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Alcoholism and Drug Abuse

A drug is a chemical that interacts with other substances to alter or change something. In the United States, drugs are a major part of everyday life. Whenever you have a cup of coffee, drink tea, or flavor something with condiments such as sugar or salt, you are using drugs. In some instances they may be used for positive effects ( aspirin or prescription pain killers in moderation to cure a headache or other sickness). However, sometimes people abuse drugs (alcohol or painkillers) or make use of illegal ones (marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, mushrooms, heroin, etc).

This negative use of drugs poses a great threat in American society. If you have ever thought over the question of why people use drugs, you would realize that the question is not as simple as it may appear. To answer this question objectively, you need to consider how the body and mind work together. The simple act of daily living creates countless demands on ourselves both emotionally and physically. Stresses we encounter determine the demands on which we place on our mind and body. To free themselves of this stress, some people chose recreational drugs to put them in another frame of mind.

The body, in most instances, craves a minute amount of the chemical to balance its desires; however, the mind says, \”If a little is good, a lot is better. \” Others chose drugs as substitutions for self-confidence, solutions to problems, relaxation, freedoms from anxiety, self-esteem, and satisfying feelings. Whatever the incentives may be, it is apparent that all of the reasons why people chose to do drugs have to do with changing how they feel; they are about avoiding boredom or solitude, or feeling significant, part of a group, tranquil, or \”good\”.

Unfortunately, people don’t usually realize that drugs are not solutions to their problems. Drugs are roses, they may look attractive, but they have sharp thorns. Associated with substance abuse are many risks. These dangers include: 1. risks to personal safety (i. e. possibility of death or injury by overdose, accident, or violence) 2. damage to health (i. e. brain damage, liver malfunction, mental problems, etc. ) 3. legal consequences (i. e. chance of incarceration, fines, or criminal record) 4. destructive behavior (i. e. harm to self, family, and/or friends)

The previous risks can provoke \”loss of total control\” which can be driven by physical factors, psychological factors, or both. Physical reliance is when the body requires the chemical to function normally; psychological dependence is when a person relies on the substance to provide good feelings. This is not just a casual craving; it’s a powerful compulsion. When a person becomes dependant on a particular drug, they may cause chaos, not only for themselves, but the people around them as well. The may start acting irresponsibly causing financial problems or social difficulties.

They may become less credible due to broken promises and deceit. They may lie, steal, or use any other means possible to obtain the drugs they are using. They may feel shame and guilt from constant failure in striving to restrict their drug intake. Ironically however, he or she will typically insist that they are fine and nothing is wrong. These people are subconsciously in denial of their addiction and their abuse of the substance will steadily escalate unless they are helped. Two commonly used drugs in the United States are alcohol and marijuana (cannabis).

Alcohol, although not commonly seen as a drug because of its religious and social purposes, has provoked serious problems in modern society. Statistics show that one in twenty drinkers in the US have an alcohol dependency problem. An estimated ten million Americans are considered to be alcoholics (75% of which are male and 25% of which are female). In addition, over one hundred thousand people die each year of alcohol related problems. Alcoholism is a chronic disease, which is often progressive and fatal.

Some symptoms a person may show illustrating an alcohol related problem consist of: 1. loset drinking (drinking alone or in privacy) 2. not remembering discussions or obligations 3. making a ritual of having drinks at particular times and becoming agitated when this ritual is disturbed or questioned 4. losing interest in once pleasurable pastimes; and social problems. When this substance is consumed, it depresses the central nervous system by acting as a sedative (it slows down the messages transferred between the brain and the rest of the body). By depressing the \”control centers\” of the brain, alcohol relaxes and reduces a persons’ inhibitions.

In ample amounts, alcohol will impair speech and muscle coordination. A person can become dizzy, have steadiness affected, have slow reactions and bad coordination, start to flush, become angry and agitated, or even vomit. Excessive drinking may also result in long-term effects as well. These include: loss of appetite; vitamin deficiencies; stomach and skin problems; liver, brain, and reproductive organ damage; memory loss; depression; money, legal, work, and relationship problems; and sexual impotence.

Although there are many negative side effects of alcohol use, many dependant users, who are not in denial of their problem, will not break their addiction in fear of the withdrawal symptoms. When someone uses the substance for so long, and then is deprived of the chemical, the body needs it to function correctly; if the substance is not returned to the system, a person may experience these withdrawal symptoms, which are far more serious then the actual side-effects of the chemical.

A person going through alcohol withdrawal may experience anxiety, sweating, hallucinations, insomnia, tremors, convolutions, and sometimes, even death. In this instance, not using may be as dangerous, if not more dangerous, then using. It is important for alcoholics to know though, that there are support groups such as Alateen or Al-Anon, which are willing to help them through their time of troubles. Marijuana, also known as the \”gateway drug\”, is the most frequently used illicit drug in the United States today.

This tobacco like substance comes from the flowering top of the cannabis plant; it may look like dried herbs or tea and is usually green, brown, or gray in color. Marijuana (also known as pot, weed, grass, hash, Mary Jane, reefer, yarndi, Acapulco Gold, mull, or dope) is usually smoked in the form of a joint (a loosely rolled cigarette), a blunt (a hollowed out cigar), or a bong, (a water pipe). Like any other drug, marijuana contains chemicals that affect one’s body.

The main substance in marijuana is THC; this is what makes a person feel \”high\” (which means experiencing a change in mood and seeing or feeling things differently). When cannabis is smoked, the THC quickly travels from the lungs into the blood and strait to the brain; it can take up to one month for a single dose of THC to entirely leave the body; however, the \”high\” only lasts for an estimated two to twelve hours.

The effects of marijuana will vary from person to person; however, when taking small doses of the drug, one may: feel extraordinarily well and contented; do or say things out of the normal; chatter and giggle more then usual; have poor balance and coordination; feel famished; have a more rapid pulse; have red, bloodshot eyes; and focus attentiveness on one particular thing and disregard all other things. The previous feelings usually lead to sleepiness or feelings of being run down and tired.

However, when taking sizeable doses of the drug, you may feel: perplexed, agitated, exhausted, anxious, apprehensive, or distant and separate from reality; marijuana can also cause problems with: remembering things, thinking clearly, movement, and the ability to operate and maneuver machines. Symptoms usually disappear after the marijuana wears off; however, if you take marijuana habitually over an extensive period of time, you may experience several health complications.

These problems may include: intensification in the possibility of getting bronchitis, lung cancer and other respiratory system diseases; diminution in motivation; decrease in concentration, memory, and aptitude; lowered sex drive; and decrease in sperm-count in men and irregular menstrual cycles in women. Like alcohol and most other drugs, physical dependency on marijuana may develop; therefore, those trying to stop using will experience withdrawal symptoms.

Such symptoms for marijuana include headaches, nausea, irritation, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Conversely, unlike alcohol, there are no reported deaths directly caused by marijuana use, making people believe that use of this substance is \”safe\”. In reality, it is far from so. Substance abuse is clearly an evident problem in modern society. The \”people of today\” only want easy ways out.

As a society we must learn to face our problems and not try to escape them through chemical misusage; it will only end up hurting ourselves and loved ones in the long run. However alluring drugs may be to us, we must not give into our temptations. They provide an unnatural and provisional suspension from reality; they don’t last, and when your \”back\”, it’s a brick wall right in the face.

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