Drug abuse is a psychological or physical dependency with a mind altering substance1. There is continued drug use even though a person knows that the drug causes harm. Physical dependency is the result of the body building up a tolerance to the drug and needing to increase its dosage to have the effect desired and to prevent symptoms of withdrawal. Psychological dependence has something to do with the mental and emotional make up of the person; some people may also have a genetically linked tendency to addiction. Early signs and symptoms of drug addiction involve building up of tolerance to the present dosage.
Late signs of drug overuse may show mood swings and irritability, and physical symptoms like craving. Having the right knowledge about drug abuse can help people prevent addiction. The three types of widely abused prescription drugs are CNS depressants, CNS stimulants, and narcotic analgesics. CNS depressants like barbiturates, methaqualone and benzodiazepines can slow down the normal functioning of the brain and can cause uncoordination. CNS stimulants like nicotine, amphetamine, cocaine and caffeine on the other hand enhance the brain’s activity to increase energy and alertness.
This may cause an increased heart rate and blood pressure. Narcotic analgesics like opiates (eg. Morphin and Demerol) are used for pain. On the year 2006, the abuse of painkillers ranked 2nd, while marijuana is the first, as the community’s most common illicit drug problem2. Most drugs being prescribed by doctors are opiate based and therefore can be very addictive. One drug called Oxycontin is a pain reliever that has a strong opiate base and causes people to be addicted to it. Other specific drugs that are widely abused are Heroin, Crack Cocaine and Marijuana.
Normal college students have been noted to use drugs that are for patients with disorders. Many students take Adderall, a drug for individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which helps heighten their concentration for studying for an examination3. This imposes danger to many students using this and has caused death in about 5 people per 1 million individuals taking it. Even though some drugs can be addictive, there are drugs that can substitute for them 4. Dexamphetamine is shown to help with CNS stimulant addiction 5 and clomethiazole can help in managing alcohol addiction 6.
For cocaine addiction, desipramine and bromocriptine is effective 7. A psychoactive drug that can interrupt addictive rersponses for nicotine, cocaine, SSRI, and heroin addicts that’s being studied is Ibogaine 8. There are many studied physiologic mechanisms involved in drug addiction. Acute use of a certain drug can release and prolong serotonin and dopamine’s action in the reward circuit. Almost all addictive drugs increase the reward circuit or mesolimbic pathway’s dopamine release which in turn activates the feeling of pleasure 9. The more one engages in a pleasurable act, the more one wants to repeat it.
To add to the reward circuit, it is also studied that stress mechanisms may have a function in promoting the sequence of acquiring addiction. µ-opioid receptor system, is acted on by enkephalin and influences the reward system 10. A behavioral operant conditioning is also showed in addicts, being able to link a behavior or an action to seek the reward, which is the drug’s effect 11. One enters into a fresh allostatic state as he progresses into being an addict. A person taking a drug for a long period of time may also develop sensitization and a psychological tolerance to the drug.
Taking the same dose doesn’t seem to have any effect and leaves one feeling dissatisfied and depressed, therefore he turns to the drug for the pleasure with an increased or more than maximum dosage 7. One must know how to recognize a drug addiction to prevent it. This happens when an individual seems to have an inability to withdraw from the drug. The first step is to know the signs and symptoms experienced by an addict. The second step is evaluating the risk of being addicted as various kinds of drugs are further expected to be abused than others.
In addition, having a family member with a history of drug addiction may put an individual at a higher risk of abusing medications. Consulting with a medical professional with this issue may lower the chances of becoming addicted. The third step involves religiously sticking to one’s prescription, taking only the prescribed amount at the recommended times. A person must contact his/her doctor if the drug doesn’t seem to have any effect. The fourth step is considering the drug type one is taking and the length of time he/she has been using the drug because using a drug for long terms may add to the possibility of being dependent on it.
Step five is making a plan that will help one in gradually getting out of his/her prescription. Being prescribed with an addictive drug requires one to slowly reduce it’s dosage before eliminating it. The sixth step requires one to consult a medical professional once he feels that he may already be drug dependent. This is possible when one is experiencing the early signs and symptoms of addiction. The seventh step is disposing of drugs that aren’t needed. This can remove the tempting effects of taking the drug. Eighth is contacting a drug abuse treatment center or a doctor for specialized and professional advice and prevention.
And lastly, take note of having the late signs of drug abuse. To break the series of constant drug use, individuals that are drug-dependent must build vital changes in their attitudes and life styles. Psychosocial and behavioral treatments are the foundation of services accessible to assist drug abusers to attain and carry on important periods of abstinence. The other illegal use of drugs, especially cocaine, is frequently a main target of behavioral managements. There are current studies for the treatment for cocaine and opiate, including tobacco smoke abusers.
For the treatment of ones who abuse opiates, new studies have exposed that counseling for drug abuse with procedures of abstinence incentive and psychosocial services access is an active element in its treatment. 90 – 100% amongst patients in the VA methadone maintenance sample who received incentive procedures and psychosocial services were abstinent from cocaine and heroin for as long as eight weeks; merely 30% of individuals who received methadone with no other services were abstinent 12. Management is most important for cocaine abusers.
It relies completely on psychosocial and behavioral therapies since there have been no successful medications revealed to date. Relapse prevention therapy however, which teaches abusers to distinguish high-risk situations for the use of drugs and to apply coping techniques, has also revealed assurance for management of cocaine abusers 12. For the treatment of tobacco smokers, studies show that nicotine replacement with gum or patch and behavioral therapy is the most effective. Moreover, smokers who have a history of depression experience a hard time with quitting 12.
On the other hand, research efforts in this significant region have remained quite inactive in relation to the speed of studies on molecular and biological bases of medications development and drug dependence. Bibliography 1. Brittanica Concise Encyclopedia. 2. Pat Moore Foundation. Prescription Drug Abuse – As Addictive and Dangerous as Illegal Street Drugs. Get the Facts. Orange County, California. 3. Izzo, T. Social functioning and emotional regulation in the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder subtypes Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. 2000;29: 30 – 42. 4.
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