What is a drug?
A drug is any substance (with the exception of food or water) that alters the physical or psychological state of the person. Drugs may be legal (such as alcohol and cigarettes) or illegal (for instance cocaine, heroin, MDMA).
Drugs are abused for a “mood altering, mind changing” experience that the individual likes and wants to repeat. Drugs are not only psychologically, but physically too. Moreover, the body develops tolerance toward the substance and he or she needs more and more of it to achieve the same “high”.
The most commonly used drugs are :
Alcohol : Yes, it is a drug (C2H6O) – the oldest and perhaps the most dangerous drug known to mankind. It is mostly legal but causes more damage to individuals and society worldwide than any other drug (alcohol-related road accidents, hospital admissions, divorces and domestic/ street violence).
Club drugs : These are used by young persons in nightclubs, concerts, bars and parties. Club drugs include GHB, Ketamine, MDMA (Ecstasy), Methamphetamine and LSD (Acid)
Cocaine : Derived from the coca plant native to South America, cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant. It is used in medical care as a local anaesthetic. However, it is sold illegally and often mixed with other substances by street dealers for increased profits.
Fentanyl : A powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but nearly 100 time more potent.Used in medical practice for acute pain management, but sold on the street under different names- Apache, China Girl, China White, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfella, Jackpot, Murder 8, TNT, and Tango and Cash.
Hallucinogens : This is a wide range of drugs that cause altered perception (awareness of surroundings), thoughts and emotions. Hallucinogens trigger hallucinations – causing the user to see or experience images and sensations that are not real. Hallucinogens can be found in natural objects such as plants and mushrooms or can be man-made. Common among these are DMT, LSD, peyote and psilocybin.
Heroin : This is a derivative of morphine that is a natural extract from the opium poppy seed grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico, and Colombia. Heroin is sold as a white or brown powder, or a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin. Some of the street names for heroin are big H, horse, hell dust, and smack.
Inhalants : Although many abused drugs are inhaled, inhalants refer to drugs that are misused only by inhaling. These include solvents such as adhesives and spray medicines used for chest diseases. Most of these are easily and available and do not cost much, so are widely abused by economically backward communities in developing countries.
Marijuana : This refers to the dried leaves and components of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. The plant contains the mind-altering chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It has been used for a long time all over the world and is now being increasingly legalized in some countries. There is an urban myth surrounding this drug – that it enhances consciousness or creativity – but it is known to cause mental health issues such as cannabis psychosis.
3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) : This is a synthetic drug that significantly alters mood and perception. MDMA is similar to stimulants and hallucinogens, causing a feeling of increased energy, pleasure, distorted sensory and time perception and gives the user a feeling of warm well-being. Street names of MDMA include Ecstasy and Molly.
Opioids : This is a class of drugs that include heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain-relieving medications such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and several others. Currently, there is an opioid “epidemic” in USA and huge numbers are addicted and overdosing on opioids.
Tobacco/ Nicotine/ E-cigs : The leaves of the tobacco plant are dried and fermented before being used in tobacco products. The nicotine in tobacco is highly addictive. Moreover, there are several harmful chemicals found in tobacco products and the smoke created by it. Smoking is also a sort of gateway to other drugs. Youngsters who start using tobacco products find it hard to stop.
Why do people use drugs?
If drug addiction is so harmful, why do youngsters get into it? There is a variety of reasons, some being:
- They think having drugs is ‘fun’
- They believe drugs helps them relax
- Drugs gives them a false sense of confidence
- The think it helps them to socialise
- Some people are just curious and want to try
- They want to fit in with the ‘cool’ crowd
- Some use it as a self-medication for problems
Seeking help for drug addiction
Drug abuse leads to poor health and premature death. It destroys careers, education and relationships. It is not easy to get out of drug addiction.
If you are someone you love gets caught up in drug addiction, the best option is to seek professional help. There are many treatment facilities, but be careful while choosing.
The main things to consider while choosing a rehab are :
- Experience – the more, the better
- Licencing by a regulatory authority (for instance, rehabs in India are mandated to be licensed under The Mental Healthcare Act)
- Faculty – the experience and credentials of the therapists
- Treatment program – an integrated approach is most effective sicne addiction is a multi-faceted disease
- Family support – a rehab that provides family counselling as part of drug addiction treatment is best for recovery
- Individualized therapy – the rehab should ideally tailor an individual treatment plan for each client
- Multi-cultural approach – since clients come from different backgrounds, the rehab should be equipped to manage cultural differences
- After-care – since addiction is highly relapse-prone, the rehab should have a strong aftercare option
Addiction doesn’t compromise in it’s damages. Don’t compromise for the treatment.