Every time we open our television set to watch daily news, there is always a common scenario that is always mentioned by the anchor man and it is about young people or adults committing crimes because they are under the influence of drugs. It is true nowadays, everywhere we go; heinous crimes such as rapes, killings, and other forms of this act happen because criminals do not already know what is right from wrong due to the reason that drugs’ substance overpower and take control of them. People who indulge in drugs frequently hallucinate that motivate them to do the crime.
Moreover, substance abuse is a major threat to the health of young adults. Alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, and cocaine, for example, can bring about feelings of well-being that may be highly valued by people with adjustment problems. Prolonged used of drugs can lead to physical and psychological dependency and subsequent health problems. For example, drug abuse during pregnancy can lead to fetal damage. Drug addiction is the state of psychic or physical dependence, or both, on a dangerous drug, arising in a person following the administration or use of drug on a periodic or continuous basis.
Drug addiction implies a habit. Cultivation of such habit, against medical advice and for reasons wholly unjustified, contradicts natural law (Fletcher, 2000). Such abuse of drugs and chemicals effect adversely the mind and body. Many crimes besides are traced to drug addiction. Drug addiction may also call as drug dependence. Psychic dependence, sometimes called drug habituation, is characterized by a strong emotional drive to take a drug. Among the drugs that can produce psychic dependence are marijuana and such stimulants as cocaine and amphetamines.
Persons habituated to drugs often can be helped in breaking their habit by psychiatric counseling and treatment (Julien, 2003). Psychic and physical dependence, often called drug addiction, has all the characteristics of psychic dependence plus a physical, or bodily, need for the drug. In physical dependence, severe physical reactions, called withdrawal symptoms, occur of the drug is withheld from the user. The symptoms, which last for a week or two, include vomiting, cramps, delirium, unconsciousness, and other reactions that are both painful and frightening.
In many cases of physical dependence, a tolerance to the drug develops. That is, the effect of the drug diminishes if the same dose is taken repeatedly, and in most cases the user must increase the dose to achieve the desired effect. Drugs that produce both a psychic and a physical dependence include narcotics and such sedatives as barbiturates. If there is physical dependence on a drug, treatment is usually twofold—withdrawal therapy followed by psychiatric therapy. In withdrawal therapy, the user is given smaller and smaller doses of the drug each day until the threat of developing severe withdrawal symptoms disappears.
Sometimes a drug with less severe withdrawal symptoms is substituted for the original drug, and the less potent drug is then slowly withdrawn. In general, treatment of drug addiction is difficult and relapses are frequent (Julien, 2003). In heroin addiction considerable success has been attained with methadone maintenance programs. Methadone is itself a narcotic, but unlike heroin it can be taken orally once a day rather than injected several times a day; the user does not develop a tolerance to it; and the user can obtain it legally from federally controlled facilities.
Some experts, however, say it is morally and socially unacceptable to replace one addicting drug (heroin) with another (methadone). II. Background A. The Drug Problem The drug problem is a complex one, pervading all levels of society in the United States and elsewhere. Millions of persons misuse or abuse drugs of all kinds. For example, through ignorance or misinformation many take vitamins, minerals, and laxatives that are unnecessary and that can even harm them. By far the most serious type of drug abuse, however, involves the drugs that affect the mind, that change the mood or behavior of the user.
These drugs include narcotics; hallucinogens; sedatives, or depressants; and stimulants. The most widely used of such drugs—are alcohol, a sedative, and tobacco, a sedative and stimulant. The remainder of this section is concerned primarily with the other mood-changing drugs that are used (Ammerman, 1999). Not all the persons who experiment with mood-changing drugs become dependent on them. Many are only occasional users, and some try a drug only once or twice. Dependence on these drugs is, however, a serious social and medical problem.
Many of the drugs being abused can cause serious physical and mental damage to the chronic user. In addition, some drugs when taken in excess or in combination with other drugs can cause death. As a social problem drug dependence is more pervasive. In many cases individuals not only break the law by obtaining their drugs, but they encourage an illegal network of channels for drug distribution. Moreover, many chronic drug users must steal or engage in other illegal activities to obtain the money needed to buy the drugs (Fletcher, 2000).
Finally, the individual dependent on drugs often makes the acquisition of drugs his primary goal; that is, drugs become a way of life, leaving little incentive or time for work or school. III. Discussion A. Dangers and Regulation Prescription drugs are safe to use only as directed by a physician. Almost all prescription drugs can have side effects; that is they can produce reactions in the body other than those intended. The types and severity of side effects vary not only with the particular drug used, but also with the individual taking the drug.
For some persons, the side effects, if any, may be only a nuisance; for others, they may be fatal (Fletcher, 2000). For example, penicillin, which helps most persons, can produce harmful, even fatal, effects in some. Prescription drugs can be dangerous when more than the amount prescribed is taken. Such drugs as narcotics, barbiturates, and amphetamines are potentially habit-forming. If not taken as directed, they can lead to drug dependence or abuse. Even drugs than can be bought without prescription may be injurious when taken too freely.
For example, use of aspirin may cause the body to be covered by a rash, and excessive intake can cause death (Ammerman, 1999). B. Causes and Prevention The factors that lead to misuse or abuse of drugs are many, varying with the individual. Researchers do not know precisely why a person becomes dependent on drugs. Theories range from those emphasizing psychiatric disorders to those stressing genetic makeup. Often drugs are taken because they allow the user—at least temporarily—to evade frustrations, depression, and feelings of alienation, or to escape from problems.
Easy access to drugs of various sorts, pleasurable feelings brought about by drugs, influence of friends, curiosity—these are some of the other reasons for what has been called the epidemic of drug abuse (American Society of Hospital Pharmacists, 2005). Prevention of drug abuse can take many different paths, but basically it involves law enforcement and education. Important are strict regulation of the distribution of legitimately manufactured drugs and constant efforts to prevent the illegal sale of narcotics and other dangerous drugs. Most schools in the United States have drug education programs.
Most experts say that effective educational programs should be geared to help children—to understand that drugs are not a solution for their problems. They say that children as well as adults should learn that drugs of any kind, including nicotine and alcohol, are potentially dangerous and should be regarded with caution. Separate drug education courses have not been very successful and some educators feel that a better approach is to informally introduce information on drugs at pertinent points in the social studies and science curriculums (Baron, 2003).
Researchers have found that many drug abusers have difficulty in setting up life goals, are apathetic, and tend to withdraw from society. Parents and educators, according to the experts, must therefore find ways of helping children develop interests, values, attitudes, and life goals so that they will be able to resist the appeal of “everyone’s doing it. ” Important in developing such attitudes is the example set by adults. The parent who misuses alcohol, for example, is, in effect, condoning the misuse of a drug.
Experts also emphasize the need for more research in prevention the need for more research in prevention, education, and treatment techniques (Long, 2004). IV. Conclusion Other studies reveal that heavy users of alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine often have experienced significant stress or failure and are depressed. Especially for teenagers, drug use also has social roots. Peers influences attitudes about drugs; they also provide the drugs and establish the social context for their use. If an adolescent’s friends use drugs, the odds are that he or she will, too. If the friends don’t, the temptation may not even arise.
Indeed, the peer factor is so powerful that other predictors of adolescent drug use, such as family strength, religiousness, and school adjustment, seem to operate through their effects on peer associations. Those who do use drugs are more likely to stop if indeed their drug use was peer influenced. When friends stop or the social network changes, usage typically ceases. Teenagers who come from happy families and do well in school seldom use drugs, in large part because they rarely associate with those who do. Reference: 1. American Society of Hospital Pharmacists. The New Consumer Drug Digest, revised edition (Facts on File, 2005).
2. Ammerman, R. T. Prevention and Societal Impact of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Mahwah, NJ. 1999. 3. Baron, J. D. Kids and Drugs: a Parent’s Handbook of Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment (Putnam’s, 2003). 4. Fletcher, B. W. Drug Abuse Treatment: The Implementation of Innovative Approaches. Greenwood Press. Place of Publication: Westport, CT. (2000). 5. Julien, R. M. Drugs and the Body in Health and Disease (Freeman, 2003). 6. Long, J. W. The Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs, 2004. Outline I. Introduction II. Background A. The Drug Problem