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In the modern world of today, the word ‘drugs’ is synonymous with clandestine abuse of substances. Such abuse entails constant and excessive usage of drugs to create feelings of happiness and blot out reality despite its well-known harmful effects. The substances misused are mostly unlawful substances , or in several cases even legal substances . Drug abuse turns into drug addiction when the drug ceases to exist as a choice and turns into an essential need (Cutter, Jaffe-Gill, Segal & Segal). Drug addiction is defined as the recurring inability to avoid drug use despite prior decisions to do so (Qureshi, Al-Ghamdy & Al-Habeeb). It has developed into a major problem that is currently plaguing almost every nation in the world irrespective of whether they are developed, under-developed or undeveloped or whether their people are prosperous or poor.
Several causes have been identified that lead to drug abuse. The first cause is to seek relief from mental illnesses. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reported that nearly 50% of drug addicts are burdened with mental illnesses like depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (Cutter et al.). The second cause is to look for thrills. Users are curious to try out a drug and judge for themselves if the reportedly ‘high’ feeling is indeed experienced (Cutter et al.). A study conducted in 1987 revealed that thrill-seeking behavior could be hereditary (Qureshi et al.). The third cause is peer emulation. Users who are weak-minded or peer adulating, tend to imitate others and use the drug not because they really want to, but in order to appear ‘cool’ and ‘one of the group.’ This is a powerful cause in case of school and college students. In addition, young men easily become victims to peer emulation because it is the male tendency to value autonomy (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 56). The last cause is to escape from emotional suffering brought about natural calamities , as well as personal difficulties in life such as bad grades, failed relationships, stress, isolation and disesteem. Although the drug user knows that the drug cannot and will not deal with the personal difficulty effectively, still the temporary relief obtained from its usage can be so alluring that the harmful effects of the drug seem insignificant (Cutter et al.). Such relief occurs when the psychoactive drug acts directly on those parts of the brain that exercise control over emotions and actions, generating positive feelings in the addict (Qureshi et al.).
Drug addiction has several harmful effects on the addicts, their friends and family. The first is danger to physical health. Drug addiction involves long-term molecular and cellular modification. Drug addicts are in real danger of damaging physical organs like the heart, liver and lungs. Drug addiction is fast emerging internationally as a formidable conduit for the expansion of deadly infectious diseases like AIDS, hepatitis and tuberculosis (Qureshi et al.). The second effect is a serious dent in the finances of the drug addicts and their family members. It is natural and necessary for the family to generate savings to develop a reasonable standard of living. The money family members earn is regarded as ‘family income’ (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 15). The drug addict splurges their hard earned savings on his or her drug addiction, thereby contributing to financial instability in the family. There are also high possibilities of addicts’ jobs or school enrolment being put into grave jeopardy, which is another worrying finance-related factor. The third effect is alienation of family members. A family relationship is characterized by love and loyalty (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 4). Instead of giving love and affection to other family members, the drug addict’s erratic behavior tends to break the close bond that exists in the family. Drug addicts are unable to relax or have fun without imbibing drugs. They alternate between mood swings, angry tirades, incoherent speech, irritation, hysterical behavior and general change of attitude. This is accompanied by widespread neglect of responsibilities towards the family (Cutter et al.). The fourth effect is endangering of reputation in the eyes of society. A family is an institution that is imbedded in society (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 23). Drug addicts frequently resort to money borrowing, selling of household articles and stealing money from others. These crimes, in addition to the crime of possessing and using drugs, could well result in arrest and incarceration, thereby bringing disgrace to the addicts and their spouses.
In conclusion, there is no doubt that drug addiction has nothing but bad effects on the addicts and those near and dear to them. The only way to alleviate the problem is for the addict to obtain treatment as quickly as possible. Psychological intervention has now become more accessible to people in the U.S as compared to the pre-War days (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 101). Addicts should realize that it is not only them that need help but their family members too are hurting and need help (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 20). It would greatly help if the addicts’ family members take an active interest, encourage and participate in the treatment process as such a response will not only act as a self-confidence booster for the addicts, but will also make them realize the reliability and value of their loved ones. It would greatly help if the spouses can rope in the support of a network of friends, extended family, clergy, neighbors and employers to contribute to the recovery of the addicts (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 11).
Cutter D., Jaffe-Gill E., Segal R. & Segal J. “Drug Abuse and Addiction: Understanding the Signs, Symptoms and Effects.” 2008. Web.
Goldenberg H. & Goldenberg I. “Family Therapy: An Overview.” USA: Brooks Cole. 2007.
Qureshi N.A., Al-Ghamdy Y.S. & Al-Habeeb T.A. (2000). “Drug Addiction: A General View of New Concepts & Future Challenges.” Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal. 2008. Web.