Many of us are quite familiar with the terms alcohol and drug abuse. Either, we have a family member or friends who use alcohol or abuse, maybe even we use them ourselves. As much as we might consider this to be a minor problem, well, many are grappling with this problem for long and it is one problem that has been there for so long.
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As a depressant, alcohol slows down the important functions leading in slurred speech, unsteady movement, inability to react quickly and disturbed perceptions. However, how it affects the mind it is understood best that as a drug in decreases the ability of a person to be rationale and distorts their judgement. On the hand, drug abuse is the frequent use of a substance in which the user consumes the substances with methods or in amounts that can harm them or others (Common Wealth of Australia, 201). Though the main cause of drug abuse has not been established, therefore, it is not possible to just have one direct cause.
Drug abuse leads to drug addiction which is chronic. It is often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug use and seeking. This is despite the harmful consequences to the addicted person and to those around them. The initial decision to take drugs is often voluntary to most people. However, over the period there are changes that occur in the brain and the challenges which the addicted individual’s self-control and hampers their ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs (Department of Health & Human Services, 13).
Many a times, it is not easy to always know when one’s drinking has crossed the line from social use or moderate to drinking problem. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse have a higher chance of catching up with those who consume alcohol in order to cope with difficulties or avoiding feeling bad. Often, when this happens, not many will realise that they have a drinking problem (Common Wealth of Australia, 65). They will take it as a normal thing unless they are told so by those around them.
There are many interconnected factors that cause alcoholism and alcohol abuse and strangely the genetics are also involved, how one was brought up, emotional health and one’s social environment. Those whom their family’s history is of alcoholism or those who closely associate with heavy drinkers have higher chances of developing drinking problems. Either, those who suffer from mental health problems like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder are also singularly at risk because they may use alcohol to self-medicate (Department of Health & Human Services, 5). It is also important to note that due to the fact it is not easy to figure when one has crossed the line from social drinking to problem drinking, if drinking cause’s problems in your life then you have a drinking problem.
Substance abuse experts have made a distinction between alcoholism which is also known as alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse. However, alcohol abusers have some ability to set limits on their drinking unlike alcohol abusers. This does not mean that they are safe. The alcohol abusers still cause self-destruction and harm to themselves and to those around them. Therefore, the over consumption of alcohol is not good to the consumers.
The common signs and symptoms and symptoms of alcohol abuse are such as: Neglecting of responsibilities at work, home or school repeatedly because of drinking. The usage of alcohol in situations where it is dangerous physically, for example, one getting arrested due to the fact that they are driving under the influence of alcohol. Additionally, a person might be at logger heads with the authority because of drinking such as getting arrested often. An addict may have continued consumption of alcohol even though it is bringing a strain to your relationships, as well as using alcohol as a way of relaxing or removing stress (Department of Health & Human Services, 11).
The path from alcohol abuse to alcoholism
Though it is a big risk factor, not all alcohol abusers become full-blown alcoholics. Alcoholism may develop suddenly in response to a change that is stressful such as retirement, break up or another loss. It also gradually creeps up on as one’s tolerance to alcohol increases. Alcoholism is a serious form of drinking problem. Alcoholism has two major signs: Tolerance, where one needs more and more alcohol to feel the same effects (Common Wealth of Australia, 76). The other sign is the experiencing withdrawal symptoms if alcohol is taken away from you.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism affects all aspects of one’s life. Long-term use of alcohol causes serious problem to the health of an individual. It affects almost every organ in one’s body including the brain. Drinking problem causes damage to the career, emotional stability, finances and one’s ability to building and sustaining satisfying relationships. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse have an impact on the family, those people you work with and also friends (Department of Health & Human Services, 17).
The social consequences are devastating despite the lethal damage that heavy drinking does to the body including heart problems, cancer and liver disease. The probability of an alcohol abuser and an alcoholic getting a divorce is high as they often experience domestic violence, live in poverty and struggle with unemployment. Though one can be able to strive in their work or make their marriage work, one cannot escape the effects of alcoholism and alcohol abuse on their relationships (National Prevention Council, 2). Drinking problems often strain the people who are close to you.
Many a times, the family members and close friends feel obliged to cover for the person who experiences drinking problem. This forces them to carry the burden of cleaning up one’s messes, working more to make ends meet or lying for you. They usually pretend that there is nothing wrong thus hiding away all their fears and resentment takes a toll on them. Due to the fact that children are sensitive, they are likely to suffer a long lasting emotional trauma (Common Wealth of Australia, 36).
Drug abuse on the other side is brought by many factors. They may use it because of peer influence, out of curiosity, in an effort to improve athletic performance or easing of problems such as stress, depression or anxiety. Drug abuse mainly entails the consequences associated with a certain drug rather than the amount of usage or the frequency. Regardless of the amount of consumption, if the drug causes problems in your life then you likely have a drug abuse problem.
Just as the many other diseases and conditions, vulnerability to addiction differs from one person. One’s genes, family, mental health and social environment all have a role in addiction. Factors that increases one’s vulnerability are such as; early use of drugs, history of family in addiction, neglect ,abuse or other traumatic experiences in childhood, mental disorders such as anxiety and depression (Common Wealth of Australia, 36). Lastly, the method used in administering such as injecting or smoking a drug can increase its addictiveness.
Drug abuse develops when one experiments with drugs and continues to use them because it elevates their feelings. Drug use gradually increase over time and forces one to using it frequently and lastly leads to the drugs being important to you. Also, one may find that the drug fulfils their valuable need. This may mean that you cannot do without that drug thus leading to its abuse (National Prevention Council, 2).
Different drugs have different effects physically. The common signs and symptoms of drug abuse are such as; one neglecting their responsibilities at work, school or at home. An addict may use the drugs in a dangerous situation such driving while on drugs or even having unprotected sex when high (Support and Equity Unit, 2). The drug is often getting you into legal problems which are very bad to one’s reputation. The drug use causes problems in your relationships then it shows that one is suffering from drug abuse.
The users who abuse drugs often try to conceal this and it might be hard for one to know unless you catch them in the act. There are signs that can be grouped into physical, behavioural and psychological. The physical signs involve having pupils which are larger or smaller than usual, blood shot eyes. There are changes in sleep patterns or appetite. Also, smell of breath, body or clothing, slurred speech or impaired coordination (National Prevention Council, 2). The behavioural signs are such as sudden increase in the need of money without proper explanation, drop in attendance and performance, frequently getting into trouble. The psychological problems are such as mood swings, not having motivation, change in attitude which can’t be explained (Support and Equity Unit, 3).
Drug abuse can make one to depend on the drug in order to function. This may include shivering and the speech having tremor which means that one is so used to the drug such that without it, they withdraw away. Co-dependence has effects on the user of the drug has it will make him or her resent others who cannot relate to them through using the drugs (Support and Equity Unit, 4).
In conclusion, alcohol and drug abuse is a major problem in our society though often we tend to overlook it. A large population can identify with this and the solution is through us joining hands and working as a team in ensuring that we approach the problem. A nation that does not abuse drugs is one that is productive and healthy.
Common Wealth of Australia. Alcohol and Other Drugs: A Handbook for Health Professionals. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, 2004, pp.1-319. Web. Retrieved from, http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/E5203E6D5CBAA696CA257BF0001E02ED/$File/aodgp.pdf.
Department of Health & Human Services. Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Addiction, 2011, pp.1-20. Web. Retrieved from, http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Documents/Chemical%20Dependency%20Book.pdf.
National Prevention Council. National Prevention Strategy: Preventing Drug Abuse and Excessive Alcohol Use, 2013, pp.1-2. Web. Retrieved from, http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/initiatives/prevention/strategy/preventing-abuse.pdf.
Support and Equity Unit. Alcohol and Drug Abuse, 2013, pp.1-4. Web. Retrieved from, http://www.utas.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/11535/Alcohol-and-Drug-Abuse.pdf.