Over the years, problems concerning drug and alcohol abuse are becoming rampant. In almost all parts of the globe, drug and alcohol-related problems have been reported to increase making such problem a totally global crisis. With the implemented policies regarding the control and the prohibition of patronizing most abused drugs, the global community has really doing its task to eliminate such crisis and to preserve peace and order in the world.
However, no matter how the global community does its goal of eliminating the problems on drug and alcohol abuse, it seems that merely punishing those who manufacture, sell and distribute prohibited drugs is not really sufficient to completely solve the problems on drug abuse. Likewise, only reminding the public of what alcohol abuse can bring to individuals is literally inadequate to minimize the cases of alcohol abuse. In order to fully address the problems on drug and alcohol abuse, all must do their part in the pursuit of solving it. The government and even other institutions could never really do such undertaking by themselves only.
Involvement and participation of the people are the most necessary and integral part of it. Only when all the concerned factors and elements act upon the total elimination of drug and alcohol-related problems could such crisis be truly cured. This research paper would elaborate on the problems caused by drug and alcohol abuse. It has three parts: The first part of the paper would discuss the concepts of drug and alcohol abuse, the history of drug and alcohol abuse in North America, and the present situation of North America with reference to the problem on drug and alcohol abuse concerning teenagers.
The second part would tackle on the cases of drug and alcohol abuse in North America as compared to other countries; and the effects and consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. The third part would dwell on the treatment and actions done by the government and other institutions in North America in order to address the problems on drug and alcohol abuse by teenagers. The last part would elaborate on the future direction of the aforesaid problem. FIRST PART: What is Drug Abuse? The most common notion on drug abuse is the act of using drugs that can either affect an individual’s psychological system or enhance an individual’s performance.
It is to be noted that taking in or using such drugs is not really intended for medical and therapeutic treatment. The most frequently abused drugs are the following: alcohol, amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, opium alkaloids, methaqualone, and minor tranquilizers. (Karch, 2006) There are different definitions of drug and alcohol abuse. They vary according to the scope in which the term drug and alcohol abuse is being examined and analyzed. By public health definition, drug and alcohol abuse is seen as a problem that is directed towards the concept of “use vs.
abuse” of drugs. It is illustrated by showing a transition of attitude regarding drugs from merely using them as cures for particular sicknesses into totally abusing them by becoming so dependent with them. The focus of the definition of the drug and alcohol abuse here is on the roles played by the society and culture as well as the availability of such drugs. (Karch, 2006) By mass communication definition, drug abuse is a term used to encompass all types of drug abuse. The term is being used to catch the attention of the people regarding certain issues on illicit drugs.
It is not directed towards a particular or specific kind of drug abuse but more on the general description of it. Such definition is often manifested on the news that are seen on televisions, internet, printed materials such as magazines, newspapers, flyers, etc. and heard on radios. (Karch, 2006) By medical definition, drug abuse is more termed as substance abuse. The focus of this definition is the effects, either physically or psychologically, of the abused substances. In addition, treatment and prevention of such drug and alcohol abuse are the main tasks of the medical institutions with regards to the drug and alcohol abuse.
(Karch, 2006) Lastly, by political definition, drug and alcohol abuse is more likely inclined on the concept of what does it take to say that a particular drug is being used illegally. The focus here is on the legality of the concept of illegal drugs and illegal use of it. (Karch, 2006) What is Alcohol Abuse? Alcohol abuse is also included on the list of most common drugs that are being abused. On the other hand, there are more specific problems and effects that alcohol abuse brings to particular societies and communities. Alcohol abuse pertains to the act of being alcohol-dependent.
It refers to the overuse and even misuse of alcohol. Such eventually leads to alcoholism, which can severely damaged mental and physical processes of the body. Being alcoholic means that the drinker cannot control the urge of taking in alcohol in such a way that even if he already perceives the harmful effects of it to his system. (Sales, 1999) Drug and Alcohol Abuse by Teenagers in North America According to a study carried out in the Maritime Provinces, marijuana, stimulants, mescaline and amphetamines were the most commonly abused drugs used by the teenagers in the North America particularly in distinct parts of Canada.
In addition, number of cases concerning alcoholism was also recorded. These drug and alcohol problems were said to be increasing and becoming more alarming in the North American regions. (Connecticut Drug Problem, Laws and Substance Abuse Issues, 2007) Furthermore, the conducted study showed that there was no sign that cases regarding drug and alcohol abuse were decreasing with reference to the teenagers who were used as the subjects of the study. The statistics illustrated that 1 out of 2 teenagers had used marijuana. The said problem was becoming more rampant in the urban regions of North America.
(Connecticut Drug Problem, Laws and Substance Abuse Issues, 2007) Also in Canada, a school named Saint John High School was said to have students that were using narcotic painkillers, ecstasy and cocaine. In order to address the problem the said school had conducted a drug and alcohol abuse-survey which is designed to observe the trend and the progress of drug and alcoholic addiction among their students. They did this for two years and arrived at shocking results. (World Drug Report 2000, 2001) They discovered that most cases of drug and alcohol abuse were unknown to the parents of the students.
Moreover, the parents themselves, when asked, did not have enough knowledge on the kinds of drugs and substances that were prohibited. Also, the study showed that students started to involve themselves on drug and alcohol abuse by first ingesting marijuana. Eventually the students became so much in tuned of taking in heavy drugs such as dilaudid and some pharmaceutical drugs. Julie Dingwell, one if the project coordinators of that study said that students can even access and use ecstasy and cocaine. With the result of the survey, they realized the need for immediate action regarding the problems on drug and alcohol abuse.
(Connecticut Drug Problem, Laws and Substance Abuse Issues, 2007) The same case was reported in Connecticut. The use of heroin and cocaine by the teenagers were also alarming. Today, Connecticut is labeled as the chief transport district of illegal drugs from New York to the East Coast. These places were tagged as the principal route of drug transactions. (Connecticut Drug Problem, Laws and Substance Abuse Issues, 2007) And because the prices of heroin and cocaine are cheaper, they became more accessible to public such that even the students and minors can directly purchase them. The same went for marijuana. It costs cheaper.
Thus, it can be purchased easily to the public. In the United States, cases of using a drug known as ecstasy were reportedly widespread among the teenagers. Fortunately, in 2001 the rate of growth of such cases was beginning to slow. The said ecstasy was most used drug during night parties and hangouts. Such cases started in 1999. (World Drug Report 2000, 2001) SECOND PART: Comparison between North America and other Countries concerning Drug and Alcohol Abuse In China, the history of drug abuse can be traced on the use of opium which caused the war between China and Great Britain. Truly, opium was the most abused drug during those times.
However, over the years, other kinds of illicit drugs were also introduced in China. Heroin became the next attraction in China followed by amphetamines and ketamine in 1997. Since then the increase of drug and alcohol abuse cases were doubled and even tripled. And by the end of 2002, there were 70,000 drug and alcohol addicts that were registered. Such number was very disturbing. (World Drug Report 2000, 2001) Nevertheless, the number of teenagers who were reported to have involved in drug and alcohol abuse in China was lesser as compared to the number of teenagers in North America who engaged in drug and alcohol abuse.
In European countries like France, United Kingdom (UK), Italy and Great Britain, issues on drug and alcohol abuse were also found to be problematic. Britain was in top rank with reference to the cases of drug and alcohol abuse. Italy, France and Portugal were said to be in the last ranks when it comes to alcoholism. (World Drug Report 2000, 2001) On the other hand, Denmark and UK ranked first and second respectively having reached very high numbers of teenagers who were so much indulged in alcohol abuse. Concerning prohibited drugs, marijuana, heroin and cocaine were the most commonly abused drug in Europe.
UK and France got the highest number of teenage population who used and abused those kinds of illicit drugs. (World Drug Report 2000, 2001) In comparing Europe with the cases of drug and alcohol abuse in North America, the latter was still superior with regards to the cases of drug and alcohol abuse. Nevertheless, Europe was also alarmed with the fact that cases on drug and alcohol abuse on European states most especially in France and UK were staring to increase every year. Hence European states initiated various rehabilitation programs and policies regarding drug and alcohol abuse cases.
In South America, on the contrary, cases of drug and alcohol abuse were higher than North America. This was primarily due to the fact that states that lie in the region of South America have the most raw materials in manufacturing and producing illicit drugs. In addition, the South American region has an easy access to transport these prohibited drugs to their neighboring countries like USA, Canada, and Mexico, and even in Europe. (World Drug Report 2000, 2001) The teenage addiction in illicit drugs and alcohol was reportedly more widespread and extensive in South America.
Even young teenagers had been traced of being dependent of those prohibited drugs. Likewise, the rate of alcoholism in the South American region was also high. (World Drug Report 2000, 2001) It can be inferred that because North America is only closed to the major manufacturer of illegal drugs such as marijuana and the likes, drug and alcohol abuse cases are also prevalent in its region. Consequences and Effects of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Regardless of the region or country, the effects that can be caused by drug and alcohol abuse are the same. First and foremost, it has bad effects on the health of the individual who is abusing it.
The effects on the individuals can either be manifested physiologically or psychologically or can be both. Furthermore, effects of drug and alcohol abuse can also be manifested through its implications on the relationship of those individuals who use illicit drugs to their family, to their community, to the society and even to the international community. Nonetheless, the risk of having reported many cases of drug and alcohol abuse concerning teenagers is really disquieting given that such abuse of drugs and alcohol could lead to total destruction of the abuser’s mind and body system as well as the peace and order in the society.
Teenagers are said to be more prone to drug addiction and alcoholism. However, it does not suggest that only teenagers have the tendency to abuse drugs and alcohol. High number of adults has also been involved in cases regarding drug and alcohol abuse. Yet there is larger risk if the teenagers would be tolerated and not prevented from engaging on drug addiction and alcoholism. A. Physiological and Psychological Effects of Drugs and Alcohol Abuse The physiological and psychological effects of illegal drugs or illicit drugs depend on the substance or drug that is used or taken in by an individual.
(Yoslow, 1992) Marijuana has the following physiological and psychological effects: increased heart rate, bloodshot eyes, dry mouth and throat, increased appetite, short-term memory loss, reduced concentration and coordination, paranoia and psychosis. Cocaine has these following physiological and psychological effects: dilated pupils, elevated blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and body temperature, stuffy or runny nose, ulcerated mucous membranes of the nose, cardiac arrest and respiratory failure. Depressants are also being abused by teenagers.
Here are the most described mental and physical effects of ingesting it: calmness and relaxed muscles, slurred speech, staggering gait, altered perception, respiratory depression, coma and death. Hallucinogens are also being abused by teenagers. However, there is a low number of cases that are reported concerning the abuse of these types of illicit drugs. The excessive and uncontrolled take of them may cause the following: sense of distance and estrangement, mood disorders, dilated pupils, elevated body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, tremors, and heart and lung failure.
Inhalants are the most abused drugs or substances that are used by teenagers, Effects of inhaling it are the following: shot-term memory loss, loss of smell, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, brain damage, convulsions, coma, cardiac arrest nervous system damage and death. As mentioned earlier, one of the most common drugs that was being used and abused by the teenagers in North America was the drug known as ketamine. (World Drug Report 2000, 2001) Its effects were the following: dream-like states, hallucinations, delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function, high blood pressure, numbness, vomiting, and fatal respiratory problems.
On the other hand, alcohol abuse can also badly affect an individual’s physical and mental state. Here are the ill-effects of taking in so much alcohol: hangovers, weight gain, high blood pressure, depressed immune system, cancer, liver disease, alcohol poisoning, and heart and respiratory failure. (Sales, 1999) In short, all the mentioned physiological and psychological effects of abusing drugs and alcohol can lead to deterioration of external and internal body system as well as can cause mental malfunction to the individuals.
It is to be noted that the worst effect of drug and alcohol abuse with regards to the individual’s is the malfunctioning of the body systems that can lead to death. B. Social Effects of Drug and Alcohol Abuse It is said that whatever the action or the behavior of individuals would really have significant effect toward their society and even outside it. It is to be noted that every individual has duties to his family as well as his community hence if these duties and obligations would not really be performed by every individual, the family, the community and even the whole world would lost its peace and order.
The harmony that is an ideal goal of the society could only be achieved if all the people would do their part as members of the society. In connection with the effects of drug and alcohol abuse in North America, there were lots of cases wherein drug and alcohol abuses were the root causes. Crimes like murder, rape, robbery, homicide and the likes were reportedly committed by those individuals who were under the influence of the prohibited drugs and alcohol. The worst fact was that almost 75 percent of reported perpetrators of the mentioned crimes were teenagers.
The ages of these teenagers range from 14-19. Such cases were very alarming to the North American government. (Knafla, 2003) Moreover, one of the causes of the early death of teenagers was said to be due to the use of illicit drugs and being alcoholic. As mentioned earlier, abuse of drugs and alcohol can really cause death. However, teenagers took such risk in order to satisfy their cravings on those drugs and alcohol. And because of immaturity, they failed to realize how dangerous for them to do such undertaking.
Also, due to immaturity, their body cannot adequately control the intake of illicit drugs and alcohol hence it led to malfunctioning of body systems that can really cause death. (Knafla, 2003) Nonetheless there was this contention declared by the government of Canada in which they argued that their crime rates were not really perpetrated with the influence of drug and alcohol. According to them, although there was this high statistics that showed the high cases of drug and alcohol abuse, the crimes that were committed were not really under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Moreover, they said that such findings were done exaggeratedly.
(World Drug Report 2000, 2001) The same contention was raised by the US government. Drug and alcohol abuse was really rampant in the North American region however; reported crimes were not really due to the abuse of drugs and alcohol. The US government argued that they were strictly implementing policies to lower the cases of drug and alcohol abuse such that the assumption that the criminals were under the influence of drugs and alcohol was not really the case. (World Drug Report 2000, 2001) THIRD PART: Prevention and Treatment on Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention is better than cure.
Truly, it is more advantageous if the problem against drug and alcohol abuse should be prevented much earlier rather than finding ways on how it can be cured. With the mentioned ill-effects and consequences of drug and alcohol abuse, the North American region has really a reason to formulate and establish preventive measures and treatment in order to address the problems on drug and alcohol abuse. The first and primary mechanism that was being done by the North American region, particularly in Canada and US, was the establishment of rehabilitation centers that would treat individuals who became drug and alcohol-dependent.
The goal of such approach was to rehabilitate those individuals who were involved in drug and alcohol abuse. Also, it was institutionalized to confine those individuals so as to minimize the cases of drug and alcohol abuse-related crimes. (Fleming, 2006) In rehabilitation centers, those drug and alcohol dependent was being treated by medication and psychological treatments. These treatments were done to lower the urge that motivated the patients to use drugs and alcohol. (Cohen, 1982)
On the other hand, the governments in North America were trying to strengthen their laws and policies regarding drug and alcohol abuse by passing and enacting bills that were really necessary for the minimization if not totally elimination of the cases of drug and alcohol abuse. (Fleming, 2006) The international community, particularly the United Nations and World Health Organization, has been helping and supporting such campaign against drug and alcohol abuse by including in promoting a total war against drug manufacturers and drug pushers.
The UN has been also doing great effort in neutralizing major drug zones in the globe. (World Drug Report 2000, 2001) Future Direction If the individuals would really help the government in its goal to eliminate drug and alcohol abuse by participating and being involved in anti-drugs and alcohol programs and campaigns; and by being vigilant against trades on illegal drugs then the said goal would really be achieved. The world is now moving towards globalization.
And through globalization every region of the world as well as all parts of it could really merge and joined forces in countering the problems on drug and alcohol abuse. The key concepts are willingness, responsibility and discipline. If people are really willing to eliminate the cases of drug and alcohol abuse then they would accept the responsibility of fighting against illicit drugs and alcoholism. By being a disciplined person, he or she can really help to achieve such endeavor by starting it with his or her own actions. Reference: Abadinsky, H. (2007).
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