Drug abuse refers to the improper use of drugs, and often results in drug addiction, which is a chronic disorder that compels individuals to use more drugs, in spite of the fact that drugs have harmful effects on their bodies. Drug abuse leads to change in the function and structure of the brain. Doctors have, thus, classified drug addiction as a disease of the brain. The first decision to take a drug is usually voluntary but with time the changes caused by the drug in the brain reduces the person’s control over drug use. The brain begins to send strong impulses to consume more and more drugs. Consider a scenario, where a depressed person wants to relieve the stress by consuming alcohol. Such a person combines the alcohol with a sleeping pill in order to fall asleep quickly. The body fails to absorb the drugs quickly; therefore, relief does not come as fast as the person would wish. To quicken the relief, the person has to drink more alcohol and pop more sleeping pills. Such a person has abused alcohol and sleeping pills, since he is using them for the wrong purposes; neither is overdosing permitted. The person may form the habit of relying on alcohol and sleeping pills, whenever he wants to relieve from stress and may eventually become addicted. He may start suffering from impaired memory, confusion, dizziness and aggression.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines drugs as substances, legal or illegal, which affect the consciousness of a person and sometimes lead to addiction. The definition includes psycho-tropic substances and other drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, and cigarettes among others. Drugs are simply the substances, which alter the chemical processes in our bodies. Most drugs are beneficial and necessary, and are only harmful, when used in the wrong way or for the unintended purposes. Drug abuse mostly refers to abuse of medicinal substances, while substance abuse refers to other chemicals, which are not drugs, such as glue, gasoline, and cleaning fluid among others (Espejo 24). Drug abuse is always perceived as consumption of illicit drugs and abuse of prescribed drugs. Common medicines, such as aspirin, are often abused; it may lead to the fatal consequences. Most people combine aspirin with alcohol to make the drink stronger.
Drugs may be legal or illegal, and may be used for medical or legitimate reasons (Karch 12). The main purpose of abusing drugs is to alter the mood of the drug consumer. It involves deliberate use of a drug for psychological or physiological effects on the consumer’s body. Drugs are often abused by injecting, swallowing, sniffing and inhaling. Drugs result in several adverse consequences for the consumers, such as disruption of the person’s social life, social stigma, health risks, and deterioration of the person’s thinking capacity. The main sources of drugs in the world are Latin America, The Middle East, South East Asia, Central Asia and South-West Asia. Hashish, a famous hallucinogen, is found in Afghanistan and Turkey; while heroin, poppy and opium thrive in Lebanon. Opium can be converted into heroin, cocaine and morphine (Roleff 38).
Drug abuse can be caused by the various factors. Because many drugs act as hallucinogens, they are often consumed in order to relieve distress and to forget social-economic problems. This is a very dangerous motivating factor, since when there are many social and/or economic problems, many youths resort to drugs creating a ‘drug culture’ in the country. Running to drugs to escape problems is usually a futile endeavor because drugs do not make problems go away. When the drug user returns to sobriety, he or she finds that the problems are still present, and has to consume more drugs in order to confront this reality. The process turns into a hopeless cycle, which turns the drug user into a drug addict.
Drugs are also taken to increases endurance and performance of athletes. The history of sports is full of the famous athletes, who have taken doping in order to win accolades and awards in various international activities. Diego Maradona was banned from participating in the World Cup from 1994, after it was discovered that he had relied on drugs for the better part of his professional life. Most recently, the doping scandal of famed cyclist, Lance Armstrong, has brought the world to a standstill. He engaged in a massive doping scandal since 1998, and all his Tour de France wins have been facilitated by doping.
Failure to adapt to social change or social pressure also contributes to drug abuse. Unemployed and lower-class youth often turn to drugs because of failure to get ahead in life due to the social constraints. They rebel and withdraw from the society through drugs, as the illusion provided by drugs offers them a safe haven (Brick 45). Interaction with drug users is also a major cause of drug use in today’s society. If the peers one interacts with are abusing drugs, then there are high chances that one will also start abusing the drugs to become an accepted member of the group. This problem is particularly rampant among teenagers, who consume drugs to appear cool and to fit into groups. Peer pressure, however, transcends across all age groups, since members of a particular interactional group have certain expectations about leisure activities, music and clothes. If drug usage is an accepted practice in the group, then members will find themselves indulging in the habit (Espejo 14).
The personality theory also serves as an explanation for causes of drug abuse. Behavior often influences the psychological needs of a person. Marijuana is considered as a very effective drug, when an individual wants to escape from reality. People with low self-esteem, severe underlying insecurity, and other unresolved emotional issues are more predisposed to consuming marijuana midst a host of other drugs in order to cope with their inadequate self-esteem. The personality theory also explains that some people may be drawn into drug use if they have ambitious dreams and are hell-bent on achieving them. They will do whatever it takes to make their dreams come true, even if it involves consuming drugs along the way. Other factors include lack of parental guidance for children and young people.
Psychologists have also cited child abuse and dysfunctional families as causes of drug abuse. If the family is disrupted by separation or divorce, children may blame one of the parents or may be badly bruised by custody battles and take drugs as a form of consolation. Children, who grow up in poverty, may stick to drug consumption and drug trafficking to supplement their families’ income or to escape the harsh conditions that poverty comes with. Failed interpersonal relationships also contribute to drug abuse; whereby the rejected partner will be searching for emotional relief. Poor performance at school also brings about drug culture (Karch 32). Students, who consistently fail in their exams, resort to drugs as a means of escapism. Drugs provide temporary escapism from the unwanted emotional responses. Easy accessibility and availability of drugs is also a leading cause of drug use. Law enforcement is poor, and drug traffickers have outsmarted authorities in ensuring that drugs reach their consumers. We also live in a society, where “getting high” is considered “cool”, and curiosity is the major reason that most people try out drugs. There are also those, who use drugs due to the nature of their work or studies, so that they can remain awake at night. Final year students, long distance lorry drivers, and night shift workers are particularly notorious for this habit (Ammerman 56).
Drugs have dire psychological, mental, emotional, and social consequences. Drug abusers are at a great threat to the security of people around them, since most of them are prone to committing crimes. They steal in order to get money to support their habits and are also more likely to be involved into aggressive violence. Drug abusers cannot engage into constructive work, which results in poor social services, low literacy levels, and low production in the economy in general. Drug abusers face various health risks, such as the risk of lunacy due to mental illnesses, and HIV/AIDS due to sharing needles with each other. They are also more likely to cause accidents, when under influence, resulting in chronic injuries and even loss of life. Drug-trafficking results in loss of revenue for governments because the money is usually laundered.
The brains of individual drug abusers are greatly affected by the drug abuse. The majority of drug-addicts in the world are young people aged between 16 and 35. Most of the drugs cause the individual to suffer from distorted judgment, impaired mental coordination, and reduced short term memory (Roleff 43). Drug abusers lose the ability to be creative and the ability to think creatively. They also fail to think critically and objectively. Drugs also impair sexual performance and interfere with the reproductive system. Consumption of alcohol by pregnant mothers within the first three months leads to birth of children with deformities. Children born to mothers, who are drug abusers, have discipline issues due to the neglect of their mothers. Continuous drug abuse may also cause temporary impotence in men. Depression is also a major side-effect of drug abuse, as it causes the user to withdraw completely from life. Feelings of guilt and helplessness torment drug abusers frequently, and they prefer keeping everything to themselves.
Drug abuse has extremely negative consequences for the abuser in particular, and for the whole society in general. Abusers may suffer from permanent insanity, while others may damage important organs, such as liver, lungs and brain. Drug abusers are reduced into zombies or imbeciles, who cannot serve any important role in society. Drug abuse affects both the personality and cognition ability of the user. Drug abuse is not a problem of the drug users only; it’s a problem for the whole society. All members of the society need to come together and address the root causes of drug abuse, so that the problem can be solved. We all need to work together to eliminate the problem.