Drug Abuse in India

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Drug abuse is use of drugs that causes physical, psychological, legal or social harm to the individual user or to others affected by the drug user’s behavior. Youth substance use and the resulting damage are recognized as significant global public health issues in society today and the loss in terms of human potential is incalculable. The number of youths continuing to abuse drugs remains a major public health problem worldwide and there is a need to stem the tide of drug abuse.

When a person abuses a substance, the brain is flooded with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that resides in the parts of the brain that control movement, emotion, cognition, motivation and feelings of pleasure. When these systems are overloaded by substances, a person experiences euphoria—a feeling that many drug abusers attempt to recreate by repeatedly abusing a substance However, the brain of a substance abuser adjusts by producing less dopamine or reducing the number of receptors that can receive or transmit signals. As long as people are addicted to or abusing substances, they cannot feel the joy and pleasure of everyday life. Many drug abusers feel depressed or when they are not taking drugs and need to take drugs to get their dopamine levels back to normal.

Not everyone who uses alcohol or drugs is an addict or substance abuser. A person becomes a substance abuser when the substance becomes so crucial that he or she is willing to risk other important aspects of life in order to have the substance. This may be after the first time a substance is used, or it may take years. Examples of this continued use despite negative consequences include using illicit drugs despite a drug-free workplace policy or using someone else’s prescription medication for the purposes of becoming impaired, among others.

A person becomes addicted once he or she is psychologically or physically dependent on a substance. Psychological dependence means that an individual believes that he or she cannot function in social, work or other settings without being intoxicated in some way. About 15% of regular substance users become psychologically dependent on the substance. Physical dependence, on the other hand, includes one or both of the following experiences over time:

Tolerance: A need for increased amounts of a substance to achieve intoxication

Withdrawal: Symptoms such as nausea, chills, and/or vomiting upon discontinuing use of the substance

Addiction to alcohol or other drugs may be:

Chronic - Once an addiction is developed, it will always be a condition that requires management. For the large majority of people, it is not possible to use the substance again in the future without further negative consequences

Progressive - Addiction gets worse over time

Primary - Addiction is not just a symptom of an underlying psychological problem. Once the use of alcohol or drugs becomes an addiction, the addiction itself needs to be treated as the primary illness

Fatal - Addiction to alcohol or other drugs often leads to death through damage to major organs of the body

Drug abuse and addiction is on the rise throughout India. According to recent surveys, India has at least seventy million drug addicts. In India, the cultural values are slowly changing, the poorer class is suffering with economic hardship while at the same time there is a massive rise in the upper class, all of this combined with the dwindling support of family (due to increase work and western life) is leading to drug abuse and addiction.

The social and economic costs related to drug abuse among youth are high. They result from the financial losses and distress suffered by alcohol and drug related crime victims, increased burdens for the support of adolescents and young adults who are not able to become self-supporting, and greater demands for medical and other treatment services for these youth.

Rapid social, economic and...
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