Drug abuse is a huge problem across the world. Many families have been broken, lives been claimed, and jobs lost, due to the malady that plagues communities. There are a variety of drugs that can be misused and abused, ranging from illegal drugs such as cocaine, mandrax, heroin and ecstasy to commonly abused drugs like pain killers, stimulants, tranquilizers and anabolic steroids. According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), over 50% of prescription drugs for non-medical use are obtained from friends or relatives. The abuser may take the prescribed medication through many ways including, injecting, snorting, chewing or smoking the substances.
The South African Pharmacy in 2018, indicated that as per a survey that was conducted, there was a significant amount of respondents that abused medication that contained codeine. According to SADAG, an alarming number of 16 million people abuse prescription medication in the United States.
In 2018, the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (SACENDU) reported that there was an increasing number of people who were being admitted to hospital for treatment in 2017, approximately 8 787 in 2016 to 10 047 in 2017. SACENDU further reports that cannabis and alcohol are the most widely abused substance especially among the youth and a staggering 80% of male youth deaths are alcohol-related in South Africa. Research shows that treatment is being given to younger and younger people. Drug abuse among young people causes violence in school. The question that we should be asking is, why is drug abuse becoming more prevalent in younger people and not showing any signs of decrease?
The abuse of illegal substances has given rise to drug trafficking that has been escalating over the years. The South African Drugs and Drugs Trafficking Act, which was passed in 1992, prohibits the supply of substances to anyone while knowing or suspecting they will be used for the manufacture of illegal drugs. Furthermore, the Act prohibits any person from converting property that they know or suspect to be obtained from the proceeds of drug trafficking.
Dealing in dangerous and undesirable drugs is an offense punishable for up to 25 years imprisonment. Possession of illegal drugs has a maximum of 15 years imprisonment. Substance abuse and addiction can affect anyone and in order to tackle this problem it is vital that society knows what type of drugs can be abused, how they can help their loved ones, and to know the symptoms of a drug abuser.
People abuse and become addicted to drugs for many different reasons, common of which are peer pressure, low self-esteem, mental disorders such as depression and stress and something that some people would find less significant like, wanting to lose weight. Many medical practitioners agree that the family background in which a minor grows up plays a prevalent role in whether the minors become drug addicts in their future or not. Dysfunctional homes and abusive behaviour witnessed by minors in a home where guardians abuse illegal substances is a trigger for minors to do the same when older.
Drug abuse and addiction has a negative impact on the individual’s health and causes sickness and even fatality. Drugs can cause damage to digestive systems, reduce blood cells which are vital to fight off other diseases, affect the brain, lung and respiratory systems negatively, and may cause dehydration, insomnia or tiredness. In some cases, it is a common way for HIV to be contracted when users share needles.
A person that has a substance usage problem may exhibit; sudden aggression, forgetfulness, blackouts and lack of concentration which may lead to poor work performance. Suspension of problems, daily activities or things that they love, changes in physical appearance, they may not take care of themselves like they used to, agitation and mood swings, hyperactivity, sluggishness and money problems.
In overcoming drug addiction the first step is in acknowledging that you have a problem and thus admitting yourself or the family member struggling with addiction into a drug rehabilitation facility. Depending on the type of substance abuse the patient may go through different types of treatment such as detoxification, counselling, partial treatment. These type of treatments can come whether the patient is an outpatient or a resident patient.