Substance abuse is
a potential crisis that many families may experience. Substance use
disorders are conditions that arise from misuse of alcohol, psychoactive
drugs and other chemicals.
Substance use disorders are usually classified further as follows:
The term abuse
refers to maladaptive patterns of substance use that harms health in a
broader sense. It is possible for an individual to show signs of misuse
without being dependent. However, wherever dependence is present then it
replaces abuse in the diagnosis. Most people can drink alcohol in
moderation. They can have one or two drinks and not encounter problems.
Others develop alcohol related disorders, such as alcohol abuse or
alcohol dependence. These individuals drink to excess and become a
danger to themselves and others.
begins when an individual makes a conscious choice to drink or use
other drugs, most individuals who experiment with addictive substances
do not become addicted. Addiction develops over time and, once
established, is a chronic and relapsing illness. Substance use can be
associated with impulsive, aggressive or violent behaviour, which can
result in criminal activity and injury to the person or others. This can
also vary greatly depending on the substance that is being abused.
disorders affect every segment of the population, regardless of age,
race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender or sexual
orientation. People who also have substance related disorders usually
find that their general health deteriorates.
Many people who
use drugs use more than one at any given time. Polydrug abuse poses a
serious health problem as the effects of the drugs taken together can
produce a stronger reaction than individually.
accepts, and in some cases values, drug use. Alcohol is a central part
of many people's lives. Medicinal drugs are widely used and vital to the
health of our community. They are sometimes misused. Illicit drugs are
currently used for their psycho-active properties, but potentially some
could be used for medicinal purposes (for example, cannabis and heroin).
drugs as 'illegal' and 'demonising' the users has not eliminated their
use. Some users suffer serious health or other problems as a result of
their drug use.
drugs will cause changes to consciousness by changing the biochemistry
of the body. Though psychoactive drugs are considered a problem in many
societies, they are used in almost every society, though not necessarily
in a way that causes harm or distress. Many societies intentionally use
drugs in rituals or for recreation, yes such drugs are so much a part
of our lives that many of us use them without realising that we are
altering our biochemistry and affecting our consciousness.
and caffeine are stimulants that heighten out alertness, energy and
mood. Tobacco is also a major cause of death, and caffeine increases can
lead to anxiety, panic attacks, and high blood pressure. Alcohol and
many widely prescribed tranquillisers are depressants, reducing our
anxiety but also slowing our reactions and leading to possible
psychological problems, as well as some potentially fatal physical
There is some
evidence that problematic and harmful drug use most often occurs where
people are vulnerable or lack self-esteem, such as at times when they
are experiencing a crisis or traumatic event. The illegal status of the
drugs and the stigma attached to users further entrenches their
marginalisation. Provision of information, support and treatment is made
more difficult in these circumstances.
potentially serious health consequences that arise from misuse of
illicit drugs. The level and nature of the consequences varies between
drugs and is, to some degree, dependent upon the circumstances of their
use. Many people who use illicit drugs will be polydrug users/abusers
- that is, using more than one drug at any given time. Polydrug abuse
poses serious health problems as the effects of drugs are sometimes synergistic, that is, the effects of each interact to produce an especially strong reaction..
People who go
through traumatic experiences often have symptoms and problems
afterwards. How serious the symptoms and problems are depends on many
things, including a person's life experiences before the trauma, a
person's own natural ability to cope with stress, how serious the trauma
was, and what kinds of help and support a person gets from family,
friends, and professionals immediately following the trauma.
trauma survivors don't know how trauma usually affects people, they
often have trouble understanding what is happening to them. They may
think it is their fault that the trauma happened, that they are going
crazy, or that there is something wrong with them because other people
who were there don't seem to have the same problems. They may turn to
drugs or alcohol to make them feel better. They may turn away from
friends and family who don't seem to understand. They may not know what
they can do to get better.
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