Drug abuse or substance abuse refers to the use of certain chemicals for the purpose of creating pleasurable effects on the brain. There are over 190 million drug users around the world and the problem has been increasing at alarming rates, especially among young adults under the age of 30.
Apart from the long term damage to the body drug abuse causes, drug addicts who use needles are also at risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis B and C infections.
Causes of drug use
* Drugs of abuse are usually psychoactive drugs that are used by people for various different reasons which may include:
* Curiosity and peer pressure, especially among school children and young adults
* The use of prescription drugs that were originally intended to target pain relief may have turned into recreational use and become addictive
* Chemicals may be used as part of religious practices or rituals
* As a means of obtaining creative inspiration
Drugs of abuse fall into three groups and these include:
* Depressants: These cause depression of the brain's faculties and examples include sleeping pills (barbiturates) and heroin.
* Stimulants: These cause stimulation of the brain, giving rise to alertness and increased bursts of activity. A rapid heart rate, dilated pupils, raised blood pressure, nausea or vomiting and behavioral changes such as agitation, and impaired judgment may also result. In severe cases, there may be delusional psychosis which can occur with the use of cocaine and amphetamines.
* Hallucinogens: These cause hallucinations and an "out of this world" feeling of dissociation from oneself. Hallucinogens may cause distorted sensory perception, delusion, paranoia and even depression. Examples include ecstasy, mescaline and LSD.