Psychoactive Drug is a drug that affects the body’s Central Nervous System (CNS) and changes how people behave or perceive what is happening around them. The CNS consists of the brain and the spinal cord.
Types of psychoactive drugs:
a) Legal drugs: What is considered as a legal drug in one country can be illegal in another. Alcohol and tobacco are two of the most common legal psychoactive drugs that can lead to Drug Use Disorders (SUD). Just because it is legal, does not make it safe for use. Apart from the harm caused to the individual, legal drugs can harm others in the family or community because of the effect on the person’s thoughts, feelings and behavior. Tobacco use can also cause health problems in others who inhale the second-hand smoke.
b) illegal or illicit drugs: Countries usually have laws and enforcement efforts to restrict the production, distribution and consumption of psychoactive drugs declared as being illegal / illicit. Imprisonment or even death sentences may be listed a punishment for those who break these legal directives. The severity and duration of the punishment and the level of enforcement varies from country to country. )
c) Designer Drugs: Designer drug is a term used to describe PAS which are created by modifying the molecular structure of an illicit drug to a certain degree to get around existing drug laws. MDMA (ecstasy) discussed in the section on stimulants is one such drug. As designer drugs are created in illegally, the chemical composition of the drug and intensity of the effect can vary a lot.
d) Medications: Medications can protect one from diseases (e.g., vaccinations), cure disease (e.g., tuberculosis) or enhance a person’s physical or mental well-being (such as anti-hypertensive or anti- depressant). When medications (e.g., Anxiety relieving medications, pain killers etc.) are NOT used as per the doctor’s instructions, it can lead to many problems including addiction. Risk of SUD problems arises when a person uses the medically prescribed drugs: In a larger dose than what is prescribed (e.g., instead of using 4 mg. of benzodiazepines given, the person may take 8mg)
More frequently than prescribed (e.g., using the cough suppressant few times a M day instead of the night time dosage only); . For a longer period than directed (e.g., continuing to use the pain killer well beyond the duration of a week an instructed by the doctor): and Using medications without medical advice or for reasons other the prescribed (e.g., anti-allergy drugs may be used for the drowsiness it causes).
To conclude, drug abuses may cause death. So be aware of above messages.
Drug Use Related Problems:
Apart from addiction, drug use can also lead to:
- Physical and mental health problems: In addition to general deterioration of health, drugs affect particular organs and also cause mental health problems;
- Poor health care: Drug users often fail to access medical care and when they do, often fail to follow through with the medical regimen prescribed;
- Safety risks: Driving or operating machinery under the influence of drugs increase risk of accidents causing harm, disability or death to the drug user as well as others;
- Risks related to unprotected sex: Loss of inhibition, drug induced changes in sexual behavior and disregard for safety messages about condom use increase risk of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and Hepatitis;
- Risks related to injecting use: Using injecting equipment which are not sterile increases transmission of HIV, Hepatitis B and C as well as other blood borne infections. Among people who inject drugs, it was estimated that 13.19% of were HIV positive and about half (529%) were infected with Hepatitis C
- Poor work performance leading to decreased productivity at the work spot;
- Strained family relationships, emotional trauma, domestic violence and financial instability affects the person using drugs as well as others in the family;
- Increased risk of conflicts, violence and crime in the community; and
- Risks of suicide, overdose and death.
to conclude, almost every organ or system in the body can be negatively affected by the drugs of abuse.
Why people go back to Drugs again and again?
Relapsing nature of the disease
Relapsing is part of all chronic diseases. People with drug addiction may give up drugs and yet after a period of time return to using Drugs again. This is referred to as relapse. Research shows that relapse rates for drug addiction is similar to that of other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Sometimes stress or being in high-risk situations can cause craving and the person in recovery may take the drugs. If the person uses it just once or for a very short period it is called as a lapse. If the person fails to handle a lapse, the person can return to old pattern of drug use which is referred to as relapse. Relapses are preventable and it is also possible for a person to reestablish a drug addiction free life after a relapse. Relapse is a process and does not take place suddenly. As relapse is a process, with the right effort one can prevent a relapse. Triggers can set off a craving to use drugs.
Triggers can be:
External: people, places or things
Internal: thoughts or feelings
External triggers are such as meeting people who use drugs, being in places where drugs are used or even seeing drug use related paraphernalia such as needles or drugs.
Internal triggers include thoughts about the drug induced effect, thinking about the good times related to drug use or even visualizing drug use. Feeling sad, happy or stressful can also act as triggers. Craving can lead to a lapse. Here, the person may use drugs once or a few times. This is usually followed by a lot of guilt and a sense of failure.
To conclude, it is important to get help before the lapse escalates into a relapse wherein the person returns to regular or problematic drug use as earlier.