More people die from alcohol and drug abuse related causes than from car crashes in the USA. Drug and alcohol related deaths are increasing at epidemic rates in the USA, and it is not only the street and illegal drugs that kill people, many of the prescription drugs are also addictive and can be fatal if abused. A large number of people undergo drug addiction treatments who abuse prescribed drugs and legal drugs as well.
What is alcohol and drug abuse?
There are many reasons why people drink or abuse drugs. The reason could be for experimenting, social drinking, or for having a good time. People may also drink to get acceptance from peers or to belong to a group. Some athletes and artists drink and use drugs to boost performance, cope with anxiety or stress. People also drink and use drugs to fight depression or frustration. Drinking alcohol or trying drugs doesn’t necessarily make someone an addict. Only when the drug use starts creating problems in a person’s life disrupting health or happiness, it becomes drug abuse. The amount of drug taken has little to do with drug abuse, and the level at which it becomes a problem varies from person to person.
How can you tell if you have drug or alcohol problems?
You can tell very easily if someone is abusing drugs or alcohol. The person will show changes in behavior which may seem strange at times, like sudden mood changes, over sleeping, decline in health and motivation, stealing, strange phone calls, change in friends or hangout places, change in schedules, emotional imbalance and outbursts, decline in performance at school or work, sudden weight loss or gains, difficult to communicate or get along, and so on. In extreme cases, you will have trouble with the law such as get pulled over by police for driving under influence, or show criminal behavior. If you see any of these symptoms or some of the symptoms in a person or maybe in you, you maybe addicted and have a substance abuse problem. Having a higher tolerance to drug or alcohol, such as if you need to drink more than usual to get a buzz or to get relaxed, it could also mean that you are a heavy drinker or drug user.
Who is more vulnerable to drug abuse?
Some people maybe occasional drug and alcohol users, or social drinkers, while other may become addicted and problem drinkers. What makes drugs and alcohol more addictive for some and not others? A person’s physical, mental, social and environmental conditions play a major role in addiction.
Let’s see some of the vulnerability factors:
- A family history of drug abuse
- · Neglect abused as a child or other disturbing childhood experiences
- · Mental disorder like anxiety and depression
- · Method of drug use— injecting or smoking.
How drugs and alcohol abuse affect our brain
When a person drinks or uses drugs compulsively, he is said to be an addict. The effects of drugs could be different for different types of drugs. Some drugs may have severe physical withdrawal symptoms, while some drugs may develop psychological dependency. All drugs share one thing and that is it makes you use the drug over and over again. Addiction cussed by neurological dysfunction where everything else except the drug may seem meaningless. Eventually all drug abuse lead to brain alteration and damage to brain receptors.
- Taking too much recreational drugs may increase the dopamine production of the brain, affecting your natural reward system. As a result, our natural neurotransmitters in the brain get altered.
- Drugs alter your natural judgments, physical and mental ability, thinking ability, and the ability to control your normal behaviors. You might become dependent on drugs physically or mentally.
- Drugs become more important than your family, friends, job, education, food, and everything else.
- Your mind may not see any negative effects of drugs and go into denial or may find ways to think of your behaviors as rational.
- Some people might neglect or become unaware of positional dangers of the surroundings and use drugs under dangerous conditions such as while driving or operating machinery.
How drugs and alcohol abuse affect our body
Drug use can directly affect our physical abilities. Depending on how we use drugs and the type of drugs used, the duration of physical effects may vary.
Some of the physical effects of drugs and alcohol are:
- hangovers accompanied by nausea or vomiting
- weight gain
- weight loss
- liver problems
- heart diseases
- blood pressure
- kidney failure
- weakness of immune system
- physical weakness
- coma (from overdose)
- memory loss
Help for the addicted
If you have identified yourself or a loved one as an addicted alcohol or drug user, get help without delay. If you have identified yourself as a problem drinker or a drug abuser, you have already taken the first step, others might need more convincing. With regular counseling and medication, you can reduce or even quit your substance abuse problems. It takes a lot of will power and discipline.
Steps to break free from addiction for you or loved ones
- Regular counseling
- Get therapy
- Go to a rehab
- Get guidance from people who support you
- Lay down rules for your kids and monitor recovery
- Encourage social activities
- Don’t expect that problems will stop on its own
To break free from serious drugs and it needs professional care, preferably at an isolated rehab facility that takes your mind away from your usual setting where you can get mental treatment and support continuously.
Source : Balanced Life Team