Drug Abuse and Addition

The world today has become surrounded by drug abuse as well as drug addiction. This escalating disorder has become so common, that its truth is based on misconceptions that people have concerning drug abuse as well as addiction. This paper briefly provides an overview of drug abuse as well as addiction, and at the same time looks at the aspects of epidemiology, social problems, pathophysiology, as well as ethical issues that might arise with medical emergency responders.

Drug abuse and drug addiction; exactly what does that mean and who is affected by it? There is a confusion between drug addiction and abuse. Drug abuse happens when there is usage of a substance, generally illicit drugs or alcohol, while drug addiction takes place in a broad variety of substances and activities. Addiction can be termed as the compulsive need for usage of substance forming habits, such as alcohol, nicotine and heroin, of which is eventually characterized by obviously physiological signs upon withdrawal as well as tolerance; widely: insistent compulsive use of known substances that are harmful to the user. Drug addiction is usually not a substance forming habit, it also includes things such as gambling, sex, video gaming, and even internet. All the same, the primary focus of society is still to do with drugs, tobacco and alcohol. Several characteristics of pathophysiology and epidemiology will be discussed together with the social implications that addiction causes as well as any ethical problems that lie with addiction and medical emergency service providers.

The addictive behavioral study is relatively new. Science just started to study behavioral addictiveness in the 1930. Prior to this, studies were being carried out by scientist on drug abuse that were plagued by misconception shadows as well as nature addiction. But with present day discoveries as well as information on how brain chemicals work and the methods of alteration, there is now a deeper understanding of alcohol and drug addiction. Drug addiction, according to Dr. Dryden-Edwards also referred to as chemical dependency or substance dependence, is an illness that is described by a destructive drug abuse pattern that leads to major problems which involve tolerance towards or substance withdrawal and other problems arising from substance use that could have implications to the sufferer, either by school performance, socially or in terms of work. More than 2.5% of humanity suffer from drug addiction at some point in their lives. Some of the commonly abused addictive substances are alcohol, anabolic steroids, amphetamines, cannabis, caffeine, ecstasy, cocaine, inhalants, hallucinogens, nicotine, phencyclidine, opiates, sedatives, anti-anxiety drugs, and or hypnotic. Despite the fact that alcohol and drug addiction is viewed as a mental health issue, there is no one particular determinant cause. However, several people believe that drug addiction and abuse is a genetic disease of which is a false fact. A person’s environment is cause for the development of a predisposition dependency drug.

Epidemiology

The socially associated risk factors of drug addiction and drug abuse encompass the male gender, between the age ranges of 18 and 44 years, heritage of Native American persons, low socioeconomic status as well as the marital status of the unmarried. State statistics reveal that residents from the western U.S are more at risk to substance dependency as well as abuse. While males are very prone to alcoholism development, females seem more vulnerable to alcoholism at fairly lower amounts of alcohol consumption, this is because females have a much lower body mass as compared to males. The combined medical, criminal, economical, as well as the social implications costs American taxpayer more than half a trillion dollars annually. Each year drug and alcohol abuses contributes to 100,000 American deaths, with tobacco contributes approximately 440,000 deaths annually. Individuals of all ages suffer the damaging consequences of drug as well as alcohol addiction and abuse. Babies can get affected while within the mother’s womb if the mother is to engage in drug or alcohol use, which as a result causes defects in birth as well as slows down the intellectual development in the later years of the child. As for Adolescents, they usually perform poorly in school and usually drop out while they are abusing drugs. Adolescent girls stand the risk of having unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and violence. In addition, parents and adults are also affected, usually by having their cognitive abilities clouded. With all the vast exposure, the stage has easily been set for the next generation to simply step into the addictive lifestyle.

Pathophysiology

Drug addiction primarily affects the brain, but also affects the flow of a person’s organ systems. Drugs as well as mind changing substances which can be abused usually target the body’s natural system of reward either willingly or unwillingly causing entire euphoric effects for the drug user. These effects arise from the dopamine, which is a regulated neurotransmitter movement, emotion, cognition, motivation and pleasure feelings. The release of Dopamine is naturally rewarded to the body for natural behaviors as well as initiations for the cycle to repeat the behavior all over. The dopamine neurotransmitter fills the reward system that is often concealed in restricted amounts from routine activities such as sex or eating. The brain perceives this as a life-sustaining action as a result of the activated reward system. On introducing the chemical substance within a person’s system and the euphoric effects are realized, a person’s brain takes note of several significant happening events and teaches itself to do this action repeatedly until it is a habit. The consumption of illicit drugs can cause an individual to impulsively act when the brain’s reasoning system would normally delay or prevent a form of given action.

This reasoning system is circumvented, hence leading to the undesired action that can possibly have negative consequences on the drug user’s life. However, several drug effects as well as chemical substances are at times euphoric, and other times the substance causes depression, suicidal thoughts, and paranoia. Continuation of the drug causes the brain to become acclimatized to the surplus of dopamine within the reward system. This then leads to the decrease of dopamine release as well as the dopamine receptors numbers within the system itself. In turn, this affects the user’s ability to attain the desired effects of the drug usage. This response from the person’s brain causes the person to try and reactivate the receptors by adding the dosage or amount of the drug in order to attain the same dopamine high. This effect process is referred to as a tolerance. Long term drug abuse causes changes to occur to other systems parts within the brain. The neurotransmitter glutamate of which is a part of the reward systems can be changed and hence cause learning inability. When the brain reaches the maximum level of glutamate, it causes an off balance and the brain tries to compensate, of which as a result affects the drug user’s cognitive ability. Once the brain accustoms to the drug effects, dependence is made and drug abuse cessation causes a result known as withdrawal. While most withdrawal signs are very uncomfortable for the drug addict, there are several serious signs such as seizures, strokes, myocardial infraction, delirium tremens, and hallucinations.

Social, Ethical issues as well as the impact on emergency medical services (EMS)

The consequences of drug abuse and addiction are very evident in an individual social life. The addictions destructive behavior affects every area of their personal life, right from the genesis of the drug abuse. The addictions symptoms from a physical perspective include alteration of sleeping patterns as well as eating habits, which in turn contribute to both weight gain as well as loss. Frequent drug abuse tends to lead to failure in meeting important responsibilities at work, school or even home. Other drug addiction effects include domestic violence, family disintegration, child abuse, employment loss, and failure in school. People with addiction engage in risk taking, and with alterations in the reward system within the brain, the drug users expect positive reactions prior to them taking the substance that would satisfy their needs for the risks they take. Impulse control is difficult when drug choice is available to people with addiction. As a result this fuels the addiction even more.

The effect of the emergency medical service is immense. The calls from addiction range from medical overdosage to trauma. The emergency medical provider’s obligation in response to overdosed patients requires paramedics to find out how much as well as what the patients took, and what is the correct medication to give in order to reverse the condition that is being experienced by the patient or drug user. With the various emergency responses comes danger, with the possibility of violent outbreaks by the addicts or users. Therefore, paramedics must be aware of their surroundings while handling the patients. In addition, patients who experience withdrawals tend to hallucinate a complete event as well as incorporate the paramedics, thus causing the patient to react violently towards the care provider. Drug addiction is a very serious condition that can be considered as a psychiatric problem, of which needs to be treated with a sure diligence as well as suspicion.

Within the realm of the emergency medical service, the response rate of addiction is not considered an emergency condition. The incident will arise if an addict is experiencing withdrawal violent signs or has substance overdose, and the patient would appear in a state of agitation or even unconsciousness. There is no prearranged method in handling a patient that is experiencing problems related to addiction. The key element is in treating the symptoms of the patient. All patients require supplementary oxygen through non rebreathe if tolerance is acceptable. To assist in flushing out a normal saline of infusion, obtaining of intravenous access is a must. Should a patient or addict be in a state of agitation or seizure, administration of a sedative is required, such as versed or valium. Caution must be taken when administrating benzodiazepines because of the risks regarding failure or respiratory depression is present. Should a patient experiencing an opiate overdose as well as low breathing, Narcan 0.4 – 2 milligrams must be administered, but caution must be observed when administering the drug of which is done slowly in order for the patient to breathe sufficiently so as to sustain life. Should breathing and airway problems continue then intubation must be considered in order to secure the airway of the patient. Quick transport with due concern is suggested in order for the patient to be evaluated so as to have the hospital staff commence detoxification.

Conclusion

The drug abuse and addiction world is unforgiving and harsh, especially if an addict or user is unwilling to leave it behind. A number of people claim that the addiction is all within the head, and research has verified this notion. The brain effects from a formed learned pattern is similarly rewarded to such activities like drinking or eating.

A lot of people do not comprehend as to how and why other people become drug addicts. It is wrongfully presumed that drug users have no willpower or moral principles and cannot stop using drugs simply by choosing to alter their behavior. The reality is, drug addiction and abuse is a complex illness, and quitting it requires lots of good intentions. In actual fact, because drugs alter the brain in ways that raise drug abuse compulsiveness, quitting becomes hard, even for the willing addicts.

A lot of drug users also believe that they can control their drug abuse and addiction. Having a drug habit is a costly affair that leads to loss of belongings, money and even self-esteem. Curiosity is what drives some people abuse drugs, while others it is peer pressure, and another group of people become addicts of prescription drugs. While drug abuse normally leads to drug addiction, overcoming drug addiction is no easy task. So the question begs, is this drug abuse or is this drug addiction? These are two completely separate paths that lead to the same depressing outcome. In addition, the consequences of drug abuse as well as drug addiction become noticeable after a given period of time whereby compulsiveness and violence take over, furthermore, the physical toll which includes illness and depression at times could be debilitating. Therefore, the only method to reducing drug abuse as well as addiction is through educating or sensitizing the public. Avoidance is viewed as the best prevention.

Idaho And The Unprescribed Drug Abuse Problem

Prescription drug abuse is one of the fastest-growing categories of drug abuse across the country. Along with smoking marijuana, more Americans are beginning to abuse these drugs than any other classification of drug. One state that is dealing with this problem right now is Idaho.

A recent study in the state was conducted in order to determine two facts. First, how many Idahoans were not using a prescription drug that had been prescribed for them, and second, how many were using a medication that was not prescribed for them. Both of these categories are significant, but for different reasons.

It’s obviously a problem if any residents of a state are using drugs that are not prescribed for them. By definition, this is drug abuse. Any drug being used by someone other than the patient it was intended for is a step toward potential harm, so doctors and other public health officials try to watch out for and curb this illegal use.

The reason that officials want to know if Idahoans are not taking their prescribed drugs is because this might mean that the drugs are going to someone else. Studies have shown that when someone is using a prescription drug that was not prescribed to them, they usually got it from a relative or friend (as opposed to a professional drug dealer.)

Whereas most of the illegal “street” drugs we think of-marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc.-are sold by dealers, this means that cracking down on prescription drug abuse means cracking down on residents of the state handing their drugs off to one another.

In the study conducted by the Ameritox Company, 1,000 urine samples of drug-prescribed patients were taken and analyzed. The researchers found that 39% of the samples contained drugs that had not been prescribed for the patient in question. This means that potentially two out of every five Idahoans is taking a prescription drug that their doctor has not told them to use.

The researchers also found that 35.9% of the subjects weren’t taking their prescribed medications. This doesn’t necessarily prove that these people are giving away their drugs, as some of the patients could simply be deciding not to take the drugs. It’s worrisome for officials, however, as it means that a large percentage of drugs are essentially unaccounted for.

This number of prescription drugs not being properly used puts Idaho in the top 10 states in the country for unprescribed drug use. This is not a top ten list that any state would want to make, of course, but it could be embarrassing for an Idaho that would like to promote itself as an agricultural power, not a drug use capital.

What can a state do, then, to lower the number of people using prescription drugs that they are not prescribed? The first step is always education. Too many Idahoans, as well as Americans across the country, simply don’t understand how addictive and dangerous prescription painkillers and other prescription drugs can be. By teaching young people not to use these drugs un-prescribed, we can take the first step to limit their use.

It’s not limited to just teens, though. More and more adults are abusing pills as well, so public information campaigns could be a big help in lowering these numbers as well. Campaigns against drunk driving and other dangerous drug habits have been proven to lower death rates, so heightened and improved campaigns on this subject could help, as well. Idaho would probably like to continue being known for growing potatoes, not being at the top of a drug abuse list.

7 Teenage Drug Abuse Myths Exposed

Teenage drug abuse is a serious issue. However, some people, including parents, may not realize the severity because of commonly accepted myths. For parents, it is important to get accurate drug abuse information.

1. Myth: Using prescription drugs is less harmful than street drugs.

Fact: Many prescription medications intended to alleviate pain, depression, or anxiety are just as dangerous and addictive as illegal drugs. Because of this assumption that prescription drugs are safer, many children are more willing to start experimenting with these medications. And more often than not, teenage prescription drug abuse is accompanied by alcohol consumption.

Prescription drugs are only safe when taken as directed by a doctor. The wrong dosage and/or potential interactions with other drugs, one’s diet, or physiological makeup may have damaging or even deadly effects.

2. Myth: Using alcohol or marijuana as a teenager is a normal part of growing up.

Fact: Less than half of American teenagers drink alcohol or smoke marijuana. Exposing a developing child to such substances is illegal for good reason. Besides the lasting damage it can cause to the brain, using substances can also harm teenagers’ social development.

In hindsight, people who experimented with substances as teenagers report they were “looking for something.” Trying to have a good time, simplifying social interactions, or solving problems with drugs or alcohol often means they are learning to go to those substances for help. This maladaptive learning process is not easily unlearned.

3. Myth: Drug testing will only further alienate my child.

Fact: If a child is demonstrating signs and symptoms such as isolation, sleeping during abnormal times, becoming increasingly argumentative and confrontational, or easily agitated, then something serious may be wrong. Drug testing is a starting point for discerning what’s wrong and finding a solution. Mending a tumultuous relationship with your child begins with understanding the problem.

4. Myth: Drug abuse only really happens in impoverished or low-income areas.

Fact: Studies have found drug addiction and alcoholism occurs across socio-economic levels and ethnicities. Drug abuse is prevalent in both private and public schools throughout the country. Although rates of substance abuse vary somewhat based on gender, age, and socio-economic status, about one in 10 people who abuse drugs become addicted, which is why some mental healthcare professionals refer to drug use as Russian Roulette.

5. Myth: Drug addiction is a question of moral fiber or character.

Fact: Most addicts start as occasional drug users. While some may view drug use as an immoral choice, drug addiction is a “disease of the brain,” says Dr. Alan Leshner, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. At a certain point, the choice to use becomes a compulsion. Changes in brain chemistry through drug abuse result in uncontrollable drug addiction.

6. Myth: An addict or alcoholic has to really want to be sober for drug treatment to be effective.

Fact: A majority of youth sent to treatment centers are not there through choice. When drugs or alcohol consume a person, the last thing they “want” is rehabilitation. Whether for legal reasons or family reasons, many people seeking substance abuse treatment did not make the choice alone. In fact, those who have been pressured into treatment through a process of confrontation, coercion, or ultimatum appear to do better. Studies demonstrate that the reason someone seeks treatment has little influence on how well they will do.

7. Myth: After a treatment program, an addict shouldn’t need any more treatment.

Fact: Unfortunately, drug addiction is generally a lifelong struggle. Like many diseases, relapse and remission cycles are possible. Although some people can quit immediately, or after one drug treatment program, most require long term plans with strong support and resources and even repeated treatment programs.