Drug dependence is a psychological and sometimes physical need to use a drug in order to experience psychological or physical effects. Psychological addiction is more difficult to treat than the physical one and often continues after the physical addiction has been dealt with. Each day there are a lot of new drug addicts, but also there are a lot of those who die because of using this evil, white pleasure. Drug addiction has several forms in expressing dependency. Also, there are a lot of different types of drugs that affect the user in many physical and psychological ways. The reasons for taking drugs are different and individual. They depend on everything that surrounds us. There are as many reasons for drug abuse as there are people with different problems. Some of these people see their only way out of the problems, depression, anxiety, or stress in using drugs.
Even though in many countries as Holland, Cuba, and others, “soft” drugs are legalized, this doesn’t mean that people over there are not drug-dependants. Also, legalization doesn’t make the effects of the drugs smaller. Drug dependence takes several forms: tolerance, habituation, and addiction. Tolerance, a form of physical dependence, occurs when the body becomes accustomed to a drug and requires increasing amounts of it to achieve the same effects. This condition gets worse when certain drugs are used in high doses for long periods. When the use of the drug is stopped and starts a period of drug withdrawal, the results are headaches, restlessness, sweating, and difficulty in sleeping.
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Habituation, a form of psychological dependence, is characterized by the continued desire for a drug, even after physical dependence is gone. A drug often produces feelings of happiness and joy, and a person taking drugs soon believes the drug is needed to function at work or home. Addiction is a desire for the substance and it is involved in a person’s ability to function normally. It may also involve physical dependence.
The drugs that are most abused, except alcohol and tobacco, can be grouped into six classes: opioids, sedative-hypnotics, stimulants, hallucinogens, cannabis, and inhalants.
OPIOIDS. This class includes drugs derived from opium, such as morphine and heroin and synthetic substitutes such as methadone. Opioids produce different effects under different circumstances. The drug user’s past experience and expectations have some influence, as does the way of using the drug (by injection, ingestion, or inhalation). Symptoms of withdrawal from opioids include kicking movements in the legs, anxiety, insomnia, sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Heroin is a highly addictive narcotic derived from the opium poppy, which is also the source of opium, morphine, and codeine. Heroin is usually injected but more often is smoked or sniffed. It provokes a carefree euphoria. It is extremely addictive.
SEDATIVE-HYPNOTICS. The drugs most commonly abused in this class are barbiturates, used in order to relieve anxiety and induce sleep. Barbiturates produce severe physical dependence, which looks like the dependence and effects produced by alcohol. Symptoms of withdrawal are similar to those from opioids: shaking, insomnia, anxiety, and sometimes delirium. Death can occur when the use of barbiturates is suddenly stopped. Low doses have a mild sedative effect, higher doses have a hypnotic effect, and very large doses can result in coma and death. Other sedative-hypnotics include benzodiazepines, which are marketed under such trade names as Valium and Librium. These are the so-called minor tranquilizers used in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and epilepsy.
STIMULANTS. Commonly abused stimulants are cocaine and drugs of the amphetamine family. Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the South American coca bush. It is used medically to produce anesthesia for surgery of the nose and throat and to reduce bleeding during surgery. It is a stimulant that usually comes in the form of a white, crystalline powder. It is inhaled through the nose, injected with a needle, or smoked. It is currently among the most popular, most available, and most dangerous of illegal drugs. When sniffed, it is quickly absorbed through the mucous membranes in the nose, giving the user a rush in a matter of moments. Within 20 or 30 minutes, the effect starts to disappear, leaving the user depressed. The best “solution” is to feel the euphoria by using more cocaine. Cocaine can permanently damage the heart muscle and can cause heart attacks.
Once in the body, cocaine causes a fast, possibly irregular heartbeat and increased blood pressure. A highly addictive, smokable form of cocaine called “crack” appeared in the 1980s. Amphetamines, introduced in the 1930s are the treatment of colds and fever and were later found to affect the nervous system. Today, they are used only for the treatment of narcolepsy – sudden sleep attacks during the day, and hyperactivity in children, for whom amphetamines produce a calming effect. For adults, however, amphetamines rightfully earn the street name “speed.”
These drugs increase good mood and decrease the need for sleep, but they often make users irritable and talkative. Both cocaine and amphetamines, after long daily use, can produce a psychosis similar to schizophrenia. The abstinence from amphetamines produces depression so unpleasant that the user is forced to keep taking the drug until he or she collapses. “Speed” can make you feel exhilarated and talkative, but, of course, there is a price to pay. You may soon be unable to function. Going out off speed can leave you depressed, anxious, and nervous. And those are the mild symptoms. It can affect your heart, causing arrhythmias, and an overdose can result in circulatory collapse, coma, and death.
HALLUCINOGENS. These drugs are not used medically, except occasionally in the treatment of dying patients, the mentally ill, drug abusers, and alcoholics. Among the hallucinogens widely abused during the 1960s were lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, and mescaline, which is derived from the peyote cactus. Although these drugs cause addiction very easily, no withdrawal syndrome is apparent when they are discontinued. LSD characterizes the class of powerful psychedelic drugs. Very small doses can send an individual on a “trip” that may last 8 to 12 or more hours. The LSD user can expect intense hallucinations and other psychological responses Hallucinations can include time and space distortion, swirling colors, and distorted shape patterns. Serious psychological difficulties induced by a bad trip can persist for weeks. Sometimes the effects of a drug may be felt after its use has been discontinued and they are called flashbacks.
There are other hallucinogens such as mescaline and psilocybin, which have effects similar to those of LSD but are not usually so powerful. Mescaline has been used for centuries by Indians in their religious ceremonies. Most “mescaline” sold on the street is not mescaline. Over 95 percent of the street drug samples contain no mescaline but were LSD, PCP, or a combination of both. “Angel dust” is the common name for the psychedelic drug PCP (phencyclidine), a central nervous system depressant. It is also called jet fuel, terms, super-weed, and many other street names. It can be smoked, snorted, injected, or even put in eye drops. It can be packaged as a powder, tablet, or rock crystal. Low doses can induce disorganized thought processes, hallucinations, amnesia, and schizophrenic reactions. Higher doses can induce heart arrhythmias, convulsions, coma, and death.
PCP is sometimes used to adulterate marijuana to give it an extra kick. The users of PCP often suffer burnout when they use the drug on a regular basis. Usually, paranoia and other psychoses subside in several weeks of abstinence. It has no medical purpose for humans but is occasionally used by veterinarians as an anesthetic and sedative for animals. Its effects differ from those of other hallucinogens. LSD, for example, produces detachment and euphoria, intensifies vision, and often leads to a crossing of senses (colors are heard, sounds are seen). PCP, by contrast, produces a sense of detachment and a reduction insensitivity to pain and may produce symptoms like those of acute schizophrenia that professionals confuse the two states. The symptoms usually are bizarre thinking, occasionally marked by violently destructive behavior.
CANNABIS. The plant Cannabis sativa is the source of both marijuana and hashish. Both drugs are usually smoked. Their effects are similar: a state of relaxation, increased heart rate, perceived slowing of time, and a sense of heigh hearing, taste, touch, and smell. Marijuana and hashish do not produce psychological dependence except when taken in large daily doses. These drugs can be dangerous, especially when they’re smoked before driving. Even though the chronic effects have not been clearly determined, marijuana probably affects the lungs in much the same way as tobacco.
INHALANTS. This class includes substances such as glue, gasoline, and aerosols like nasal sprays. Most such substances sniffed for their psychological effects depress the central nervous system. The effects are immediate and can last 45 minutes. They can spoil vision, judgment, and muscle and reflex control. Permanent damage can result from prolonged use, and death can result from sniffing highly concentrated aerosol sprays. Although physical dependence does not seem to occur, tolerance to some inhalants develops. Talking about drug abuse and dependency, we may also mention the term ‘addict’. This the term that we use to refer to the people who use and are addicted to drugs. They can be of different ages, although teenagers are the most wide-spread users. No matter who they are, it’s certain that they all need help and well treatment. Some of them may ask for help themselves, but others might refuse any type of advice about treatment.
Every drug can be lethal, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it can kill the addict only by using it. For example, many car accidents happen because of drug-using. Also by injecting the drug, the users may suffer a lot of fatal diseases such as AIDS. More and more drug addicts die of overdoses. Addicts are a problem to themselves; to their lives, as well as to the whole society. For drug supplies, they are ready to do anything including robberies, theft, and even murders. These are the reasons why these people should be taken care of. There are numerous ways of treatments, but the most effective one is hospitalizing. However, the addict’s will to heal himself is the most important. If the addict wants and is prepared to overtake the difficulties during the treatment, he will succeed in achieving that. But, what is the most important in the stage of healing is the support of those around the drug-addict. Without it they can not solve their serious problem.