Drug abuse involves compulsive and excessive intake of drugs over a period of time. Repeated use of drugs results in developing addiction that has harmful repercussions. It is a problem that directly impacts the structure and functioning of the brain causing grave damage to it. Drug abuse, a term used for obsessive and excessive use of drugs, is a common problem these days. Regular use of drugs is self damaging. It leads to addiction and causes behavioural changes. Drug abuse particularly impacts the brain and can also lead to other health issues such as kidney failure and heart problem. Here are essays of varying lengths to help you with the topic in your exam.
Essay on Drug Abuse
Drug Abuse Essay 1 (200 words)
Drug abuse is the repeated and excessive use of drugs. It impacts a person’s mental as well as physical health negatively causing a major damage to the brain. Drug abuse hampers a person’s power to practise self-control and interferes with their ability to resist the urge to take drugs. Drugs are initially taken out of choice, however, it becomes hard to resist them sooner than you realise. It is difficult to recover from this problem and even those who do stand a high risk of developing it again.
People usually take to drug abuse in order to curb the stress caused due to the following:
- Family Issues
- Pressure at Work
- Growing Competition in Schools and Colleges
- Relationship Problems
- Financial Issues
- Feeling of Emptiness
Besides, it can also be a genetic problem. Whatever be the reason, it is essential to understand that drug abuse only aggravates the problems rather than solving them. It is thus wise to stay away from it. Those who have already fallen prey to this problem can seek expert guidance to overcome it. Proper medication, support from loved ones and strong will power can take one out of the dark world of drug abuse. The treatment for drug abuse is extended over a long period so as to ensure that the problem does not relapse.
Drug Abuse Essay 2 (300 words)
Drug abuse refers to obsessive and excessive use of drugs. It impacts a person’s mental as well as physical health mainly causing damage to the brain. Drugs are initially taken by choice owing to different reasons. However, gradually it becomes difficult to resist them. There are different reasons why people take the road to drugs. Here is a look at these and also the ways to curb this problem.
Reasons for Drug Abuse
- Family/Relationship Problems
Many people have problems in their family. For them, drug abuse seems to be an easy escape from the stress caused due to those problems. Youngsters, particularly try to tackle their relationship problems by way of drug abuse.
- Work Pressure
Pressure at work place and competition at the school and college level is another major cause of drug abuse.
It is often seen that a person’s genes also play a significant role in him/ her turning addict. The problem usually, not necessarily, runs in the family.
The feeling of loneliness or emptiness can also force a person to turn to drugs.
Medication for Drug Abuse
Different types of medications are given to people suffering from different stages of drug abuse. Here is a look at these:
- Staying in Treatment
The patient’s brain needs to be trained to adapt to the absence of drugs. This treatment helps the patients control their craving for drugs.
- Withdrawal Treatment
People who stop using drugs can experience symptoms such as stress, anxiety, mood swings, etc. They are prescribed medications to overcome these symptoms.
- Prevent Relapse
There are many factors that can trigger a relapse. Medications are being developed to control these triggers.
Drug Abuse is a common problem these days. Though hard to resist, the usage of drugs can be controlled with proper medication and guidance.
Drug Abuse Essay 3 (400 words)
Drug abuse is a chronic disease. Those who abuse drugs are unable to resist them despite being fully aware about their harmful consequences. Regular intake of drugs can damage the brain adversely and can also lead to various other health problems. Brain changes caused due to heavy intake of drugs can be persistent. Drug addiction is thus known to be a relapsing problem. Here is a look at the various causes of drug abuse and also the ways to overcome this problem:
Factors Causing Drug Abuse
The factors causing drug abuse have mainly been classified in three categories. Here is a look at each of these in detail:
A person’s environment includes various factors such as his social status, family, friends, professional life, etc. Problems in the family, bad company, competition at work and lack of proper guidance and support from parents or teachers can often lead to drug abuse.
Drug abuse can also be a genetic problem. A child stands a high chance of falling prey to drug abuse if either of his parents has been under the influence of the same. Certain mental disorders can also cause a person to turn towards drugs.
Though drug addiction can develop at any age however those who begin taking drugs at an early age have a high chance of getting addicted. This is because those areas in their brain that are responsible for self-control, judgement and decision making are still in their development stage. This is the reason why teenagers are more prone to drug abuse.
Ways to Cure Drug Abuse
Though difficult, there are ways to cure the problem of drug abuse. Here is how:
It is suggested to visit a doctor and seek proper medication to overcome this problem. Most of those who are suffering from this grave problem are recommended to join a rehabilitation centre to control it.
The damage caused due to drug abuse must be replenished in order to become physically and mentally fit and this can only be done by having a healthy diet. It is also suggested to exercise regularly in order to keep stress at bay.
Drug abuse, mainly caused in an attempt to overcome emotional upheaval in one’s life, can be self damaging. It is suggested to stick to a healthy lifestyle and steer clear of unhealthy practices such as dependence on drugs or alcohol to stay fit and active.
Drug Abuse Essay 4 (500 words)
Drug abuse is excessive, compulsive and repeated use of drugs. It is a chronic disease that can damage a person’s physical as well as mental health beyond repair. Initially, a person takes drugs by choice. However, after some time it becomes almost impossible for him/ her to resist them. Drug addiction is difficult to control and is often referred to as a relapsing disease. It mainly impacts the brain.
Why does this problem occur?
Different people get addicted to drugs owing to different reasons. Here is a look at some of the main reasons that lead to this problem:
Many people take to drugs to overcome the feeling of loneliness. Many a times, people feel that they have no one to share their joys and sorrows with and they eventually take to drugs in order to get rid of this feeling.
Growing competition in schools, colleges and at work leads to pressure which is often difficult to handle. Many people turn to drugs in order to handle this pressure.
- Relationship Problems
This is also a common reason for drug abuse. Youngsters often take to drugs in order to overcome the emotional upheaval caused due to failed relationships.
Many people, mostly teenagers are just curious to find out how drugs taste as well as their after effects. Little do they know that this experimenting can lead to addiction before they would even realise.
Drug abuse is often hereditary. If any of the parents is addicted to drugs, the child has a high risk of incurring the problem.
How to curb this problem?
While it is difficult to get out of the dark world of drug abuse and it is highly likely for the problem to relapse, there are certain things that can help those trying to get rid of this problem. These are discussed below in detail:
- Expert Consultation
It is suggested to consult a doctor or better still join a rehabilitation centre in order to get rid of drug abuse. As easy as it is to fall prey to this problem, it is equally difficult to come out of it. The step by step approach followed at the rehabilitation centres is an effective way to curb this issue.
- Eat Healthy
Your mental as well as physical health deteriorates due to heavy intake of drugs. In order to replenish the lost nutrients, it is suggested to have a healthy diet.
Physical activities such as jogging, dancing, swimming, yoga, etc promote the growth of endorphins also known as the happy hormones. It is suggested to indulge in such activities to get rid of drug addiction as reducing the drug dosage can increase the stress level.
Drug Abuse is a grave problem. Especially common among the youth these days, it can be damaging for those who are addicted as well as the ones related to them. The sensitivity of the issue must be recognized and one must not start this practice in any case. Remember, there are better ways to handle problems such as loneliness, fear, anxiety and heart break.
Drug Abuse Essay 5 (600 words)
Drug abuse, the compulsive and excessive use of drugs, particularly impacts a person’s brain. It causes brain changes that make it difficult for a person to practice self-control and interfere with their power to defy the urge to take drugs. The changes in the functioning of the brain are inexorable and this is the reason why it often relapses. Even those who recover stand a high risk of returning to drugs even after years of recovery. However, this does not mean that the treatment is not effective enough. One must ensure that the treatment is not stopped. It is an ongoing process though the doctors alter the medication from time to time on the basis of the response received from the patients.
What causes Drug Addiction?
Different people fall prey to this self-damaging habit due to different reasons. Some of the key reasons for drug addiction are shared below:
- Feeling of Emptiness
Feeling of emptiness can be the worst feeling and is often difficult to handle. To get rid of these feelings, many people take the road to drugs. They feel that drugs will help them fill the void.
- Work Pressure
Many students begin taking drugs to overcome the study related stress. Similarly, there is so much pressure in the corporate offices these days that people are unable to cope up with it. They often turn towards drugs to deal with the stress and anxiety caused at work.
- Family/ Relationship problems
Many people also tend to begin taking drugs to overcome stress caused due to family issues or relationship problems and eventually become addicted to the same.
Teenagers often try drugs just for experimenting and get addicted to them before they even realise. Teenagers are more prone to get addicted to them.
Drug addiction can even be genetic. It is often seen that this problem runs in the families. So, there is a high risk of children getting addicted if their parents abuse drugs.
- Drugs Available on Prescription
Most drugs prescribed by the doctors are as addictive as the street drugs. Many people mistake them as safe and repeated use of these leads to addiction.
Measures to Overcome Drug Addiction
Overcoming drug addiction can be difficult. However, it is not impossible. With the help of medication, expert guidance and support from family and friends, one can overcome this problem. Discussed below are some measures to help you overcome drug abuse.
- Consult Doctor
It takes much more than a strong will power when it comes to getting rid of drug addiction. If you have taken the plunge to get out of the dark world of drugs then it is suggested to consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Reducing drug dosage may result in increased level of stress. You can overcome this to a large extent by indulging in physical activities such as jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing and yoga among others.
- Eat Healthy
Your physical health especially brain deteriorates because of regular intake of drugs. It is thus advised to have food that contains all the essential nutrients.
- Talk to Close Ones
Instead of keeping your feelings to yourself, it is suggested to vent them out. Talk to your family and friends about your issues. This is a good way to de-stress rather than relying on drugs.
Drug abuse is a growing problem, especially among the youths. There are many reasons that lead to this problem and the impact it has is extremely damaging. It is essential to spread awareness about the negative repercussions of drugs to discourage their use. Those gripped by this problem must consult a doctor and seek help from those close to them to come out of hellish world of drug abuse.
Speech on Drug Abuse
People are most likely to begin abusing drugs*—including tobacco, alcohol, and illegal and prescription drugs—during adolescence and young adulthood.‡
By the time they are seniors, almost 70 percent of high school students will have tried alcohol, half will have taken an illegal drug, nearly 40 percent will have smoked a cigarette, and more than 20 percent will have used a prescription drug for a nonmedical purpose.1 There are many reasons adolescents use these substances, including the desire for new experiences, an attempt to deal with problems or perform better in school, and simple peer pressure. Adolescents are “biologically wired” to seek new experiences and take risks, as well as to carve out their own identity. Trying drugs may fulfill all of these normal developmental drives, but in an unhealthy way that can have very serious long-term consequences.
Many factors influence whether an adolescent tries drugs, including the availability of drugs within the neighborhood, community, and school and whether the adolescent’s friends are using them. The family environment is also important: Violence, physical or emotional abuse, mental illness, or drug use in the household increase the likelihood an adolescent will use drugs. Finally, an adolescent’s inherited genetic vulnerability; personality traits like poor impulse control or a high need for excitement; mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD; and beliefs such as that drugs are “cool” or harmless make it more likely that an adolescent will use drugs.2
The adolescent brain is often likened to a car with a fully functioning gas pedal (the reward system) but weak brakes (the prefrontal cortex).
Source: PNAS 101:8174–8179, 2004.
The teenage years are a critical window of vulnerability to substance use disorders, because the brain is still developing and malleable (a property known as neuroplasticity), and some brain areas are less mature than others. The parts of the brain that process feelings of reward and pain—crucial drivers of drug use—are the first to mature during childhood. What remains incompletely developed during the teen years are the prefrontal cortex and its connections to other brain regions. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for assessing situations, making sound decisions, and controlling our emotions and impulses; typically this circuitry is not mature until a person is in his or her mid-20s (see figure).
The adolescent brain is often likened to a car with a fully functioning gas pedal (the reward system) but weak brakes (the prefrontal cortex). Teenagers are highly motivated to pursue pleasurable rewards and avoid pain, but their judgment and decision-making skills are still limited. This affects their ability to weigh risks accurately and make sound decisions, including decisions about using drugs. For these reasons, adolescents are a major target for prevention messages promoting healthy, drug-free behavior and giving young people encouragement and skills to avoid the temptations of experimenting with drugs.3
Most teens do not escalate from trying drugs to developing an addiction or other substance use disorder;# however, even experimenting with drugs is a problem. Drug use can be part of a pattern of risky behavior including unsafe sex, driving while intoxicated, or other hazardous, unsupervised activities. And in cases when a teen does develop a pattern of repeated use, it can pose serious social and health risks, including:
- school failure
- problems with family and other relationships
- loss of interest in normal healthy activities
- impaired memory
- increased risk of contracting an infectious disease (like HIV or hepatitis C) via risky sexual behavior or sharing contaminated injection equipment
- mental health problems—including substance use disorders of varying severity
- the very real risk of overdose death
How drug use can progress to addiction.
Different drugs affect the brain differently, but a common factor is that they all raise the level of the chemical dopamine in brain circuits that control reward and pleasure.
The brain is wired to encourage life-sustaining and healthy activities through the release of dopamine. Everyday rewards during adolescence—such as hanging out with friends, listening to music, playing sports, and all the other highly motivating experiences for teenagers—cause the release of this chemical in moderate amounts. This reinforces behaviors that contribute to learning, health, well-being, and the strengthening of social bonds.
Despite popular belief, willpower alone is often insufficient to overcome an addiction. Drug use has compromised the very parts of the brain that make it possible to “say no.”
Drugs, unfortunately, are able to hijack this process. The “high” produced by drugs represents a flooding of the brain’s reward circuits with much more dopamine than natural rewards generate. This creates an especially strong drive to repeat the experience. The immature brain, already struggling with balancing impulse and self-control, is more likely to take drugs again without adequately considering the consequences.4 If the experience is repeated, the brain reinforces the neural links between pleasure and drug-taking, making the association stronger and stronger. Soon, taking the drug may assume an importance in the adolescent’s life out of proportion to other rewards.
The development of addiction is like a vicious cycle: Chronic drug use not only realigns a person’s priorities but also may alter key brain areas necessary for judgment and self-control, further reducing the individual’s ability to control or stop their drug use. This is why, despite popular belief, willpower alone is often insufficient to overcome an addiction. Drug use has compromised the very parts of the brain that make it possible to “say no.”
Not all young people are equally at risk for developing an addiction. Various factors including inherited genetic predispositions and adverse experiences in early life make trying drugs and developing a substance use disorder more likely. Exposure to stress (such as emotional or physical abuse) in childhood primes the brain to be sensitive to stress and seek relief from it throughout life; this greatly increases the likelihood of subsequent drug abuse and of starting drug use early.5 In fact, certain traits that put a person at risk for drug use, such as being impulsive or aggressive, manifest well before the first episode of drug use and may be addressed by prevention interventions during childhood.6 By the same token, a range of factors, such as parenting that is nurturing or a healthy school environment, may encourage healthy development and thereby lessen the risk of later drug use.
Drug use at an early age is an important predictor of development of a substance use disorder later. The majority of those who have a substance use disorder started using before age 18 and developed their disorder by age 20.7 The likelihood of developing a substance use disorder is greatest for those who begin use in their early teens. For example, 15.2 percent of people who start drinking by age 14 eventually develop alcohol abuse or dependence (as compared to just 2.1 percent of those who wait until they are 21 or older),8 and 25 percent of those who begin abusing prescription drugs at age 13 or younger develop a substance use disorder at some time in their lives.9 Tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana are the first addictive substances most people try. Data collected in 2012 found that nearly 13 percent of those with a substance use disorder began using marijuana by the time they were 14.10
When substance use disorders occur in adolescence, they affect key developmental and social transitions, and they can interfere with normal brain maturation. These potentially lifelong consequences make addressing adolescent drug use an urgent matter. Chronic marijuana use in adolescence, for example, has been shown to lead to a loss of IQ that is not recovered even if the individual quits using in adulthood.11 Impaired memory or thinking ability and other problems caused by drug use can derail a young person’s social and educational development and hold him or her back in life.
The serious health risks of drugs compound the need to get an adolescent who is abusing drugs into treatment as quickly as possible. Also, adolescents who are abusing drugs are likely to have other issues such as mental health problems accompanying and possibly contributing to their substance use, and these also need to be addressed.12 Unfortunately, less than one third of adolescents admitted to substance abuse treatment who have other mental health issues receive any care for their conditions.13
Adolescents' drug use and treatment needs differ from those of adults.
Adolescents in treatment report abusing different substances than adult patients do. For example, many more people aged 12–17 received treatment for marijuana use than for alcohol use in 2011 (65.5 percent versus 42.9 percent), whereas it was the reverse for adults (see figure). When adolescents do drink alcohol, they are more likely than adults to binge drink (defined as five or more drinks in a row on a single occasion).14 Adolescents are less likely than adults to report withdrawal symptoms when not using a drug, being unable to stop using a drug, or continued use of a drug in spite of physical or mental health problems; but they are more likely than adults to report hiding their substance use, getting complaints from others about their substance use, and continuing to use in spite of fights or legal trouble.
Adolescents also may be less likely than adults to feel they need help or to seek treatment on their own. Given their shorter histories of using drugs (as well as parental protection), adolescents may have experienced relatively few adverse consequences from their drug use; their incentive to change or engage in treatment may correspond to the number of such consequences they have experienced.15 Also, adolescents may have more difficulty than adults seeing their own behavior patterns (including causes and consequences of their actions) with enough detachment to tell they need help.
Only 10 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds needing substance abuse treatment actually receive any services.16 When they do get treatment, it is often for different reasons than adults. By far, the largest proportion of adolescents who receive treatment are referred by the juvenile justice system (see figure). Given that adolescents with substance use problems often feel they do not need help, engaging young patients in treatment often requires special skills and patience.
Many treatment approaches are available to address the unique needs of adolescents.
The focus of this guide is on evidence-based treatment approaches―those that have been scientifically tested and found to be effective in the treatment of adolescent substance abuse. Whether delivered in residential or inpatient settings or offered on an outpatient basis, effective treatments for adolescents primarily consist of some form of behavioral therapy. Addiction medications, while effective and widely prescribed for adults, are not generally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for adolescents. However, preliminary evidence from controlled trials suggest that some medications may assist adolescents in achieving abstinence, so providers may view their young patients’ needs on a case-by-case basis in developing a personalized treatment plan.
Whatever a person’s age, treatment is not “one size fits all.” It requires taking into account the needs of the whole person—including his or her developmental stage and cognitive abilities and the influence of family, friends, and others in the person’s life, as well as any additional mental or physical health conditions. Such issues should be addressed at the same time as the substance use treatment. When treating adolescents, clinicians must also be ready and able to manage complications related to their young patients’ confidentiality and their dependence on family members who may or may not be supportive of recovery.
Supporting Ongoing Recovery—Sustaining Treatment Gains and Preventing Relapse.
Enlisting and engaging the adolescent in treatment is only part of a sometimes long and complex recovery process.17 Indeed, treatment is often seen as part of a continuum of care. When an adolescent requires substance abuse treatment, follow-up care and recovery support (e.g., mutual-help groups like 12-step programs) may be important for helping teens stay off drugs and improving their quality of life.
When substance use disorders are identified and treated in adolescence—especially if they are mild or moderate—they frequently give way to abstinence from drugs with no further problems. Relapse is a possibility, however, as it is with other chronic diseases like diabetes or asthma. Relapse should not be seen as a sign that treatment failed but as an occasion to engage in additional or different treatment. Averting and detecting relapse involves monitoring by the adolescent, parents, and teachers, as well as follow-up by treatment providers. Although recovery support programs are not a substitute for formal evidence-based treatment, they may help some adolescents maintain a positive and productive drug-free lifestyle that promotes meaningful and beneficial relationships and connections to family, peers, and the community both during treatment and after treatment ends. Whatever services or programs are used, an adolescent’s path to recovery will be strengthened by support from family members, non-drug-using peers, the school, and others in his or her life.
* In this guide, the terms drugs and substances are used interchangeably to refer to tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medications used for nonmedical reasons.
‡ Specifying the period of adolescence is complicated because it may be defined by different variables, and policymakers and researchers may disagree on the exact age boundaries. For purposes of this guide, adolescents are considered to be people between the ages of 12 and 17.
# For purposes of this guide, the term addiction refers to compulsive drug seeking and use that persists even in the face of devastating consequences; it may be regarded as equivalent to a severe substance use disorder as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5, 2013). The spectrum of substance use disorders in the DSM-5 includes the criteria for the DSM-4 diagnostic categories of abuse and dependence.
** “Treatment providers” in this chart refers to “alcohol/drug abuse care providers.” Treatment providers can and do refer people to treatment if, for example, a person is transferring from one level of treatment to another and the original facility does not provide the level of treatment that the person needs, or if a person changes facilities for some other reason. “Other health care professionals” refers to physicians, psychiatrists, or other licensed health care professionals or general hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, mental health programs, or nursing homes.