuse in your children:
1- Communicate. Talk to your children about the risks of drug use and abuse.
2- Listen. Be a good listener when your children talk about peer pressure, and be supportive of their efforts to resist it.
3- Set a good example. Don't abuse alcohol or addictive drugs. Children of parents who abuse drugs are at greater risk of drug addiction.
4- Strengthen the bond. Work on your relationship with your children. A strong, stable bond between you and your child will reduce your child's risk of using or abusing drugs.

Preventing a relapse:
Once you've been addicted to a drug, you're at high risk of falling back into a pattern of addiction. If you do start using the drug, it's likely you'll lose control over its use again — even if you've had treatment and you haven't used the drug for some time.
1- Avoid high-risk situations. Don't go back to the neighborhood where you used to get your drugs. And stay away from your old drug crowd.
2- Get help immediately if you use the drug again. If you start using the drug again, talk to your doctor, your mental health provider or someone else who can help you right away.
3- Stick with your treatment plan. It may seem like you've recovered and you don't need to keep taking steps to stay drug-free. But don't stop seeing your psychotherapist, going to your support group meetings or taking prescribed medication. Your chances of staying drug-free are much higher if you continue treatment after you recover. 

Last Update : 30 June 2013 11:33 AM
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