Drug abuse, or excessive usage of drugs, has become a serious health concern throughout the world today. These substances of abuse are broadly categorized into two groups: (i) psychoactive drugs, which act upon the central nervous system and cause temporary changes in consciousness and behavior, and (ii) performance-enhancing drugs, which are used by individuals to enhance their performance.
Effects of Drug Abuse
The most prominent problem noticed in drug addicts is their dependence on the substance itself. This dependence can range from physical craving to a psychological need. In the case of physical dependence, decreasing the intake or abstaining from the banned substance involuntarily triggers sickness, whereas in the case of psychological need, the person continuously depends on the substance to get the feeling of well-being.
Drug abuse can lead to irregular breathing as well as increase in heart rate and blood pressure. The individual may also experience sudden weight gain or weight loss. A person addicted to drugs gives it top priority in his life irrespective of what the surroundings demand. With increasing capacity, the dose needed to have the desired effect also increases. Drug abuse can also lead to diseases which are communicated through non-sterile needles; HIV AIDS being one of them.
How Can Drug Abuse be Prevented?
Individuals, especially people in their teens, take to drug abuse mainly because of some psychological disturbance. Disturbed childhood, negligent family, pressure to perform, broken homes, etc., are observed to be some common excuses stated by people who take to substance abuse at an early age. Easy availability of banned substances and substantial amount of pocket money also makes their journey on this wrong path easier. Initially done for fun, the abuse eventually becomes an absolute necessity.
Drug abuse prevention, also known as substance abuse prevention, is a process which attempts to prevent the initiation of drug abuse and curb the problems associated with it. These preventive efforts specially focus on children between the age of 11 and 20, who are at the most risk to take to this habit. Environmental prevention of drug abuse refers to making the surroundings free of banned substances and curbing its availability in the society.
Some commonly used addictive substances include alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, and steroids. Club drugs, like 'ecstasy', have become popular among youngsters these days. The recent addition to substance abuse is the use of solvents, or glue sniffing, which is mostly observed among children. Some medical drugs which are only obtained through prescription are also used as recreational drugs. Though treatment options for drug abuse are available today, it is better to prevent it in the first place.
It is noticed that adolescents who are either idle or bored are more at risk of taking to drug abuse than those who keep themselves engrossed and busy in life. Hence, the most effective way of preventing drug abuse in teenagers is to keep them interested and involved in other activities. A report on Substance Abuse Prevention by the US Center stated that 'alternative programming appears to be most effective among those youth at greatest risk for substance abuse and related problems'.
Youth need to be made aware of the various ill-effects of substance abuse. The education, based on facts, should be imparted either by trained professionals or by parents. Very often, it is noticed that there are more chances of an individual taking to drug abuse when people around him indulge in it. What starts off as fun, turns into a necessity as the individual is engulfed in the web of narcotics.
Establishing drug-free zones can help to keep the society free of substance abuse. A drug-free zone is a particular area in which the menace of drug trafficking has been totally curbed. Areas wherein children gather, like schools or parks, should be compulsorily made drug-free zones. Self-help groups can also work to make their locality a drug-free zone by spreading awareness and following simple steps.
There is no questioning the fact that drug abuse is one of the major problems in the society today. Millions of lives have already been lost and several more are threatened. If we are to curb the menace, we need to form stringent laws and ensure that they are properly implemented.