Friday, March 29, 2013

Alcohol and drug abuse

Alcohol and drug abuse
According to the diagnostic and statistical manual, IV (DSM-IV) of the American psychiatric association  cited in Engel & Schutt (pp. 66) states that substance abuse [drug and alcohol abuse] refers to the use of  a substance repeatedly to levels that it begins to interfere with the users self-care, social interactions and work.  Since humans are social animals and their interactions with each other can impact either positively or negative on an individual in the society. Substance use tales place in a rapidly changing cultural and social environment thus this forms the basis of which substances are available, desirable and acceptable. A person’s exposure to substances is influenced by the individual interactions that the given individual has in the society.
The use of drugs is almost 1000 years old, it is recorded that  the  early Egyptians consumed beer, while narcotics use has been  there since 4000 BC and marijuana was also used in china as a medicines as early as 2737 BC (Cherry, Dillon & Rugh, pp. xiii).Drug abuse has undergone several transformations in the United States. It began in the 19th century when alcohol was the main source of addiction for many people. Legislation was also passed in 1912 to control international trafficking of narcotics (Lowinson; et al, 3-5). The paper therefore seeks to evaluate the roles of human interaction in the development and continued abuse of substance.
How learned behavior contribute to development continued substance abuse
Parental upbringing is also a contributing factor towards alcohol and drug abuse.  Hughes as cited in Lowinson et al. (pp. 39) notes that children mostly teenagers who lived with parents or older siblings who were smokers had a higher tendencies to be smokers themselves than teenagers who lived with parents who were non smokers. Major transitions in the lives of people can incline them towards drug abuse for instance when they move away from home and have to face the life ahead of them alone. Transitions can also occur in terms of major events in the life such as divorce or moving t new neighborhoods
Peer substance abuse is where the friends that a person interacts with are drug users and thus there is pressure created on the person to join the vice. The youth who refuses to join are treated as outcasts in the    group. Once a person begins to use the drugs and alcohol he is further introduced to more varieties thus increasing their addiction levels. Exposure of teenagers to drug abuse during their adolescence can have very detrimental effects on them.
Lure of easy cash in situations of poor economic conditions. Thus a person can get into the drug and alcohol abuse as a means to escape the reality that they face. Poverty has driven many people to start using drugs and alcohol. In the poor neighborhoods and ghettos, the youth engage in drugs so that it can give them courage to commit heinous crimes that they engage in to make ends meet. The youth can graduate to more hard drugs since the effects of the drugs on the individual wanes with the increasing use and therefore the need to explore new means of getting stupefied. Low parental support and low mutual support of the children and other members of the family also contribute to the adolescents abusing drugs and alcohol. When there is no proper guidance of the youth by the people whom they initially trusted, they will look out for directions from their peers and even the schools. Many youths have been introduced to the abuse of drugs and alcohols by their classmates in schools. Since this group of people has not been told what is wrong or right, they continue to use the drugs. (Robinson, David and Rao, p. 10-11)
High stress levels which may arise from neglect by people who should take care of them. People can resort to the use of drugs to deal with the drug problems that they may be having. They see drugs as a possible escape route out of their tribulations. In the poor neighborhoods, where people live in squalid conditions with inadequate space often have higher levels of stress among the inhabitants. There are very small living areas thus people spend a significant part of their time in the community blocks with people having the same problems as them. One person can introduce the whole lot into the abuse of drugs and alcohol as a form of relieving stress.  Since the initial problem that brought about the use of alcohol has not been tackled, the use of drugs and alcohol is maintained leading to addiction and the point of no return (Robinson, David & Rao, p. 11-13). Several human studies have shown that if an individual is exposed to extreme life events and chronic distress, then they were highly likely to be alcohol or drug abusers. When the distress in the early life is as a result of sexual abuse, the inclination that the child will grow up to be a dug or alcohol abuser at an early age will be high (Sinha, pp. 3-7)
Many aspects of family life contribute to drug use for instance the notion that drugs can help solve problems. When people grow up in neighborhoods or interact with people who engage in drug abuse when they perceive to be in some kind of problem lead their siblings to believe that the drugs solves problems. Such persons who are exposed to the behavior will always resort to alcohol and drugs to help them forget their problems which might be wide ranging such as abuse by their parents (Ogborne, pp. 2-9). This inclination towards drugs can continue to levels that the person cannot get themselves out of the problem and thus they sink deeper and deeper into substance abuse
Some societies put so much emphasis on the individual as opposed to the society for instance America where alcohol and drug abuse is viewed as an individual problem. This is not the case, as in addition to the actual user of the drug, other persons in the society are affected. A very strong factor that leads to drug and alcohol use is the denial of the existence of the problem in the family interactions.  According to Ogborne (pp. 9-19), a person can have drug or alcohol problem but the family will deny the existence of the problem among them. When there are suspected symptoms that one member of the family is involved in substance abuse, the members of the family may distort the facts of the case in order to maintain a “sense of normalcy in the family”.
The people a person interacts with for instance the family, can also help fuel the use of drugs. The family can act as a shield between the person who is abusing substance and the legal authority. They allow the activity to flourish by creating wrong illusions that no problem exists in the family. In some cases, parents of children who are addicted to drugs create other centers of attractions so that attention can be shifted from the drug user. This new circumstances can encourage the abuser to continue with the activities since they are out of the spotlight. (Langfield et al., pp. 3).
Finally, the influence of the media cannot be underrated, the popular Hip culture which show the use of drugs and alcohol as a good lifestyle. This has been popularized in the songs and other avenues. Since the youth look up to this people as mentors, they creep slowly into the world of drug use. The continued abuse of drugs will lead to addiction and the individual cannot reverse back to where the problem started. The mixed messages have continued to be sent to the youth as Floyd & Seale (pp. 43) notes that:
…New age wanna-be-guru Carlos Castaneda… lauded the efficacy of hallucinogens as tools for comprehending the mysteries of life…The 1969 film Easy Rider … pictured dope-users [usage] merely as harmless pilgrims in search of meaning for their lives…Hippies touted ‘flower power’ while ingesting opium…
How genetics contribute to development continued substance abuse
Lowinson et al. (pp. 34-36) argue that there is a significant high number of drug and alcohol abuse in people whose parents have the condition. They note further that the risk of alcoholism in children whose parents are alcoholics is five times higher than the prevalence in children of non-alcoholics. There findings found its validation in the fact that the children lived in the same environment with the parents who exhibit this characteristics. Genetics influence how the drugs and alcohol are used up in the body. Genes have been found to influence the responses of people towards drugs and alcohol after use or consumption and those people who have relatives who are alcoholics are greatly susceptible to alcohol.
The sustained abuse of drugs and alcohol has been found to alter the body of the abusers reactions to the presence of these substances thus there will be the urge for a person to increase the dosage to continue deriving the same satisfaction as before. When such persons stops or withdraws from the use of the drugs or alcohol, their lives can be in danger. The adaptations can be a result of changes in the metabolic activities. This explains why those who heavily abuse drugs and alcohol find it very difficult to stop.
Ruiz, Strain & Langrod (pp. 7-9) argue that genetic factors play a significant role in the development and continuation of drug and alcohol abuse but care should be taken as not to blame all cases of drug dependence on the genetics rather than the other factors such as the environmental interactions. It should be noted that environmental factors work hand in hand with the genetic composition of an individual to produce dependency on a substance which a person indulges in.
The problem of drug and substance abuse is that which has persisted over the years. Since the very start of man’s recorded history, there are people who have battled with the problem of drug abuse. The interactions between different groups of people have produced different results in the course of the fight against drug and alcohol abuse. The family, where an individual is raised should be at the fore front in helping people overcome the problems created by drug and alcohol dependency. The family should be free and stand up to accept substance abuse cases that might exist in the family. There should also be the increased surveillance in the schools to help cut down on the cases where students are introduced to substance in schools.

Works Cited
Cherry, Andrew; Dillon, Mary and Rugh, Douglas. Substance abuse: a global view. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.
Engel, Rafael and Schutt, Russell. The practice of research in social work. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2005.
Floyd, Michael and Seale, Paul. Substance abuse: a patient-centered approach. Abingdon, U.K.: Radcliffe Medical Press, 2002.
Langfield, Peter et al. Family: Adolescent Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse no. 10.216. Consumer Series, 2002.
Lowinson, Joyce et al. Substance abuse: a comprehensive textbook. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005.
Ogborne, Alan. Theories of Addiction and Implications for Counseling .Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) retrieved on 03rd August, 2011 from
Robinson, Elizabeth; David, Susan and Rao, Suman. Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents: A Research-based Guide For Parents, Educators, And Community Leaders: In Brief .Diane Pub Co, 2004.
Ruiz, Pedro, Strain, Eric and Langrod, John. The substance abuse handbook. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2007.
Sinha, Rajita. How does stress increase risk of drug abuse and relapse? Published online: 26 October 2001. Springer-Verlag 2001