Oryx Press (1993) states that harm reduction is the number of policies designed by the public to cater for the healthy needs of its citizens. The main aim of these policies is to reduce harmful health effects arising from drug use and abuse.
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The principle of harm reduction is very important because not even a single country or society has managed to eradicate drug use even though attempts have always been made.
The principle recognizes the importance of helping drug addicts out of the activity but also sees the importance of protecting their rights to health matters if the country is to realize economic development. In order to attain its goals, several services are involved in harm reduction principle. They include needle exchange, methadone maintenance and safe injection room.
The practice of exchanging old used needles for new ones is referred to as needle exchange. The use of one needle for every individual helps in reducing transmission of diseases like HIV, Hepatitis C and other diseases transmitted through contact with infected blood among drug users.
Drug users are at high risk of engaging in risky health activities like sexual activities with multiple parties due to the influence of drugs. The best way to prevent the spread of such diseases from one drug user to another is using needle for each drug user. The assumption that people consuming the same drug should be injected with the same needle should be discouraged.
In addition to sharing the same drug, an individual may have such deadly diseases. Health costs associated with drug consumption are minimized through harm reduction practices. High mortality rate that leaves children without parents is minimized. The principle leads to an increase in population of a society by reducing death rates (Oryx Press, 1993).
According to Inciardi and Harrison, (1999), methadone is a drug that was initially used to help- out heroin addicts. The drug contains nicotine components. Proper use of the drug helps to relieve pain. However, misuse of the drug has had negative effects on the health of its users.
Failure to use it as per the doctor’s prescriptions has negative health effects. For instance, in Florida, deaths resulting from the misuse of the drug increased rapidly between 2000 and 2002. The main component of alcohol is ethanol. In many countries, production, sale and consumption of alcohol is allowed by the government.
However, there are laws governing the age at which an individual is allowed to take alcohol. In most countries, the minimum age is 18 years. Like alcohol, tobacco consumption is also allowed in many countries. Tobacco is consumed mainly through smoking cigarettes. In some countries like Cuba, tobacco is a major cash crop earning the country a lot of income.
The form of cocaine that can be smoked is known as crack cocaine. This type of cocaine is the most addictive. Its use affects the normal functioning of the brain by causing euphoria. The drug can be injected directly into the blood stream of the user. Other effects include increased pulse rate and high blood pressure.
Its use among expectant mothers may lead to miscarriages. Heroin derived from morphine is a highly addictive drug. Effects of the drug affect the system of the brain so that it can no longer perceive pain. Theretofore, sociologically, the order of the above drugs according to their dangerousness is as follows.
The most dangerous is heroin, followed by crack cocaine, methadone, tobacco and finally alcohol. Most societies do not view tobacco and alcohol use as dangerous. However, these drugs also have negative effects. They are associated with lung and liver diseases, which cause death to large numbers of drug users.
A high cost is incurred during treatment of the diseases and the funds that could have been used to serve useful purposes are used to purchase the drugs. If legalized, tobacco and alcohol will be among most dangerous drugs. People should therefore be discouraged from drug abuse (Inciardi & Harrison, 1999).
Oryx Press. (1993). Drug, alcohol, and other addictions: a directory of treatment centers and prevention programs nationwide. London: Oryx Press.
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Inciardi, A. & Harrison, D. (1999). Harm reduction: national and international perspectives. New York: Sage.