Drug addiction: The end of life


Kashmir Magazine

Many people don't understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. They may mistakenly think that those who use drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to. Fortunately, researchers know more than ever about how drugs affect the brain and have found treatments that can help people recover from drug addiction and lead productive lives.


Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. These brain changes can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a "relapsing" disease—people in recovery from drug use disorders are at increased risk for returning to drug use even after years of not taking the drug. It's common for a person to relapse, but relapse doesn't mean that treatment doesn’t work. As with other chronic health conditions, treatment should be ongoing and should be adjusted based on how the patient responds. Treatment plans need to be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.


Most drugs affect the brain's "reward circuit," causing euphoria as well as flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. A properly functioning reward system motivates a person to repeat behaviors needed to thrive, such as eating and spending time with loved ones. Surges of dopamine in the reward circuit cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors like taking drugs, leading people to repeat the behavior again and again. As a person continues to use drugs, the brain adapts by reducing the ability of cells in the reward circuit to respond to it. This reduces the high that the person feels compared to the high they felt when first taking the drug—an effect known as tolerance. They might take more of the drug to try and achieve the same high. These brain adaptations often lead to the person becoming less and less able to derive pleasure from other things they once enjoyed, like food, sex, or social activities. Long-term use also causes changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well, affecting functions that include: Learning, judgment, decision-making, stress, memory, and behavior. Despite being aware of these harmful outcomes, many people who use drugs continue to take them, which is the nature of addiction?


Once a person becomes addicted to drugs he loses his control over drug use and often become isolated from family and friends. They may also face difficulty at work and sometimes lead them to commit crimes and involve with Criminal Justice system. For a drug

Addicted person, persistent use of drugs is the primary focus in life and once the drug stops the person will have cravings, person’s intense and strong desire for the drugs. Our physiological mechanism generates these cravings to maintain a state of equilibrium that relies now on these drugs. These cravings have a physiological mechanism as they stimulate the area of the brain (amygdala) that controls the emotional memory in addicted persons. A drug addict can experience a state of craving at any stage of drug addiction or abuse.


A drug to which a person becomes addict does not merely impair the person’s cognitive skills and behavior but also permanently damage certain abilities depending on the amount of a dose. Experts believe that certain changes due to the addictions disappear shortly after drug use while certain anomalies remain permanent. One of the first changes in the brain that may occur in response to repeated drug abuse is tolerance. Tolerance develops when a person requires a higher amount of drug to reach that leave of pleasure or a state of alteration of consciousness that he achieved previously through lower doses of drugs. Drug addiction also makes people vulnerable to other health risks. For example, inhalant abusers are at higher risk of Heart problems like disruption of heart rhythms. Often Drug Addicts consume and inject drugs in a group for better experience also put them at higher risk of contracting HIV virus due to contaminated needles used in a group. Also, there are higher incidences of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C among Drug addicts than the general population.


Drug Abuse spoils a number of human lives and also destroys the golden periods of life. As on 2012, 183000 drug related deaths have been reported and that figure corresponds to a mortality rate of 40.0 deaths per million among the population aged 15- 64. In 2012 it was appraised that between 162 million and 364 million people about 3.5% and 7.5% of world population aged between 15-64 have used an illicit drug belonging to cannabis, opioid, cocaine or amphetamine type stimulant group at least once in a previous year (World Drug Report 2014 [1]). According to this Report, only one among six problem abusers has access to treatment related facilities or received de-addiction or detoxification services.


How it kills:
Drug addiction causes brain damage which stimulates in rising blood pressure that increases the risk of ruptured blood vessels in the brain. Narrowing of blood vessels reduces blood flow. Therefore as with the more activity the heart needs more oxygen. Along with a reduced blood supply because of narrowing blood vessels, this can lead to heart attack which results organ failure and death.
“Addiction is just a way of trying to get at something else. Something bigger. Call it transcendence if you want, but it's like a rat in a maze. We all want the same thing. We all have this hole. The thing you want offers relief, but it's a trap”


Tess Callahan


Aadil Gulam Dar
( (Poet, Writer, Debater, Blogger)
Masters in education, Aligarh Muslim University