Substance Abuse and Addiction Essay

Substance Abuse and Addiction

Substance Abuse and Addiction


Ms. Campbell
Monday, June 2, 2014

This study is to show the impact on substance use and addiction on families, and the
individuals involved. This topic is important because it will contain detailed information
about the causes and effects of drug use, and the impact of substance abuse on society.
Substance use is the consumption of low or infrequent doses of alcohol and other drugs,

sometimes called experimental, casual, or social use, such that damaging consequences may
be rare or minor. Addiction is the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular
substance, thing, or activity. In a CAMH 2009 study, 17.8% of Ontario students in gr. 7-12
use prescription pain relievers non-medically. That’s just under 200,000 students – and
that’s just Ontario! Prescription drugs are the third most commonly abused substances by
students in Ontario behind alcohol and marijuana. This research will explain the different
types of substance abuse such as, no use, experimental use, social or occasional use,
meditational use, harmful use and dependence.

Substance abuse can include, alcohol, prescription drugs, street drugs and any form of
opioids. These types of substances when abused can lead to criminal penalty, and can harm
the user physically, socially, and psychologically. My main research questions is: How
does substance abuse and addiction affect an individual and the society? A potential
answer to this question can be it effects the persons health, social life and can cause
financial issues through rehab treatments or supporting the addiction. Substance abuse
affects the society because it is linked to homelessness, crime rates, and also influences
violent and risky behavior which is costly to society. Other questions that will be
answered include:

• What Are the Harmful Consequences of Drug Use?
• Why Do People Use Drugs?
• What is addiction?

These three questions will go more in depth to the main research question, which will lead
to a better understanding of substance abuse and addiction and its effect on a person and

What Are the Harmful Consequences of Drug Use?
Drugs are not considered harmful when used for medical purposes, illegal drug use causes
harmful consequences such as, physical, mental, legal, economic and social problems.
Safety hazards are a main concern for drug users, because they can distort reality, and
can cause impaired sense of memory,and attention.This can cause the user harm to
themselves or others around, ex, driving under the influence is a danger to an individual
and the society. Knowing the tolerance level is another main factor for an individual
using, users tend to increase their drug dosage in order to get the same effect, the body
does not have always adapt to the new tolerance level, which leads to organ failure and
overdose (O’Toole, 2014). Overdose can be fatal and may cause death depending on what drug
and how much it is consumed, if survived from an overdose it leads to many metal and
physical disabilities. Excessive use of substances lead to physical and mental health
problems. Physical problems vary from what kind of substance being abused, alcohol will
damage the liver, smoking tobacco or marijuana will damage the lungs, using needles to
inject may cause HIV or Aids, and sniffing any form of powered drugs will damage the nose
tissues. Drugs can also cause lung cancer, leukemia,and ovarian cancer( Associated Press,
2014). Mental health can include behavior problems, anxiety, depression, memory loss, and
learning disability. Mental and physical health problems are the most harmful consequences

an addict will have to face. According to a study published this month in The Lancet by
Dr. Ben Kim, alcohol and tobacco rank among the ten most dangerous substances used by
humans. Both alcohol and tobacco have been assessed to be more dangerous than illegal
drugs like marijuana or ecstasy.

Substance abuse and addiction can be just as harmful to the society as it is to the
individual. Crime and violence correlate with substance abuse, in many studies and
investigations it shows that most crime offenders have or use drugs. Date rape is a common
example to show the correlation between drugs and crime, drugs such as Rohypnol, Ketamine
and GHB. The drugs can make the victim have loss of muscle control, sight impairment, loss
of consciousness, problem talking and many more effects. These affects make it easy for
the for the offender to approach the victim, this is a prime example for crime related
with substance abuse (Lightfoot, 2014). Illegally sold drugs cannot be trusted, they are
made in non sanitary places and can be laced with different other drugs, which may make
the person more addicted, and can cause an overdose, or other health problems. Selling and
using drugs on the streets are seen within every society, any substance related
convictions have serious consequences. Having drug related charges, destroy any future
jobs especially for potential athletes, or any high position jobs. Crimes, violence and
job related issues are the main consequences of drug use that affect the society and
others around.These are some harmful consequences to the individual and society of
substance abuse and addiction.

Why do people use drugs?
People use drugs for different reasons, some do it as an escape from reality, some to do
it for experience, and others use it for medical purposes. Using drugs for medical
purposes can be harmful because they may have harmful side affects, a BBC new report
quoted “No drug is completely safe, even paracetamol comes with side effects”
(Gallagher,2014). Personal reasons such as curiosity is a reason why people start using
drugs. Since drugs are a common topic for conversations, and some people may know someone
who uses drugs, it is only human nature to want to know and explore different things. This
curiosity is more common among teenagers who easily get influenced. Emotional pressure is
a reason why people do drugs, they feel the need to cure their emotional problems such as
stress, anxiety, anger, and depression. These people may use drugs to try to forget about
a traumatic past event, or for treatment of any mental illness. Others use it due to their
low self esteem, they feel that the high of the drug gives them more confidence. Teenagers
usually use drugs because of boredom, or as an act of rebellion against society
(Chung,2014). First time users often get addicted because of positive reinforcement. If
the user realizes that the substance gives a positive and pleasurable high, that person is
more likely to use the drug again and become addicted. Positive reinforcement can include
feelings such as, relaxation, energy, pain relief, stress relief and enhancing any type of
performance. Another reason for why people do drugs is because of previous experience with
drugs. There is also a high correlation between smoking tobacco and cannabis use said in
health Canada.Also, those who start to smoke or drink early in adolescence are more likely

to develop drug problems in later life, than those who begin smoking or drinking in later
adolescence. These are some personal factors to why someone might start using

Media and communications have a huge role in the usage of drugs which affect individuals
in a society. Any form of media such as, advertisement, radio, TV, newspaper, movies,
internet and etc. These forms of media sometimes promote substance use, and since people
look up to the media and celebrities, it affects the individuals opinion on
drugs(Tozzi,2014). Teenagers are exposed to alcohol and substance abuse on online music
videos, and many rap videos promote drug use. Adolescents who idealize these rappers are
more likely to be influenced by their music videos, lyrics and behavior. Forms of media
suggest that drinking and smoking is socially accepted, and in order to be a more social
being, occasional drinking and smoking is a norm. Some advertisements fail to show the
negative sides effects of substance abuse, therefor promoting it. Social pressure and,
peer pressure to use drugs can be very intimidating, especially if a group of friends are
doing them. If a child witnesses their parents drinking or smoking, the child is most
likely to develop that behavior. In any society, some teenagers believe doing drugs is the
key to social acceptance, and if they do not participate in doing so, they feel excluded.
Most teenagers think that drinking and smoking (cigaret’s or cannabis) is a norm, and they
do not consider the consequences when they are involving themselves in these illegal
activities. There are also group pressures, which may include individuals who are body
builders and, competitive sports players. These groups of people have a huge affect on

young males, they strive to look like them, but most do not have the patience to work
hard, therefor they take an easy way out by doing drugs, such as steroids. They feel that
in order to achieve a certain look, it is acceptable to use look enhancing substances.
People who stay abstinent from the use of substances feel excluded from the society, since
the majority of people have used it in some point of their life, or still currently use
it. World wide Celebrations promote substance use, such as in St. Patricks days or new
years it is a social thing to drink alcohol. Substance use may be a part of any other
cultural or religious celebrations.Therefor, most people use substances due to social
pressure, celebrations, also because of medias representations of drug use.

What is addiction?
Addiction is often used to refer to any behavior that is out of control in some way.
People often describe themselves as being addicted to, for example, a TV show or
shopping.It is described when someone has withdrawal symptoms after the action is stopped.
There are 4C’s as way of describing addiction:

• Craving
• Loss of control of amount or frequency of use
• Compulsion to use
• Use despite consequences.

First time experimenters with drugs usually continue them because the substance gives them

a good feeling, and a desirable high. There is a difference between occasional substance
use and addiction, however most addicts are not aware of their addiction, and do not know
when they have crossed the line. The amount of drug use does not determine addiction or
substance abuse, addiction usually indicates drug related problems.

Issues that can detect addiction are:
■ Problems can sometimes sneak up on you, as your drug use gradually increases over
time. For example, can change to using drugs a couple of days a week, then every day.
Gradually, getting and using the drug becomes more and more important to you.

■ If the drug fulfills a valuable need, you may find yourself increasingly relying
on it. For example, you may take drugs to calm you if you feel anxious or stressed,
energize you if you feel depressed, or make you more confident in social situations if you
normally feel shy.

■ As drug abuse takes hold, you may miss or frequently be late for work or school,
your job performance may progressively deteriorate, and you start to neglect social or
family obligations.

Addiction is the result of someone being physically or psychologically dependent on any
substance, which makes them dependent on it. The drug itself does not matter, a person
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