The Effects of Drug Abuse

10 October 2016

Many people do not understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. It can be wrongfully assumed that drug abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions. In fact, because drugs change the brain in ways that foster compulsive drug abuse, quitting is difficult, even for those who are ready to do so.

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Through scientific advances, we know more about how drugs work in the brain than ever, and we also know that drug addiction can be successfully treated to help people stop abusing drugs and lead productive lives. Today, thanks to science, our views and responses to drug abuse has changed dramatically. “Groundbreaking discoveries about the brain have revolutionized our understanding of drug addiction, enabling us to respond effectively to the problem,” (Volkow).

Addiction is a developmental disease that begins in infancy and adolescence and is influenced by a combination of factors involving genes, environment, and an individual’s age at first drug use. The genes that people are born with in combination environmental influences of their addiction defenselessness. To addition that, gender, ethnicity, and the mental disorders may influence risk for drug abuse and addiction. “Scientists estimate that genetic factors account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person’s vulnerability to addiction, including the effects of environment on gene expression and function.

Adolescents and individuals with mental disorders are at greater risk of drug abuse and addiction than the general population”, (Volkow). Few weakness genes have been found for alcohol dependence and nicotine addiction. Alcoholism is a genetically inherited disease. There are several evidences proving that “Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine conducted a genome-wide association study in 2006 and identified several novel genes involved in nicotine dependence.

In 2004, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found a protein, called Arc, which may be a culprit in drug addiction. The protein helps the brain retain memories for longer than an hour or two”, (Association of American Medical Colleges). “In 1994, scientists at the Oregon Health & Science University were the first to clone the mammalian gene for the D2 dopamine receptor. Dopamine is a brain neurotransmitter that is thought to be essential to the brain’s response to drugs like opiates and psycho stimulants,” (Association of American Medical Colleges). Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers reported in 2006 that men’s brains show evidence of up to three times the amount of the brain chemical dopamine as women’s brains when exposed to amphetamines. This is the first clinical study that explains why more men than women abuse amphetamines and could lead to tailored treatments for drug abuse and neurological diseases”, (Association of American Medical Colleges).

On the other hand, many people believe that “Addiction is a choice”, meaning anyone can stop or moderate their use of addictive drugs anytime they want to by just going to Meditation, Yoga, Exercise, Acupuncture and Counseling. However, drug addiction is a certain disease because one of the main reasons is called dopamine. “Addictive drugs trigger the release of the brain chemical dopamine, which in turn creates a reward circuit in the brain. This circuit registers that intense experience as “important” and creates lasting memories of it as a pleasurable experience.

Dopamine changes the brain on a cellular level, commanding the brain to “do it again,” which heightens the possibility of relapse even long after the behavior (or drug) has stopped. Dopamine also helps to explain why intense experiences can be just as addictive as drugs,” (Smithstein). A person’s environment includes many different influences, from family and friends to quality of life in general. Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, stress, and quality of parenting can greatly influence the occurrence of drug abuse and the growth to addiction in a person’s life.

Many people today do not understand why some become addicted to drugs or how drugs change the brain to foster obsessive drug abuse. Parents who abuse drugs or engage in criminal behavior can increase children’s risks of developing their own drug problems. Use of substances by parents and their children is strongly correlated; generally, if parents take drugs, sooner or later their children will also. Teenagers who use drugs are more likely to have one or more parents who also use drugs. Children who depend on illicit drugs usually have poor social skills or academic failures. In 2004, researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA used structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computational brain mapping to reveal structural abnormalities in the brains of chronic methamphetamine users”, (Association of American Medical Colleges). “A 2005 study at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine showed that functional MRI might be used to predict relapse in substance-dependent individuals. A simple two-choice test correctly predicted 20 of 22 subjects who did not relapse and 17 of 18 subjects who did”, (Association of American Medical Colleges). In one study, 41% of addicted parents reported that at least one of their children repeated a grade in school, 19% were involved in truancy, and 30% had been suspended from school”, (National Association for Children of Alcoholics). People, who believe that drug addiction is not a disease, claim that have nothing do with the environment. But the scientist says that a people were influenced by a combination factors including genes and environment increased drug abuse. “In 1995, nearly 3. 1 million children were reported to child protective services as abused or neglected. Approximately one million of these reports were substantiated.

Substance abuse was found to be a factor in a majority of these cases”, (sparkaction. org). Behavioral treatments help engage people, modifying their attitudes and behaviors related to drug abuse and increasing their life skills to handle complicated, stressful life circumstances and environmental cues that may trigger intense cravings for drugs. Additionally it can enhance the effectiveness of medications and help people remain in treatment in the longer term. The combination of genetic and environmental, factors with serious developmental stages in a person’s life to affect addiction vulnerability.

Even though taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier that drug use begins, the more likely it will progress to more serious abuse, which teenagers will suffer more. Because their brains are still developing in the areas that choice, and self-control, young people may be especially prone to risk-taking behaviors, including trying drugs of abuse. Babies may be born premature and underweight were exposed to legal and illegal drugs in the womb. This drug exposure will damage and slow the child’s intellection and behavior later in life. Adolescents who abuse drugs often, do poorly academically, and drop out of school.

They are at risk of unplanned pregnancies, violence, and infectious diseases. Adults have problems thinking clearly, remembering, and paying attention because the drugs damaging their brain cells. They often develop poor social behaviors as a result of their drug abuse, and their work performance and personal relationships suffer. Parents’ drug abuse often means chaotic, stress-filled homes and child abuse and neglect. “Such conditions harm the development of children in the home and may set the stage for drug abuse in the next generation. It is a proven fact that substance abuse is the leading cause for people to commit crimes.

Drugs and alcohol can mess with a person’s mind and cause them to do stupid things, as in robberies, murders, become violent, etc. Drugs such as alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, narcotics and non-narcotics (prescription pills), opium, ecstasy, and mushrooms can all lead to psychological effects on a person’s mind. “Amphetamines and cocaine increase wakefulness, alertness and vigilance, improve concentration, and produce a feeling of clear thinking (Barton R&M, 2008). There is generally an elevation of mood, mild euphoria, increases sociability, and a belief that one can do just about anything. Depending on the drugs that are being used and the way they are being used, depends on how long the effects from it will last. Some can last from a few minutes to a few hours. Usually the prescription pills last for hours and cocaine effects last for only a few minutes. Any drug can lead to problems with a person’s brain; it can make one mentally disabled. It can also lead to regular nose bleeds, loss of smell, swallowing problems and inflammation of nasal septum. This can occur if one abuses drugs by snorting it through their nose.

The abuse of prescription drugs are the second most abused drugs in our Nation, with Marijuana being first and Cocaine being third, heroin fourth, and methamphetamine fifth. This list will give an idea of exactly how serious this type of drug addiction is to our Nation today and how it will impact our future. According to the National Health Institute about 20% of people have used prescription drugs for non-medical issues (National Institutes of Health). When you are prescribed pain medication for an injury you may be told to take one pill every 4 hours but you feel that one is not working so you take two this is prescription drug abuse.

You may not think that it is that big of a deal but studies say that if you abuse it once you are more at risk of abusing prescription drugs again. Although most people who abuse prescription drugs abuse pain killers there are other types that are abused also. Drug addiction is a chronic yet preventable. According to NIDA-funded research, they have shown that prevention programs relating families, schools, communities, and the media are effective in reducing drug abuse. Although many actions and cultural factors affect drug abuse trend, when people recognize drug abuse as harmful, will stop taking drugs.

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