She was an honors student, an aspiring gymnast, and loved by all her family. However, she always felt pressured to fit in with her “friends” which was why she agreed on taking ecstasy from one of them. None of her family members suspected a thing. She would just go to her room and “study” until she fell asleep. On a tragic school day, her mom gets a call from the local hospital informing her that her daughter had died from a drug overdose and had reached the hospital after having intense seizures.
Lara was 18 years old when she died. Drug addiction is a serious problem that our society is facing today. It is a problem that can confine anyone, regardless of their age, social status, or financial situation. You would be surprised to learn that several people you see and work with everyday are addiction to drugs, whether anti-depressants or stimulants. A lot of people look at the negative biological effects of drugs.
However, what drugs really do is hindering a person from reaching his life-goals. Drugs have the ability to destroy all your priorities and mess up your mentality. They can change you into a whole different person, a person you yourself won’t be able to recognize. Moreover, the excessive abuse of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and other stimulants and anti-depressants has the ability to change your behavior; these harmful substances can either make you passive, aggressive, or mentally uneven. It is true that each drug has a different effect on our bodies, but they all lead to the same outcome: negatively affecting one’s behavior.
This is why I have decided to talk about drug addiction and its effect on a person’s personality in my paper. I believe that discussing the negative effects of different drugs on a person’s personality will raise awareness on the importance of abstaining from these harmful substances, and because several studies have shown that adolescents between the ages 14 – 21 are the ones most prone to suffer from drug addiction, this paper can help parents, students, and teachers pick up any signs of behavior change and therefore contribute to reducing the amount of people, especially teenagers, who use drugs.
Drug stimulants, such as cocaine and amphetamines, are substances that increase one’s physical alertness and heart rate. They help the user enter a state that is the complete opposite of relaxation, which is why it works on increasing the blood pressure and heart rate. Cocaine, for example, is one of the most famous drug stimulants. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), taking cocaine repeatedly can cause a person’s brain to become used to the drug in a way that leads the person to feel agitated and anxious whenever he/she is not taking the drug. This leads the person to request a higher dose of cocaine in order to reach the same sense of comfort and happiness he/she had experienced initially. Cocaine also causes the person to become extremely irritable and paranoid to the extent that he/she won’t be able to differentiate between what is real and what isn’t. The NIDA also adds that the cocaine user suffers from auditory hallucinations. In addition, the American Council for Drug Education (ACDE) has issued a list of symptoms that a person can rely on if he/she is skeptical about an acquaintance. For example, most cocaine users suffer from long-term depression and tend to be very dependent on others. They also suffer from mood swings and restlessness, causing them to become even more irritable and gawky. Cocaine users also tend to become more isolated from their friends and family; therefore, they isolate themselves from society and remain alone for long periods of time. To explain these effects from a biological perspective, cocaine attaches to the dopamine transporter, which is normally supposed to go back to its transporting neuron. However, cocaine blocks this process thus causing the pleasing effects the addict seeks. Short term effects of cocaine use include making the person talk more and feel more energized. It also decreases their appetite and reduces their need for sleep. However, cocaine-binge is what causes all the horrendous effects mentioned before such as anxiety, irritation, and agitation (National Institute on Drug Abuse Research Report, 1999).
Another harmful drug stimulant is methamphetamine, also known as “meth”, which also works on increasing dopamine levels in the brain, thus releasing a pleasurable sensation for the user. At the beginning, this drug was given to World War II soldiers to help them stay awake and quick during the nights of war. However, it has become very easily accessed in the past few decades that it has become one of the most famous drugs. A statistical survey conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and Health (NSDUH) in 2013 showed that 12 million people in the United States over the age of 12 have admitted to at least trying the drug, which is extremely shocking and alarming. Effects of this harmful crystal-like drug include causing the user to have awkward and odd behavior, suffering from hallucinations, dealing with paranoia, suffering from severe mood swings, and behaving unpredictably. Therefore, we can conclude that drug stimulants are harmful and toxic substances that act similar to one another, whether cocaine or crystal meth. All stimulants work on increasing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain and thus leading to the same changes in behavior which include an increase in a person’s physical excitement and movement, but then cause the person to suffer from depression and anxiety.
Anti-depressants, on the other hand, have a completely opposite effect on a person’s behavior. To go back to the history of anti-depressants, they were initially developed to balance the levels of brain neurotransmitters that are responsible for person’s emotional state. Anti-depressants have become very commonly used in the past decades for the percentages of people using these substances have increased from 7.7 percent in 2002 to 12.7 percent in 2014 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Prozac is a very famous anti-depressant that is not officially considered to be biologically addictive, but psychologically addictive due to the mood enhancements it enforces on the users. Under the influence of Prozac, users have reported feeling great and noted that their mood has improved. Moreover, users have noted they have become more positive and have reached a more optimistic approach on life. They no longer suffer from anxiety or paranoia (Kramer, 1993). Researchers have also asserted that a people started having a totally different perspective towards life upon using Prozac. However, psychologists and medical experts do not directly suggest their patients resort to anti-depressants to avoid any psychological dependency, but encourage their patients to resort to psychological therapy. Another type of anti-depressant is Celexa, which is usually prescribed for individuals who suffer from severe depression. Its effects are very similar to those of Prozac, which include improving the users’ outlook on life, helping them become more positive, and generally improving their mood. However, overdosing on this medicine can be extremely dangerous for it can have severe “physical” side effects. However, this medicine, considering it is prescribed by a doctor, has more benefits than side effects on its user. Benefiting from this drug is relatively immediate (one to three weeks) which is why it has become progressively used today. A study conducted at Brown University concluded that these anti-depressants truly treat depression and help people feel better both emotionally and psychologically (Keller MB, 2000). Therefore, we can conclude that although people would be better off without relying on certain drugs to feel better and get rid of their depression, anti-depressants have proven to be effective and beneficial.
“What is the solution to drug addiction?” is a question we all ask. We can never stop addiction or eliminate this problem completely. However, several measures can be taken in order to limit it from spreading in the society and to reduce the number of addicts. Parents and educators have a very important role to play in that matter, especially since teenagers and young adults are usually those who are most pressured to try drugs. First teachers can follow a specific approach that relies on academic and behavioral evidence. A decline in the academic performance and the emergence of serious behavioral issues are signs that a teacher can pick up on in order to prevent this issue from manifesting. Another thing they can do is convey their support and concern to students. According to the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, students who are shown care and support from their teachers throughout their school years are less likely to experience substance abuse. The school can also form a supportive community by developing special awareness programs and encouraging students to participate in extracurricular activities. And definitely, the major role lies on parents, who are required to monitor their kids at all times and surround them with a safe environment that would not encourage them to resort to harmful substances and toxic drugs. Parents and teachers can work together in parallel in order to ensure that adolescents reach adulthood in the safest way possible.
In conclusion, after reading several researches about the effects of different drug stimuli and anti-depressants on human behavior, we can say that drug stimuli are extremely harmful on a person’s life and can lead to a serious downfall in his life as well. They can cause a person to become very imbalanced and unpredictable. They can also cause a person to be detached from the real world thus contributing to a delinquency in the society. People on drugs become very agitated and angry if they do not receive their drug dose and can perform horrible actions that harm the society as a whole. Therefore, it is very important for schools and educators to develop special awareness programs to shed the light on the hazards of drug stimuli and how one can abstain from using them. Parents are also encouraged to thoroughly monitor their kids’ behavior and to always encourage them to make better choices in life. It is very important to stop this “trend” from spreading especially among teenagers, who usually feel more pressured to use these drugs. And even if users stop using these drugs, they will always suffer from their consequences, even if they had stopped for a long period of time. On the other hand, anti-depressants have a completely opposite effect. They induce positive behavior and aren’t really considered to be “addictive substances”. Doctors prescribe these medicines because they believe that their patients will certainly feel better upon using them. People using anti-depressants such as Prozac and Celexa rarely suffered from any behavioral imbalance, although they do have few negative medical side effects. However, experts everywhere all agree that it would be better if a person were able to get rid of their depression psychologically, without resorting to any type of medication.
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