Term Paper on Drug Abuse

This essay has a total of 1816 words and 9 pages.

Drug Abuse

Drugs Abuse occurs when a drug is taken for unintended purposes and can lead to addiction.
Addiction occurs when a person must use the drug to feel and function normally. Addiction
occurs in two types, physical and psychological. Physical addiction is caused the brain,
the brain produces fewer chemicals or neurotransmitters to make up for the extra chemicals
therefore the brain needs the chemicals from the drug to reach the correct balance and
individual becomes out of touch with reality. Psychological addiction is much simpler, the
individual simply likes the way a drug makes him/her feel and must have it, therefore
becoming addicted. (Lawrence, F. 1996)

Addiction has six steps. The first step is occasional use; a person takes his/her first
drink or uses other drugs for the first time, and likes the way it feels and the way it
reduces stress, the individual then starts using the drug in social settings.

Step two is occasional trouble with drugs; a person shows mood swings or personality
changes, they may experience blackouts, where they do not remember what was said or done.

Step three is regular use of the drug; tolerance therefore increases and use of the drug
can not be controlled and the individual denies having a drug problem.

Step four is multiple drug use; drugs may be combined or switched for a new and stronger
effect, the individual may then become a cross-addict or hooked on more than one drug.

Step five is increasing dependency; the individual needs the drug to function and the drug
no longer has the same effect. If the individual does not have the drug they will start
shaking, feel sick, lose interest in school, family, or work.

Step six is total dependency; the individual suffers from a major loss, such as getting
thrown out of school, getting into a car accident, hospitalization, and they feel
emotionally defeated. (Peele, S. 1997)

Individuals that are addicted to drugs are likely to suffer from loss of appetite, loss of
weight, constipation and loss of sex drive. The pupils of the eyes may become tiny, the
size of pinpoints, or extremely large. Drug addicts that use needles such as heroin
addicts suffer from skin damage at the points where the needle is repeatedly inserted to
give the dose or ‘fix’ from a syringe. (Torr, J. 1999)

Individuals addicted to drugs can suffer from withdrawals, which range from mild to
severe. Mild withdrawals occur when the person is late getting the dose or
‘fix’. Mild withdrawals cause yawning, sneezing, runny nose, watering eyes and
sweating. Severe withdrawals follow mild withdrawals and are caused by not receiving the
drug for a long period of time. Severe withdrawals cause diarrhea, vomiting, trembling,
cramps, confusion, and rarely seizures and coma.

When the individual takes the drug all withdraw symptoms are relieved. Withdrawal symptoms
occur because the body becomes adapted to the presence of the drug, which reduces certain
natural chemicals and the chemical deficiency is exposed. (Peele, S. 1997)

Addiction usually starts because a seriously ill or badly injured person is on painkillers
longer than they should be. Sometimes boredom or pressure cause drug abuse. Some
successful, high-powered business or professional people depend on drugs. Fashion may play
a part and when it does drug use is always done for pleasure, ‘kicks’ or
thrills. People who take drugs for these reasons believe drug taking is a technique to
improve the mind.

Young people are often sold cannabis or other ‘soft’ drugs that are mixed or
‘laced’ with ‘hard’ addictive drugs, such as heroin.

Addicts come from all social backgrounds, good and bad. Doctors generally agree users have
personality problems. Many use the drug to relieve tension because they can not handle
life’s troubles.

Drugs can worsen health, cause lack of direction and motivation, and in this state it is
easy to loose one’s job. Without money it is difficult to buy the expensive drugs
and the addict may turn to crime. Drug trafficking is commonly turned to in order to pay
for the doses. (Torr, J. 1999)

Drugs interact with neurotransmitters at different stages of normal process. Drugs can
negatively influence presynaptic neurons by blocking the release of the neurotransmitters;
this affects the PNS (peripheral nervous system) in its effectiveness and sensitivity.
This means some drugs actually block the communication network in the nervous system so
that the impulses to stop or start action are not transmitted.

A drug can act postsynaptically, acting on the receptors. The drug may mimic the normal
neurotransmitter and cause an increase or decrease in the excitability of the postsynapic
neurons. Other drugs can block the action of a neurotransmitter.

Some drugs change the information processing qualities of the nervous system, by
interfering with synthesis, storage, release or activation of neurotransmitters.

By slowing down or blocking certain materials from passing in and out of a cell as they
normally would, some drugs act on all membranes.

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