The research investigates the notion and the reasons for drug addiction, explains social hazards of substance abuse, researches drug addiction among children and teenagers and investigates possible solutions. The analysis has allowed making a conclusion that the most effective methods used to overcome the problem of drug abuse is prevention approaches. It is necessary to start social work and to explain potential hazards of drug addiction since the early age.
Since the beginning of the history of humanity, people have been trying to find different means of relaxation. The Indian tribes produced tinctures that could relieve tiredness immediately. Modern society may consider some of the herbs used in tinctures as narcotics. In nature, a number of substances may have an opiate influence on the human organism. They are the opium poppy, cannabis, coca and some poisonous mushrooms. A line of narcotic substances was received artificially, including ethyl, chloroform, soporific substances, and tranquilizers. These medicines are designed to relieve the symptoms of diseases. However, these means are useful only if prescribed by a doctor, otherwise, they may be harmful and even may cause death. For example, the most ancient of the drugs, opium, was designed to treat a chain of diseases. Heroin, one of the most dangerous drugs, was used to relieve pain. Volkow and Fowler (2000) note that the newest synthetic substances have also become objects of drug abuse. One of the main difficulties of the research is the inability to choose a general method of treatment and prevention because each person is individual and requires a special approach that cannot be embraced in one study. Therefore, the aims of the paper are to investigate the notion and reasons for drug addiction, explain its social hazards of drug addiction, research the issue among children and teenagers, and to investigate methods how to overcome the problem.
The Notion of Drug Addiction
A drug is any chemical substance that influences the normal functioning of an organism. According to the article “Biology of Addiction” (2015), drug abuse is the abusive usage of substances that has a negative influence on the psychological state of an individual, his/her brain, and mental activity. Here it is necessary to mention psychoactive drugs that cause behavior changes such as euphoria or hallucinations. The usage and production of many drugs are prohibited in different countries. However, Boys, Marsden, and Strang (2000) state that alcohol and tobacco, being the most widespread drugs, are legal in the United States, Great Britain, and many countries worldwide. Although many people do not consider them as drugs, but these substances cause dependence that is sometimes difficult to treat and requires long-term intervention strategies.
According to Volkow and Fowler (2000), the tolerance to a drug is increasing since the organism gets used to the substance. With an increase in tolerance, a person needs a higher dose of a drug to cause the same influence on the organism. Dependence is the description of the state when the human organism gets used to functioning under the impact of a drug. When the use of the latter is stopped, the addicted person starts to feel discomfort that is known as the syndrome of abstinence. The article “Drug Abuse and Addiction” (n.d.) states that psychological dependence is the necessity to take a drug without physical dependence. However, it does not mean that there exist substances that do not cause the latter. After long-term consumption of a drug, a person may become physically dependent on substances that are considered as such that do not to cause subjection. If he or she does not receive the required dose, the one may experience emotional and physical problems. For example, regular consumption of cannabis may cause insomnia after its abstinence.
Volkow and Fowler (2000) note that many psychoactive drugs influence the human organism similarly to neurotransmitters, substances produced by nervous endings during stimulation. Neurotransmitters interact with receptors that may perceive impulses and react to them. Serotonin and endorphins belong to such substances. They control the mood, emotions, hormonal function and suppress pain.
According to Volkow and Fowler (2000), psychoactive drugs strengthen the influence of natural neurotransmitters and cause an increased reaction of receptors. Then, the opposite reaction causes smaller production of neurotransmitters. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (2012) notes that when continuing drug consumption, production is oppressed, and the substance does not improve it. To achieve the same state, it is necessary to take a bigger amount of the substance. The abstinence from the drug causes unpleasant physical conditions since the production of natural neurotransmitters cannot be renewed within several days. Thus, the organism has to work without the drug and endorphins.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2012), one type of substances suppresses the work of the brain, while the other stimulates it. It causes the difference in the psychological effect. Other differences include the amount of the taken drug, its concentration, pureness and the way it has been taken. Additional factors include the psychic and physical condition of the addicted person, his/her expectations and the reaction on environmental conditions: a drug may cause a feeling of euphoria or oppression. According to the article “Biology of Addiction” (2015), this effect is often strengthened if the person is hungry or tired.
The Reasons for Drug Addiction
There exist many reasons for drug abuse:
- Social agreement. If the consumption of one or another drug is acceptable in a group a person belongs to, he/she will feel the necessity of taking it to show that he/she is part of the group. It refers to all substances, from alcohol to heroin.
- One of the main reasons for people to take drugs is a gamma of emotions, from relaxation to mystic euphoria.
- The illegal consumption of drugs is mostly spread in zones where they can be easily obtained, for example, in big cities. The consumption of legal drugs is also connected with their availability. For example, a big number of alcohol sellers abuse this substance.
- Curiosity towards the consumption of drugs makes some people start taking them.
- Drug consumption may be a symbol of opposition towards society values. When a person refuses to follow the latter, the resulting feeling of inanity may force him/her to resort to drugs. Welfare may cause the loss of interest in life, and drugs may seem to be the only way out.
- The withdrawal from physical stress. The article “Drug Abuse and Addiction” (n.d.) states that the majority of people can cope with the most stressful situations in their lives. However, some of them try to escape from them and become dependent on drugs. Very often, the latter become a false center of their life.
Social Hazards of Drug Addiction
Negative notions caused by the consumption of narcotic substances may be a potential hazard for society. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2012), first of all, the consumption of drugs has a negative influence on the human health. It is favorable for the development of somatic and psychic diseases, which are one of the reasons for population mortality. Moreover, the frequency of accidents and injuries among men that consume drugs is higher than among the rest of the male population. Drug addiction also causes a high level of criminality. After drug consumption, drivers and pedestrians may cause accidents.
Drug addiction is favorable for criminality since to receive drugs, an addicted person is ready to commit crimes. Secondly, the latter may be perpetrated under the influence of narcotic substances. The interconnection between drugs and criminality is also caused by illegal operations such as storage, production, and distribution of such substances. Furthermore, among addicted people, there appear those who make attempts of suicide, mainly due to a conscious drug overdose. Thus, the consequences are heavy, both to a separate person and to society in general. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (2012) notes that it is necessary to investigate psychologic, social and biological factors of drug addiction. It is recommended to carry out social work to prevent possible drug abuse since childhood.
Drug Addiction among Children and Teenagers
Very often, parents are afraid of possible drug addiction of their children. However, they do not pay attention to smoking and alcohol consumption considering them less severe. However, they may also cause addiction. Smoking and alcohol abuse among children start due to pure interest. For example, for the first time a child may take a cigarette to be similar to adults. Nevertheless, smoking and alcohol consumption can be easily noticed due to the smell that does not appear in case of drug abuse.
When meeting with people, who are under the influence of drugs, children at first may get afraid. However, later, someone with greater authority in a group suggests taking a dose. A child does not refuse due to interest and the necessity to prove that he/she is already a grown-up. For the first time, it may have no influence on the organism, and there appears the second attempt. With time, a child needs to repeat the dose physically because in the opposite case there may appear pain and other unpleasant feelings. At first, he/she spends all savings, but then starts selling things. It is necessary for parents to think and remember when they have spent time with their children speaking and enjoying communication for the last time. According to the article “Drug Abuse and Addiction” (n.d.), speaking to a child and spending time together enable to notice behavior changes. A child may be too suppressed or too energetic. According to the article “Drug Abuse and Addiction” (n.d.), when noticing such signs, it is important not to shout at the child and not to press on him/her with the question why it has happened. The one may not be guilty since the drug could have been inserted into juice or food by his/her friends to have fun.
The article “Drug Abuse and Addiction” (n.d.) states that sometimes a child may be afraid of the reaction of his/her parents. In that case, it is necessary to apply for professional aid. A psychologist may help parents to find a decision and to establish the communication process with addicted children.
Methods Used to Overcome the Problem
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2012), in many cases, it may seem that an addicted person does not want to get rid of the problem. Moreover, he or she may consider that this habit may be easily thrown away. In such cases, treatment may have no influence even if the best methods are used. First of all, it is necessary to persuade the person of the necessity of treatment. Sometimes, a physical treatment program is not sufficient. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (2012) states that when dealing with the problem, it is necessary to take complex actions that combine medical aid with the psychological one.
There exist three levels of the prevention of drug addiction. The first one includes social prevention measures and is the most efficient method. It is directed towards the creation and retention of conditions that are favorable for the human health and the prevention of the influence of negative factors. According to the article “Biology of Addiction” (2015), it is based on the promotion of the healthy way of life of an individual and society in general. This work should be started in childhood. Due to these measures, children begin to form their negative attitude towards narcotic substances and their possible consequences. It is more efficient to take preventive steps aimed at the formulation of an opinion at primary school than to change it at secondary one.
The second level or socio-medical prevention consists in the detection of the earliest changes in the human organism to carry out complex treatment and to improve the person’s environment. For preventive information, it is important to cover entire families. The success of the program depends on the support of all family members.
The third level of medical prevention consists in inhibiting disease progress and lowering the mortality rate. Nowadays, there does not exist a single radical way of treatment for all forms of dependence. It is necessary to use complex pharmacological, psychologic and additional ways of treatment that are based on the behavioral therapy. The article “Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction” notes that terms of treatment differ in each situation (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2012). Medical aid should be individual and take into account peculiarities of each patient.
The developing problem of drug addiction requires a constant increase in substance consumption. An addicted person may think that he/she may give up the habit without any problems. However, physical consequences will force the individual to take another dose. Thus, the most effective method to overcome the problem is prevention. It is necessary to start social work and to explain potential hazards of drug addiction since the early age. The establishment of a healthy way of life will help people to overcome stress and not to look for additional methods of relaxation.