Alcohol and Drug Addiction
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This paper is a reflection of addiction in the United States and the statistics that prove addiction is a major issue within the country. Discussed in the paper will be first the primary causes of addiction and risk factors that may lead to an addiction in an individual. Going further into the problem, the cycle of addiction and how to break free of the cycle and an individual’s addiction is talked about. Since there are different drugs that can cause addiction, a breakdown of certain drugs is given. These drugs include alcohol, prescription drugs, heroin, and marijuana. Next, the side effects of drug addiction to the drugs chosen are described in depth as well as the signs that can be viewed in screening for drug addiction. Resources available to drug addiction are touched on and treatment options to explore what can be done if an individual does suffer from drug addiction. Finally, what human service professionals are doing to assist individuals who are addicted and how they can improve on training to ensure that addiction can be caught early enough to make a difference?
Introduction to Drug Addiction
Addiction is a chronic disease of brain reward, motivation and memory in individuals who submit to any number of different drugs available to them. Such chronic need for the drugs leads to manifestations biologically, psychologically, spiritually and even socially in any given individual (ASAM, 2014). These, however, are primary results so results may differ from one individual to another depending on how their body reacts to the specific drug. These feelings which turn into demands of brain reward lead to the individual pursuing the reward in which they find relief in further subjecting their bodies to such reward (ASAM, 2014). So what causes addiction? How can addiction be screened or treated? These are the questions that will be answered. Causes of Addiction
Depending on an individual, the cause of one’s addiction may vary or even possess multiple causes that lead to addiction. Environmental factors can be common depending on the drug of choice. Environment factors include the beliefs of an individual’s family, the attitude of one’s family and the exposure one gets from peers that may encourage the use of drugs. Genes may also play a role. If an individual has specific inherited traits and tries the same drug used by their family can lead to addiction (Mayo Clinic, 2014).
Certain risk factors have been identified in research conducted on addiction. Though risk factors may play a part in one’s drug addiction, it is important to remember that any individual may become dependent on a drug. These risk factors include: family history, sex, peer pressure, lack of family involvement, anxiety and depression, other psychological problems, and taking highly addictive drugs (Mayo Clinic, 2014). A family history of addiction occurs when addiction is common in families and the individual is directly blood related to the member of the family such as a parent or grandparent. An individual who is male is twice as likely to become addicted to a drug over a female who uses the same drug (Mayo Clinic, 2014).
More common in young people, peer pressure can lead an individual to addiction. This factor is strongest when the individual associates with a group of peers who consistently use a drug. The individual feels it is necessary to subdue to the drug use to remain in the group. If an individual lacks attachment with their parents or not supervised by a parental figure; they are more likely to use and abuse drugs. Finally, when an individual suffers from a psychological problem such a depression, ADD, ADHD, or PTSD are more likely to depend on drugs as a way to make them escape from their mental problems (Mayo Clinic, 2014). Cycle of Addiction
An individual who has become addicted to a drug enters what is called the cycle of addiction. This cycle has seven portions that make up a vicious circle in which all addicts go through (Recovery Connection, 2014). Each section of the cycle is a stage that an addict will go through. Depending on the severity of their addiction will reflect how often an individual will complete the addiction cycle (Recovery Connection, 2014). For example, an addict who is highly addicted to heroin and takes multiple hits of the drug in one day could complete the addiction cycle more than once in a single day. On the other hand, a person who only takes a hit of heroin once every two to three days may go through the addiction cycle two a week.
The seven characteristics of the addiction cycle are: internal frustration, fantasizing, obsession, substance abuse, loss of control, guilt over use, cessation of use, and passage of time. Internal frustration is the paint hat can lead to anxiety and the need for relief of symptoms. Fantasizing is when an individual fantasizes about the use of their drug of choice or the behaviors caused by the drugs to relieve the symptoms (Recovery Connection, 2014). Obsessing is when an individual is obsessed with either the use of the drug or how he/she feels after the use of drugs. Engaging is when the individual takes part in addictive activities. Losing control is when he/she literally loses control over their behavior. Cessation of use is when an individual develops feelings of remorse, guilt and even shame about their actions yet in return lead to feelings of dissatisfaction. The final characteristic known as passage of time is when an individual makes a promise to stop the drug use all together (Recovery Connection, 2014).
These characteristics may seem like the cycle of an addiction and at the end the addiction is overcome. This is not the case. After the final characteristic, passage of time, the individual may or may not return to internal frustration. Depending on the individual and the severity of their drug addiction, either they finally make the choice to get clean or they are forced to get clean such as by a court order or incarceration (Recovery Connection, 2014). Types of Addiction
There are many different types of drugs that an individual can chose from to become addicted to. Alcoholism, prescription drugs, heroin and marijuana are just a few. Each drug affects the body differently and can cause different issues within the body. It can be said that there is no safe drug to take and all drugs can become addicting after a certain amount of time. Alcoholism
Alcoholism is when an individual consumes more alcohol than they body can handle on a regular basis. When consumed, alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream through small blood vessels located in the stomach and the small intestines. It only takes a few minutes after an individual drinks alcohol before it reaches the brain and begins to low the action of nerve cells (Foundation for a Drug-Free World, 2014). This is why the reaction time of an individual under the influence of alcohol is slower than an individual who is not.
The alcohol travels further into the body and to the liver. The liver is what metabolizes the alcohol into a nontoxic form. However, the liver can only convert so much alcohol at once leaving any access alcohol to continue traveling through the body until the liver can complete the detoxification process (Foundation for a Drug-Free World, 2014). Once the amount of alcohol exceeds a certain level, the respiratory system can also slow down drastically. This can cause individual breathing issues and can lead to coma or even death due to lack of oxygen in the brain (Foundation for a Drug-Free World, 2014). Prescriptions
Prescription drugs are regulated by that and can only be obtained with a written prescription by a doctor. The major issue with this is that not everyone is a doctor (Timberline Knolls, 2014). Doctors can tell exactly what milligrams would be safe to take and how often. Without such regulation and knowledge, it is possible to cause serious damage to the brain and body. There are three different classes of prescription medication. They are stimulants which are usually prescribed for ADHD, opiates which are prescribed to treat chronic pain, and tranquilizers or sedatives with are prescribed for anxiety and sleeping disorders (Timberline Knolls, 2014). Heroin
Heroin creates a downer affect that makes an individual feel relaxed primarily due to the chemical changes in the pleasure centers of the brain (Timberline Knolls, 2014). Addicts will continue to pursue this drug to ensure that they reach the same relaxed state as this each time. Heroin has the ability to block the brain from even feeling pain. Obvious signs of a heroin user may be the presence of needles or syringes, burned silver spoons, aluminum foil, burned straws, water pipes and small plastic bags (Timberline Knolls, 2014). Marijuana
Marijuana is another common choice of drugs among individuals. In 2011, it was reported that 12.5% of 8th graders28.8% of 10th graders, and 36.4% of 12th graders reported that they had used marijuana within the last year of their interview (NIH, 2011). Over a year, these percentages may not seem so bad, however when you take a closer look, it was reported that around 23% of senior high school students had used marijuana in the last 30 days of the interview (NIH, 2011). It is a common misconception that marijuana does not cause harm to the human body. In fact, marijuana can be just as addicting as any other drug. Marijuana causes short-term memory loss, slowed reaction times and impaired hand-eye coordination, increased heart rate, and depending on the dose amount, can cause altered moods from euphoria to paranoia (NIH, 2011). Side Effects
Though there are different side effects for each drug of choice, there are similarities regarding addiction. Building up a tolerance to a drug means that it will take more if this drug to get the same effect as an individual’s initial use. All addicts have built up a certain level of tolerance to the drug they are using. All addicts will continue to use their drug so that they do not encounter the withdrawal symptoms as well and most addicts also withdrawal from the activities that they used to enjoy. Alcoholism
Alcohol can flood an individual’s brain with dopamine. Dopamine is located in different portions of the brain as neurotransmitters and control different portions of the brain such as one’s emotions, cognition, motivation, movement and the feeling of pleasure overall (NCADD, 2014). When an individual drinks more than their body can handle and official become drunk is when their system has been overloaded with the substance and they become in a state of euphoria. This sense of feeling is what most addicts are in search of each time they use the substance of their choice. Over time it takes more and more of the substance to gain the same sense of euphoria as originally felt during the first time of use (NCADD, 2014). Prescriptions
Prescription drugs can cause more damage than most other drugs as they are not under doctor’s supervision. Each class possesses different symptoms. Stimulants cause extreme agitation, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, seizures, cardiovascular failure and feeling of paranoia as just a few (Timberline Knolls, 2014). Opiates can cause depression, a decrease in blood pressure, disorientation, constipation and shortness of breath. Finally, Tranquilizers and sedatives can cause drowsiness, confusion, unsteady movements, involuntary gestures or eye movements, trouble with memory and poor judgment or decision-making (Timberline Knolls, 2014). Heroin
When an individual is on heroin they may have restricted pupils, disorientation, dry mouth, and shortness of breath. Heroin addicts can suffer from more severe symptoms such as weight loss, runny nose, needle track marks, and infections and for women, a loss of menstrual cycle (Timberline Knolls, 2014). Behavioral signs can include deceptive behavior, avoiding eye contact, and decreased attention to basic needs such as hygiene loss of motivation and even withdrawal from friends (Timberline Knolls, 2014). Marijuana
Marijuana is now the most commonly used drug in the United States as people believe it causes little to no harm to the body. This is not the case at all. Some short term effects of the use of marijuana are: skewed sensory, impaired coordination, time perception, thinking, concentrating, and problem solving become difficult and decreased alertness (Caron, 2014). Marijuana can bring more severe effects to individual who possess mental disorders such as disturbed thoughts can become more severe in individuals who suffer from mental illnesses such as schizophrenics. Some of the long-term effects of the use of marijuana are: lowered motivation, anxiety, panic attacks, respiratory illnesses, and increased heart rate. The increase in heart rate can also raise the risk of a heart attack for addicts who depend on marijuana (Caron, 2014). Resources Available
There are numerous resources available to individuals who have become drug dependant. Some of the most common resources are rehabilitation facilities. Several communities have such facilities to assist individuals in regaining a normal drug and alcohol free life (New Jersey D.H.S., 2014). Based on each communities needs will depend on exactly what services are provided. Some services that are common are: transportation to and from treatment, employment services, case management and individual service coordination, outreach, relapse prevention, housing assistance and services, childcare, family or marriage education, spiritual support, education and life skills to name a few (New Jersey D.H.S., 2014).
New York City has taken another set in the fight against drugs. Police officers now carry an antidote drug with them on the streets for individuals who are overdosing on heroin. This measure is to save lives rather than have addicts kill themselves whether intentional or not from heroin. This can allow a second chance to getting the assistance that they need before their addiction takes their lives (Barber, 2014).
The state of Tennessee has come up with another way to limit the number of addicts and even newborns who are dependent on drugs by further monitoring what number and types of prescription drugs being released to individuals with the approval of doctors through a system known as the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database (CSMD). This database is part of the Prescription Safety Act of 2012 to monitor and control the prescriptions for opioids or benzodiazepines. With this database in place, addicts and prescription drug dealers alike know as “doctor shoppers” decreased by 50%. It is now possible for all doctors within the state to know whether or not a specific individual has already received certain medication recently and should not be prescribed the same medication at that time (Clarksville Online, 2014).
The state has also developed what is known as prescription drop-off boxes. These boxes allow individuals who have any remaining drugs to safely drop of the prescriptions in these boxes where they can be deposed of properly rather than end up in another individual’s hands such as an addict. Taking it yet another step further, training has begun for health department workers for screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment for individuals who are found to be addicted to drugs (Clarksville Online, 2014). Treatment Options
There are three primary treatment options available. These primary treatments are medication, behavioral and residential. These treatment options depend on the individual seeking treatment, if they were forced to receive treatment by the courtroom, what their requirements are and most important, what the substance that the addict is trying to release themselves from.
Medications can help an addict in different ways. One of the main stages that an addict must go through is withdrawals from the substance they were using. “Methadone, buprenorphine and, for some individuals, naltrexone are effective medications for the treatment of opiate addiction (NIH, 2009). Three medications have been FDA–approved for treating alcohol dependence: naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram. A fourth, topiramate, is showing encouraging results in clinical trials. Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors that are involved in the rewarding effects of drinking and in the craving for alcohol” (NIH, 2009).
Behavioral treatments help get the addict involved in their treatment process. Outpatient therapy is one of the main behavioral treatment options. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, multidimensional family therapy, motivational interviewing, and motivational incentives are a few different behavioral patient treatment options available to addicts (NIH, 2009).
Residential treatment programs can also help addicts on their path to recovery from addiction. A common example of these is “therapeutic communities”. These communities are structured programs where patients remain at the residence for anywhere from – months. Being surrounded by the staff and others within the community can influence the patient when it comes to their attitudes, perceptions and behavioral that is connected with the substance abuse (NIH, 2009). Human Services vs. Drug Addiction
It is safe to say that drug addiction is not going anywhere. It will be around for many years to come. Unfortunately for human service professionals, there are several voices fighting against them in the fight against drugs and drug addiction. These voices come from legislature, government officials and even our own communities. A prime example of this is the legalization of Marijuana. Marijuana can now legally be purchased in the states of Colorado and Washington. What kind of message does this send out? Why would the government or state legislatures legalize a drug that can be addictive to individuals?
The primary answer to that question is money. The states now will make a large amount of money since legalizing marijuana from the taxation of the drug. The state of Colorado just legalized marijuana January 1st of this year. Just in the first month a total of 3.5 million dollars in taxes and fees on marijuana (Rittiman, 2014). The addiction to marijuana in these states is likely to increase drastically. Then it will fall back on the human resource professionals to ensure that these individual receive the treatment needed to regain normal lives. The state of Colorado claims that some of the funds raised will be spent towards the education and prevention of marijuana use amongst children (Rittiman, 2014).
The government, communities and human service professionals must work together to ensure that addiction does not become any more of an issue than it already is. There should not be any legalization of an addictive drug. There should be limitations on the amount of alcohol that can be consumed in public places as well as purchased for at home consumption. If steps such as these are not taken, it will be nearly impossible for human resource professionals to assist with addicts.
Furthermore, I agree with the state of Tennessee when it comes to training human service professionals in screening individuals and referring them to the treatment options so that they may get over their addictions (Clarksville Online, 2014). Merely giving the assistance wanted is not always the assistance that is needed. Most addicts end up losing their jobs and therefore need assistance from the states for various things such as living assistance and food stamps. By screening this individuals and realizing they are addicts, they are able to get the treatment they need in order to become self efficient. Conclusion
It is apparent through the discussion of the abuse of alcohol, prescription drugs, heroin and marijuana that addiction to such drugs leads to neurological issues, memory loss, weight loss, anxiety, becoming withdrawn from others, and even financial and employment issues. Statistically, addiction is increasing drastically and if human resource professionals are going to be able to keep up with the raging numbers, they must have the necessary training needed to understand the addictions and be able to assist the addicts in order to get them on the right track.
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