Substance Use and Abuse

Hi everyone
In concluding this week for mental health awareness, we will be looking at a common public health issue: Substance use and abuse.

The World Health Organisation defines substance abuse as the harmful and hazardous use of psychoactive substances including Alcohol and illicit drugs.

Substances abused
There are so many substances that can be used and eventually abused. Commonest are Alcohol, Tobacco (Cigarettes, snuff), Marijuana, Solvents (glue, gasoline, aerosols, even correction fluid), Opiods like Heroine, Tramadol, Codeine. Others are Cocaine, cough syrup, Caffeine, Cocaine (Powder and Crack) ETC
The issue with substance use is that not all of them are illicit drugs. Some of them are legal medications especially pain relievers like Tramadol, Codeine. Some are substances that have other uses like glue, gasoline and aerosol.

Risk Factors
Those who are more likely to succumb to substance abuse are as follows:
Children and adolescents who went through child abuse
Children and adolescents living in drug laden environment and those who had early exposure to drugs
Children and adolescents with poor or lack of parental supervision
Children and adolescents who are curious as well as involved in risky behaviours
Children and adolescents who are under peer pressure to belong
Children and adolescents who are under the influence of the social media
Others are those with some internal factors like poor self esteem, stress, excruciating pain, poor social skills and those with mental disorder.

Dangers of Substance use and Abuse
there are many dangers of substance abuse. The most important are as follows:
1. Dependence
Use and abuse can lead to dependence characterized by
A strong desire to take the substance
Persistent use in the presence of harmful effects
Higher priority over every other activity

2. Behavioural effects
The effects on the behaviour on the person include loss of self control, being paranoid, seeing strange things, aggression, impulsiveness and impaired judgement. Others are loss of productivity and loss of labour: since most of them are youths.

3. Diseases
Drug abuse weakens the immune system leading to diseases. Some of the associated diseases include HIV, diseases of the heart and liver, stroke dementia, convulsions, mental illness ETC

4. Crimes
Crimes that emanate from Substance use and abuse include the following:
Drug possession and use
Drug trafficking
Armed Robbery
Prostitution and other sex crimes

The dangers and negative effects of substance and substance abuse cannot be overemphasized. Anyone that is involved will need to see a Mental health specialist for withdrawal and care.

Thanks for reading
Let’s talk about prevention tomorrow….

Published by berthaekeh

Medical Doctor/ Teacher/Author

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