Drug Abuse
The improper use of any substance be it a drug, illegal or prescribed, or alcohol on a regular basis is known as substance abuse. Any substance that is used to change the attitude and mood of a person be it drugs or alcohol can be collectively understood as drugs.

Illegal substances such as heroin, cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and prescription drugs like tranquilizers, sleeping pills etc. and alcohol—all are abused alike. But the terms drug abuse and drug dependence cannot be used interchangeably. The former is a voluntary abuse of drugs, while the latter often occurs at a later stage—when a person is unable to control his use of drugs.

People often begin abusing drugs for their feel-good factor. But the danger lies with ‘casual drug abuse’ that may go up into regular drug abuse. This is often the foundation stone for drug dependency.

Becoming dependent on a drug is when the body needs it to function normally. Unpleasant withdrawal symptoms occur when the addict tries to inhibit his usage. The only way to avoid this discomfort is by taking more of the drug.This dependency is not voluntary…it is something they can’t help. They are powerless in the face of drugs to reduce or stop.

Effects of alcohol on the brain Alcohol, the result of the oldest chemical reaction studied by man, continues to test researchers. Regular research from the early 20th century has resulted in the constant popping up of various new theories on alcohol’s neurological effects. Alcohol, a sedative-hypnotic in the acute intoxication phase for most, lessens the quality of sleep.

But in others, alcohol is a stimulant. It has been associated with violent and self-abusive behavior. Alcohol, at intoxicating levels, is a vasodilator .i.e. blood vessels are made to relax and widen. The problem is that at even higher levels, it is a vasoconstrictor, that which shrinks the vessels and increases blood pressure, aggravating conditions such as migraine and headaches.

Effects of drugs on the brain Drug effects on the central nervous system.All drugs effect the brain – upon constant use, substantial damage can be done, above all in adolescents. The brain is an evolving organ and it is very pliable and prone to change and can easily adjust to any new situation. This leads to brains that are crippled by drugs. Most drugs directly affect pleasure regions of the brain.

Substance addiction signs
• Increase or decrease in appetite; changes in eating habits, unexplained weight loss or gain. • Defensiveness, temper tantrums, resentful behavior. • Unexplained moodiness, irritability, or nervousness. • Violent temper or bizarre behavior. • Unexplained silliness or giddiness. • Paranoia, suspiciousness. • Smell of substance on breath, body or clothes. • Extreme hyperactivity; excessive talkativeness. • Needle marks or bruises on lower arm, legs or bottom of feet. • Unexplained need for money; can’t explain where money goes; stealing. • Unusual effort to cover arms, legs. • Change in personal grooming habits. • Possession of drug paraphernalia. • Change in overall attitude / personality with no other identifiable cause. • Changes in friends: new hang-outs, avoidance of old crowd, new friends are drug users. • Change in activities; loss of interest in things that was important before. • Drop in school or work performance; skips or is late to school or work. • Changes in habits at home; loss of interest in family and family activities. • Difficulty in paying attention; forgetfulness.
Drugs Teens Abuse:
Very much in the media spotlight nowadays, Teen drug abuse is a subject that is bound to impinge on a few sore spots. Ecstasy and meth having entered with a bang, it is hard to find teens that have resisted the temptation of experimentation with these drugs. Prescribed medications such as Ritalin, OxyContin, over-the-counter cough, cold, sleep, and diet medications such as Coricidin.

Inhalants: The fumes of common household products are inhaled to get high and are the estimated killer of more than a thousand children each year. Many others, mostly first-time users, are left with serious respiratory problems and permanent brain damage.

Marijuana: The most widely used, half of America’s population has had a marijuana experience with many currently using it and are dependent on it.

Stimulants: Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant and its possible long-term effects include tolerance and dependence, violence and aggression, and malnutrition due to suppression of appetite.

Club drugs: Used by teens and young adults at all-night dance parties known as “raves” or “trances,” in dance clubs, and bars. MDMA (Ecstasy), GHB, Rohypnol (Rophies), ketamine, methamphetamine, and LSD are some of the club or party drugs gaining popularity. Most of these are colorless, tasteless, and odorless and can be added inconspicuously to beverages to intoxicate or sedate others. This is dangerous as the victim is unknowingly compelled into things he wouldn’t normally do.

Depressants: Used medicinally to alleviate emotions such as anxiety, irritability, and tension, when combined with alcohol, the effects are heightened and with proliferate risks.

Heroin: the one drug that has been having younger users, heroin is an inexpensive, high-purity drug that can be sniffed or smoked instead of injected.

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