Whirlpool of addiction

The rising trend of drug abuse in the country is a worrying sign for all concerned; from parents to healthcare providers, and from politicians to civil society activists, especially sociologists. The addicts do not mess up with just their own health, careers and lives, but also take society down with them as they get sucked down the whirlpool.

Drug abuse refers to the use of certain substances that stimulate chemicals producing pleasurable effects on the brain. It could be misuse of prescription medicines, like antidepressants, or LSD, etc. Over 350,000 people lose their lives from drug overdose each year. One of the most common substances is marijuana — also called cannabis or hash with slight variants — with nearly 30 million people reportedly consuming it.

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Drug abuse is most common these days in teenagers because of many reasons; peer pressure being the most common reason cited by those who are brought to rehabilitation centres by worried parents. It mostly starts as a ‘recreational’ activity. Childhood trauma, broken family and academic problems contribute to drug abuse, but in most cases it is someone in the peer group who makes this stupid suggestion, and, indeed, makes the hazardous stuff available.

Regardless of the reason behind the consumption, however, chemicals cause long-term damage to the human body and mind. The addictive drugs stimulate brain’s ‘reward system’ by elevating dopamine levels. Drugs like hash interfere with the brain chemicals putting the user in a state of euphoria where one feels happy and excited. The fact that these drugs mimic the brain’s neurons even though they do not function in the same way, may, and often do, lead to other adverse effects.

Society and its decision-makers and stakeholders need to understand that drug abuse is a highly dangerous illness, and the pace of its spread is frightening. It is often said that drug abuse has no effective treatment, but the fact is that social, cognitive and behavioural therapies along with lifestyle modifications have an impact. Besides, withdrawal therapy is very effective, provided it is dependent on the drugs consumed. The goal is safe and planned detoxification. It is a gradual process that takes time, but is definitely effective.



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