This article was written exclusively for The European Sting by Ms Susmita Das, a fourth-year medical student at Shaheed Shuhrawardy Medical College, Dhaka, Bangladesh. It is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), a cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this article belong strictly to the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IFMSA on the subject, nor that of The European Sting.
The concept of “addiction” describes substance use disorder, a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior and results in an inability to control the use of a legal drug or medication or illegal.
Commonly misused medications include:
Alcohol, Stimulants, such as cocaine, Opioids, pain relievers such as heroin, morphine, Tobacco/nicotine and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or vaping), Synthetic cannabinoids, Steroids, prescription drugs and cold medicines,
Sedatives, hypnotics and anxiolytics (medicines for anxiety), Inhalants, including solvents, aerosols, gases and nitrites (poppers), Marijuana, etc. Although these drugs are very different from each other, they all strongly activate the addiction center of the brain. This is what makes these substances addictive, while others are not.
According to the latest global estimates, about 5.5% of the population aged 15-64 have used drugs at least once in the past year, while 36.3 million people, or 13% of total number of people who use drugs, suffer from drug use disorders. Research has shown that about 1 in 9 Americans use illicit drugs (about 11% of the population).
There are so many causes behind this drug addiction, such as curiosity and peer pressure, especially among school children and young adults. Use of prescribed drugs originally intended for pain relief may have turned into recreational and addictive use Chemicals may be used as part of religious practices or rituals Recreationally as a means of obtaining inspiration creative.
Symptoms of drug addiction include:
Bloodshot eyes and looking tired, changes in appetite, changes in physical appearance such as
such as having a bad complexion or looking sloppy, drug cravings, difficulty finishing
tasks at work, school, or home engaging in risky behaviors despite knowledge of the negative consequences (such as impaired driving or having unprotected sex) inability to cut down or control drug use drugs, weight loss, money problems.
Study habits, tutoring, communication,
peer relationships, self-efficacy, assertiveness,
drug resistance skills, building anti-drug attitudes, and building personal commitments against drug abuse can help reduce this problem that is created among people.
Several therapies exist to treat substance use disorders. Even for a severe case, treatment can help. Often, you will receive a combination of these therapies:
Detox by stopping taking drugs, allowing the drugs to leave the body. You may need medical supervision to detox safely.
Drug therapies assisted by detox medicine can help control cravings and relieve withdrawal symptoms.
Behavioral therapies through cognitive behavioral therapy or other psychotherapy (talking therapy) can help treat the cause of the addiction. The therapy also helps build self-esteem and teaches healthy coping mechanisms.
Some practices that take harm reduction into account
approaches include: using a nicotine patch instead of smoking, drinking water while drinking alcohol, using substances in a safe environment with someone you trust, and substance exchange programs syringes for people who inject drugs.
There is no cure for drug addiction. People can manage and treat addiction. But there is always a risk that the addiction will return. Managing substance use disorders is a lifelong job.
There are four avenues open when it comes to drug harm reduction: reducing the amount of drug use; reduce the harm suffered by drug users; reduce the harm that drug users inflict on others; and reduce the harm caused by drug markets.
Most often the challenges faced are lack of proper drug manufacturing policy, legislation, rules and regulations on drug use, drug abuse.
Through simple voluntary actions, medical students can have an impact. Behavioral counseling, medications, medical devices and apps used to treat withdrawal symptoms
or providing vocational training, assessment and treatment of co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can be done to reduce harm.
Let’s make our future world safer for us by fostering collaboration across all sectors through a harm reduction approach.
About the Author
Susmita Das is a fourth year medical student at Shaheed Shuhrawardy Medical College, Dhaka, Bangladesh. She works as the local finance officer of the Bangladesh Medical Students’ Society. She likes to draw, sing and read books. She believes in bringing about changes in the future world. Her passion for medicine pushes her to congratulate herself on better accessibility to health care and to provide the public with precise and reliable medical information. She wants to serve humanity.