Drug and alcohol abuse

“An over-indulgence of anything, even something as pure as water, can intoxicate.” – Criss Jami, Venus in Arms

Drugs often alter the way our mind perceives reality. Substance abuse is generally attributed to improper or excessive use of alcohol, medicine or other substances (legal or illegal). Drugs particularly affect an individual’s ability to perform usual actions by delaying them. Teens commonly take drugs due to peer pressure and eventually get addicted. If left untreated, it can result in a myriad of complex problems which may affect an individual’s life down the road. Some common examples of drug abuse are tobacco (nicotine), marijuana, painkillers, cocaine, heroin, benzodiazepines, stimulants, inhalants and sedatives. A few indications of ongoing substance abuse are:
• Sudden lack of money
• Disturbance in sleeping patterns
• Lack of common sense or understanding
• Secrecy about personal life
• Not talking to friends
• Sudden mood swings
• Lapses in memory
• Change in body weight and facial appearance
• Poor eating habits
• Negligence of personal hygiene

Although the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse vary, there are a few common ones which happen to most people. Among them are increased diabetes-related issues, sexual problems, birth defects, loss of bone density, loss in vision, weaker immune system and a higher than average risk of cancer. Early exposure to drugs or alcohol is generally attributed to poor outcomes in adulthood. However there exist some people whose bodies are much more susceptible to get addicted to drugs or alcohol than others. Often people may fall into bad company, which may induce them into taking drugs. Pre-existing mental health issues also contribute to addiction. Troubles in personal life can be a major cause of a person taking drugs. Excessive drug or alcohol abuse can stem from a toxic or broken relationship and this can turn into abuse in the long run. It is very important to keep a check on such habits during troubled times. Children who have exposed to any of their parents or loved ones being under the influence are far more likely to get addicted than the normal teenager. Things seen during childhood often leave a lasting mark in their brain.

The most widely used drugs in India include alcohol, cannabis, opium and heroin. Buprenorphine, propoxyphene and heroin rank the highest in the list of injected drugs. 62.5 million people in India use alcohol, 8.75 million use cannabis, 2 million use opiates while 0.6 million use sedatives or hypnotics. Around 26% of these people require urgent help. Most drugs are illegal and likely will leave the person with a criminal record. India’s Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act) was passed in 1985 and was underwent amendments in 1989, 2001 and lastly in 2014. The NDPS Act offers strict punishments to people for drug trafficking. In order to aid the NDPS Act, India released the Prevention of Illicit Trafficking act in 1988. This act contains provisions related to preventive detention of anyone who is associated to or performs drug trafficking. Such drugs are only allowed to be used under scientific purposes. Some of India’s drug law enforcement agencies include the Narcotics Control Division, Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN), The Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) as well as other agencies like the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, Customs Commission and the Border Security Force.

“Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have the strength.” – Napoléon Bonaparte

Resources to prevent and diagnose substance abuse exist in order to help people in need. The first priority of such an addicted person should be to talk to a doctor. Other options include going to a rehab facility or participating in local support groups. The Indian Government currently has no national or local system of monitoring drug misuse. The Government could put up banners and posters to spread awareness about drug abuse. Advertisements on television and radio channels could be put up to gain a much higher reach. Schools and colleges may include programmes to educate young minds about the horrors of alcohol and drug usage. The national toll free drug de-addiction helpline is 1800-11-0031.

Reasons as to why addiction occurs are still undergoing research. Among the most commonly proved reasons is the release of a chemical substance in the brain called dopamine. This element is commonly released by the brain during occurrence of pleasure. However, the artificial induction of dopamine release far out shadows the natural release of dopamine in the brain. Thus individuals try to derive pleasure from the drug instead of other natural social activities. People who are addicted may need the drug to feel normal. Their body often feels sick and unwell whenever they cannot take the drug.

Alcohol and drug abuse can be prevented if the Government and today’s youth should work for the betterment of the society. Education should be the primary step which would lead us to such goals. Together we can hope to dream of a better tomorrow.