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Drug Addiction in Pakistan

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Drug Addiction in Pakistan
پاکستان میں منشیات کی لت 
पाकिस्तान में नशीली दवाओं की लत

“What is addiction, really? It is a sign, a signal, a symptom of distress. It is a language that tells us about a plight that must be understood.”
 “Addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you–it’s the cage you live in.”
 “Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect and everything that goes along with your self-esteem.”
“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”
 “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
“If you can quit for a day, you can quit for a lifetime.”
“The initial journey towards sobriety is a delicate balance between insight into one’s desire for escape and abstinence from one’s addiction.”

Drug Addiction in Pakistan

Drug addiction is a pervasive issue worldwide, and Pakistan is no exception. Although the problem is not very severe in most parts of the world, but it is going to take an acute turn in the near future. The revolution of drugs has hit society very strongly and the addiction to drugs as a serious problem has captured the attention of the most important body of the world, i.e., the U.N.O. The country, located at the crossroads of major drug trafficking routes, faces significant challenges in combating substance abuse. From opium and heroin to hashish, drugs of various forms are prevalent in Pakistan, affecting individuals across diverse socio-economic backgrounds.

Over the past 20 years, drug production and addiction have risen to the top of the list in Pakistan. Many of the country’s other human development issues, such as poverty, illiteracy and lack of basic health care, often overshadow the problem of drug abuse. However, drug use in Pakistan is increasing rapidly. In South Asia, Pakistan is the worst victim of drug trafficking.

The scourge of drug addiction in Pakistan, primarily fueled by neighboring Afghanistan’s illicit drug trade, has reached alarming proportions, affecting millions across the nation. According to estimates from the United Nations, a significant portion of Pakistan’s population, numbering in the millions, grapples with substance abuse, with cannabis ranking as the most commonly used drug. Particularly worrisome is the surge in injection drug abuse, raising concerns about the potential for an HIV epidemic.

Drug Use and Abuse

A report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) shed light on the severity of the situation, revealing that approximately 6.7 million individuals in Pakistan are ensnared by drug addiction with 78% of them being men and the remaining 22% being women. Pakistan is one of the world’s most drug-affected countries, with the number of addicts growing at a pace of 40,000 every year. Shockingly, this addiction epidemic has surpassed the toll of terrorist attacks, underlining its grave implications for Pakistani society. Smoking often serves as the gateway to drug addiction, while movie portrayals of drug use influence university students’ behavior. Heroin, cocaine, and hashish are among the potent narcotics proliferating across the country, exacerbating the crisis.

Cannabis and heroin abuse proliferate due to their affordability and accessibility, with the majority sourced from neighboring Afghanistan, responsible for 75% of the world’s heroin production. The UNODC reports over 800,000 regular heroin users aged 15 to 64 in Pakistan, consuming an estimated 44 tons annually. Additionally, Pakistan serves as a transit route for 110 tons of heroin and morphine trafficked from Afghanistan to global markets, generating approximately $2 billion annually from illegal drug trade.

About 700 people die of drug-related complications and overdose in Pakistan every day, which translates to 250 000 deaths every year. In Pakistan, an estimated 7 million individuals take drugs regularly. Among them, 4 million use cannabis, and 2.7 million use opiates.

Pakistan serves as a major transit route for the illicit opium-poppy trade from Afghanistan to the rest of the world.

Drug Addiction among Students

 Government of Pakistan is trying to devise and implement a strategy to curb illegal drug use at educational institutions, about seven million young people in the country had fallen prey to drug addiction. This synthetic drug called ice (crystal methamphetamine) has penetrated schools and colleges. Drugs destroy children’s character, discipline, health and their future. Drug use at universities has been in the limelight since 2018 when it was first revealed in a survey that one in 10 university students was addicted to some form of banned drugs.

A significant surge in drug addiction among students of academic institutions especially elite institutions and universities has emerged as a severe social problem for modern Pakistani society. A research titled “Causes of Drug Abuse among University Students in Pakistan,” published in March 2020 by the Pakistan Social Sciences Review quarterly journal, highlighted peer pressure (96%), educational stress (90%), and curiosity (88%) as the top causes contributing to drug usage. The survey found that students living in university hostels and male students were more likely to use drugs than female students and those living in other types of accommodation.

Since 2018, drug use among university students has received attention, with a poll indicating that one in every ten students was addicted to illegal substances. In November 2018, two Quaid-i-Azam University students were arrested for having 3kg of hashish. Additionally, three Nigerian nationals were apprehended near the same university that month, and narcotics worth PKR8.5 million were seized from them. Police said they were drug peddlers who supplied drugs to universities. 

Drug Use and Abuse

In Rawalpindi, Airport police arrested a man for selling narcotics, including synthetic drugs, in schools and colleges on 23rd May, 2023.The accused, allegedly sold crystal meth (ice), narcotic pills, and hashish to students and teachers. Police monitored him for three months before apprehending him. They recovered 500 pills smuggled from the Netherlands, along with 3.5 kilograms of hashish and 200 grams of crystal meth. Superintendent stated that the accused used social networking websites to receive orders and supply drugs to various educational institutions.

In Lahore, police filed a drug peddling case against a Baloch student, apprehended from Punjab University’s New Campus, an 8th-semester BS Education student on October 27, 2023.

The findings reveal that students freely use drugs within universities, indicating a lack of stringent measures taken by academic institutions to tackle the problem on their campuses.

Drug addiction in youth is a serious issue. Teenagers are more prone to being addicted as they are full of adrenaline in that period. Unfortunately, despite the significant risk and numerous negative consequences, many teenagers consider drug and alcohol experimentation an essential part of growing up. Some teenagers are introduced to drugs through prescriptions and then begin to use recreationally. Some teenagers start experimenting with drugs due to peer pressure or after hearing a song about drug abuse. Some even get their hands on drugs by stealing from their parent’s medicine cabinets. 

Teenage drug addiction is a genuine risk, regardless of how an adolescent first begins using drugs. However, it is essential to know what drug addiction is.

Signs Indicating Drug Abuse in Children

According to a recent study, the youth comprises 29% of the total population in Pakistan. An estimate suggests that 3000 to 5000 street children are present in society. Many of them engage in drugs and survival sex. University and college students also engage in drugs within small groups.

Drugs are easily available on university grounds due to a lack of a monitoring system and, in some cases, the involvement of university staff. Students are frequently involved in the drug business in universities. Other factors, such as mass media, influenced students’ involvement in drug addiction.

Furthermore, addiction impacts students’ academic and social lives because they spend more time with drug addict friends, miss classes, have fewer contacts with their families, and spend the majority of their pocket money on buying drugs. 

Pakistan grappling with rising and formidable challenge of drug addiction

Why students take drugs

The most common drugs used by university students are morphine, opium, cocaine, hashish and cannabis and the most common causes of students falling into drug abuse are social or family stress, exam-related anxiety, availability of drugs and the negative influence of drug-using friends or hostel fellows, according to experts.

A research study,  “Youth at risk: The alarming issue of drug addiction in academic institutions in Pakistan”, published by ScienceDirect last month, interviewed addicted students at three universities. The authors said: “The results unveil that students consume drugs in universities without much restriction… as academic institutions have not taken serious steps to address the issue on their premises.”

It found that the major reasons for drug abuse were peer pressure (96%), educational stress (90%) and inquisitiveness (88%). It put the number of drug addicts in Pakistan at 7.6 million people, mostly young people and university students, of which 78% are male and 22% are female, and said this number is increasing by 40,000 per year. It noted that students in university accommodation such as hostels and men were more frequent drug-users compared to girls and those in other accommodation.

The study recommended that Pakistani authorities develop a comprehensive strategy to address drug addiction in academic institutions.

drug addiction in youth

Pattern of Drug Use

The prevalent drugs included cocaine (19.0%) and crack cocaine (15.0%), followed by amphetamines (11.0%), alcohol, caffeine, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines (10.0% each). Poly drug addiction is also common among individuals. Hash, contaminated Hash, cannabis (various strains), Ecstasy, Crystal Methamphetamine and Methamphetamine (Ice) are increasingly accessible, even to a younger demographic. Additionally, Oxygen addiction has emerged as a novel concern.

The majority of drug users (67.0%) sourced their drugs from an undisclosed individual, with 23.0% obtaining supplies from friends and 10.0% from pharmacies.

Stages Of Drug Addiction

Addiction happens in four stages.

  • Experimentation: Taking a drug out of curiosity or simply recreational purposes
  • Social Use: Taking drugs in social groups may be for social reasons
  • Problem: Taking drugs without any consideration of the detrimental consequences
  • Dependency: Taking drugs several times, daily, without any fear of the consequences

drug addiction in youth

Route of Drug Administration

Nasal inhalation emerged as the primary mode of drug administration (31.6%), followed by smoking (28.0%), oral consumption (19.6%), and injection (8.0%). Approximately 12.8% employed a combination of oral and injection methods.

Motivation for Taking Drugs

Before drug use, many drug addicts experience physical symptoms like sensations of “creeping,” dizziness, body aches, sleep disturbances, and headaches. Others experienced mood issues such as anxiety, anger, and depression. Following drug consumption, they recounted sensations of calmness, resolution of problems, or an overall uplift in mood.

Dance Parties Culture in Pakistan

The emergence of dance party culture alongside drug culture in Pakistan is a concerning trend that authorities are actively monitoring. Throughout the country, teenagers and young adults are indulging in all-night dance parties commonly referred to as “raves.” This trend, influenced by Western culture, has gained popularity among youngsters in recent years. Unfortunately, alongside this trend, the use of dangerous substances collectively known as club drugs such as Ecstasy, GHB, and Rohypnol is also on the rise.

Club drugs can lead to a variety of adverse effects, including hallucinations, paranoia, amnesia, and, in severe cases, even death. It’s crucial for individuals to be aware of the risks associated with these substances and to prioritize their health and safety when attending such events.

There have been reports of drug gatherings taking place at various farmhouses. Entrance tickets for hash drug parties are priced at Rs 3500 per person, while for hard drug parties, they can go up to Rs 13500, and sometimes even Rs 25000 per ticket. According to a Dunya News report, many young individuals were initially invited to these parties, where they were given small doses of cocktails, ecstasy tablets, Colombian cocaine, Molly, and MDMA. The intention behind this was to get them addicted so that they would purchase these drugs at high prices later. Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad were identified as major hubs for this drug trade, with areas like Johar Town, Satu Katla, Burki Road, Manawan, Gajju Mata, Bedian Road farmhouses, Defence, Shadman, Gulberg, and Nasirabad being hotspots for organizing such events. The mafia reportedly targeted youth from affluent families, secretly recording them during moments of vulnerability when they were heavily under the influence of drugs.

Drug abuse alarmingly high among KP youth - Newspaper - DAWN.COM

The Islamabad administration and interior ministry have uncovered a clandestine “Night Dance Party” allegedly offering drugs, shisha, and private rooms on January 15. The event organizers are providing a package deal at the dance party, offering drinks, narcotics (referred to as “ICE”), and private rooms to attendees, whether they come solo, as couples, or in groups. They are charging up to Rs12,500 per person. Additionally, the organizers claim to provide 100% security to participants to avoid any encounters with law enforcement.

On Saturday, police nabbed a seven-member group suspected of distributing drugs at dance events and educational institutions in Lahore. The suspects admitted to selling drugs at a variety of locations, including dance parties, farmhouses, guest houses, and educational institutions.

According to SP City, investigators confiscated 17.56 kilograms of marijuana worth over Rs4.3 million, 100 grams of ice, and various drug pills from the accused.

Pakistan: The Most Heroin-Addicted Country in the World

The rising prevalence of injecting drug users could create an HIV/AIDS crisis. Pakistan, a country already tormented by regional insurgencies, is fighting a losing battle against a different kind of foe: drug addiction. While cannabis was listed as the most commonly used drug in Pakistan, opiates (including opium and heroin) were a close second. It is estimated that 44 tons of processed heroin is smoked or injected in Pakistan each year – a figure that suggests a rate of use that is two or three times higher than in the U.S. An additional 110 tons of Afghani heroin is trafficked through Pakistan each year on its way to international drug markets.

Drug Abuse in Children

Causes of Drug Addiction in Pakistan

Several interconnected factors contribute to the prevalence of drug addiction in Pakistan:

Availability of Drugs

Pakistan shares a porous border with Afghanistan, one of the world’s largest producers of opium. The proximity to Afghanistan, coupled with the rugged terrain and porous borders, facilitates the trafficking of drugs into Pakistan. Heroin, opium, and hashish are readily available in the country, contributing to the ease of access for individuals seeking illicit substances. The roots of Pakistan’s drug addiction quandary ex­tend deep into the soil of neighboring Afghanistan, a pri­mary source of illegal drugs permeating the nation. The confluence of unemployment, a glut of low-skilled graduates, and a beleaguered education system creates a fertile ground, set­ting the stage for a burgeoning epidemic.

According to some experts, cheap and easy drug access is the leading cause of its increasing rate in Pakistan. Drugs are available in high amounts in our country.

Bad Company

Negative peer interactions, whether with friends, coworkers, or strangers, are a major contributor to drug addiction in Pakistan. Individuals are frequently subjected to peer pressure inside their social groups, where drug use may be tolerated or even encouraged. In such settings, the urge to fit in or earn approval may override worries about the repercussions of substance addiction. Moreover, interactions with colleagues or acquaintances who engage in drug use can expose individuals to new substances or reinforce existing habits. Additionally, interactions with strangers, such as drug dealers or individuals encountered in social settings, can eternalize drug addiction. The majority of respondents become addicted because of their friends and bad company. Friends, society and bad company were the main reasons for their addiction. Bad companies are also responsible for their addiction.

Economic Factors

Poverty, unemployment, and lack of opportunities are prevalent issues in Pakistan. For many individuals, especially youth, the bleak economic prospects serve as fertile ground for turning towards substance abuse. For many, economic instability fosters feelings of hopelessness, prompting recourse to substance abuse as an escape from harsh realities. Vulnerable individuals, enticed by the allure of quick money, may also be drawn into the drug trade. Moreover, social inequalities stemming from economic disparities exacerbate the issue, with marginalized communities disproportionately affected. The economic toll of addiction perpetuates a cycle of poverty, diverting financial resources away from essential needs.

Social Norms

In some communities, drug use may be normalized or even glamorized, exerting considerable peer pressure on individuals to experiment with drugs. Social gatherings and groups often play a significant role in initiating individuals into substance abuse. Moreover, cultural norms that stigmatize mental health issues and discourage seeking help further exacerbate the problem.

Socio-cultural Aspects 

You are more likely to develop a drug addiction if one or two drug users are in your social network. Because any organization’s shared values and beliefs always direct its members’ behavior and activities, socio-cultural influences significantly impact the development of addiction. If alcohol or drug use in that culture is ordinary, members of a culture become more prone to addiction. Keep your guard up, decline any offers of drugs, and confidently leave whenever they approach you.

Toxic Relationship

Most people associate toxic relations with romantic connections, although they can also exist in friendships, workplace partnerships, and family interactions. Drug addiction can result from toxic relationships. Because of an unhealthy relationship with someone, you might use drugs or alcohol to hide or deal with painful emotions.

Study Pressure

The study pressure causes a lot of stress. They keep looking for quick cuts, but they never succeed. They become depressed after failing an exam. Therefore, they might use a drug to make them feel better. You are more likely to use a particular drug if you notice that it improves your mood and performance.

Genetics

Your genetic makeup could make you more prone to addiction. A particular substance affects your body and mind in the same way that it influenced your forefathers. You have a significantly higher likelihood of developing a drug addiction if your parents or their parents used drugs in the past.

Lack of Awareness and Education

Limited awareness about the dangers of drug abuse and inadequate education on substance use prevention contributes to the prevalence of addiction in Pakistan. Many individuals, particularly in rural areas, may not fully understand the long-term consequences of drug abuse or know where to seek help. Addressing this lack of awareness is crucial in preventing substance abuse and promoting healthier lifestyles.

Stressful Life Events

Stressful life events can trigger drug addiction by prompting individuals to seek relief or escape from emotional turmoil. Whether grappling with trauma, financial woes, or relationship strains, the allure of drugs lies in their perceived ability to temporarily numb pain or distress. Chronic stress alters brain chemistry, heightening susceptibility to addiction and intensifying drug cravings. The cycle of stress and substance abuse becomes self-perpetuating, as continued drug use exacerbates stress levels. Individuals may turn to drugs as a coping mechanism to regain control, but this ultimately worsens psychological and social consequences.

Poor Marital Relations

Poor marital relations can be a significant contributor to drug addiction, creating a breeding ground for emotional distress and maladaptive coping mechanisms. Strained relationships, characterized by conflict, lack of communication, or emotional neglect, can erode individuals’ sense of security and belonging, driving them to seek solace in drugs. Substance use may offer a

temporary escape from marital discord or serve as a means of self-medication to numb feelings of loneliness, frustration, or inadequacy. Moreover, dysfunctional marriages can exacerbate underlying psychological issues, such as depression or anxiety, further fueling the desire for substance abuse as a coping mechanism. The breakdown of marital bonds can also lead to social isolation, removing vital support networks and increasing vulnerability to addiction.

The Feeling of Failure in Life

The pervasive feeling of failure in life can serve as a potent driver of drug addiction in Pakistan. In a society where success is often equated with societal status and financial prosperity, individuals who perceive themselves as failing to meet these standards may experience profound feelings of inadequacy and despair. Unable to cope with the overwhelming sense of disappointment and disillusionment, some turn to drugs as a means of self-medication. Substance abuse relieves the squeezing weight of failure and provides a fleeting sense of euphoria or relief. However, this coping mechanism ultimately exacerbates feelings of failure, perpetuating a destructive cycle of addiction.

Poor Parental Relations

Pakistan is a collectivistic culture in which the family is given priority as social and financial support is coveted. Family is the core for need fulfilment. This is why joint families prevail in which grandparents, parents, children, and their uncles and aunts all live together. Members make major life decisions with the approval from elders of the family as they are the primary support network.

3 Types of Signs Indicating Drug Abuse in Children

Poor family relationships contribute considerably to drug addiction in Pakistan. Dysfunctional family dynamics, which include neglect, abuse, or a lack of emotional support, produce an unstable and insecure environment for children and adolescents. Growing up in such surroundings can result in feelings of loneliness and low self-esteem. Furthermore, parental substance usage might normalize drug use, increasing the risk that children would try drugs themselves. Individuals who lack excellent parental role models and a supportive home environment may turn to drugs for escape to cope with the emotional anguish and trauma associated with bad parental relationships.

Family dynamics can be defined as the way a family is structured including the individual interpersonal roles played by the members within the family unit. Family dynamics is the basis for all individuals to learn how to cope with the challenges they might face in later life. Parental support and unconditional positive regard strengthen self-esteem and self-confidence, and their absence reduces them.

Drug abuse is often referred to as a family issue because of the serious negative consequences of addiction and because the importance of recovery affects not only the substance abuser, but also all the members of the family. Therefore a focus on the role of families is critical in understanding and preventing the destructive intergenerational cycle of substance abuse and addiction.

The parent–adolescent bond has indirect effects through religiosity, and family drug use. It was found that among family variables the two major variables were for bond to mother, followed by family drug problem. Bond to father, parental monitoring, and family aggression were relatively weak predictors of adolescent drug use. Since the bond to mother is stronger, adolescents feel closer to them and share their daily life routine, thus communicating frequently with their mothers. In Pakistani society a strong bond to mother is observed as fathers are seen as the authority figure. Poor communication within the family unit affects an individual’s indulgence in drug abuse.

After Prescribed Medications

After the legitimate use of prescribed medications, individuals may inadvertently find themselves grappling with drug addiction. Initially intended to alleviate physical ailments or manage mental health conditions, these medications can become a source of comfort, leading to dependence. What begins as a reliance on medical help can transform into a compulsive need for the temporary relief these drugs provide. The transition from therapeutic use to addiction blurs, leaving individuals trapped in a cycle of dependency that harms their well-being.

Symptoms of Drug Use and Abuse

The symptoms of drug use and abuse can be both behavioral and physical. Some of them have been listed below:

  • Constant itching in a specific area of the body
  • Impulsive pulling down of sleeves to hide marks
  • Slurred speech
  • Frequent sniffling
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Lack of interest in personal grooming
  • Bloodshot or red eyes
  • Pinpoint or dilated pupils
  • Abnormal puffiness
  • Flushed-out color

Behavioral signs

  • Skipping class and declining grades or some other regular complaints from school or college.
  • Drop in attendance and poor performance at work
  • Loss of interest in extracurricular activities and previous hobbies
  • Problem in memory
  • Borrowing or stealing money.
  • Acting isolated or engaging in some suspicious activities.
  • Confronts with family members and siblings.
  • Like drug-related things in music, clothing, and posters.
  • Demanding more privacy and spent more time in locked doors.
  • A sudden change in relationships and friends.

Psychological signs

  • Unexplained and totally confusing change in attitude.
  • Sudden mood swings and irritability
  • Angry outbursts or laughing at nothing.
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity or agitation.
  • Lack of motivation
  • Inability to focus
  • Appears lethargic or “spaced out.”
  • Fearful, withdrawn, anxious, or paranoid, without any apparent reason.

photo afp file

Impacts of Drug Addiction

The ramifications of drug addiction extend beyond the individual to affect families, communities, and society at large. The effects of drug abuse have far-reaching consequences. They not only affect the user him/herself, but also their families, and society as a whole. The work sector loses able-bodied individuals, which in turn affects the economy. The family’s role in the development of substance abuse is unique as the family simultaneously suffers from the direct consequences of the abuse, while also holding the potential to be one of the most powerful protective influences against it.

Health consequences

Drug addiction is associated with countless health problems, including infectious diseases (such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis), cardiovascular complications, respiratory issues, and mental health disorders. Injecting drug use, in particular, poses a significant risk of transmitting blood-borne infections.

The effects of drugs on your body and mind might change your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. People use drugs in many different ways and for many various reasons. When something is used frequently to the point where you crave it and become dependent on it, you are said to be addicted. If you are addicted, you might use the drug even when it is harmful. Drug addiction is simply a trap; once you get into it, it’s too difficult to come out of it.  Scientifically speaking, drug addiction is a complex neurobiological disorder, which affects a person’s brain and behavior in a way that they lose the ability to resist the urge to use drugs. 

Harmful Effects of Drug Use and Abuse on Health

Brain Damage and Stroke

Brain damage caused by drug or alcohol usage can vary from slight cell damage to serious physical damage, such as brain hypoxia caused by overdose. Some of these effects of drug abuse, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke, and dementia, can be severe and/or long-lasting. Some other brain injuries that can occur as a result of excessive drug usage can be:

  • seizures
  • stroke
  • asphyxiation
  • respiratory arrest
  • hypoxic brain damage

 Heart Problems

According to the American Heart Association, drug abuse can have harmful consequences for the heart. It can cause disorders ranging from irregular heartbeats to heart attacks. Injecting illicit narcotics can also result in cardiovascular issues such as blocked veins and bacterial infections of the blood arteries and heart valves.

Drug Use and Abuse

 Liver Damage

Since the liver’s primary function is to drain out and neutralize toxic substances and poisons that enter the body, active drug addiction would effectively require the liver to work much harder than usual. Drug addiction can result in a variety of liver diseases, including hepatitis and cirrhosis.

Mental Health Issues

Drug abuse can worsen and even cause new symptoms of mental illness. Alcohol and drug abuse can also interfere with prescriptions such as antidepressants, anxiety meds, and mood stabilizers, making them less effective at treating symptoms and delaying recovery.

Social and Economic Costs

Addiction to drugs has a severe negative impact on society, taxing social services and preventing advancement in the economy. Addicts frequently struggle to keep a job, which reduces their output and creates volatility in the economy. Furthermore, there is a significant financial and emotional cost placed on families and communities.

Criminality

Organized crime, brutality, and corruption are among the criminal activities that are fueled by the illicit drug trade. The issue is made worse by a lack of effective governance and law enforcement, which gives drug gangs and traffickers relative impunity. In addition, those caught in the cycle of addiction might turn to criminal activity to support their drug use, which would feed the addiction-crime cycle.

Efforts to Combat Drug Addiction

Various stakeholders must be included in a multifaceted approach to address drug addiction in Pakistan. Pakistan must confront this burgeoning crisis head-on, with concerted efforts from both governmental and non-governmental entities.

Programs for Prevention and Awareness

Community-based initiatives, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and government agencies conduct public education campaigns on the risks associated with drug misuse. These initiatives encourage healthy lifestyles, increase knowledge, and provide people the power to make wise decisions about their drug use.

Rehabilitation and counseling must fully address the factors that caused a person to turn to drugs in the first place.

Treatment and Rehabilitation Facilities

Helping those who are addicted requires treatment and rehabilitation facilities that are both easily accessible and reasonably priced. Rehab facilities, both public and private, provide a variety of services, such as counseling, detoxification, and job training, to assist people in kicking their addictions and reintegrating into society.

Get Help

Drug addictions in youth of all kinds can be treated. Because addiction often affects many aspects of life, the best plans are comprehensive. Treatments will be aimed at assisting you or someone you know to stop seeking and engaging in their addiction.

Among the most common therapies are:

  • medications used to treat mental illnesses such as depression or schizophrenia
  • behavioral, talk and group therapies are all forms of psychotherapy
  • medical services to assist in the treatment of severe complications of addiction, such as withdrawal during detox
  • addiction case manager to assist in the coordination and monitoring of ongoing treatment
  • treatment for addiction in a hospital
  • self-help and support organizations

You can also seek evaluation from your primary care physician. The type of treatment recommended by a psychologist is determined by the severity and stage of the addiction.

A psychologist may recommend medication and therapy in the early stages of drug addiction in youth. In later stages, inpatient addiction treatment in a controlled setting may be beneficial.

A Pakistani drug addict self-injects heroin along a street in Karachi. - AFP/file

Consult a Psychiatrist for Treatment of Drug Abuse

Addiction psychiatrists are trained professionals that consult with patients to identify the causes of their drug or alcohol addiction. They can prescribe medication to manage withdrawal symptoms and treat underlying or co-occurring mental problems if necessary.

Law Enforcement Measures

To break up drug trafficking networks and take down illicit drug operations, law enforcement measures must be stepped up. This entails strengthening intelligence-sharing protocols, fortifying border security, and enacting harsher sanctions for drug-related acts. Furthermore, successful drug control plans depend on actions taken to combat corruption in law enforcement. 

International collaboration

International collaboration is essential in the fight against drug trafficking and addiction because of the transnational nature of the drug trade. Pakistan works together to combat the drug problem by exchanging best practices, exchanging intelligence, and implementing cooperative projects with bordering nations, international organizations, and funding agencies.

Conclusion

Drug addiction is a serious problem in Pakistan and is wreaking havoc on the younger population, leading to physical, mental, and emotional deterioration that has a big impact on social cohesion, public health, and economic growth. It undermines their potential, disrupts their lives, and poses a serious threat to their future prospects. It needs a multifaceted strategy that includes law enforcement, treatment, prevention, and international collaboration to effectively address this complicated issue. Pakistan can lessen the effects of drug addiction and clear the path to a stronger, healthier society by tackling the underlying causes of addiction, increasing awareness, and stepping up intervention efforts. Only through a comprehensive and proactive approach can Pakistan hope to stem the tide of drug addiction and safeguard the well-being of its citizens. With the increasing use of drugs, the government needs to introduce heavy penalties and severe punishment for those who are caught selling narcotics, especially those who sell it to youngsters.

Video Courtesy: Lahore News HD YouTube Drug Addiction in Pakistan پاکستان میں منشیات کی لت  पाकिस्तान में नशीली दवाओं की लत “What is addiction, really? It is a sign, a signal, a symptom of distress. It is a language that tells us about a plight that must be understood.”  “Addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you–it’s the cage you live in.”  “Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect and everything that goes along with your self-esteem.” “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”  “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be
Say No To Drugs – Brain Disorder or More

Dr. Laiba Ali
Ph.D. (Chemical Engineering)

Freelance Writer
Pervez Saleem

Courtesy:
National Institute on drug abuse
Images Credit: Freepik

 

Say No To Drugs
منشیات کو ترک کرو
दवाओं के लिए नहीं कहा

“When you can stop, you don’t want to. And when you want to stop, you can’t. That’s addiction.”
“You don’t get over an addiction by stopping using. You recover by creating a new life where it is easier to not use. If you don’t create a new life, then all the factors that brought you to your addiction will catch up with you again.”
“Addiction is a monster; it lives inside, and feeds off of you, takes from you, controls you, and destroys you. It is a beast that tears you apart, rips out your soul, and laughs at your weakness. It is a stone wall that stands to keep you in and the rest out. It is a shadow that always lurks behind you, waiting to strike. Addiction lives in everyone’s mind, sitting, staring, waiting…”

Drug abuse or substance abuse refers to the use of certain chemicals for the purpose of creating pleasurable effects on the brain. There are over 190 million drug users around the world and the problem has been increasing at alarming rates, especially among young adults under the age of 30.

Drug craving and the other compulsive behaviors are the essence of addiction. They are extremely difficult to control, much more difficult than any physical dependence. They are the principal target symptoms for most drug treatment programs. For an addict, there is no motivation more powerful than drug craving.

A person who misuses drugs can lack motivation, feel depressed and is unable to enjoy things that they typically loved doing. They may also do things completely out of character or what they would ordinarily view as morally wrong in order to obtain the drug.

Drug Addiction Images - Free Download on Freepik

What is drug addiction?

Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences. It is considered a brain disorder, because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control. Those changes may last a long time after a person has stopped taking drugs.

Addiction is a lot like other diseases, such as heart disease. Both disrupt the normal, healthy functioning of an organ in the body, both have serious harmful effects, and both are, in many cases, preventable and treatable. If left untreated, they can last a lifetime and may lead to death.

Brain scans that show changes in the brain after 1 and 4 months of cocaine use vs. in someone who has never used cocaine.

Note: These PET scans compare the brain of an individual with a history of cocaine use disorder (middle and right) to the brain of an individual without a history of cocaine use (left). The person who has had a cocaine use disorder has lower levels of the D2 dopamine receptor (depicted in red) in the striatum one month (middle) and four months (right) after stopping cocaine use compared to the non-user. The level of dopamine receptors in the brain of the cocaine user are higher at the 4-month mark (right), but have not returned to the levels observed in the non-user (left).

Why do people take drugs?

In general, people take drugs for a few reasons:

  • To feel good. Drugs can produce intense feelings of pleasure. This initial euphoria is followed by other effects, which differ with the type of drug used. For example, with stimulants such as cocaine, the high is followed by feelings of power, self-confidence, and increased energy. In contrast, the euphoria caused by opioids such as heroin is followed by feelings of relaxation and satisfaction.
  • To feel better. Some people who suffer from social anxiety, stress, and depression start using drugs to try to feel less anxious. Stress can play a major role in starting and continuing drug use as well as relapse (return to drug use) in patients recovering from addiction.
  • To do better. Some people feel pressure to improve their focus in school or at work or their abilities in sports. This can play a role in trying or continuing to use drugs, such as prescription stimulants or cocaine.
  • Curiosity and social pressure. In this respect, teens are particularly at risk because peer pressure can be very strong. Adolescence is a developmental period during which the presence of risk factors, such as peers who use drugs, may lead to substance use.

If taking drugs makes people feel good or better, what’s the problem?

Audience with hands raised at a music festival and lights streaming down from above the stage.

When they first use a drug, people may perceive what seem to be positive effects. They also may believe they can control their use. But drugs can quickly take over a person’s life. Over time, if drug use continues, other pleasurable activities become less pleasurable, and the person has to take the drug just to feel “normal.” They have a hard time controlling their need to take drugs even though it causes many problems for themselves and their loved ones. Some people may start to feel the need to take more of a drug or take it more often, even in the early stages of their drug use. These are the signs of an addiction.

Even relatively moderate drug use poses dangers. Consider how a social drinker can become intoxicated, get behind the wheel of a car, and quickly turn a pleasurable activity into a tragedy that affects many lives. Occasional drug use, such as misusing an opioid to get high, can have similarly disastrous effects, including impaired driving and overdose.

The effects of long-term drug use

Continued, long-term drug use results in the brain reducing the number of dopamine receptors to adjust for the increased dopamine in the system. Over time, continued release of these chemicals causes changes in the brain systems involved in reward, motivation, and memory. Drug cravings and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms like irritability, anxiety, depression, and insomnia make it more difficult for a person to stop using drugs. They may experience intense desires or cravings for the drug and will continue to use it, despite harmful or dangerous consequences.

Do people choose to keep using drugs?

The initial decision to take drugs is typically voluntary. But with continued use, a person’s ability to exert self-control can become seriously impaired. This impairment in self-control is the hallmark of addiction.

Brain imaging studies of people with addiction show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision-making, learning and memory, and behavior control. These changes help explain the compulsive nature of addiction.

No single factor determines whether a person will become addicted to drugs.

Why do some people become addicted to drugs, while others do not?

As with other diseases and disorders, the likelihood of developing an addiction differs from person to person, and no single factor determines whether a person will become addicted to drugs. In general, the more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs will lead to drug use and addiction. Protective factors, on the other hand, reduce a person’s risk. Risk and protective factors may be either environmental or biological.

This is a graphical representation of the risk factors for drug misuse mentioned in the text.

What biological factors increase risk of addiction?

Biological factors that can affect a person’s risk of addiction include their genes, stage of development, and even gender or ethnicity. Scientists estimate that genes, including the effects environmental factors have on a person’s gene expression, called epigenetics, account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person’s risk of addiction. Also, teens and people with mental disorders are at greater risk of drug use and addiction than others.

Children’s earliest interactions within the family are crucial to their healthy development and risk for drug use.

What environmental factors increase the risk of addiction?

Environmental factors are those related to the family, school, and neighborhood. Factors that can increase a person’s risk include the following:

  • Home and Family. The home environment, especially during childhood, is a very important factor. Parents or older family members who use drugs or misuse alcohol, or who break the law, can increase children’s risk of future drug problems.
  • Peer and School. Friends and other peers can have an increasingly strong influence during the teen years. Teens who use drugs can sway even those without risk factors to try drugs for the first time. Struggling in school or having poor social skills can put a child at further risk for using or becoming addicted to drugs.

What other factors increase the risk of addiction?

  • Early use. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, research shows that the earlier people begin to use drugs, the more likely they are to develop serious problems. This may be due to the harmful effect that drugs can have on the developing brain. It also may result from a mix of early social and biological risk factors, including lack of a stable home or family, exposure to physical or sexual abuse, genes, or mental illness. Still, the fact remains that early use is a strong indicator of problems ahead, including addiction.
  • How the drug is taken. Smoking a drug or injecting it into a vein increases its addictive potential. Both smoked and injected drugs enter the brain within seconds, producing a powerful rush of pleasure. However, this intense high can fade within a few minutes. Scientists believe this powerful contrast drives some people to repeatedly use drugs to recapture the fleeting pleasurable state.

Images of Brain Development in Healthy Children and Teens (Ages 5-20)

Brain scans showing the healthy development of the brain from ages 5 to 20. The images are from the side and top views, with a focus on the prefrontal cortex.

As the brain matures, experiences prune excess neural connections while strengthening those that are used more often. Many scientists think that this process contributes to the steady reduction in gray matter volume seen during adolescence (depicted as the yellow to blue transition in the figure). As environmental forces help determine which connections will wither and which will thrive, the brain circuits that emerge become more efficient. However, this is a process that can cut both ways because not all patterns of behavior are desirable or healthy. The environment is like an artist who creates a sculpture by chipping away excess marble; and just like bad artists can produce bad art, environments with negative factors (like drugs, malnutrition, bullying, or sleep deprivation) can lead to efficient but potentially harmful circuits that conspire against a person’s well-being.

The brain continues to develop into adulthood and undergoes dramatic changes during adolescence.

One of the brain areas still maturing during adolescence is the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that allows people to assess situations, make sound decisions, and keep emotions and desires under control. The fact that this critical part of a teen’s brain is still a work in progress puts them at increased risk for trying drugs or continuing to take them. Introducing drugs during this period of development may cause brain changes that have profound and long-lasting consequences.

Why is adolescence a critical time for preventing drug addiction?

As noted previously, early use of drugs increases a person’s chances of becoming addicted. Remember, drugs change the brain—and this can lead to addiction and other serious problems. So, preventing early use of drugs or alcohol may go a long way in reducing these risks.

Risk of drug use increases greatly during times of transition. For an adult, a divorce or loss of a job may increase the risk of drug use. For a teenager, risky times include moving, family divorce, or changing schools. When children advance from elementary through middle school, they face new and challenging social, family, and academic situations. Often during this period, children are exposed to substances such as cigarettes and alcohol for the first time. When they enter high school, teens may encounter greater availability of drugs, drug use by older teens, and social activities where drugs are used. When individuals leave high school and live more independently, either in college or as an employed adult, they may find themselves exposed to drug use while separated from the protective structure provided by family and school.

A certain amount of risk-taking is a normal part of adolescent development. The desire to try new things and become more independent is healthy, but it may also increase teens’ tendencies to experiment with drugs. The parts of the brain that control judgment and decision-making do not fully develop until people are in their early or mid-20s. This limits a teen’s ability to accurately assess the risks of drug experimentation and makes young people more vulnerable to peer pressure.

Because the brain is still developing, using drugs at this age has more potential to disrupt brain function in areas critical to motivation, memory, learning, judgment, and behavior control.

Can research-based programs prevent drug addiction in youth?

Yes. The term research-based or evidence-based means that these programs have been designed based on current scientific evidence, thoroughly tested, and shown to produce positive results. Scientists have developed a broad range of programs that positively alter the balance between risk and protective factors for drug use in families, schools, and communities. Studies have shown that research-based programs, can significantly reduce early use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs. Also, while many social and cultural factors affect drug use trends, when young people perceive drug use as harmful, they often reduce their level of use.

How do research-based prevention programs work?

These prevention programs work to boost protective factors and eliminate or reduce risk factors for drug use. The programs are designed for various ages and can be used in individual or group settings, such as the school and home. There are three types of programs:

  • Universal programs address risk and protective factors common to all children in a given setting, such as a school or community.
  • Selective programs are for groups of children and teens who have specific factors that put them at increased risk of drug use.
  • Indicated programs are designed for youth who have already started using drugs.

Introducing the Human Brain

Silhouette of a person's head with a drawing of sound waves leaving from his mouth. Drawing of a person's head from behind with a drawing of sound waves being received by the ear.

The human brain is the most complex organ in the body. This three-pound mass of gray and white matter sits at the center of all human activity—you need it to drive a car, to enjoy a meal, to breathe, to create an artistic masterpiece, and to enjoy everyday activities. The brain regulates your body’s basic functions, enables you to interpret and respond to everything you experience, and shapes your behavior. In short, your brain is you—everything you think and feel, and who you are.

How does the brain work?

The brain is often likened to an incredibly complex and intricate computer. Instead of electrical circuits on the silicon chips that control our electronic devices, the brain consists of billions of cells, called neurons, which are organized into circuits and networks. Each neuron acts as a switch controlling the flow of information. If a neuron receives enough signals from other neurons that it is connected to, it fires, sending its own signal on to other neurons in the circuit.

The brain is made up of many parts with interconnected circuits that all work together as a team. Different brain circuits are responsible for coordinating and performing specific functions. Networks of neurons send signals back and forth to each other and among different parts of the brain, the spinal cord, and nerves in the rest of the body (the peripheral nervous system).

To send a message, a neuron releases a neurotransmitter into the gap (or synapse) between it and the next cell. The neurotransmitter crosses the synapse and attaches to receptors on the receiving neuron, like a key into a lock. This causes changes in the receiving cell. Other molecules called transporters recycle neurotransmitters (that is, bring them back into the neuron that released them), thereby limiting or shutting off the signal between neurons.

How do drugs work in the brain?

Image showing a neuron. The neurotransmitter and receptor are called out to show how signals are sent, received and processed through the neuron.

Drugs interfere with the way neurons send, receive, and process signals via neurotransmitters. Some drugs, such as marijuana and heroin, can activate neurons because their chemical structure mimics that of a natural neurotransmitter in the body. This allows the drugs to attach onto and activate the neurons. Although these drugs mimic the brain’s own chemicals, they don’t activate neurons in the same way as a natural neurotransmitter, and they lead to abnormal messages being sent through the network.

Other drugs, such as amphetamine or cocaine, can cause the neurons to release abnormally large amounts of natural neurotransmitters or prevent the normal recycling of these brain chemicals by interfering with transporters. This too amplifies or disrupts the normal communication between neurons.

What parts of the brain are affected by drug use?

Drugs can alter important brain areas that are necessary for life-sustaining functions and can drive the compulsive drug use that marks addiction. Brain areas affected by drug use include:

This is an image of a person with the brain highlighted. The basal ganglia, extended amygdala, and prefrontal cortex are called out.

  • ganglia, which play an important role in positive forms of motivation, including the pleasurable effects of healthy activities like eating, socializing, and sex, and are also involved in the formation of habits and routines. These areas form a key node of what is sometimes called the brain’s “reward circuit.” Drugs over-activate this circuit, producing the euphoria of the drug high. But with repeated exposure, the circuit adapts to the presence of the drug, diminishing its sensitivity and making it hard to feel pleasure from anything besides the drug.
  • The extended amygdala plays a role in stressful feelings like anxiety, irritability, and unease, which characterize withdrawal after the drug high fades and thus motivates the person to seek the drug again. This circuit becomes increasingly sensitive with increased drug use. Over time, a person with substance use disorder uses drugs to get temporary relief from this discomfort rather than to get high.
  • The prefrontal cortex powers the ability to think, plan, solve problems, make decisions, and exert self-control over impulses. This is also the last part of the brain to mature, making teens most vulnerable. Shifting balance between this circuit and the circuits of the basal ganglia and extended amygdala make a person with a substance use disorder seek the drug compulsively with reduced impulse control.

Some drugs like opioids also disrupt other parts of the brain, such as the brain stem, which controls basic functions critical to life, including heart rate, breathing, and sleeping. This interference explains why overdoses can cause depressed breathing and death.

How do drugs produce pleasure?

Pleasure or euphoria—the high from drugs—is still poorly understood, but probably involves surges of chemical signaling compounds including the body’s natural opioids (endorphins) and other neurotransmitters in parts of the basal ganglia (the reward circuit). When some drugs are taken, they can cause surges of these neurotransmitters much greater than the smaller bursts naturally produced in association with healthy rewards like eating, hearing or playing music, creative pursuits, or social interaction.

It was once thought that surges of the neurotransmitter dopamine produced by drugs directly caused the euphoria, but scientists now think dopamine has more to do with getting us to repeat pleasurable activities (reinforcement) than with producing pleasure directly.

Why are drugs more addictive than natural rewards?

For the brain, the difference between normal rewards and drug rewards can be likened to the difference between someone whispering into your ear and someone shouting into a microphone. Just as we turn down the volume on a radio that is too loud, the brain of someone who misuses drugs adjusts by producing fewer neurotransmitters in the reward circuit, or by reducing the number of receptors that can receive signals. As a result, the person’s ability to experience pleasure from naturally rewarding (i.e., reinforcing) activities is also reduced.

This is why a person who misuses drugs eventually feels flat, without motivation, lifeless, and/or depressed, and is unable to enjoy things that were previously pleasurable. Now, the person needs to keep taking drugs to experience even a normal level of reward—which only makes the problem worse, like a vicious cycle. Also, the person will often need to take larger amounts of the drug to produce the familiar high—an effect known as tolerance.

Images of how drugs flood the brain’s reward center with dopamine.

Long-term drug use impairs brain functioning.

What are the other health consequences of drug addiction?

People with addiction often have one or more associated health issues, which could include lung or heart disease, stroke, cancer, or mental health conditions. Imaging scans, chest X-rays, and blood tests can show the damaging effects of long-term drug use throughout the body.

For example, it is now well-known that tobacco smoke can cause many cancers, methamphetamine can cause severe dental problems, known as meth mouth, and that opioids can lead to overdose and death. In addition, some drugs, such as inhalants, may damage or destroy nerve cells, either in the brain or the peripheral nervous system (the nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord).

Addiction as a brain disease

Like diabetes, cancer and heart disease, addiction is caused by a combination of behavioral, environmental and biological factors. Chronic drug use interferes with and makes changes to brain circuitry and chemistry, and these changes lead to compulsive drug using behaviors. There is no cure for addiction, but there are many evidence-based treatments that are effective at managing the illness. Like all chronic illnesses, addiction requires ongoing management that may involve therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

Addiction and HIV/AIDS are intertwined epidemics.

Does drug use cause other mental disorders, or vice versa?

Drug use and other mental illness often co-exist. In some cases, mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia may come before addiction. In other cases, drug use may trigger or worsen those mental health conditions, particularly in people with specific vulnerabilities.

Some people with disorders like anxiety or depression may use drugs in an attempt to alleviate psychiatric symptoms. This may exacerbate their mental disorder in the long run, as well as increase the risk of developing addiction. Treatment for all conditions should happen concurrently.

How can addiction harm other people?

The Impact of Addiction Can Be Far-Reaching

Hospital Emergency sign

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Lung disease
  • Mental disorders

Beyond the harmful consequences for the person with the addiction, drug use can cause serious health problems for others. Some of the more severe consequences of addiction are:

Negative effects of drug use while pregnant or breastfeeding: A mother’s substance or medication use during pregnancy can cause her baby to go into withdrawal after it’s born, which is called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Symptoms will differ depending on the substance used, but may include tremors, problems with sleeping and feeding, and even seizures. Some drug-exposed children will have developmental problems with behavior, attention, and thinking. Ongoing research is exploring if these effects on the brain and behavior extend into the teen years, causing continued developmental problems. In addition, some substances can make their way into a mother’s breast milk. Scientists are still learning about long-term effects on a child who is exposed to drugs through breastfeeding.

Negative effects of secondhand smoke: Secondhand tobacco smoke exposes bystanders to at least 250 chemicals that are known to be harmful, particularly to children. Involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risks of heart disease and lung cancer in people who have never smoked. Additionally, the known health risks of secondhand exposure to tobacco smoke raise questions about whether secondhand exposure to marijuana smoke poses similar risks. At this point, little research on this question has been conducted. However, a study found that some nonsmoking participants exposed for an hour to high-THC marijuana in an unventilated room reported mild effects of the drug, and another study showed positive urine tests in the hours directly following exposure. If you inhale secondhand marijuana smoke, it’s unlikely you would fail a drug test, but it is possible.

An image of a put out cigarette.

Increased spread of infectious diseases: Injection of drugs accounts for 1 in 10 of cases of HIV. Injection drug use is also a major factor in the spread of hepatitis C, and can be the cause of endocarditis and cellulitis. Injection drug use is not the only way that drug use contributes to the spread of infectious diseases. Drugs that are misused can cause intoxication, which hinders judgment and increases the chance of risky sexual behaviors, such as condom-less sex.

Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents: Use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription drugs can make driving a car unsafe—just like driving after drinking alcohol. Drugged driving puts the driver, passengers, and others who share the road at risk. In 2016, almost 12 million people ages 16 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs, including marijuana. After alcohol, marijuana is the drug most often linked to impaired driving. Research studies have shown negative effects of marijuana on drivers, including an increase in lane weaving, poor reaction time, and altered attention to the road.

An image of a car that has been in an accident.

What are the social impact of drug abuse?
Use of drug by common people leads to many social consequences such as – Instability in family relationship, Domestic Violence, Crime prone life, Reduction of sense of belongingness to the family and the society. There is also lack of social harmony and happiness within the family.

drug abuse and addiction have grave consequences on our existing social systems, effecting crime rates, hospitalizations, child abuse, and child neglect, and are rapidly consuming limited public funds. The intravenous drug abuser represents the fastest growing vector of HIV virus. This report focuses on the social and economic implications of substance abuse and addiction and discusses the merits and limitations of several popular solutions to the problem. Considering how widespread this issue is, it makes you wonder how substance abuse affects society as a whole. The loved ones of individuals with drug or alcohol addictions make up our communities. Their parents, siblings, friends, and co-workers are people we may come across at any given moment and are more interconnected than we think. The impact of drug and alcohol abuse on the community can’t be narrowed down to one thing but, instead, has to be broken down into several categories. Effects of Drug Abuse on Family

Those closest to drug-addicted people are the ones who are most impacted. This includes parents, siblings, cousins, spouses, and children. Reemerging themes in families where one individual is addicted to drugs or alcohol include high levels of criticism and negativity, parental inconsistency, or lack of parental guidance, and even denial. Misdirected anger is also a common side effect of drug abuse on families, in which non-addicted family members may lash out in an attempt to cope with the situation.

Moreover, children of drug addicts often take up the responsibility of their parents, often functioning in denial of their parents’ problems with drugs or alcohol. Children in these situations often lack necessities, like shelter and health care. When calculating the national average, one survey found that a parent struggled with drug or alcohol abuse of the children who were removed from their homes and placed in out-of-home care. Other possible effects of parental drug abuse on children include increased risk of mental and behavioral disorders, abuse, neglect, and increased risk of developing a substance use disorder when they’re older.

Drug abuse alarmingly high among KP youth - Newspaper - DAWN.COM

Financial Effects of Drug Abuse

How drug abuse affects society also goes beyond financial costs and includes other costs like crime, unemployment, domestic abuse, divorce, homelessness, foster care, overdose-related deaths, birth defects in children, and the spread of diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

Connection Between Drugs and Crime

Drug abuse and crime are also connected, as drug abuse increases the rates of violent crime. Alcohol plays a significant role in nearly every 4 of 10 crimes committed annually. Drug-related criminal activity, such as drug trafficking, can also significantly impact society.

If you’re still wondering, “How do drugs impact society?” we can narrow it down to:

  • Increased child abuse and neglect
  • Increased child custody losses
  • Increased risk of homelessness and poverty
  • Increased domestic disputes
  • Increased health care costs
  • Increased rates of co-occurring disorders
  • Increased drug-related incarcerations and crimes
  • Increased insurance premiums and taxes
  • Decreased work productivity
  • Increased strain on co-workers and employers
  • Increased rate of violent crimes on college campuses
  • Losses of revenue for businesses and schools

The effects of drugs on society are heartbreaking. No one is immune to addiction, and nearly every person who’s close to someone with an addiction is impacted. If you have a drug or drinking problem, don’t wait any longer to get help.

Can addiction be treated successfully?

Yes, addiction is a treatable disorder. Research on the science of addiction and the treatment of substance use disorders has led to the development of research-based methods that help people to stop using drugs and resume productive lives, also known as being in recovery.

Can addiction be cured?

Like treatment for other chronic diseases such as heart disease or asthma, addiction treatment is not a cure, but a way of managing the condition. Treatment enables people to counteract addiction’s disruptive effects on their brain and behavior and regain control of their lives.

Brain scans comparing the brain of someone who stopped using month after 1 and 14 months of abstinence vs the brain of a healthy person.

These images showing the density of dopamine transporters in the brain illustrate the brain’s remarkable ability to recover, at least in part, after a long abstinence from drugs—in this case, methamphetamine.

TIPS FOR PREVENTING YOUTH ADDICTION

Recovery from addiction, whether it be alcohol, drugs or any behavioral addiction, can be one of the most challenging journeys of your life. Recovery is a daily battle requiring focus, determination, support and hope.

Overcoming the all-consuming power of addiction is no easy feat. You will often most likely awake to good days, or days filled with temptation and struggle. Somedays, you might lack the motivation to continue to fight.

Drug addiction recovery is a challenging experience. Fortunately, a tremendous amount of resources is available to help you along the way.

God Gift Images - Free Download on Freepik

Life is a precious gift from God; we must honor and respect it.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No: Sometimes, our fear of negative reaction from our friends, or others we don’t even know, keeps us from doing what we know is right. Real simple, it may seem like “everyone is doing it,” but they are not. Don’t let someone else make your decisions for you. If someone is pressuring you to do something that’s not right for you, you have the right to say no, the right not to give a reason why, and the right to just walk away.

Connect With Your Friends and Avoid Negative Peer Pressure: Pay attention to who you are hanging out with. If you are hanging out with a group in which the majority of kids are drinking alcohol or using drugs to get high, you may want to think about making some new friends. You may be headed toward an alcohol and drug problem if you continue to hang around others who routinely drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, abuse prescription drugs or use illegal drugs. You don’t have to go along to get along.

Make Connections With Your Parents or Other Adults: As you grow up, having people you can rely on, people you can talk to about life, life’s challenges and your decisions about alcohol and drugs is very important. The opportunity to benefit from someone else’s life experiences can help put things in perspective and can be invaluable.

Enjoy Life and Do What You Love – Don’t Add Alcohol and Drugs: Learn how to enjoy life and the people in your life, without adding alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs can change who you are, limit your potential and complicate your life. Too often, “I’m bored” is just an excuse. Get out and get active in school and community activities such as music, sports, arts or a part-time job. Giving back as a volunteer is a great way to gain perspective on life.

Follow the Family Rules About Alcohol and Drugs: As you grow up and want to assume more control over your life, having the trust and respect of your parents is very important. Don’t let alcohol and drugs come between your and your parents. Talking with mom and dad about alcohol and drugs can be very helpful.

Get Educated About Alcohol and Drugs: You cannot rely on the myths and misconceptions that are out there floating around among your friends and on the internet. Your ability to make the right decisions includes getting educated. Visit Learn About Alcohol and Learn About Drugs. And, as you learn, share what you are learning with your friends and your family.

Be a Role Model and Set a Positive Example: Don’t forget, what you do is more important than what you say! You are setting the foundation and direction for your life; where are you headed?

Plan Ahead: As you make plans for the party or going out with friends you need to plan ahead. You need to protect yourself and be smart. Don’t become a victim of someone else’s alcohol or drug use. Make sure that there is someone you can call, day or night, no matter what, if you need them. And, do the same for your friends.

Speak Out/Speak Up/Take Control: Take responsibility for your life, your health and your safety. Speak up about what alcohol and drugs are doing to your friends, your community and encourage others to do the same.

Get Help!: If you or someone you know is in trouble with alcohol or drugs, (What to Look For), get help. Don’t wait. You are not alone.

Dr. Laiba Ali Ph.D. (Chemical Engineering) Freelance Writer Pervez Saleem Courtesy: National Institute on drug abuse Images Credit: Freepik   Say No To Drugs منشیات کو ترک کرو दवाओं के लिए नहीं कहा “When you can stop, you don’t want to. And when you want to stop, you can’t. That’s addiction.” “You don’t get over an addiction by stopping using. You recover by creating a new life where it is easier to not use. If you don’t create a new life, then all the factors that brought you to your addiction will catch up with you again.” “Addiction is a monster; it lives inside, and feeds off of you, takes from you, controls you, and destroys you. It is a beast that tears you

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