Drug Abuse» Find a counsellor or psychotherapist dealing with Drug Abuse
Drug users are often stereotyped with the image of 'junkies shooting up', and although this may be true to form in some cases, the vast majority of addicts do not measure up to this stereotype. Addiction does begin with a conscious decision to experiment with drugs, however scientific research has found that drugs interfere with normal brain functioning and have long-term effects on brain metabolism and activity. Thus changes occurring in the brain alter drug abuse to drug addiction, an uncontrollable craving that cannot be overcome without treatment. Addiction can affect anyone and both legal and illegal drugs can be addictive. Many view addicts as morally weak, yet addiction is a chronic, relapsing illness.
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What is Drug Abuse?
Drug addiction is the uncontrollable use of drugs, to the point where the user has no choice but to carry on using. How addictive various drugs are will differ between substances and between individuals, and the addiction has two measures: physical dependency and psychological dependency. Physical dependency means the body has become accustomed to the drug and its absence will initiate withdrawal symptoms, and psychological dependency occurs when the mind relies on the effects of the drug and its absence produces cravings. Often the addict will suffer from both physical and psychological dependency.
Drugs are often recognised as hard or soft, legal or illegal, uppers or downers or addictive and non-addictive. However they can also be categorised based upon the effect they produce as stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens.
Stimulants are drugs that increase the activity of the central nervous system and increase brain activity. Examples include Cocaine and Crack, Ecstasy, Alkyl Nitrites, Amphetamines, Anabolic Steroids and Nicotine. Some of these give the feelings of greater confidence, energy and alertness.
Depressants are drugs that reduce the activity of the central nervous system and slow down brain activity. Examples include Solvents, Alcohol, Barbiturates, Heroin and Tranquillisers. Common affects of these drugs are impaired coordination, judgement and balance.
Hallucinogens alter perceptions of reality, changing the way users experience the world through their senses. Examples include Cannabis, LSD, Magic Mushrooms and Ketamine. Often users will see and hear things that are not real. Hallucinogens can also trigger psychotic reactions, including paranoia.
Often, the users of these drugs are unaware of the full effects, why the drug has such effects and the problems caused by taking the drugs. Certain drugs change the users body so that it becomes used to the drug and cannot function without it. Withdrawal symptoms include:
Common withdrawal symptoms
Causes of drug abuse
There are many reasons why individuals may abuse drugs, and these will vary from person to person. However some common reasons are likely to be:
- the belief that drugs can solve problems
- peer pressure
- need to experiment
- enjoyment of the effects
- easy access to socially acceptable drugs such as alcohol and tobacco.
Some evidence also suggests there is a genetic tendency to addiction, however addictions are also common where there is no genetic predisposition.
Treatment for drug abuse
Recovery from drug addiction varies between individuals and according to the drugs involved. Substance-abuse rehabilitation centres are common for those seriously addicted, and counselling is also effective in some cases.
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