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Article Summary

Why Abusing Narcotics Is A Big Mistake

While considering the drug and alcohol problem that has been plaguing the country, it is also essential to think about why abusing narcotics is a big mistake. This is because using intoxicating and mind-altering substances tends to come with negative effects.

Although this might not seem like it, abusing these substances might change everything in your life - from your relationships and performance at work to your bank account and your body. In particular, drugs and alcohol alter brain chemistry, and bring about accidental injuries, financial problems, legal issues, infections, and health complications. In the direst of situations, substance abuse can even cause death.

Understand the full range of adverse effects arising from these substances could potentially empower you to seek the help you need to change your lifestyle and start living more productively and free of these drugs. Even though you might assume that your drinking and substance use isn't destructive and that you are only doing it for fun, this isn't always the case.

In fact, even though it might initially seem that alcohol and drugs have been making you feel a bit better, they will actually cause some long-term damage to your life. This is why it is important for you to find out why abusing narcotics is a big mistake.

Understanding Addiction

Addiction refers to a chronic and relapsing brain condition that is typically characterized by compulsive drug and alcohol seeking and abuse - usually in spite of the harmful consequences it causes. Medical experts now consider this compulsion a type of psychological disease particularly on account of the changes that drugs and alcohol cause to the brain.

In particular, abusing substances can change the structure of the brain as well as its working mechanism. In many cases, these changes tend to be long-lasting and may even lead to the harmful behavioral changes common among people who drink excessively and abuse other intoxicating substances.

Medical images have also shown stark differences between a healthy heart and brain in comparison to the diseased hearts and brains of substance users. These images additionally show decreased metabolism among these people.

That said, addiction is similar to any other disease - like heart disease. This is because all these conditions tend to disrupt the normal and healthy functioning of all affected organs, lead to harmful and serious consequences, and can be prevented and treated. If left untreated, however, these conditions might last the entire course of your lifetime - which is one of the reasons why abusing is a big mistake.

Reasons Behind Substance Use

But why do people continue taking alcohol and drugs in spite of the harmful consequences they bring about? In general, most drug users start these dangerous behaviors for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:

a) Curiosity and Peer Pressure

Some people start using drugs and alcohol out of curiosity and because they have seen others doing it. In particular, teens are the most vulnerable because peer pressure is especially influential in this age.

In fact, studies now show that adolescents are more likely to start engaging in these daring and risky behaviors (more so than adults) to impress their peers and express the fact that they feel independent from social and parental rules.

b) To Perform Better

In some instances, you might find yourself feeling to improve or enhance your athletic and cognitive performance chemically. This could potentially play a crucial role in your initial experimentation and - eventually - continued drug abuse. This particularly applies to androgenic and anabolic steroids and prescription stimulants.

c) To Feel Better

In the same way, if you suffer from depression, stress-related disorders, and social anxiety, you might start using drugs and alcohol while trying to lessen these distressing feelings.

Stress, in particular, plays a major role in coercing some people to start using drugs, continue doing so, and relapsing after receiving treatment and rehabilitation for substance abuse and addiction.

d) To Feel Good

Most of the substances of abuse - including opioids and heroin - tend to produce and enhance feelings of intense pleasure and euphoria. These initial sensations, however, are usually followed by a variety of other effects, most of which are adverse and harmful. This is another one of the reasons why abusing narcotics is a big mistake.

For instance, when you abuse stimulants like cocaine, the initial high effects will often be followed by feelings of self-confidence, increased energy, and power. On the other hand, if you abuse opiates like cocaine, these effects will be followed by intense feelings of satisfaction and relaxation. Over time, you might find yourself continuing to abuse these drugs while searching for these pleasurable effects.

That said, if taking drugs and alcohol can many you feel better and good, then where why is abusing narcotics such a big mistake? Essentially, when you first use a given drug, you might perceive the effects to be positive. You might also delude yourself with the thought that you can control your substance use.

Over time, however, the drugs might start taking over your life. As you continue using these substances, you might not find the same pleasure you used to derive from other activities - like eating, spending time with loved ones, or pursuing your passions.

At this point, you will find it necessary to take drugs - even if you just need to feel normal. Eventually, you may find yourself compulsively seeking and using drugs in spite of the growing problems that you start experiencing in your personal, professional, and scholastic life.

In the course of your continued substance abuse, you might start feeling an intense need to increase the dose and frequency of your drug use - even if you still in the early stages of your alcohol and drug use. When you reach this stage, you could be said to have developed an addiction.

More specifically, you need to understand that even the most moderate form of substance use is considered dangerous and problematic. Consider, for instance, the case of a social drinker who finds that they are no longer able to control how much alcohol they use. In time, they might even decide to drive while intoxicated, and end up turning what was otherwise a pleasurable activity into a dangerous tragedy that eventually affects and even ends many lives.

Understanding Continued Drug Abuse

But is continued substance use a voluntary behavior? In most cases, you will find that your initial decision to abuse drugs is somewhat voluntary. However, as you continue using these mind-altering substances, your natural ability to enforce your self-control might become impaired. At this point, this impairment of your self-control could be the start of your addiction.

According to recent statistics, it has been shown that brain images of people who are addicted depict marked physical changes in the section of the brain responsible for controlling memory, behavior, learning, and decision making.

From these brain imaging studies, scientists now believe that it is these changes that effectively alter the functioning of the brain. These studies have also been used to explain the destructive and compulsive behaviors of substance addiction.

The Incidence Of Addiction

While trying to understand why abusing narcotics is a big mistake, you should keep in mind that no single factor that determines whether you will become addicted to your drugs and alcohol of choice. But why do some people develop an addiction while others don't?

Basically speaking, addiction is like any other condition of the body and the mind. This is because the vulnerability to a substance use disorder and addiction will differ from one person to the next. As such, no single factor can effectively determine whether you will develop an addiction. Still, the more the risk factors that you have, the greater the chances that starting to use these substances can lead to intense drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.

On the other hand, if you have many protective factors in your life, then your risk of becoming addicted might be lower. As such, you might want to understand these protective and risk factors - which might be environmental (referring to the conditions in your neighborhood, home, and workplace) or biological (your ethnicity, gender, stage of development, and genetic makeup).

Consider the following:

a) Risk Factors for Substance Abuse and Addiction

  • Aggressive behavior in childhood
  • Availability of drugs at school
  • Community poverty
  • Drug experimentation
  • Lack of parental supervision
  • Poor social skills

b) Protective Factors for Substance Abuse and Addiction

  • Academic Competence
  • Good self-control
  • Neighborhood pride
  • Parental monitoring and support
  • Positive relationships
  • School anti-drug policies

In the same way, you can be sure that some environmental factors might increase your risk of abusing alcohol and drugs and developing an addiction to these substances. These factors include:

i) Family and Home Environment

In many cases, the influence of your home and family environment - particularly in your early childhood to late teens - is a crucial factor in determining whether you will start abusing drugs and alcohol.

In particular, if there are older members of your family (such as your parents, siblings, or cousins) who abuse these intoxicating substances or engage in other criminal behavior, then it is highly likely that you might have a higher risk of developing the same problems with drugs and alcohol later on in your life.

ii) Peers and School Environment

In the same way, your acquaintances and friends can strongly influence you, particularly in your teens. If you have drug and alcohol using peers, to this end, they might sway you - even if you do not have any risk factors - to try these substances for the first time.

Additionally, poor social skills and academic failure might put you at further risk of starting to use drugs and alcohol and eventually becoming addicted to them.

Apart from the above environmental factors, some biological factors might increase your risk of developing substance tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

In particular, scientists now contend that genetic factors account for anywhere between 40 to 60% of any person's vulnerability to substance abuse. This covers the effects of various environmental factors on the expression and function of their genes.

In the same way, your stage of development, as well as other medical conditions, might also act as factors that could potentially increase your risk of addiction. People with mental disorders and teens are especially at great risk of addiction than others in the general population.

Other factors that could increase your risk of abusing narcotics include:

a) Early Drug Use

Although starting to take drugs and alcohol at any age could cause you to become addicted, research studies now show that people who begin using these intoxicating and mind-altering substances at an early age are more likely to develop serious issues later on in their lives.

This might reflect some of the harmful and adverse effects that drugs tend to have on the individual's brain - which is still in development. It may also arise from various biological and social factors of early vulnerability, including but not limited to genetic susceptibility, mental illness, exposure to sexual, physical, or psychological abuse, and unstable family relationships.

Irrespective of the reasons why, you can be sure that early use is one of the strongest indicators of future problems that could include continued substance abuse and addiction.

b) Mode of Use

Injecting and smoking drugs tends to increase their potential for addiction. In particular, both injected and smoked substances usually enter the brain in a matter of seconds - thereafter producing and creating powerful sensations of pleasure and euphoria.

However, this initial intense high might start fading within a couple of minutes - after which the user will be taken down to lower and more normal levels. Today, scientists and addiction treatment professionals believe that it is this contrast that most people feel that causes them to continue taking drugs while trying to recreate the intense but usually feeling state of pleasure that comes from using these substances.

Even so, you can be sure that addiction is now classified as a developmental disease that tends to begin in childhood and early adolescence for most people. As you continue abusing these substances, your brain might continue growing accustomed to them all the way into your adulthood. In the process, you may experience dramatic changes.

The prefrontal cortex, in particular, is still maturing when you are in your teens. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for enabling you to make sound decisions, keep your desires and emotions under control, and assess situations.

Since this part of your teen brain will still be developing, it means that you have a higher risk of making poor decisions - such as trying out drugs and continuing to use them. If you introduce substances into your system during this stage of your development, therefore, you may end up experiencing adverse brain changes that could potentially give way to long-lasting profound consequences.

Adverse Effects Of Substance Abuse And Addiction

While trying to understand why abusing narcotics is a big mistake, you need to learn more about the various adverse consequences that arise from substance abuse and addiction.

More specifically, you can be sure that drugs and alcohol are chemicals. As such, they can affect your brain and body in different ways. Some of the adverse effects that you might experience from abusing these substances include permanent and long-lasting health consequences that could continue even after you stop using alcohol and drugs.

People use drugs in a variety of ways - including via ingestion, inhalation, and injection. The effects of different drugs on the body and brain will largely be based on how you abuse them.

For instance, if you inject intoxicating substances directly into your bloodstream, it is highly likely that you will experience the euphoric and pleasurable effects immediately. Ingestion, on the other hand, mind delay these effects.

Even so, drugs all end up affecting your brain. More specifically, they can lead to the production of dopamine in excess - dopamine, in this case, is a neurotransmitter that occurs naturally in the brain and is responsible for helping to regulation your feelings of pleasure, motivation, and emotions.

When these neurotransmitters flood the brain, you will experience a high or the intoxication that is commonly associated with substance abuse. Over time, drugs might start changing the functioning of your brain and even interfere with your natural ability to make informed decisions.

Eventually, you may experience intense cravings for your substances of choice and start using them compulsively. This behavior might thereafter turn into tolerance and dependence - and ultimately lead to your addiction.

Some of the dangerous effects that you are likely to suffer as a result of abusing narcotics include:

1. Birth Defects

According to recent statistics, close to 4% of all expectant mothers in the US abuse illicit drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy, heroin, and marijuana, among others. This is despite the fact that these substances pose a variety of risks to such women and to their unborn babies.

In particular, these drugs can lead to babies being born too soon or too small. These babies might also experience birth defects, behavioral and learning problems, and intense withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, some of these drugs might be impure - and come with toxins that could harm both the pregnant woman and their child.

It is also important to understand why abusing narcotics is a big mistake especially if you are pregnant. This is because using drugs poses a variety of dangers to pregnant women and their unborn babies, including but not limited to:

  • Low birth weight
  • Miscarriage
  • Premature delivery
  • Problems with the placenta
  • Withdrawal symptoms in the newborn baby

In some cases, abusing these substances could also cause your baby or even yourself to die. The best solution is to try and protect yourself (and your infant) by seeking treatment from a qualified addiction rehabilitation center.

Last but not least, when expectant women use such drugs, they might find themselves engaging in unhealthy behavior that could place them and their babies at risk - such as contracting sexually transmitted diseases and having poor nutrition.

2. Behavioral Problems

Even as you continue researching into the reasons why abusing narcotics is a big mistake, you can be sure that it can cause a variety of behavioral problems. These problems include but are not always limited to:

  • Addiction
  • Aggressiveness
  • Hallucinations
  • Impaired judgment
  • Impulsiveness
  • Loss of self-control
  • Paranoia

3. Crime

It comes as no surprise that various government agencies in the United States - including the Department of Justice, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Department of Health and Human Services - are increasingly focusing on crime that is related to drugs and alcohol.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, the following statistics link substance use and criminal activity:

  • 19% of all inmates in state prisons were apprehended while using drugs and alcohol
  • 22.4% of state prison inmates were using when they were caught committing crimes that involved weapons
  • 36% of all state prison inmates were found using drugs/alcohol at the time they committed crimes involving the damage and theft of property
  • 41.9% of all state prison inmates were using when they committed drug-related crimes

If you are a law-abiding citizen, therefore, you might want to give up your continued substance abuse before you end up committing a crime that you otherwise would not be involved with.

4. Health Problems

The impact of ongoing substance abuse, dependence, and addiction tends to be far-reaching. In many cases, it might even end up affecting almost all the organs of your body. In particular, using alcohol and drugs can cause:

  • Abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea
  • Blood-borne diseases like HIV and Hepatitis (arising from using injectable drugs)
  • Changes in your body, such as the development of breasts in men, high body temperatures, and fluctuations in your appetite
  • Coma and respiratory depression (from using narcotics and tranquilizers)
  • Different cardiovascular conditions like heart attacks, abnormal heart rate, collapsed veins, and infections of your heart valves and blood vessels
  • Heart failure (as a result of abusing cocaine and meth)
  • High blood pressure (PCP, cocaine, and meth)
  • Infertility or impotence (narcotic drugs, meth, and marijuana)
  • Lung damage (PCP, marijuana, and nicotine from cigarettes)
  • Memory and learning problems (arising from marijuana abuse)
  • Problems with decision making, attention, and memory, including permanent brain damage and sustained mental confusion
  • Psychosis (from abusing meth, LSD, and cocaine)
  • Rapid or irregular heart rate (caused by PCP, meth, cocaine, and marijuana)
  • Seizures (arising from tranquilizer, cocaine, and narcotic abuse)
  • Weakened immune system and increased susceptibility to various illnesses and infections
  • Widespread brain damage, strokes, and seizures that could impact every aspect of your daily life
  • Your liver to work harder, leading to significant liver damage or failure

Substance abuse and addiction could also increase your risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections, getting involved in motor vehicle accidents, experiencing self-inflicted and accidental injuries, and finding yourself in violent situations.

While addicted, you might not be able to make informed choices and decisions about your health and wellbeing. As a direct result, you may start neglecting your health while remaining unaware of your declining physical and mental condition.

Since denial is a core component of substance use and addiction, it is also highly likely that you could start convincing yourself that you are doing perfectly well - even if you are experiencing heart palpitations, paranoia, severe dental problems, and weight loss.

5. Injuries

Today, scientific studies show that substance abuse causes more disabilities, illnesses, and deaths than any other preventable condition. In fact, illicit drug use is now linked to 1 in every 4 deaths.

This means that if you continue abusing substances, you will have a higher risk of suffering every bad outcome arising from this harmful behavior - including but not limited to a higher risk of medical problems, domestic violence, unintentional injuries, and even death.

6. Lost Relationships

One of the main danger linked to substance abuse does not involve homicide, illness, or injury. Rather, it affects close personal and professional relationships. In fact, among the reasons why abusing narcotics is a big mistake is that addiction - by its very nature - can separate you from your loved ones.

In time, your relationship with drugs and alcohol could take precedence in your life - over and above everything else. Additionally, you might find yourself becoming more defensive, isolated, and secretive, particularly in the early stages of your addiction.

As your substance abuse starts progressing through tolerance and dependence before reaching full addiction, you might abandon your intimate partnerships, children, and marriage in pursuit of drugs and alcohol.

Addiction can also destroy your professional relationships and productivity at work and school. Over time, you will give your entire life to these mind-altering and intoxicating substances - meaning that it will be increasingly hard for you to maintain a regular schedule at school or work.

Research studies have also shown that employers regularly expose drug addicts - especially when they apprehend them using in the workplace or making dangerous and careless mistakes that they otherwise would not.

After destroying your professional relationships, you might find it hard to reestablish your career. The only way out would be to seek help for your substance abuse before it progresses further and causes additional damage. By so doing, you could potentially protect yourself from getting fired and being unemployed. It could also protect your reputation and credibility in your chosen industry.

In time, you might find that it is not always easy to rebuild your personal and professional relationships. This is because continued substance use tends to take a financial and emotional toll on any relationships. In the process, your violent, dishonest, and erratic behavior could potentially shatter any trust in your relationships.

In some instance, you might also engage in verbal, psychological, physical, and sexual abuse. When this happens, the injured partner will be justifiably cautious about you and about getting involved with you in the future - even if you do manage to get clean.

This is why comprehensive addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs often include individual therapy, participation in group therapy, and family counseling. Although you can restore some of the precious relationships that your substance abuse almost destroyed, this is a process that takes tremendous emotional energy and time.

However, you can still count on professional therapists to help you start mending your broken relationships and bridging the gaps that your addiction created. In time, you might even manage to initiate honest communication and healing with your loved ones and friends.

7. Psychological Defects

Although you might start using drugs voluntarily, you may get to a point where these substances change the chemistry of your brain. At this stage, these changes could potentially interfere with your ability to make sound and informed decisions. Eventually, you will experience compulsive drug cravings, seeking, and abuse. In time, this could lead to substance dependence and addiction.

Even drugs of abuse - including marijuana, nicotine, alcohol, and cocaine - can affect the reward circuit of your brain. This circuit is part of your limbic system. When this happens, the drugs will hijack this system and cause the excessive production of dopamine - which could flood the system.

It is this dopamine flood that causes the intoxicating euphoric high that is commonly linked to substance abuse. In time, this flood could potentially cause a variety of psychological defects.

8. Poor Health

When you get to a point where your substance abuse mutates into addiction, you might already have stopped thinking or caring about the effects of drugs on your health.

However, you could also feel terrified of these adverse effects but still be powerless to do what it takes to stop yourself from damaging your body and health. This is because even if you understand that you can get help for your addiction, the condition might leave you feeling paralyzed.

9. Death

Last but not least, abusing alcohol and drugs might increase your risk of experiencing physical injuries, being involved in accidents, and dying as a result of homicide and suicide.

Substance-related deaths have been on the rise in the past few years. Alcohol, in particular, causing more than 1.8 million deaths and 5.2 million critical accidental injuries on an annual basis.

Overall, understanding why abusing narcotics is a big mistake could potentially encourage you to seek treatment for the condition before it gets out of hand. The best way to do this is by checking into an addiction treatment and rehabilitation center for assessment and assistance.

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