Drugs and Effects. Understanding Drug Dependency
What is a drug and how does it affect us?
A substance (legal or illegal) taken into the body that affects the central nervous system by acting on the brain and spinal cord. Alters the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. Affects the normal functioning of the body and/or
brain. Potential to prevent or cure disease or enhance physical or mental welfare.
Types of Drug Users
In 2016, around 275 million people used illicit drugs (range: 204 to 346 million) worldwide. The majority do not have drug problems or dependency; an estimated 31 million do have problematic use. Take a legal drug (alcohol/tobacco) or illegal (cannabis) without experiencing any negative consequences. Can be used at social event, party, marriage, for recreation, experimentation, cultural or religious practice. The majority of people do not have a problem. However, some people may be susceptible, leading to misuse that becomes problematic over time.
People use illegal drugs or legal drugs inappropriately. Can also include use of prescription drugs in ways other
than prescribed or using someone else’s prescription. Repeated use of drugs to produce pleasure, alleviate
stress, and/or alter or avoid reality. Misuse can cause or lead to physical, social, economic or legal harms.
Drug Dependence Syndrome
Cluster of physiological, behavioural, and thinking (cognitive) experiences. The use of a substance takes on a much higher priority for a given individual than other behaviours that once had greater value. Desire (often strong, sometimes overpowering) to take the illegal psychoactive drugs (for example, cocaine), legal medicines (which may or may not have been medically prescribed), or alcohol/tobacco.
Cannot control the impulse to use drugs despite negative consequences Physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical for judgment, decision making, learning, memory, and behaviour control. Possible return to substance use after a period of abstinence leads to a more rapid reappearance of dependence syndrome.
Common Myths About Drug Dependency
- Those dependent on drugs can end-use whenever they wish
- Drug dependency is a moral failure
- All people that use drugs are drug dependent
- Those dependent on drugs are easy to identify
- You cannot be dependent on prescribed medication
- If you can go to work, you are not really drug dependent
- Only “hard” drugs are dangerous.
By Olusesan Samuel-Kayode
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