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Drug Abuse

Drug abuse is defined as the habitual use of any chemical substance to alter the state of one.s body or mind for reasons other than medically warranted purposes. Drug abuse is a problem that affects men and women of all income levels, ages, and stations in life. Quite often, the last person to see that there is a problem is the drug abuser their self. Every year, more and more people become addicted to drugs in their pursuit to get "high".

Effects of Drug Abuse

The effects of drug abuse vary depending upon the drug that is used. Some effects of drug use are powerful rushes of energy and others may induce excessive feelings of calm and relaxation. Drug abuse may involve prescription drugs used for pleasure rather than for medical reasons or use of illegal drugs known as street drugs. Remember, drugs alter the brain to the point where not having the drug becomes extremely uncomfortable and even painful. This compelling urge to use is known as addiction. Drug abuse can lead to drug addiction and other serious problems so preventing early use of drugs or alcohol may reduce the risk of progressing to abuse and addiction.

Stages of Drug Use

There are several stages of drug use. Young people seem to progress more quickly through the stages than do adults.

  • Experimental use -- typically involves peers; done for recreational use; the user may enjoy defying parents or other authority figures.
  • Regular use -- the user misses more and more school or work; worries about losing drug source; uses drugs to "fix" negative feeling; begins to stay apart from friends and family; may change peer group to others who are regular users; takes pride in nothing; increased tolerance and ability to "handle" the drug.
  • Daily preoccupation -- the user looses any motivation; the user is indifferent toward school and work; behavior changes become obvious; preoccupation with drug use overrides all prior interests, including relationships; the user engages in secretive behavior; may begin dealing drugs to help support habit; use of other, harder drugs may increase; legal complications may increase.
  • Dependence -- cannot face daily life without drugs; denial of problem; worsening physical condition; loss of "control" over use; may become suicidal; financial and legal complications worsen; may have severed ties with family members or friends by this time.

Drug Abuse Treatment

People who are most likely to become involved in drug abuse are those unable to make common transitions in life and are looking for a superficial way to mask their feelings or mentally escape their reality. Communities could make a real difference to help prevent drug abuse amongst young people if they simply created programs aimed at helping children transition from grade level to grade level. Moreover, adults experiencing difficult transitional periods such as divorce or unemployment for example, would greatly benefit from programs designed to help prevent drug abuse by helping them adapt to their situation and provide solutions for coping with stress.

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