Dangers of Drug Abuse, Addiction

Drug abuse is the legal or illegal use of drugs by individuals in a harmful way, thereby bringing severe consequences, which most times, could affect the health and mental state of individuals. The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes drug or substance abuse as the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, which affect the mind, mood or other mental processes in the body, including alcohol or other illicit drugs. Medicine.net also states that drug abuse and addiction is a condition characterised by a self-destructive pattern of using a substance that leads to significant problems and distress, which may include tolerance or withdrawal from the substance. Addiction on the other hand is when one finds it hard to stop an act or a habit that is likely to put the health in danger. 

Globally, drug abuse has turned into a major public health issue facing nations and individuals and is rampant among the young population. Over the years, most drug addicts have been reported to start their journey into drug abuse out of curiosity or to release stress, escape depression, and as a result of peer group influence or pressure from friends. Crugit.com reports that the rate at which drug abuse is rapidly becoming an issue is increasingly alarming and should be disturbing to both the government and the citizenry. The 2018 statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse with technical support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) show that nearly 15% of the adult population in Nigeria, which amounts to around 14.3 million individuals, reported a “considerable level” of usage of psychoactive drug substances; a rate much higher than the 2016 global average of 5.6% among adults. This indicates the highest levels of drug use, as recorded among people aged from 25 to 39 with cannabis being the most-widely used drug while sedatives, heroin, cocaine and non-medical use of prescription opioids were included but the survey excluded the use of tobacco and alcohol.

Aside from the regular use of drugs such as nicotine, cocaine, heroin, marijuana and Indian hemp, most drug addicts have resulted into constantly taking prescribed medications such as tranquilizers, painkillers, and sleeping pills thereby, becoming addicted with time. The unending drug addiction habit among youths today has also been described as a major factor contributing to the untimely death of youngsters because of constant abuse. Drug addiction affects the human brain but can be treated or reversed through medication, exercise or therapy. Most drug addicts never planned to become one because most of them believed that they could control how much and often they used drugs at first but over time, they discovered that it was beyond their control and while deriving pleasure from the practice, they tend to lose themselves and their identity by causing brain damage and change in behavioural pattern.

When someone is addicted to drugs, it is always hard to resist or stop using them, no matter how dangerous the drugs might be. However, there are some key factors that may influence drug habits or substance abuse in individuals such as family history of addiction, early use of drugs, mental disorders, abuse or trauma, and troubled relationships. Mayo Clinic informs that most people use drugs to seek solace from suffering, which can stem from mental health problems like low self-esteem, poverty, loss of a loved one, stress or chronic pain or other medical conditions. It is important to add that the human brain is designed to make us remember some pleasant experiences and the urge to wanting to repeat such over and over again. In the process of trying to relieve these pleasant memories, most people have been motivated to keep using drugs or substances constantly and excessively by resulting in unending addiction.

WebMD.com notes that addictive drugs often target the nervous system. They flood the brain with a chemical called dopamine, which triggers a feeling of intense pleasure to the extent of taking the drugs to stay in the euphoria. Over time, the brain gets used to extra dopamine and the feeling to take more of the drugs persists. What are the signs of addiction? These include an urge to use the drugs every day or many times in a day, always having the drugs, buying it even when they cannot be afforded, and keeping using the drugs even when they make one to cause trouble at work. MedicineNet highlights some of the symptoms of drug abuse to cover the recurrent use that results in legal problems, interference with important obligations by resulting in social or relationship problems, withdrawal symptoms, unsuccessful efforts at stopping to use the drugs, and spending inordinate amounts of time or energy recovering from the side effects of the drugs.

While noting that drug addiction may start with the experimental use of a recreational drug in social situations or by exposure to prescribed medications or received medications from a friend or relative. Mayo Clinic identifies some of the causes of drug abuse and addiction, describing them as some of the factors that may contribute to drug addiction. Alta Mira shows a few of the deadly effects such as damaged immune system, cardiovascular conditions, liver overexertion or liver failure, seizures and strokes, and brain damage. How then can drug abuse and addiction be prevented? Mayo Clinic suggests the following:

Communicate: Talk to children about the risks of drug use and misuse.

Listen: Be a good listener when children talk about peer pressure, and be supportive of the efforts to resist it.

Set a good example: Children or parents who misuse drugs are at greater risk of drug addiction.

Strengthen the bond: Work on relationships with children. A strong and stable bond with children would reduce the risk of using or misusing drugs.

It is advisable to visit the doctor for therapy once it is noticed that drug use is going out of control to avoid endangering the health. Meanwhile, it is worthy of note that FUNAAB has a virile Guidance and Counseling Unit under the Student Affairs Division, which is managed by qualified counselors, who are always available to provide assistance for the psychological needs of staff and students of the University.