Drug dependence is the same as substance addiction. It refers to the psychological and/or physical desire for drug substances. A person is described as drug dependent when a particular drug or drugs becomes the centre of his or her life. Such a person cannot function normally without taking the drugs (Colligan, 2010).
In most cases, dependency on drugs is linked with the user close ties with other drug abusers. However, behavioral and health changes also contribute reasonably to this dependence. Efforts by an addict to quit substance abuse proves to be an uphill task and such a person will exhibit signs of withdrawal. Therefore, the treatment of such cases should be done gradually under close medical supervision (Bloor, et al, 2008).
Drugs are designed to serve as medication of a particular ailment or disorder. This could be either psychological or physical. However, when the drug is repeatedly taken beyond the prescribed dosage, it often triggers a system of drug addiction and tolerance. Tolerance refers to the body’s desire to regularly and increasingly take doses of a drug in order to attain the same effect.
Therefore, it is worth understanding that taking drugs basing on doctor’s prescription for a short span and for a particular reason is not addiction. Drug usage only becomes an addiction when the user goes beyond the medical prescription such that he or she cannot cope without the substance (Rapaka and Sadée, 2008).
The biggest challenge facing an addict is stopping the use of drugs. Any attempts to quit or reduce the daily doses results to withdrawal. Particular withdrawal signs vary according to the drug type, but anxiety, muscle pain, vomiting and nausea are the most common signs exhibited by such drug dependent people. Other symptoms of drug withdrawal include hallucinations and confusion (Putul, 2010).
As already stated above, there are a number of risk factors that contribute immensely to drug dependence. Some of them include depression, schizophrenia, and ease access to drugs, low self esteem, economic and emotional breakdown, or cultural beliefs that permit the use of certain drugs.
There is a variety of drugs that are commonly abused. Opiates and narcotics serve as pain killers and bring a feeling of euphoria as well as sedation. Examples of such drugs include opium and heroin. Another example includes the drugs that are taken to stimulate the central nervous system. A common example is cocaine. Such drugs are stimulants and the addict desire for larger doses increases as he or she uses the drug.
This behavior is referred to as tolerance (World Health Organization, 2009). Thirdly are the drugs that are used to depress the central nervous system. The best widely abused depressant is alcohol. These drugs are sedative in nature and minimize anxiety, hence may lead to addiction.
Moreover, Hallucinogens that include phencyclidine are drugs that make people hallucinate, and therefore, lead to psychological dependence. Last but not least is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and represents the active component found in Cannabis sativa.
In conclusion, drugs dependence has become a common phenomenon in the recent years. Majority of the addicts are introduced into the dependence by their peers. However, there are a significant proportion of the addicts who become addicted out of medical conditions. In both scenarios, it is necessary for proper education to be conducted to children especially in their early stages of life. This will enable them realize the devastating effects of drug abuse before using them.
Bloor, M. et al. (2008). Severity of drug dependence does not predict changes in drug users’ behavior over time. Critical Public Health, Vol. 18 Issue 3, p381-389, 9p.
Colligan, L. H. (2010). Drug Dependence; Health Alert. New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish.
Putul, M. (2010). Medico Legal Aspect of Drug Abuse and Dependence. Journal of Punjab Academy of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology, Vol. 10 Issue 1, p37-41, 5p.
Rapaka, R.S. and Sadée, W. (2008). Drug Addiction: From Basic Research to Therapy. London: Springer.
World Health Organization. (2009). Neuroscience of Psychoactive Substance Use and Dependence. New York, NY: World Health Organization.