See also: Substance use disorder
This article is about Drug abuse. For the Dice album, see Drug Abuse (album).
Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, is a patterned use of a drug in which the user consumes the substance in amounts or with methods which are harmful to themselves or others, and is a form of substance-related disorder. Widely differing definitions of drug abuse are used in public health, medical and criminal justice contexts. In some cases criminal or anti-social behavior occurs when the person is under the influence of a drug, and long term personality changes in individuals may occur as well. In addition to possible physical, social, and psychological harm, use of some drugs may also lead to criminal penalties, although these vary widely depending on the local jurisdiction.
Drugs most often associated with this term include: alcohol, cannabis, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, methaqualone, opioids and some substituted amphetamines. The exact cause of substance abuse is not clear, with the two predominant theories being: either a genetic disposition which is learned from others, or a habit which if addiction develops, manifests itself as a chronic debilitating disease.
In 2010 about 5% of people (230 million) used an illicit substance. Of these 27 million have high-risk drug use otherwise known as recurrent drug use causing harm to their health, psychological problems, or social problems that put them at risk of those dangers. In 2015 substance use disorders resulted in 307,400 deaths, up from 165,000 deaths in 1990. Of these, the highest numbers are from alcohol use disorders at 137,500, opioid use disorders at 122,100 deaths, amphetamine use disorders at 12,200 deaths, and cocaine use disorders at 11,100.
Public health definitions
Public health practitioners have attempted to look at substance use from a broader perspective than the individual, emphasizing the role of society, culture, and availability. Some health professionals choose to avoid the terms alcohol or drug "abuse" in favor of language they consider more objective, such as "substance and alcohol type problems" or "harmful/problematic use" of drugs. The Health Officers Council of British Columbia — in their 2005 policy discussion paper, A Public Health Approach to Drug Control in Canada] — has adopted a public health model of psychoactive substance use that challenges the simplistic black-and-white construction of the binary (or complementary) antonyms "use" vs. "abuse". This model explicitly recognizes a spectrum of use, ranging from beneficial use to chronic dependence.
'Drug abuse' is no longer a current medical diagnosis in either of the most used diagnostic tools in the world, the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and the World Health Organization's International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD).
Substance abuse has been adopted by the DSM as a blanket term to include 10 separate classes of drugs, including alcohol; caffeine; cannabis; hallucinogens; inhalants; opioids; sedatives, hypnotics, and anxiolytics; stimulants; tobacco; and other substances. The ICD uses the term Harmful use to cover physical or psychological harm to the user from use.
Physical dependence, abuse of, and withdrawal from drugs and other miscellaneous substances is outlined in the DSM a:
When an individual persists in use of alcohol or other drugs despite problems related to use of the substance, substance dependence may be diagnosed. Compulsive and repetitive use may result in tolerance to the effect of the drug and withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped.
However, other definitions differ; they may entail psychological or physical dependence, and may focus on treatment and prevention in terms of the social consequences of substance uses.
Philip Jenkins suggests that there are two issues with the term "drug abuse". First, what constitutes a "drug" is debatable. For instance, GHB, a naturally occurring substance in the central nervous system is considered a drug, and is illegal in many countries, while nicotine is not officially considered a drug in most countries.
Second, the word "abuse" implies a recognized standard of use for any substance. Drinking an occasional glass of wine is considered acceptable in most Western countries, while drinking several bottles is seen as an abuse. Strict temperance advocates, who may or may not be religiously motivated, would see drinking even one glass as an abuse. Some groups even condemn caffeine use in any quantity. Similarly, adopting the view that any (recreational) use of cannabis or substituted amphetamines constitutes drug abuse implies a decision made that the substance is harmful, even in minute quantities. In the U.S., drugs have been legally classified into five categories, schedule I, II, III, IV, or V in the Controlled Substances Act. The drugs are classified on their deemed potential for abuse. Usage of some drugs is strongly correlated. For example, the consumption of seven illicit drugs (amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, legal highs, LSD, and magic mushrooms) is correlated and the Pearson correlation coefficientr>0.4 in every pair of them; consumption of cannabis is strongly correlated (r>0.5) with usage of nicotine (tobacco), heroin is correlated with cocaine (r>0.4), methadone (r>0.45), and strongly correlated with crack (r>0.5)
Drug misuse is a term used commonly when prescription medication with sedative, anxiolytic, analgesic, or stimulant properties are used for mood alteration or intoxication ignoring the fact that overdose of such medicines can sometimes have serious adverse effects. It sometimes involves drug diversion from the individual for whom it was prescribed.
Prescription misuse has been defined differently and rather inconsistently based on status of drug prescription, the uses without a prescription, intentional use to achieve intoxicating effects, route of administration, co-ingestion with alcohol, and the presence or absence of dependence symptoms. Chronic use of certain substances leads to a change in the central nervous system known as a 'tolerance' to the medicine such that more of the substance is needed in order to produce desired effects. With some substances, stopping or reducing use can cause withdrawal symptoms to occur, but this is highly dependent on the specific substance in question.
The rate of prescription drug use is fast overtaking illegal drug use in the United States. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 7 million people were taking prescription drugs for nonmedical use in 2010. Among 12th graders, nonmedical prescription drug use is now second only to cannabis. "Nearly 1 in 12 high school seniors reported nonmedical use of Vicodin; 1 in 20 reported such use of OxyContin." Both of these drugs contain opioids.
Avenues of obtaining prescription drugs for misuse are varied: sharing between family and friends, illegally buying medications at school or work, and often "doctor shopping" to find multiple physicians to prescribe the same medication, without knowledge of other prescribers.
Increasingly, law enforcement is holding physicians responsible for prescribing controlled substances without fully establishing patient controls, such as a patient "drug contract." Concerned physicians are educating themselves on how to identify medication-seeking behavior in their patients, and are becoming familiar with "red flags" that would alert them to potential prescription drug abuse.
Signs and symptoms
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Notes about the harm ratings
The Physical harm, Dependence liability, and Social harm scores were each computed from the average of three distinct ratings. The highest possible harm rating for each rating scale is 3.0.
Depending on the actual compound, drug abuse including alcohol may lead to health problems, social problems, morbidity, injuries, unprotected sex, violence, deaths, motor vehicle accidents, homicides, suicides, physical dependence or psychological addiction.
There is a high rate of suicide in alcoholics and other drug abusers. The reasons believed to cause the increased risk of suicide include the long-term abuse of alcohol and other drugs causing physiological distortion of brain chemistry as well as the social isolation. Another factor is the acute intoxicating effects of the drugs may make suicide more likely to occur. Suicide is also very common in adolescent alcohol abusers, with 1 in 4 suicides in adolescents being related to alcohol abuse. In the USA approximately 30% of suicides are related to alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is also associated with increased risks of committing criminal offences including child abuse, domestic violence, rapes, burglaries and assaults.
Drug abuse, including alcohol and prescription drugs, can induce symptomatology which resembles mental illness. This can occur both in the intoxicated state and also during the withdrawal state. In some cases these substance induced psychiatric disorders can persist long after detoxification, such as prolonged psychosis or depression after amphetamine or cocaine abuse. A protracted withdrawal syndrome can also occur with symptoms persisting for months after cessation of use. Benzodiazepines are the most notable drug for inducing prolonged withdrawal effects with symptoms sometimes persisting for years after cessation of use. Abuse of hallucinogens can trigger delusional and other psychotic phenomena long after cessation of use.
Cannabis may trigger panic attacks during intoxication and with continued use, it may cause a state similar to dysthymia. Researchers have found that daily cannabis use and the use of high-potency cannabis are independently associated with a higher chance of developing schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
Severe anxiety and depression are commonly induced by sustained alcohol abuse, which in most cases abates with prolonged abstinence. Even sustained moderate alcohol use may increase anxiety and depression levels in some individuals. In most cases these drug induced psychiatric disorders fade away with prolonged abstinence.
Impulsivity is characterized by actions based on sudden desires, whims, or inclinations rather than careful thought. Individuals with substance abuse have higher levels of impulsivity, and individuals who use multiple drugs tend to be more impulsive. A number of studies using the Iowa gambling task as a measure for impulsive behavior found that drug using populations made more risky choices compared to healthy controls. There is a hypothesis that the loss of impulse control may be due to impaired inhibitory control resulting from drug induced changes that take place in the frontal cortex. The neurodevelopmental and hormonal changes that happen during adolescence may modulate impulse control that could possibly lead to the experimentation with drugs and may lead to the road of addiction. Impulsivity is thought to be a facet trait in the neuroticism personality domain (overindulgence/negative urgency) which is prospectively associated with the development of substance abuse.
Screening and assessment
There are several different screening tools that have been validated for use with adolescents such as the CRAFFT Screening Test and in adults the CAGE questionnaire.
Some recommendations for screening tools for substance misuse in pregnancy include that they take less than 10 minutes, should be used routinely, include an educational component. Tools suitable for pregnant women include i.a. 4Ps, T-ACE, TWEAK, TQDH (Ten-Question Drinking History), and AUDIT.
From the applied behavior analysis literature, behavioral psychology, and from randomized clinical trials, several evidenced based interventions have emerged: behavioral marital therapy, motivational Interviewing, community reinforcement approach, exposure therapy, contingency management They help suppress cravings and mental anxiety, improve focus on treatment and new learning behavioral skills, ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce the chances of relapse.
In children and adolescents, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and family therapy currently has the most research evidence for the treatment of substance abuse problems. Well-established studies also include ecological family-based treatment and group CBT. These treatments can be administered in a variety of different formats, each of which has varying levels of research support Research has shown that what makes group CBT most effective is that it promotes the development of social skills, developmentally appropriate emotional regulatory skills and other interpersonal skills. A few integrated treatment models, which combines parts from various types of treatment, have also been seen as both well-established or probably effective. A study on maternal alcohol and drug use has shown that integrated treatment programs have produced significant results, resulting in higher negative results on toxicology screens. Additionally, brief school-based interventions have been found to be effective in reducing adolescent alcohol and cannabis use and abuse.Motivational interviewing can also be effective in treating substance use disorder in adolescents.
Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are one of the most widely known self-help organizations in which members support each other not to use alcohol.Social skills are significantly impaired in people suffering from alcoholism due to the neurotoxic effects of alcohol on the brain, especially the prefrontal cortex area of the brain. It has been suggested that social skills training adjunctive to inpatient treatment of alcohol dependence is probably efficacious, including managing the social environment.
A number of medications have been approved for the treatment of substance abuse. These include replacement therapies such as buprenorphine and methadone as well as antagonist medications like disulfiram and naltrexone in either short acting, or the newer long acting form. Several other medications, often ones originally used in other contexts, have also been shown to be effective including bupropion and modafinil. Methadone and buprenorphine are sometimes used to treat opiate addiction. These drugs are used as substitutes for other opioids and still cause withdrawal symptoms.
Antipsychotic medications have not been found to be useful. Acamprostate is a glutamatergic NMDA antagonist, which helps with alcohol withdrawal symptoms because alcohol withdrawal is associated with a hyperglutamatergic system.
Psychedelics, such as LSD and psilocin, may have anti-addictive properties.
Main article: Dual diagnosis
It is common for individuals with drugs use disorder to have other psychological problems. The terms “dual diagnosis” or “co-occurring disorders,” refer to having a mental health and substance use disorder at the same time. According to the British Association for Psychopharmacology (BAP), “symptoms of psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and psychosis are the rule rather than the exception in patients misusing drugs and/or alcohol.”
Individuals who have a comorbid psychological disorder often have a poor prognosis if either disorder is untreated. Historically most individuals with dual diagnosis either received treatment only for one of their disorders or they didn’t receive any treatment all. However, since the 1980s, there has been a push towards integrating mental health and addiction treatment. In this method, neither condition is considered primary and both are treated simultaneously by the same provider.
The initiation of drug and alcohol use is most likely to occur during adolescence, and some experimentation with substances by older adolescents is common. For example, results from 2010 Monitoring the Future survey, a nationwide study on rates of substance use in the United States, show that 48.2% of 12th graders report having used an illicit drug at some point in their lives. In the 30 days prior to the survey, 41.2% of 12th graders had consumed alcohol and 19.2% of 12th graders had smoked tobacco cigarettes. In 2009 in the United States about 21% of high school students have taken prescription drugs without a prescription. And earlier in 2002, the World Health Organization estimated that around 140 million people were alcohol dependent and another 400 million with alcohol-related problems.
Studies have shown that the large majority of adolescents will phase out of drug use before it becomes problematic. Thus, although rates of overall use are high, the percentage of adolescents who meet criteria for substance abuse is significantly lower (close to 5%). According to BBC, "Worldwide, the UN estimates there are more than 50 million regular users of morphine diacetate (heroin), cocaine and synthetic drugs."
APA, AMA, and NCDA
In 1932, the American Psychiatric Association created a definition that used legality, social acceptability, and cultural familiarity as qualifying factors:
…as a general rule, we reserve the term drug abuse to apply to the illegal, nonmedical use of a limited number of substances, most of them drugs, which have properties of altering the mental state in ways that are considered by social norms and defined by statute to be inappropriate, undesirable, harmful, threatening, or, at minimum, culture-alien."
In 1966, the American Medical Association's Committee on Alcoholism and Addiction defined abuse of stimulants (amphetamines, primarily) in terms of 'medical supervision':
…'use' refers to the proper place of stimulants in medical practice; 'misuse' applies to the physician's role in initiating a potentially dangerous course of therapy; and 'abuse' refers to self-administration of these drugs without medical supervision and particularly in large doses that may lead to psychological dependency, tolerance and abnormal behavior.
In 1973, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse stated:
...drug abuse may refer to any type of drug or chemical without regard to its pharmacologic actions. It is an eclectic concept having only one uniform connotation: societal disapproval. ... The Commission believes that the term drug abuse must be deleted from official pronouncements and public policy dialogue. The term has no functional utility and has become no more than an arbitrary codeword for that drug use which is presently considered wrong.
The first edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (published in 1952) grouped alcohol and drug abuse under Sociopathic Personality Disturbances, which were thought to be symptoms of deeper psychological disorders or moral weakness. The third edition, published in 1980, was the first to recognize substance abuse (including drug abuse) and substance dependence as conditions separate from substance abuse alone, bringing in social and cultural factors. The definition of dependence emphasised tolerance to drugs, and withdrawal from them as key components to diagnosis, whereas abuse was defined as "problematic use with social or occupational impairment" but without withdrawal or tolerance.
In 1987, the DSM-IIIR category "psychoactive substance abuse," which includes former concepts of drug abuse is defined as "a maladaptive pattern of use indicated by...continued use despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent social, occupational, psychological or physical problem that is caused or exacerbated by the use (or by) recurrent use in situations in which it is physically hazardous." It is a residual category, with dependence taking precedence when applicable. It was the first definition to give equal weight to behavioural and physiological factors in diagnosis. By 1988, the DSM-IV defines substance dependence as "a syndrome involving compulsive use, with or without tolerance and withdrawal"; whereas substance abuse is "problematic use without compulsive use, significant tolerance, or withdrawal." Substance abuse can be harmful to your health and may even be deadly in certain scenarios. By 1994, The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) issued by the American Psychiatric Association, the DSM-IV-TR, defines substance dependence as "when an individual persists in use of alcohol or other drugs despite problems related to use of the substance, substance dependence may be diagnosed." followed by criteria for the diagnose
DSM-IV-TR defines substance abuse as:
- A. A maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by one (or more) of the following, occurring within a 12-month period:
- Recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (e.g., repeated absences or poor work performance related to substance use; substance-related absences, suspensions or expulsions from school; neglect of children or household)
- Recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving an automobile or operating a machine when impaired by substance use)
- Recurrent substance-related legal problems (e.g., arrests for substance-related disorderly conduct)
- Continued substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance (e.g., arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication, physical fights)
- B. The symptoms have never met the criteria for Substance Dependence for this class of substance.
The fifth edition of the DSM (DSM-5), planned for release in 2013, is likely to have this terminology revisited yet again. Under consideration is a transition from the abuse/dependence terminology. At the moment, abuse is seen as an early form or less hazardous form of the disease characterized with the dependence criteria. However, the APA's 'dependence' term, as noted above, does not mean that physiologic dependence is present but rather means that a disease state is present, one that most would likely refer to as an addicted state. Many involved recognize that the terminology has often led to confusion, both within the medical community and with the general public. The American Psychiatric Association requests input as to how the terminology of this illness should be altered as it moves forward with DSM-5 discussion.
Society and culture
- Related articles: Drug control law, Prohibition (drugs), Arguments for and against drug prohibition, Harm reduction
Most governments have designed legislation to criminalize certain types of drug use. These drugs are often called "illegal drugs" but generally what is illegal is their unlicensed production, distribution, and possession. These drugs are also called "controlled substances". Even for simple possession, legal punishment can be quite severe (including the death penalty in some countries). Laws vary across countries, and even within them, and have fluctuated widely throughout history.
Attempts by government-sponsored drug control policy to interdict drug supply and eliminate drug abuse have been largely unsuccessful. In spite of the huge efforts by the U.S., drug supply and purity has reached an all-time high, with the vast majority of resources spent on interdiction and law enforcement instead of public health. In the United States, the number of nonviolent drug offenders in prison exceeds by 100,000 the total incarcerated population in the EU, despite the fact that the EU has 100 million more citizens.
Despite drug legislation (or perhaps because of it), large, organized criminal drug cartels operate worldwide. Advocates of decriminalization argue that drug prohibition makes drug dealing a lucrative business, leading to much of the associated criminal activity.
Policymakers try to understand the relative costs of drug-related interventions. An appropriate drug policy relies on the assessment of drug-related public expenditure based on a classification system where costs are properly identified.
Labelled drug-related expenditures are defined as the direct planned spending that reflects the voluntary engagement of the state in the field of illicit drugs. Direct public expenditures explicitly labeled as drug-related can be easily traced back by exhaustively reviewing official accountancy documents such as national budgets and year-end reports. Unlabelled expenditure refers to unplanned spending and is estimated through modeling techniques, based on a top-down budgetary procedure. Starting from overall aggregated expenditures, this procedure estimates the proportion causally attributable to substance abuse (Unlabelled Drug-related Expenditure = Overall Expenditure × Attributable Proportion). For example, to estimate the prison drug-related expenditures in a given country, two elements would be necessary: the overall prison expenditures in the country for a given period, and the attributable proportion of inmates due to drug-related issues. The product of the two will give a rough estimate that can be compared across different countries.
As part of the reporting exercise corresponding to 2005, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction's network of national focal points set up in the 27 European Union (EU) Member States, Norway, and the candidates countries to the EU, were requested to identify labeled drug-related public expenditure, at the country level.
This was reported by 10 countries categorized according to the functions of government, amounting to a total of EUR 2.17 billion. Overall, the highest proportion of this total came within the government functions of Health (66%) (e.g. medical services), and Public Order and Safety (POS) (20%) (e.g. police services, law courts, prisons). By country, the average share of GDP was 0.023% for Health, and 0.013% for POS. However, these shares varied considerably across countries, ranging from 0.00033% in Slovakia, up to 0.053% of GDP in Ireland in the case of Health, and from 0.003% in Portugal, to 0.02% in the UK, in the case of POS; almost a 161-fold difference between the highest and the lowest countries for Health, and a 6-fold difference for POS. Why do Ireland and the UK spend so much in Health and POS, or Slovakia and Portugal so little, in GDP terms?
To respond to this question and to make a comprehensive assessment of drug-related public expenditure across countries, this study compared Health and POS spending and GDP in the 10 reporting countries. Results found suggest GDP to be a major determinant of the Health and POS drug-related public expenditures of a country. Labelled drug-related public expenditure showed a positive association with the GDP across the countries considered: r = 0.81 in the case of Health, and r = 0.91 for POS. The percentage change in Health and POS expenditures due to a one percent increase in GDP (the income elasticity of demand) was estimated to be 1.78% and 1.23% respectively.
Being highly income elastic, Health and POS expenditures can be considered luxury goods; as a nation becomes wealthier it openly spends proportionately more on drug-related health and public order and safety interventions.
The UK Home Office estimated that the social and economic cost of drug abuse to the UK economy in terms of crime, absenteeism and sickness is in excess of £20 billion a year. However, the UK Home Office does not estimate what portion of those crimes are unintended consequences of drug prohibition (crimes to sustain expensive drug consumption, risky production and dangerous distribution), nor what is the cost of enforcement. Those aspects are necessary for a full analysis of the economics of prohibition.
(billions of dollars)
These figures represent overall economic costs, which can be divided in three major components: health costs, productivity losses and non-health direct expenditures.
- Health-related costs were projected to total $16 billion in 2002.
- Productivity losses were estimated at $128.6 billion. In contrast to the other costs of drug abuse (which involve direct expenditures for goods and services), this value reflects a loss of potential resources: work in the labor market and in household production that was never performed, but could reasonably be expected to have been performed absent the impact of drug abuse.
- Included are estimated productivity losses due to premature death ($24.6 billion), drug abuse-related illness ($33.4 billion), incarceration ($39.0 billion), crime careers ($27.6 billion) and productivity losses of victims of crime ($1.8 billion).
- The non-health direct expenditures primarily concern costs associated with the criminal justice system and crime victim costs, but also include a modest level of expenses for administration of the social welfare system. The total for 2002 was estimated at $36.4 billion. The largest detailed component of these costs is for state and federal corrections at $14.2 billion, which is primarily for the operation of prisons. Another $9.8 billion was spent on state and local police protection, followed by $6.2 billion for federal supply reduction initiatives.
According to a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Medicaid was billed for a significantly higher number of hospitals stays for Opioid drug overuse than Medicare or private insurance in 1993. By 2012, the differences were diminished. Over the same time, Medicare had the most rapid growth in number of hospital stays.
Immigrants and refugees
Immigrant and refugees have often been under great stress, physical trauma and depression and anxiety due to separation from loved ones often characterize the pre-migration and transit phases, followed by "cultural dissonance," language barriers, racism, discrimination, economic adversity, overcrowding, social isolation, and loss of status and difficulty obtaining work and fears of deportation are common. Refugees frequently experience concerns about the health and safety of loved ones left behind and uncertainty regarding the possibility of returning to their country of origin. For some, substance abuse functions as a coping mechanism to attempt to deal with these stressors.
Immigrants and refugees may bring the substance use and abuse patterns and behaviors of their country of origin, or adopt the attitudes, behaviors, and norms regarding substance use and abuse that exist within the dominant culture into which they are entering.
Street children in many developing countries are a high risk group for substance misuse, in particular solvent abuse. Drawing on research in Kenya, Cottrell-Boyce argues that "drug use amongst street children is primarily functional – dulling the senses against the hardships of life on the street – but can also provide a link to the support structure of the ‘street family’ peer group as a potent symbol of shared experience."
In order to maintain high-quality performance, some musicians take chemical substances. Some musicians take drugs or alcohol to deal with the stress of performing. As a group they have a higher rate of substance abuse. The most common chemical substance which is abused by pop musicians is cocaine, because of its neurological effects. Stimulants like cocaine increase alertness and cause feelings of euphoria, and can therefore make the performer feel as though they in some ways ‘own the stage’. One way in which substance abuse is harmful for a performer (musicians especially) is if the substance being abused is aspirated. The lungs are an important organ used by singers, and addiction to cigarettes may seriously harm the quality of their performance. Smoking causes harm to alveoli, which are responsible for absorbing oxygen.
Substance abuse can be another contributing factor that affects physical and mental health of veterans. Substance abuse may also damage personal relationships families and lead to financial difficulty. There is evidence to suggest that substance abuse disproportionately affects the homeless veteran population. A 2015 Florida study compared causes of homelessness between veterans and non veteran populations in a self reporting questionnaire. The results from the study found that 17.8% of the homeless veteran participants attributed their homelessness to alcohol and drug related problems compared to just 3.7% of the non-veteran homeless group.
A 2003 study found that homelessness was associated with access to support from family/friends and services. However, this relationship was not true when comparing homeless participants who had a current substance-use disorders. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provide a summary of treatment options for veterans with substance use disorder. For treatments that do not involve medication, they offer a therapeutic options that focused on finding outside support groups and “looking at how substance use problems may relate to other problems such as PTSD and depression”.
- ^ abcdefgNutt, D.; King, L. A.; Saulsbury, W.; Blakemore, C. (2007). "Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse". The Lancet. 369 (9566): 1047–1053. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60464-4. PMID 17382831.
- ^ abc"World Drug Report 2012"(PDF). UNITED NATIONS. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
- ^ ab"EMCDDA | Information on the high-risk drug use (HRDU) (formerly 'problem drug use' (PDU)) key indicator". www.emcdda.europa.eu. Retrieved 2016-09-27.
- ^ abcGBD 2015 Mortality and Causes of Death, Collaborators. (8 October 2016). "Global, regional, and national life expectancy, all-cause mortality, and cause-specific mortality for 249 causes of death, 1980–2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015". Lancet. 388 (10053): 1459–1544. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(16)31012-1. PMC 5388903. PMID 27733281.
- ^Ksir, Oakley Ray; Charles (2002). Drugs, society, and human behavior (9th ed.). Boston [u.a.]: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0072319631.
- ^(2002). Mosby's Medical, Nursing & Allied Health Dictionary. Sixth Edition. Drug abuse definition, p. 552. Nursing diagnoses, p. 2109. ISBN 0-323-01430-5.
- ^"Addiction is a Chronic Disease". Retrieved 2 July 2014.
Drug abuse involves compulsive and excessive intake of drugs over a period of time. Repeated use of drugs results in developing addiction that has harmful repercussions. It is a problem that directly impacts the structure and functioning of the brain causing grave damage to it. Drug abuse, a term used for obsessive and excessive use of drugs, is a common problem these days. Regular use of drugs is self damaging. It leads to addiction and causes behavioural changes. Drug abuse particularly impacts the brain and can also lead to other health issues such as kidney failure and heart problem. Here are essays of varying lengths to help you with the topic in your exam.
Essay on Drug Abuse
Drug Abuse Essay 1 (200 words)
Drug abuse is the repeated and excessive use of drugs. It impacts a person’s mental as well as physical health negatively causing a major damage to the brain. Drug abuse hampers a person’s power to practise self-control and interferes with their ability to resist the urge to take drugs. Drugs are initially taken out of choice, however, it becomes hard to resist them sooner than you realise. It is difficult to recover from this problem and even those who do stand a high risk of developing it again.
People usually take to drug abuse in order to curb the stress caused due to the following:
- Family Issues
- Pressure at Work
- Growing Competition in Schools and Colleges
- Relationship Problems
- Financial Issues
- Feeling of Emptiness
Besides, it can also be a genetic problem. Whatever be the reason, it is essential to understand that drug abuse only aggravates the problems rather than solving them. It is thus wise to stay away from it. Those who have already fallen prey to this problem can seek expert guidance to overcome it. Proper medication, support from loved ones and strong will power can take one out of the dark world of drug abuse. The treatment for drug abuse is extended over a long period so as to ensure that the problem does not relapse.
Drug Abuse Essay 2 (300 words)
Drug abuse refers to obsessive and excessive use of drugs. It impacts a person’s mental as well as physical health mainly causing damage to the brain. Drugs are initially taken by choice owing to different reasons. However, gradually it becomes difficult to resist them. There are different reasons why people take the road to drugs. Here is a look at these and also the ways to curb this problem.
Reasons for Drug Abuse
- Family/Relationship Problems
Many people have problems in their family. For them, drug abuse seems to be an easy escape from the stress caused due to those problems. Youngsters, particularly try to tackle their relationship problems by way of drug abuse.
- Work Pressure
Pressure at work place and competition at the school and college level is another major cause of drug abuse.
It is often seen that a person’s genes also play a significant role in him/ her turning addict. The problem usually, not necessarily, runs in the family.
The feeling of loneliness or emptiness can also force a person to turn to drugs.
Medication for Drug Abuse
Different types of medications are given to people suffering from different stages of drug abuse. Here is a look at these:
- Staying in Treatment
The patient’s brain needs to be trained to adapt to the absence of drugs. This treatment helps the patients control their craving for drugs.
- Withdrawal Treatment
People who stop using drugs can experience symptoms such as stress, anxiety, mood swings, etc. They are prescribed medications to overcome these symptoms.
- Prevent Relapse
There are many factors that can trigger a relapse. Medications are being developed to control these triggers.
Drug Abuse is a common problem these days. Though hard to resist, the usage of drugs can be controlled with proper medication and guidance.
Drug Abuse Essay 3 (400 words)
Drug abuse is a chronic disease. Those who abuse drugs are unable to resist them despite being fully aware about their harmful consequences. Regular intake of drugs can damage the brain adversely and can also lead to various other health problems. Brain changes caused due to heavy intake of drugs can be persistent. Drug addiction is thus known to be a relapsing problem. Here is a look at the various causes of drug abuse and also the ways to overcome this problem:
Factors Causing Drug Abuse
The factors causing drug abuse have mainly been classified in three categories. Here is a look at each of these in detail:
A person’s environment includes various factors such as his social status, family, friends, professional life, etc. Problems in the family, bad company, competition at work and lack of proper guidance and support from parents or teachers can often lead to drug abuse.
Drug abuse can also be a genetic problem. A child stands a high chance of falling prey to drug abuse if either of his parents has been under the influence of the same. Certain mental disorders can also cause a person to turn towards drugs.
Though drug addiction can develop at any age however those who begin taking drugs at an early age have a high chance of getting addicted. This is because those areas in their brain that are responsible for self-control, judgement and decision making are still in their development stage. This is the reason why teenagers are more prone to drug abuse.
Ways to Cure Drug Abuse
Though difficult, there are ways to cure the problem of drug abuse. Here is how:
It is suggested to visit a doctor and seek proper medication to overcome this problem. Most of those who are suffering from this grave problem are recommended to join a rehabilitation centre to control it.
The damage caused due to drug abuse must be replenished in order to become physically and mentally fit and this can only be done by having a healthy diet. It is also suggested to exercise regularly in order to keep stress at bay.
Drug abuse, mainly caused in an attempt to overcome emotional upheaval in one’s life, can be self damaging. It is suggested to stick to a healthy lifestyle and steer clear of unhealthy practices such as dependence on drugs or alcohol to stay fit and active.
Drug Abuse Essay 4 (500 words)
Drug abuse is excessive, compulsive and repeated use of drugs. It is a chronic disease that can damage a person’s physical as well as mental health beyond repair. Initially, a person takes drugs by choice. However, after some time it becomes almost impossible for him/ her to resist them. Drug addiction is difficult to control and is often referred to as a relapsing disease. It mainly impacts the brain.
Why does this problem occur?
Different people get addicted to drugs owing to different reasons. Here is a look at some of the main reasons that lead to this problem:
Many people take to drugs to overcome the feeling of loneliness. Many a times, people feel that they have no one to share their joys and sorrows with and they eventually take to drugs in order to get rid of this feeling.
Growing competition in schools, colleges and at work leads to pressure which is often difficult to handle. Many people turn to drugs in order to handle this pressure.
- Relationship Problems
This is also a common reason for drug abuse. Youngsters often take to drugs in order to overcome the emotional upheaval caused due to failed relationships.
Many people, mostly teenagers are just curious to find out how drugs taste as well as their after effects. Little do they know that this experimenting can lead to addiction before they would even realise.
Drug abuse is often hereditary. If any of the parents is addicted to drugs, the child has a high risk of incurring the problem.
How to curb this problem?
While it is difficult to get out of the dark world of drug abuse and it is highly likely for the problem to relapse, there are certain things that can help those trying to get rid of this problem. These are discussed below in detail:
- Expert Consultation
It is suggested to consult a doctor or better still join a rehabilitation centre in order to get rid of drug abuse. As easy as it is to fall prey to this problem, it is equally difficult to come out of it. The step by step approach followed at the rehabilitation centres is an effective way to curb this issue.
- Eat Healthy
Your mental as well as physical health deteriorates due to heavy intake of drugs. In order to replenish the lost nutrients, it is suggested to have a healthy diet.
Physical activities such as jogging, dancing, swimming, yoga, etc promote the growth of endorphins also known as the happy hormones. It is suggested to indulge in such activities to get rid of drug addiction as reducing the drug dosage can increase the stress level.
Drug Abuse is a grave problem. Especially common among the youth these days, it can be damaging for those who are addicted as well as the ones related to them. The sensitivity of the issue must be recognized and one must not start this practice in any case. Remember, there are better ways to handle problems such as loneliness, fear, anxiety and heart break.
Drug Abuse Essay 5 (600 words)
Drug abuse, the compulsive and excessive use of drugs, particularly impacts a person’s brain. It causes brain changes that make it difficult for a person to practice self-control and interfere with their power to defy the urge to take drugs. The changes in the functioning of the brain are inexorable and this is the reason why it often relapses. Even those who recover stand a high risk of returning to drugs even after years of recovery. However, this does not mean that the treatment is not effective enough. One must ensure that the treatment is not stopped. It is an ongoing process though the doctors alter the medication from time to time on the basis of the response received from the patients.
What causes Drug Addiction?
Different people fall prey to this self-damaging habit due to different reasons. Some of the key reasons for drug addiction are shared below:
- Feeling of Emptiness
Feeling of emptiness can be the worst feeling and is often difficult to handle. To get rid of these feelings, many people take the road to drugs. They feel that drugs will help them fill the void.
- Work Pressure
Many students begin taking drugs to overcome the study related stress. Similarly, there is so much pressure in the corporate offices these days that people are unable to cope up with it. They often turn towards drugs to deal with the stress and anxiety caused at work.
- Family/ Relationship problems
Many people also tend to begin taking drugs to overcome stress caused due to family issues or relationship problems and eventually become addicted to the same.
Teenagers often try drugs just for experimenting and get addicted to them before they even realise. Teenagers are more prone to get addicted to them.
Drug addiction can even be genetic. It is often seen that this problem runs in the families. So, there is a high risk of children getting addicted if their parents abuse drugs.
- Drugs Available on Prescription
Most drugs prescribed by the doctors are as addictive as the street drugs. Many people mistake them as safe and repeated use of these leads to addiction.
Measures to Overcome Drug Addiction
Overcoming drug addiction can be difficult. However, it is not impossible. With the help of medication, expert guidance and support from family and friends, one can overcome this problem. Discussed below are some measures to help you overcome drug abuse.
- Consult Doctor
It takes much more than a strong will power when it comes to getting rid of drug addiction. If you have taken the plunge to get out of the dark world of drugs then it is suggested to consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Reducing drug dosage may result in increased level of stress. You can overcome this to a large extent by indulging in physical activities such as jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing and yoga among others.
- Eat Healthy
Your physical health especially brain deteriorates because of regular intake of drugs. It is thus advised to have food that contains all the essential nutrients.
- Talk to Close Ones
Instead of keeping your feelings to yourself, it is suggested to vent them out. Talk to your family and friends about your issues. This is a good way to de-stress rather than relying on drugs.
Drug abuse is a growing problem, especially among the youths. There are many reasons that lead to this problem and the impact it has is extremely damaging. It is essential to spread awareness about the negative repercussions of drugs to discourage their use. Those gripped by this problem must consult a doctor and seek help from those close to them to come out of hellish world of drug abuse.
Speech on Drug Abuse