Drug Abuse Drug and Substance Abuse Is Term Paper

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Drug Abuse

Drug and substance abuse is one of the most serious dilemmas in the world today. One aspect of the issue is the growing number of teenage drug users and the increasing incidents of prescription drug abuse. According to the statistics of the National Institute on Drug Abuse prescription drugs misuse is far greater than the abuse of narcotics. Among teenagers alone, accepted cases of drug use increased from 27 to 30% in a year between 2001 and 2002. The actual number is also reported to have increased by one percent (The Evening Standard 2004) but prescription drug abuse is rated higher then narcotics abuse. As in 2010 prescription drugs intake stood at 2.4 million one third of which were users between 12 and 17 years of age (National Institute on Drug Abuse, n.d.).

The magnitude of the issue has lead to a plentitude of research and experimentation being done in this discipline. Howard Abadinsky refutes the belief that continued drug abuse is the product of a weak mind and resolution. He insists that addiction is more about the neurological side effects of drugs than will power of the consumer. The paper will look at different texts to examine the biological side of addiction and attempt to understand the power of their impact on the brain and gauge the strength of this impact in comparison to genetic, social and psychological factors.


The NIDA defines drug addiction as a "chronic, relapsing brain disease" which is supposed to lead to obsessive and compulsive use of the drugs. Further the institute claims that the repetitive use of drugs brings about long lasting changes in the human brain's structure and its functioning. In short it can be said that addiction makes the brain malfunction which leads to other disruptive behavior on the part of the addict (National Institute on Drug Abuse, n.d). Abadinsky claims that unlike popular belief the reason for continued drug use is these chemical changes that make the impulse or the urge to use them almost uncontrollable. People take drugs to feel good, to alleviate pain and also to improve performance. NIDA explains that when drug use begins it gives the abuser great pleasure and his brain then compels him to seek out the same pleasure again and again. But after a while the user becomes so used to the feeling that accompanies drug us e that he or she don't fell or function normally without it. Similarly over indulgence in the use of pain killers lower the user's pain bearing capacity and thus they cannot function without it. When they reach an over saturation point and drugs fail to bring pleasure or relief the users may attempt to use drugs of higher potency.

The NIDA has conducted experiments which has lead to the conclusion that continuous drug misuse can impair a human beings self-control, thus making them the weak minded individuals that the world sees and despises. Scientists believe that also reveal that these poisonous items have prominent and long lasting impact on the brain's decision making and judgment section, its memory and learning capacity and the part which governs human behavior and actions ((National Institute on Drug Abuse, n.d).

Howard Abadinsky supports this thought process and says that the meaning of 'addiction' in Latin is to bind or tie down a person to something. He believes that drugs take away a person's freedom of thinking, seriously hampers their cognitive abilities and thus does not leave them capable of normal behavior and living. The people under the influence of these are so badly under their spell, or slaves to their desire for the substances, that they become rash and reckless. Such people become aggressive and don't care about social, religious or cultural norms especially when they come in their way of gaining pleasure or relief. This is because their brain keeps them focused on the feeling of that particular pleasure (Abadinsky, H 2008)


Disease is "a pattern of responses by a living organism to some form of invasion by a foreign substance or injury, which causes an alteration of the organism's normal functioning. Disease can be further defined as an abnormal state in which the body is not capable of responding to or carrying on its normally required functions"(Sussmam, S. & Ames, S.L. 2001)

The definition proves that drug abuse is indeed a disease, a chronic, but not infectious disease. Early 1800s are characterized by social reforms that worked to stop slavery and child labor. But the reformers did not deem drug abuse a problem worth including because even in that time people indulging in this evil were thought of as immoral. Instead the clergy were given the charge of dealing with them because it was said that they only needed moral correction not medical help. Even being called a disease has not been of any help to the drug abusers because they are still seen as a social evil and they have often been given punishment as a means to reform (Sussmam, S. & Ames, S.L. 2001).

The same approach is prevalent in majority of the world today and drug abuse has become a stigma that once attached to a human being remains a lifelong problem. It is very important that societies and governments around the world recognize it as a disease and focus on the biological and social both sides of drug abuse and addiction.

One aspect of drug use is heredity, which is one factor that cannot be changed or modified but other readily modifiable factors include social influence (Sussmam, S. & Ames, S.L. 2001). But these are factors that cannot be considered a standard because it's not necessary that everyone belonging to the same social group would resort to drug abuse and neither does it mean that every individual riddled with economic problems or with abuse in their genes might start misusing them. Therefore for study and research this aspect is not a suitable angle as it does not give any sure shot results.

The only confirm correlation the author was able to develop was that of drug use and unethical, destructive habits or actions, one example of which is violence. The author claims in his research that 80% of all drug users are likely to act violently. But why is this action produced? It is because of the impairment of the thought process, the inability of the human being to think clearly in this situation. It is because he or she does not remember their moral principles and neither do they realize the severity of their actions at the time .

One other author forms a correlation between drug misuse and stress and claims that is the single most important feature of an individual's life that leads to addiction (Al'Absi, M 2007). However this can also be refuted on the basis of the idea that every individual has their own way of dealing with and relieving stress. This stress reliever may be connected to religion, social circle, exercise and therapy. The author to prove his side of the argument takes the help of the words of the doctor and researcher Hans Seyle. Seyle believes that stress is causes the excretion of a substance called 'glucocorticoids' into the body. The excretion of this substance helps the individual deal with the pressures of work, life and society. But the author himself accepts that drug abuse becomes addictive when the overuse of a substance causes a permanent change in the glucocorticoid emission (Al'Absi, M 2007). It could decrease the secretion of this enzyme heightening the individuals level of stress or change the pattern etc. he also accepts that excessive use often also alter the formation of the brains' neurotransmitters which means that the brain may start sending the wrong signals to the body.

The author through the account of an experiment conducted on rats explains that when the rats are kept in isolation the additional stress of the loneliness adds to the likeliness of the rats taking the cocaine made available to them. On the other hand he also refers to the biological side when he explains that the intake of drugs affects the 'mesolimbic dopamine system' a part of the rats brain that is related with pleasurable and rewarding results of drugs (Al'Absi, M 2007). so apparently the isolation gives rise to an enhanced pleasure for the rats. In short according to the author one factor helps increase the incidence of the other and alone probably none of them is very affective. These experiments were carried out on young rats and so with its help Al'Absi tries to prove that stress in early life is one of the chief causes of drug abuse.

As mentioned above, every person deals with stress in different ways which is also determined by the working of the person's limbic system. The limbic system is the part of the brain that plays an important role in the coping with stress, with learning a new behaviour ands motivating oneself to…

Sources Used in Document:


Abadinsky, H (2008) Drug Use and Abuse: A Comprehensive Introduction. Retrieved August 12th, 2012, from http://books.google.com.pk/books?id=OtC5FjRsE78C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

Al'Absi, M (2007). Stress and Addiction: Biological and Psychological Mechanisms. Retrieved August 13th, 2012, from http://www.questia.com/read/119971439/stress-and-addiction-biological-and-psychological

Landry, M.J. (1994). Understanding Drugs of Abuse: The Processes of Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery. Retrieved August 13th, 2012, from http://www.questia.com/read/96875207/understanding-drugs-of-abuse-the-processes-of-addiction

National Institute on Drug Abuse (n.d) Drugs, Brains and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. Retrieved August 13th, 2012, from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction/drug-abuse-addiction

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