Do Drugs Control Your Life?
Drugs control the body and mind of individual consumers, the drug crop and drug cartels control farmers, trafficking and crime control communities. Their use harms individuals, families and society at large.
Teenagers and young adults are particularly vulnerable to using illicit drugs. The prevalence of drug use among young people is more than twice as high as that among the general population. At this age, peer pressure to experiment with illicit drugs can be strong and self-esteem is often low. Also, those who take drugs tend to be either misinformed or insufficiently aware of the health risks involved.
Effects of drug abuse on the individual:
People who use drugs experience a wide array of physical effects other than those expected. Some of these are listed below:
- Marijuana and alcohol interfere with motor control and are factors in many automobile accidents.
- Users of marijuana and hallucinogenic drugs may experience flashbacks, unwanted recurrences of the drug's effects weeks or months after use.
- Abrupt abstinence from certain drugs results in withdrawal symptoms. For example, heroin withdrawal symptoms cause vomiting, muscle cramps, convulsions, and delirium.
- With the continued use of a physically addictive drug, tolerance develops; i.e., constantly increasing amounts of the drug are needed to duplicate the initial effect.
- Sharing hypodermic needles used to inject some drugs dramatically increases the risk of contracting AIDS and some types of hepatitis.
- Many drug users engage in criminal activity, such as burglary and prostitution, to raise the money to buy drugs, and some drugs, especially alcohol, are associated with violent behaviour.
- The excitement of a cocaine effect, for instance, is followed by a "crash": a period of anxiety, fatigue, depression, and a strong desire to use more cocaine to alleviate the feelings of the crash.
The user's preoccupation with the substance, plus its effects on mood and performance, can lead to marital problems and poor work performance or dismissal. Drug use can disrupt family life and create destructive patterns of codependency, that is, the spouse or whole family, out of love or fear of consequences, inadvertently enables the user to continue using drugs by covering up, supplying money, or denying there is a problem. Pregnant drug users, because of the drugs themselves or poor self-care in general, bear a much higher rate of low birth-weight babies than the average. Many drugs (e.g., crack and heroin) cross the placental barrier, resulting in addicted babies who go through withdrawal soon after birth, and fetal alcohol syndrome can affect children of mothers who consume alcohol during pregnancy. Pregnant women who acquire the AIDS virus through intravenous drug use pass the virus to their infant.
Effects on the society
Drug abuse affects society in many ways. In the workplace it is costly in terms of lost work time and inefficiency. Drug users are more likely than nonusers to have occupational accidents, endangering themselves and those around them. Drug-related crime can disrupt neighbourhoods due to violence among drug dealers, threats to residents, and the crimes of the addicts themselves. The great majority of homeless people have either a drug or alcohol problem or a mental illness-many have all three.
Adapted from UN office of drugs control
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