The misuse of drugs is widely spread between adolescents and young adults specifically in the last years. Some call it addiction and others call it a “gateway” or a “relief” for their problems. The word “narcotics” has been originally associated with the use of illegal drugs in general without specifying it under categories. That is taken from the Greek word “narcosis” that tends to cause feeling of numbness, in which the person using the drugs tends to lose control and feeling of the surrounding.
Nowadays, narcotics are only limited to opioids, drugs that relieve pain and cause feelings of numbness, as defined by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In the coming article, we will be talking about the use of illegal drugs in general, types of drugs, its effect on our body, indications that a person we know is misusing a substance and ways to seek help.
The Perception Around Drugs
A person who is depending on a substance tends to find excuses for his/her usage to the drug. Some use drugs in the first place out of curiosity of trying a new things that might make them feel relaxed, gain confidence or give them the courage to do something they are consciously shy or afraid to do. While, others might try drugs as a mean of escaping from their reality, throw away their responsibilities or they just want to try something adventurous, exciting and risky instead of their boring lives as they perceive it.
Some Egyptians have this stigma that “Hash”, for instance is not addictive. Since, it doesn’t develop a physical dependence on it. In fact, it’s addictive since you desire it even if it is psychologically. Interestingly, that people might experience hallucinations, schizophrenia or paranoia from one time smoking hash. We don’t know the way our brain responds to a new substance we are trying. Not because your friend is smoking hash for years now and doesn’t experience any side effect, that hash wouldn’t affect you or is not addictive!
Before, going into more details about substance abuse, we need to differentiate between taking medications that are prescribed but are classified as “over the counter” and illegal drugs usage. It is normal to take “over the counter” drugs since you are following the dosage prescribed; however, over using these drugs could lead to entirely depending on them. At this give point, it is not considered a healthy treatment; it is “Addiction”.
Addiction is shown when a person is psychologically and physically depending on a substance that they believe it gives them a better feeling and functioning. Relying on it, the person is always seeking to take the drug. Some people develop a physiological dependence, while others develop a psychological one due to the effects of the drug on the person and not depending on the drug itself.
Drinking alcohol is common between young adults to calm themselves and take a break from life stressors. In addition to that, physical addiction could be seen when a person wants to get clean and sober; however, it is difficult to do so because he/she is physically depending on the drug. The drug affects the hormonal and chemical release in the brain that is the reason we see people willing to get help, but soon they relapse because of their physical need for the substance.
Types & Effects of Drugs
Drugs are classified under three categories mainly. There are drugs that you can get “over the counter”, from a health professional or “illegally” from dealers “on street drugs”. Beginning with “Depressants”, that are mainly taken to calm you down and slow the messages send through your brain. These include alcohol, opiates (heroin and morphine), cannabis (hash, strox and voodoo), sedatives and other solvents (glue). Consuming large amount of depressants without a proper prescription from a health professional could lead to experiencing visual and auditory hallucinations, psychosis, nauseous, increased heart rate, disorientation and fetal overdose.
Going further to “Stimulants”; taken as means for speeding up the brain process, make us awake for longer periods and give us more energy. We usually drink coffee if we want to study and concentrate for an exam, which is okay. However, levelling up to other drugs such as nicotine, amphetamines (speed or ice), ecstasy and cocaine might be not the best idea. It might give you the energy you need to finish your study, for instance but would definitely have a side effect on you, including sweating, rapid breathing, severe headache, vomiting, convulsions, psychotic behaviour, chest pain and disorientation as well.
Moreover, there is the drug group of “hallucinogens”, adolescents take it to escape their reality and change the way they perceive their lives for a period of time. They want to experience the “trips” they have heard about or see in movies. The thing is that they don’t know this “trip” would be a good or bad one and whether it would be an intense trip. Your brain would have to figure it out through the way on your trip! Examples of hallucinogens include LSD (acid), ecstasy, magic mushrooms and high doses of cannabis. Taking hallucinogens might make you feel anxious, paranoid and experience psychotic behaviours.
Addiction also affects us financially as addicts are willing to do whatever it takes to get the drug they are craving for. Accordingly, it changes their behaviours (stealing) and their thoughts (values are changed) for reaching their goal (drugs). That in turn affects our relationships with others due to the change in our personality, mood and attitude because of the shortage of the drug in our body. Surprisingly, while using the desired substance the person might return to his normal; mood; only for the period of time he/she is taking the drug. Things get worse after the drug effect vanishes.
Indications that your child, friend or partner is on drugs
Here are some signs whether our beloved ones are taking drugs. You can know it from looking at some of these indicators:
- Sudden weight gain or loss
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Stealing, change in behaviour to becoming more aggressive and delinquent behaviour.
- Impaired functioning: socially.
We have to admit it is not easy to withdraw from a substance but with the help of medical professionals especially in the first stage of detoxification, it is doable. The given is followed by cognitive and behavioural stages of rehabilitation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), whether you choose to be an inpatient or outpatient. It is your responsibility to work in collaboration with the therapist/psychologist/psychiatrist to reach your goal. Addiction treatment programs are effective and supportive during and after the rehabilitation phase, such as the12-step approach for addiction treatment.
Take control of your life
You would get the support you need whenever you decide to start your clean and sober journey. Addiction is a disease like any other, never be ashamed of your wrongdoings in the past. Take the first step in changing your life, even if you have tried before and failed. One day you will succeed in conquering your disease and take the advantage of understating it more every time you try to fight it and it wins. Now, it is time for you to win this battle.
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