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In order to define substance misuse, it is necessary to first define the term "substance." In the context of psychology, a drug is anything that a person consumes that alters cognition, emotion, or behavior. Many things can be included in the term, including stimulants like coffee. However, it is widely used to refer to alcohol and other stimulants such as nicotine.
Substance usage and abuse are not the same thing. For example, a person who consumes alcohol in moderation such that he or she does not become dependent on it is widely acceptable in society. When a person transitions from substance use to substance misuse, the problem often arises. The challenge here is the complexities that come in stating at what point it ceases to be substance use to become substance abuse. Therefore, drug abuse is commonly associated with addiction. Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse refers to a disorder marked by a destructive pattern of using substance leading to significant problems or distress.
Addiction or psychological dependence refers to repetitive and compulsive substances use by an individual in spite of the negative consequences to their health and life. An addiction to a substance has two elements, that is physical and psychological. Physical dependency is where the body adjusts to the substance and includes it for ‘normal’ functioning. The effects of physical dependence include being tolerant to the substance leading to a situation where the body adapts and therefore needs a dose of it to be ‘normal.’ The other effect is withdrawal where abstaining from the substances causes unpleasant side effects to the person. Psychological dependency is where an individual feels the compulsion to engage in substance use or behavior for its pleasant effects
Drugs commonly abused include cocaine, alcohol, methamphetamine, opiates. Cocaine is powerful and also an addictive stimulant which is known to give the users a euphoric feeling. In most cases, cocaine is huffed as a powder, but it can be modified into other forms. Most people consider controlled consumption of alcohol to be safe. However, in cases where one is a heavy consumer, then it can cause problems. Methamphetamine is another commonly highly abused substance. It is usually abused as a white powder that is injected, smoked or huffed.
Opiates includes drugs like heroin and pharmaceutical painkillers such as codeine. It acts on the user’s body central nervous system (CNS) through brain stimulation. Its effects on the body include pleasurable feeling which mimics the one derived from sexual intercourse.
Marijuana is one of the most commonly abused drugs. The mild hallucinogen which is obtained from Cannabis sativa plant is often abused through smoking. It stimulates the CNS and speeds up the heart rate and blood pressure.
Cocaine causes cardiovascular effects such as making the blood vessels tight which result in speeding up the heart. It is such effects that bring about cocaine-related deaths.
Prolonged heavy consumption of alcohol can result in medical conditions such as liver and heart diseases. Even in the short-term alcohol can cause adverse effects like inability to make clear judgments.
Methamphetamine may speed up the heart rate and may result in hyperthermia where a person experiences very high body temperatures. Prolonged use may cause anxiety, insomnia and other psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations. In some cases, severe dental problems may occur. Since methamphetamine users also inject it into their bodies, they are at risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis.
Opiates, when taken in large in large doses, can affect critical functions of the brain. It may hamper breathing leading to its slow down or even cause it to stop working. When the brain stops working, the person may go into a coma and even die. Most users use shared needles for injection and therefore, they stand a risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis.
Marijuana causes different effects from one person to another. In some cases, it may cause dull memory making it difficult to concentrate while other people may become paranoid while using the drug. Even though marijuana hardly causes death, just like cigarette smoking, its habitual use can result in heart diseases and other cardiovascular complications. Since most users smoke it, they also at high risk of developing respiratory complications like lung infections and severe coughs. Marijuana smoke contains a lot of carcinogens, however, to date links between marijuana and cancer remain unclear. That lack of clarity on the relationship of the two is an area that should be researched on. Once the findings on the relationship has been established, then maybe the cases of cancer can be reduced should it be determined that there is a link between the two.
For one to be treated for drug abuse, they must be tested. Diagnosis is done where an individual exhibits a destructive or negative pattern of drug addiction that leading to problems though not enough pass for drug addiction. Patterns that could manifest the signs may include things like repeated drug use affecting individual relationships and continued drug use in conditions that may be dangerous. To help substance abusers, they may be withdrawn from the substance, either physically or psychological. To help addicts from developing symptoms that may be brought about by withdrawal, the person is often kept away from the drugs. This kind of treatment requires a lot of time.
Treatment of drug addiction is similar to that of drug abuse. The treatment which is also referred to as recovering entails rehabilitation and abstinence fall back prevention. In the first stages of abstinence, one may suffer chemical dependency which may require help to reduce and avoid the effects brought about by withdrawal. Such treatments are often performed in hospitals or in other inpatient settings where medication can be applied so as to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal apart from providing medical monitoring. However, psychological addiction may be managed through an outpatient program.
Drug use, abuse and addiction limit the sober time available to a person. Many substances are abused for varied reasons including pleasure. The effects of drug use, abuse and addiction range from less severe effects to grave effects such as death. Any person with a brain can abuse drugs and even get addicted to drugs. Meaning sometimes substance abusers and addicts are doing so due to some mental conditions. Similarly, the effects vary from one person to another. Therefore, it is only important that substance abusers and addicts undergo treatment so as to help them recover. With proper treatment, both in inpatient settings and outpatient settings substance abusers and addict may be helped to recover back to their normal lives.
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