Drug abuse or substance abuse refers to the use of certain chemicals for the purpose of creating pleasurable effects on the brain. There are over 190 million drug users around the world and the problem has been increasing at alarming rates, especially among young adults under the age of 30. Apart from the long term damage to the body drug abuse causes, drug addicts who use needles are also at risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis B and C infections.
Causes of drug use
Drugs of abuse are usually psychoactive drugs that are used by people for various different reasons which may include:
Curiosity and peer pressure, especially among school children and young adults
The use of prescription drugs that were originally intended to target pain relief may have turned into recreational use and become addictive
Chemicals may be used as part of religious practices or rituals
As a means of obtaining creative inspiration
Categories of drug
Drugs of abuse fall into three groups and these include:
Depressants: These cause depression of the brain’s faculties and examples include sleeping pills (barbiturates) and heroin.
Stimulants: These cause stimulation of the brain, giving rise to alertness and increased bursts of activity. A rapid heart rate, dilated pupils, raised blood pressure, nausea or vomiting and behavioural changes such as agitation, and impaired judgement may also result. In severe cases, there may be delusional psychosis which can occur with the use of cocaine and amphetamines.
Hallucinogens: These cause hallucinations and an “out of this world” feeling of dissociation from oneself. Hallucinogens may cause distorted sensory perception, delusion, paranoia and even depression. Examples includes ecstasy, mescaline and LSD.
Dangers of drug abuse
Drugs are to be taken when people are ill. They should be taken under the guidance of a doctor. When we do not do this, we involve in drug abuse, which could be dangerous.
Drug abuse can cause any of the following:
1 Mental illness: If someone engages in drug abuse, he or she can become mad. This is because the wrong drugs may affect his brain. Mad people are always found on the streets.
2 Accident: If anyone takes drug without the advice of a doctor, he can become sleepy or troubled in other ways. If such a person drives, he may have an accident.
3 Addiction: This is when a person cannot do without taking a drug. For example, some people believe only drugs can make them
sleep. Some cannot play football without taking drugs. Such people will always take drugs even when they are not sick, and when the drugs are not recommended.
4 Dropping out of school: A student can drop out of school if he is fond of abusing drugs. Some of the thugs at the motor parks are dropouts as a result of drug abuse. Many of them smoke cigarette and Indian hemp. If a school boy or girl engages in drug abuse, he/she will not be serious with his/her studies in school. This can lead to getting poor marks all the time. This can make him/her to be sent away from school.
People engaging in drug abuse
5 Death: Excessive use of any pain drug, especially relievers can lead to death. Pain reliever is a drug we take when we have pain
in our body. Examples include paracetamol and aspirin. Michael Jackson, the popular musician, died because he too much pain
Examples of drugs are:
3. Cocaine from coca
4. Opium and opioids from poppy plants
5. Hashish or marijuana from cannabis
6. Synthetic drugs such as heroin, ecstasy and LSD
Read also: harmful substances
Ways of preventing drug abuse
As we could see above, the dangers of drug abuse are many. We therefore need to know how to prevent it. The following are some of
1 Avoid self-medication. This means that drugs should only be taken under the guidance of a medical doctor.
2 Avoid buying drugs or medicine from drug sellers that are not registered.
3 Avoid bad friends who abuse drugs.
4 Get the advice of doctors/nurses and pharmacists before taking drugs.
5 Avoid expired drugs.
6 Do not take drugs because your friends are taking them.
There are several different routes of administration for drugs of abuse including orally in the form of a pill, intravenously in the form of an injection, by inhaling the substance in the from of smoke or via snorting the substance so it is absorbed into the blood vessels of the nose.
Epidemiology of drug abuse
Cannabis, marijuana and hashish are the most widely abused drugs in the world. Around 141 million people worldwide consume cannabis. The use of stimulants such as amphetamine and ecstasy is also widespread, with nearly 30 million people abusing these drugs. Cocaine is used by around 13 million people across the globe, with the highest numbers of users in the United States. Abuse of heroin and other opioids is less common than with other drugs and is taken up by around 8 million people worldwide, mainly in South-East and South-West Asia and Europe.
Drug abuse is seen in various different age groups and in individuals from nearly all walks of life and socioeconomic strata. However, men are more likely to abuse drugs than women, single people are more likely than married individuals and urban dwellers more likely than rural dwellers. Prisoners, street children and younger individuals are also more likely to abuse drugs.