They develop a tolerance to alcohol and simply need more to satisfy their craving (MayoClinic, 2009a). This is a key difference between alcoholism and other drug addictions.
The causes of alcoholism and drug addictions are complex and involve the interaction of several factors. The first is genetics. Certain genetics factors can cause a person to be more vulnerable than others to develop alcoholism and the other addictions mentioned. A person's emotional state can also affect their propensity to develop substance abuse. Certain psychological factors, such as low self-esteem, peer groups that have substance abuse problems, or other factors that promote drinking and drug abuse also play a role in the development of substance abuse. Social and cultural factors also play a role, such as advertisements that glamorize drinking, or media that send messages regarding substances are also factors in the development of an addiction (MayoClinic, 2009a).
Substance abuse affects society, communities, families and the individual. The individual bears the greatest burden in the problem. They are the ones who experience the most severe emotional and physical problems from substance abuse. They also have the greatest difficulty in deciding to quit and endure the physical and emotional affects of withdrawal. The burden and degree of influence decreases the further one moves from the individual. The family represents the next sphere of influence and the second most affected from substance abuse. They may not have to bear the physical pain of the problem, but they bear the brunt of the emotional issues that accompany substance abuse.
As the family deteriorates, the immediate community surrounding them is affected as well. They are affected by the economic impact and the other effects, such as increased crime. The safety of the community decreases when there is substance abuse in the area. They also bear the costs of treatment in many ways, particularly for the uninsured. In cases where substance abuse is pervasive, the community may suffer though decreased property values and a high crime rate. School performance may be affected as well. Communities pay a high price for substance abuse.
On the bigger scale, substance abuse affects society as a whole. The bigger picture is the result of individual action, but this results in the development of trends. Substance abuse has an affect on society as a whole.
The solution to the problems associated with substance abuse are not easy to resolve. Once an individual is addicted, it is difficult for them to help themselves. They may not realize that they have a problem until someone else points it out. Even if they do admit that they have a problem, they may not be able to help themselves. In order to help themselves, they first have to admit that they have a problem. Often, they cannot see what others see, making it difficult to make them agree to obtaining help.
The first help for the addicted person typically comes from an outside source. It may come from the school in response to problems there. It may come from the legal system when their addiction leads to law enforcement problems. A doctor or medical facility may be the first step to getting the person the help that they need. The family will often be the one to make certain that the person gets the help that they need. However, the situation with the family is unique and they may be reluctant to seek help for the person for fear of damaging the relationship.
Once the person is in the system and has begun to obtain the help that they need, treatment can take many forms. Residential facilities or hospitalization may be necessary for those with a severe problem. Other forms of help include medication to help the body resolve the craving. It may involve counseling or group therapy. There are a host of resources available for those addicted to substance abuse. However, use of these resources is often costly and can have a high price to society. In addition, the person may relapse and continue using substances when they get out of the program, resulting in even more costs to the society and the community.
Although modern treatment programs are highly effective, the best solution to the problem of substance abuse is prevention. Research has now developed a thorough understanding of the risk factors that create an increased risk for substance abuse. Although many of these factors may be unavoidable, such as genetic and biological factor, many of them can be alleviated in some way. Recognizing those that are at risk for the development of substance abuse problems is the first step in developing a plan to prevent the problem from occurring in the first place.
Programs that focus on prevention are the most effective in preventing substance abuse from occurring. If substance abuse does not occur, then families never have to face the problems associated with substance abuse. Communities never have to carry the burden associated with substance abuse within the community. If the negative consequences never occur, they society never has to pay the price. This is the most logical and best solution to the problem for everyone involved.
This research examined the pervasive problem of substance abuse. It discovered that the problem affects individuals, families, communities, and societies. The affects of substance abuse are difficult quantify, but the costs are tremendous and take a tremendous toll on the world in which we live. These costs are not limited to the direct costs associated with treatment, lost work, medical and legal costs. They include many costs that cannot be quantified, such as the toll that they take on families and relationships. Resolving the issues associated with substance abuse is an important issue in today's society and one that is a top priority for everyone involved. As with many issues, prevention is the best medicine for America's substance abuse problem.
Abbott, A. (2002). Health Care Challenges Created by Substance Abuse: The Whole Is
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