ALCOHOL AND DRUG USE AND ADDICTION
When you’re addicted, you can’t resist the urge to use them, no matter how much harm the drugs may cause. One can get addicted to, nicotine, painkillers, alcohol and other legal substances besides illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, among others.
At first, you may choose to take a drug because you like the way it makes you feel thinking you will control how much and how often you use it. But over time, drugs change how brain works. These physical changes last for long time, make one lose self-control and can lead to damaging behaviors.
ADDICTION AND ABUSE
Alcohol and drug abuse: This occurs when one uses legal or illegal substances in ways they shouldn’t, including taking more than the regular dose of pills or using someone’s prescription. One may abuse drugs to feel good, ease stress, or avoid reality, but end up being unable to change their unhealthy habits or stop use of drugs.
Addiction: Occurs when one can’t stop use of drugs and the urge to get and use them dominates the thoughts daily, besides ones desire to quit. Addiction therefore occurs even before the drugs endanger ones health, cause financial problems, emotional, physical and other problems to oneself or loved ones.
Human brain is wired to make us want to repeat experiences that bring good feelings which motivate a person to do them again and again. Addictive drugs target brain’s reward system. They flood brain with a chemical called dopamine which triggers a feeling of intense pleasure making one to keep on taking the drug in pursuit of the high feeling.
Over time, your brain gets used to the extra dopamine making it need more drugs to get the same good feeling while other things like food, friends and family give you less pleasure. When you use drugs for a long time, they cause changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well which can hurt your:
Ability to learn
Together, these brain changes can drive you to seek out and take drugs in ways that are beyond your control.
]WHO’S MOST LIKELY TO BECOME ADDICTED
Each person’s body and brain is different and react differently to drugs but addiction can happen to anyone at any age or stage of drug use/abuse.
FACTORS THAT ENHANCE ADDICTION
Family history: Genetic makeup increases the odds of addiction by about half such that if parents or siblings have problems with alcohol or drugs, you will have even more problems as well regardless of your age or sex if you start experimenting drugs.
Early drug use: Children’s and young people’s brains are still growing, and starting drugs at early age increase chances of addiction greatly.
Mental disorders: If you’re depressed, have trouble paying attention, or worry constantly, you have a higher chance of addiction as you may use drugs thinking they will bring better feelings.
Troubled unions: If you grew up in a family with domestic troubles and aren’t close to your parents or siblings, it may raise your chances of addiction. Those in troubled relationships or experience domestic violence are likely to get addicted as they may turn to drugs and alcohol use to escape the realities.
SIGNS OF ADDICTION
You may have one or more of these warning signs:
An urge to use the drug every day, or many times a day.
You take more drugs than you want to, and for longer than you thought you would.
You always have the drug with you, and you buy it even if you can’t afford it. You keep using drugs even if it causes you trouble at work or with family and friends
You spend more time alone.
You don’t take care of yourself or care how you look.
You steal, lie, or do dangerous things like driving while high or have unsafe sex.
You spend most of your time getting, using, or recovering from the effects of the drug.
You feel sick when not under influence or when you try to quit.
DRUGS USE AND DEPENDENCY AMONG TEENAGERS
Use and abuse of drugs and alcohol by teens is very common and can have serious consequences. In the 15-24 year age range, 50% of deaths (from accidents, homicides, suicide) involve alcohol or drug abuse and also contributes to physical and sexual aggression such as assault or rape among other crimes like arson in schools, steeling, or robbery.
STAGES OF TEENAGE ALCOHOL/DRUBS EXPERIENCE:
Regular use both recreational and compensatory for other problems
Repeated and regular recreational use can lead to other problems like mental illness, anxiety and depression. Some teenagers regularly use drugs or alcohol to compensate for anxiety, depression, or a lack of positive social skills. Tobacco and alcohol are ‘gateway drugs’, for other drugs like marijuana, cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants and heroin. The combination of teenagers’ curiosity, risk taking behavior, and social pressure make it very difficult to say no to drugs
A teenager with a family history of alcohol or drug abuse and a lack of pro-social skills can move rapidly from experimentation to patterns of serious abuse or dependency as well as some with no such family history. Teenagers with a family history of alcohol or drug abuse are particularly advised to abstain and not experiment. Only one who abstains from drugs will be safe from abuse and dependency.
WARNING SIGNS OF TEENAGE DRUG OR ALCOHOL ABUSE MAY INCLUDE:
a. Drop in school performance
b. Change in groups of friends
c. Delinquent behavior
d. Deterioration in family relationships.
e. Red eyes
f. Persistent cough
g. Change in eating and sleeping habits
h. Inability to function at home, school, or work