Substance abuse and addiction are major problems in society today. Every segment of society, regardless of race, gender, or age is affected. Some of the substances that are used grow naturally, whereas others are manufactured illicitly or even legitimately in laboratories. They may be smoked, inhaled, ingested, or injected and used for social, religious, or self-medicating purposes. The substances that are abused include caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, steroids, stimulants, depressants, heroin, cocaine and the list goes on. Substance abuse ranks high among serious health problems.
Since 1979 illicit drug use and alcohol consumption has declined, but the widespread use of and dependence on these substances continues. Nicotine, now classified by the Food and Drug Administration as an addictive substance, is linked to more deaths annually than AIDS, cancer, and other substances combined. Alcohol is also a major social problem today. Use and abuse of alcohol are a factor in contributing to injuries and death. The cost of substance abuse is increasing in our society. Lives are lost, and loss of work productivity costs millions of dollars each year.
Alcohol is a factor in 40% of all motor vehicle accidents, and alcohol and other drugs are often implicated in boating or athletic accidents. Costs’ include not only lives lost but also medical care, long-term services to the disabled, and increased insurance rates. Health care cost for clients that use alcohol, drugs, and nicotine are estimated to be greater than $160 billion annually. It has been confirmed that there is link between violence and alcohol and other drugs. Alcohol and drugs are a factor in vandalism on college campuses, date rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence.
Under the influence of alcohol and drugs, young adults are more likely to engage in unsafe sexual practices, and parents are more likely to abuse their children. Certain factors place some individuals at greater risk than others for the development of abuse and dependence. Biological, psychological, or environmental conditions may predispose a person to the development of a drug or alcohol problem. Risk factors may include some of the following; heavy use of alcohol and other drugs or the presence of abuse or dependency by family members, presence of psychological conflicts, which a person may attempt to resolve through drug use.
Other factors that predict that there may be a risk for alcohol and drug abuse include some of the following: •Failure in school •Rebelliousness and alienation •Need for immediate gratification •Lack of empathy •Frequent lying •Insensitivity to punishment The family which is the most powerful unit of socialization transmits cultural beliefs, myths, and values about alcohol and drug use. Also peers, and media personalities deliver messages about drug use, drug-using lifestyles, and the use of wines and spirits are subject of cultural traditions of families.
Some groups have used wine strictly for celebratory purposes, others for religious rituals, and some for sustenance. Many cultural groups do not consider alcohol a drug. The result is that among many groups a double standard exists for alcohol and other drugs. Illicit drugs are considered dangerous and unhealthy, but alcohol is accepted and not considered threatening to the individual family, or society. However alcohol and drugs can be threatening to the individual, family, and our society. Substance abuse is known to affect ones behavior and personality.
Abusers are known to be manipulative and often are in denial. One of the greatest consequences of alcohol abuse is the physiological damage that can be done. Alcohol is absorbed directly from the stomach and exerts system depression and physiological effects throughout the body almost immediately. In low doses, alcohol produces relaxation, loss of inhibition, loss of concentration, drowsiness, slurred speech, and sleep apnea. When alcohol or any drug of abuse is terminated abruptly by a person who is physiologically dependent they may begin to experience withdrawals.
Onset of symptoms of withdrawals begins within 6-12 hours following the cessation or reduction of the drug or alcohol. Withdrawal must be treated, if not withdrawal may progress to withdrawal delirium untreated delirium may result in death. Treatment can be approached on several different bases. Inpatient hospitalization is usually a 2 to 4 week hospitalization in a unit of a general hospital, residential treatment center or psychiatric hospital; therapy provides corrective emotional experiences. This atmosphere provides safety, restricts access to the drug, and monitors self-destructive behavior.
Detoxification Is a supervised medical regimen to withdraw the client from drugs that have induced psychological and physiological dependence. Rehabilitation is usually at a long-term hospital that addresses all phases of treatment. In many areas halfway houses serve as a rehabilitation facility that provides a sheltered and emotionally and financially supportive environment with peers. Counseling is a useful and effective means it can be administered on an individual basis or in family counseling. Support groups would be another effective means to support a person with substance-related disorders and their families.
There are many groups modeled on the Twelve-Step approach of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Other groups include Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Al-Anon (ANA), Adult Children of Alcoholic’s (ACOA), Sex and love addicts Anonymous (SLAA) and Ala-Teen (ALAT). These are a few of the self-help groups that can be contacted in our communities to help those who are abusing or have friends or family members who are abusers. Most of these groups are free of charge and are conducted by people who have abused and are now recovering.