Drug Abuse

Drug abuse is the chronic or habitual use of a drug for a non-medical purpose, with the objective of altering states of body and mind for the user. The use of illegally produced drugs and the abuse of legal drugs are both included here. For example, not only illegal drugs such as cannabis, heroin, cocaine or ecstasy, but also legal drugs like tranquilizers, painkillers and sleeping pills can be abused. Some even abuse cough syrups and herbal medicines.

Drug abuse may cause death or injury by overdose, accident or aggression, and can damage the brain, liver and mental health. It also causes harm to self, family and friends, and is fraught with serious legal consequences like imprisonment and hefty fines.

Drug abuse by young people is very common, which can lead to disastrous consequences in the future. A large proportion of deaths in people between 15 and 24 are reportedly caused by drug or alcohol abuse. Such abuse also leads to violent criminal acts, such as assault, murder or rape. Some young people also take to drugs to overcome depression and anxiety.

If a young member of your family suddenly starts performing badly in school, makes a new group of friends, behaves in a delinquent manner or tries to keep aloof from other family members, you have some reasons to be suspicious. Physical signs like red eyes, nagging cough, and changes in eating and sleeping habits should also serve as warning signals.

In most cases, a specialist is needed for treatment of drug abuse. The choice of treatment will depend on the specific needs of the individual concerned, and the drug that is being abused. Treatments include psychological therapies, and medication to help the patient with withdrawal symptoms. The areas that deserve special attention during treatment include detoxification, relapse prevention and long-term rehabilitation.

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Drug Abuse Treatments

As treatment of drug abuse should suit the specific needs of the individual concerned, there is no one treatment that can be used in all cases. The choice of treatment also depends on which drug is being abused. Psychological therapies, such as behavior therapy, and medication to help the individual with withdrawal symptoms are components of the treatment program. The areas that may deserve special attention during treatment include detoxification, i.e., the process of stopping the drug while coping with physical addiction, relapse prevention and long-term rehabilitation.

Behavior therapies generally include counseling, psychotherapy, support groups, or family therapy. Medications assist in suppressing the withdrawal symptoms and drug craving, and in blocking the effects of drugs.

Moreover, studies reveal that treatment for heroin addiction using methadone at an adequate dosage level combined with behavior therapy successfully reduces death rates and many health problems arising out of heroin abuse. Acupuncture has been found to be effective in treating the cravings that accompany cocaine withdrawal. The procedure is now being applied on pregnant drug abusers to improve the health of their babies.

Nonresidential programs serve the largest number of drug abusers. Among residential facilities are hospitals, group homes, halfway houses, and therapeutic communities, such as Phoenix House and Daytop Village, where most of the daily activities are treatment-related. Programs like Al-Anon, CoAnon, and Alateen, 12-step programs for family and friends of drug abusers, help them to break out of codependent cycles.

For every person undergoing drug treatment there are an estimated three or four people in dire need of it. There are many who try to get treatment, especially from public facilities, but are put off by waits of over a month to get in. Assessment of the effectiveness of treatment is difficult because of the chronic nature of drug abuse and alcoholism. And more so because the disease is generally made more complicated by personal, social, and legal factors.

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