Drug addiction is a complex but treatable disease. It is characterized by compulsive drug craving, seeking, and use that persist even in the face of severe adverse consequences. For many people, drug abuse becomes chronic, with relapses possible even after long periods of abstinence. In fact, relapse to drug abuse occurs at rates similar to those for other well-characterized, chronic medical illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. As a chronic, recurring illness, addiction may require repeated episodes of treatment before sustained abstinence is achieved. Through treatment tailored to individual needs, people with drug addiction can recover and lead productive lives.
Profiles and Risk Factors
It is an undisputed fact that addictions amongst teenagers are on the rise. Easy availability of drugs, coupled with improved monetary condition of many homes appears to be the prime drivers (J.C. Merill, 1994). Peer pressure and high parental expectations are also high on the list.
The most alarming trend is the increasing use of illegal drugs, tobacco, and alcohol among youth. Children who use these substances increase the chance of acquiring life-long dependency problems. They also incur greater health risks. Every day, three thousand children begin smoking cigarettes regularly; as a result, a third of these youngsters will have their lives shortened (Policy, 1996). According to a study conducted by Columbia University’s Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, children who smoke marijuana are eighty-five times more likely to use cocaine than peers who never tried marijuana (Policy, 1996). The use of illicit drugs among eighth graders is up 150 percent over the past five years (J.C. Merill, 1994). While alarmingly high, the prevalence of drug use among today’s young people has not returned to near-epidemic levels of the late 1970s. The most important challenge for drug policy is to reverse these dangerous trends (Policy,... [continues]
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