Drugs are basic elements of modern medicine. It’s difficult to imagine how infections can be treated, pain relieved, and depression alleviated without drugs. Each day, many lives are saved because of drugs. Even the seemingly insignificant problem of not being able to sleep can be solved with the use of drugs.
Indeed, drugs are life savers if used properly. But when abused or used illicitly, they can be “life takers.” The effects of drug addiction bring havoc to the user himself, to his family, and to society in general. While it’s true that the drugs which are subject to abuse keep getting stronger, even the prescription medications are not spared by illicit drug users.
Drug addiction causes severe harm to the body. This is an oft-repeated statement and no one disagrees with it. But what exactly are the causes of drug addiction?
In many respects, the answers to this question – which are supposed to shed light on the nature of the problem – are rather complicated. It is known that repeated use of certain substances can result to the user becoming dependent on them. This is most certain in the case of illicit drugs.
There are basically two kinds of dependence associated with drug addiction; physical dependence and psychological dependence. In physical dependence, the drug user has developed tolerance to the drug. This means that the doses the user takes become larger and larger, so that the level of “high” he experiences remains the same. The opiates (morphine and heroin) are perfect examples in this case.
Psychological dependence on a drug, on the other hand, is characterized by a compulsive emotional need for the drug. The cannabis (marijuana and hashish) may be used as examples in this instance.
Medical and scientific researches have come to the conclusion that drug addiction is both physical and psychological dependence; both have a biochemical basis on the brain, although the distinction between them is not very clear. This, perhaps, is the reason why today’s interpretation of the term “drug addiction” has been made rather easy to understand: It relates to a behavioral pattern that is characterized by compulsive use of a drug and an extreme concern with obtaining it.
There are also suggestions that having an “addictive personality” may contribute to a person becoming addicted to drugs. This means that a person’s tendency towards drug addiction may be determined by his physiological and biochemical makeup. In other words, the said tendency can be genetically inherited. But this factor needs further explaining; thus, a person with an addictive personality has probably inherited some factors that heighten vulnerability but do not make it inevitable that addiction to drugs will happen.
Psychological and environmental factors are those often linked to the occurrence of drug addiction. We have heard of many cases of people being driven to drug abuse because of problems in the family, poor living conditions, lack of confidence in oneself, social pressures, and stress. Of course, these factors alone do not make drug addiction incapable of being evaded.