Drug abuse has become a worldwide contagious illness, affecting everyone from individuals to entire communities. Unfortunately, most people still fail to grasp the causes of addiction. One of these is the abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
Prescription medicine is developed for the main purpose of curing illnesses, but using this in excessive dosages can become a medical condition in itself; this is known as substance abuse or drug abuse. When drugs are used beyond prescribed dosages, chemical ingredients disrupt or disturb normal brain functions that can cause one to become violent and irrational. While results or effects are seen in a user’s behavioral changes, the specific cause is not yet known and symptoms vary in every victim.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than $600 million dollars are spent every year to stem the tide of substance abuse, including crime-related and health recovery costs. Drug addiction is also a leading reason behind incidents of job loss, academic failure, broken families and domestic violence among others. Addiction occurs when a person’s normal daily functions are no longer possible without intake of a certain narcotic.
It’s a common mistake to believe that all drugs are harmful, but it is true that the prescribed ones or those that may be bought OTC are the most abused among other substances.
Narcotic pain medicines and depressants are the most prevalent prescribed drugs that are used in excessive dosages. Opium, codeine, and heroin are common narcotic painkillers that cause extreme sensations of happiness and excitement to the user. Meanwhile, depressants like Valium, Ativan and Xanax are mostly given to patients with anxiety and sleep disorders.
NIDA explains that misusing pills, sedatives and other medicinal compounds basically causes two kinds of disruption in a user’s brain. Drugs like marijuana and heroin have chemical structures similar to the brain’s neurotransmitters that can trick receptors and nerve cells to send irregular messages. Extreme stimulation of the brain’s “reward system” is another common event that occurs with cocaine and methamphetamine, wherein it “teaches” users to reward themselves of the continuous overuse of drugs.
Treatments for substance abuse have to be gradual, for an abrupt cease of usage would then lead to withdrawal symptoms.
Don’t hesitate to call for medical help or support if you or a loved one is a drug addict. The most popular and effective rehabilitation technique for this condition is the 12-step program, introduced by the international group Alcoholics Anonymous.
In San Diego, drug rehab centers like Ranch Creek Recovery use this 12-step approach in their center, along with a therapeutic process called amino acid therapy to restore damaged neurotransmitters.
DrugFacts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction, Drugabuse.gov
Substance use disorder, Nlm.nih.gov