Coping with Drug Addiction

Coping with Drug Addiction


In the recent past, the rate of drug addiction has increased sin the society. It is therefore paramount to understand some of the causes of drug abuse, the signs of drug addiction and more importantly the roles various stakeholders play in ensuring the drug addicts recover.  Primarily, this paper defines drug addiction and drug abuse to help the reader identify cases that need help. By reviewing various sources such as legal document, training material and even journals, this paper also looks into both long-term and short-term effects of drug abuse, before delving into the role of various stakeholders such as families, justice system and the community in coping with drug addiction.

Finally, this paper review ways of preventing drug addiction.


Keywords: drug addiction, coping with drug addiction




Drug and substance abuse is one of the common problems in the current society.   Alcohol, heroin, prescription drugs, nicotine, cocaine, are some examples of substances abused by mainly adults and teenagers. There are a couple of reasons given for drug abuse. Some people say they take drugs and alcohol for that momentary ‘high’ that makes them forget and break away from the problems they face, such as abusive relationships, financial crisis or even unemployment. However, drug abuse is common especially with people who have little or no hope in improving their plight in life.

In order to help people cope with drug and substance abuse, a vital thing would be to define drug abuse, describe symptoms of an individual who is abusing drugs, and define effects of drug abuse and finally finding ways of dealing with drug abuse.


Defining drug and substance abuse

According to the Commonwealth of Learning, drug abuse is defined as the wrong use of materials, which have justifiable uses but which can cause harm when misused (Counsellig for Care Givers, 2007).   This include medicines, which when taken under the instruction of a doctor are useful to bring either healing or relief to the body. However, they may be harmful if taken for non-medicinal purposes.  Glue is another example of substance abuse. Useful for binding things together, when inhaled it is a harmful substance. Alcohol is also a drug which when taken in moderation is useful to aid in the socialization process, but when it used excessively and habitually, alcohol use results in addiction.  Drug abuse is inclusive of hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin, meth crystals and morphine amongst others. Other substances commonly abused include petrol, paint thinner, marijuana (also called Bhang, Cannabis, weed, and hashish amongst other street names), valium and psychoactive drugs such as anti depressants and stimulants (most common example is caffeine)


Effects of drug abuse

According to Buckley (2009), the effects of drug and substance abuse are classified individuals effects (mainly long-term) and community effects (mainly long-term). The short-term effects mainly affect the individual while the long-term effects affect mainly the community the individual lives in, though some also affect the individual. The individual effects affect the physical and emotional health of the abusers. The short-term effects include suffocation, hallucinations, and acute mood swings when abused over a long period, the inhalants which include but are not limited to glue, thinner, cocaine and petrol can cause nausea, brain damage (irreversible), severe damage of the nervous system, hepatitis, nosebleeds and even death. In the end, drug abuse has acute damages that it causes to the body, which includes stomach cancers, ulcers and other stomach related ailments, permanent memory loss, failure of the heart and the nervous system and circulatory system, liver damage and skin problems (Counsellig for Care Givers, 2007). Some drugs also result in a low sex drive.

In addition, drug and substance abusers are likely to have problems while relating to their family, community and school. Many of these people face problems with the law as most result to illegal acts such as theft and prostitution to facilitate their habit. In addition, those who may not have resorted to such extreme measures may be caught by authorities while drinking and driving under the influence.  Other effects of drug abuse to individuals include engaging in unprotected sex leading to unplanned pregnancies, STDs, HIV/AIDs and babies born with Fetal Alcohol Effects.

In the community, the drug abusers can cause a security risk. Except for the violence and disruption caused by most drug users when under influence, some would result to robbery under violence to get money to fund their activities. In addition, drug users tend to become the members who push the society behind. Instead of completing school, most users tend to drop out and often lack motivation to be productive in the society. In addition, dealing with those who are addicts often places stress on the income of the society.


 Identifying potential drug users

There are some categories of people who are likely to become eventual drug addicts, implying they are at higher risk chances of them developing a greater need for them and it becomes virtually impossible to stop using them or break the addiction. Studies show that youth and children, who develop dependency on drugs mainly because of peer pressure, are more likely to become drug addicts as compared to adults. In addition, those with a family history of drug and substance abuse are also more likely to become addicts. Children who also grow up in environments where drug and substance abuse are common are likely to participate in the same vices.  Furthermore, individuals who are expressing emotional turmoil be it low self esteem, depression, or those who feel they do not blend in with the society are also likely to become drug addicts should they start using drugs and such related substances. (AHIMA, 2007)


Identifying drug users

The most common way of identifying drug users is watching out for some symptoms, which are common in most drug user. Of these symptoms, the most common include change in how they associate with the society (Mon, 2010).  Many users start by associating with known drug users, resulting in a change in their peer association.  Furthermore, their school grades constantly drop because of skipping school. In terms of emotional changes, there is a radical change in their overall attitude with some either withdrawing from responsibility, having suicidal thoughts and attempts, participating in numerous quarrels, sudden mood swings and a lot of uncalled for violence, there is unwarranted temper flares, lower levels of self-discipline and absentee and felonious behavior. Physically, those who abuse by injection insist of wearing long-sleeved shirts in hot weather. In addition, there is a trend of unwarranted wearing of sunglasses and deterioration in the physical appearance, grooming, dress code, appearance and the general outlook.  In many cases there is a smell of alcohol and other substances on the person’s clothes, with some having obvious drunkenness, dizziness and strange behavior.


Coping with Drug addiction

The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, provided a special report on drug addiction, treatment and rehabilitation under the office of the comptroller and auditor general (Hagland, 2007).   In their findings, the first objective for coping with addiction as set in the 2001-2008 strategy included reducing the rate of drug addiction by encouraging those who are already addicted to seek treatment in order to improve the overall health and social wellness of the individual and eventually help the individual live a drug free lifestyle. The other objective was to minimize the risk to those who are still addicted to drugs that put them in danger.


Recovery for drug users

Recent studies and debates centre on the best method of dealing with drug abuse. Some of the policy makers are preoccupied with whether using substitute drugs has been effective in the treatment of drug addicts, or whether services based on total abstinence are more effective. Those arguing for total abstinence say the essence of rehabilitation centre is to ensure those who enter rehabs become totally drug free, while those for substitute drugs say abstinence is too high a goal to be reached at by those who have been chronically affected by drug use. In fact, they point out that substitute drugs have actually been recommended by the National Treatment Agency and the National Institute of Clinical Excellence. However, in the recent past, studies have shown that coping with drug addiction, is more than the method of treatment in a rehabilitation centre. In fact, it boils down to how different people respond differently to different kinds of treatments.  In addition, what matters is ensuring the families, friends and society in which the addicts live in achieve the outcomes that matter, be it joining college, or supporting their families or even developing positive relationships with members of the community. It is in this regard that the study examines how the above aspects matter in the lives of the addicts.


Coping with addiction: the role of the family

More important than what the policy makers think, the family is the central unit and recovery from addiction reaches deeper into the lives of the family members as compared to the state.  This is because it is the family in general that is worried sick when their child is out with gangs or even participating in illegal activities. Therefore, the family is the unit that should take central place in aiding the people recovering from drug addiction.  As a source of hope, ambition and desire, the family gives the main push needed to cope with drug addiction.   The want to rebuild relationship and change the labels and mental conceptions that often rubbish the capability of the user to reform and live a decent life with normal and proper social participation is often driven by the family. This helps the family support system push the addict get the best possible outcome of rehabilitation because they care for them.

Recent studies also say that families are the most affected by substance misuse. In addition, because of the resources wasted because of drug abuse and the potential, should the habit continue, the families are the units that provide millions worth of important and essential capital for recovery purposes. Though not fully monetary, it is the families that provide housing, access to health facilities and access to leisure and other forms of meaningful activities that prevent the drug users who are either undergoing treatment or who have completed treatment from relapsing into drug abuse. Without this vital support, the treatment process would be rendered invalid.

Families have the amazing ability to nurture the drug abusers by assisting the treatment centers develop personalized maps that lead away from drug addiction, as well as ensure the center follows the personalized approach (Talking to your child about Drugs, 2004).   The essential aim of undergoing treatment is not ensuring that the whole group recovers collectively but giving attention to each individual to ensure they give personalized attention depending on the individual. For example, repairing a relationship with a child who got into drug abuse because of the stress of separation between the parents is as important as the treatment therapy  that leads them out of addiction, if not even more important.  In addition, the families know the best way of dealing with individuals hence have an exceptional role in advising the treatment centers on the best mode of treatment unique and responsive to the interest, hobbies and personality of the addict, not forgetting their motivation factors.

Overall, it should also be noted that the families are also broken because of the addiction of one of its members. Policies and ways of coping should also be put up to help the families recover.  In addition, they should not be viewed as a source of quick income during recovery process but should also be offered the support they require throughout the recovery process.



Coping with Drug Addiction: The role of the justice system

More often than not, many drug users end up behind bars due to the illegality of their activities. Therefore, the justice system is one of the key support systems needed to clean up these addicts.  There is little information on the wellbeing of those who undergo treatment while in prison. However, data shows that a majority of heroin users end up in prison facilities.

Community based sanctions occur in cases where the offenders have a drug problem or are undergoing rehabilitation. Instead of going to prison, the offender is attached to a probation officer who supervises the offender and ensures they are following the law. Because the drug addicts who are lawbreakers are not automatically top of the list when it comes to rehabilitation centers, the probation service monitors the length the offender waits for assessment or those who are unable to get to the treatment centers.


Coping with drug addiction: the Role of the community

The community is the other backbone of the society. Most drug problems originate from problems in the society be it unemployment, a culture of drug addiction such as alcoholism, poor quality of education, poverty hence a high rate of school dropouts. It is in this regard that the society should develop measures of providing social support and integration in to the society, if the treatment should be effective in the end.  Statistics show that a majority of drug addicts have low education levels and have a long history of unemployment. In areas prone to those characteristics, in order to keep the young people occupied, the society should develop training facilities which give the people skill that would be useful in assisting them earn a living.  In addition, this education should be integrated into the learning systems such that qualifications from these institutions should assist the young people precede into other forms of training and education.

Preventing Substance Abuse

Despite the mechanisms the legal system, the families and the societies put in place to cope with drug addiction, the most effective of them is the prevention of addiction. Though it is not quite a surety that there will be no abuse of drugs in the community, one of the measures of lowering drug addictions is by creating role models in the society who do not abuse drugs and who can be an authority of providing guidance and clear rules on substance abuse.  In addition, for the young adults, teenagers and children, these role models should spend time with them to guide them and share with them their good and bad times and encourage them to live healthy productive lives that will help them avoid drug abuse.

In addition, fun community activities should be often planned that encourage the youth and children to have fun, while doing things outside of home.  This activities help create an enabling environment for communication, which helps the adult demystify what the child/ teen knows on substances such as marijuana, cigarettes alcohol and even hard drugs.

On an everyday life, parents, and other close family members should help their children develop strong values. Part of this is teaching is teaching them how to say no and being clear about rules should the children be found smoking, drinking or abusing substances, whether at  home or outside home.   Furthermore, set consequences on what would happen should such a scenario occur.

Finally, the society should develop a strong sense of self worth in the children by discussing the importance of real and meaningful friendship. In addition, there should be constant mechanisms of appreciating and encouraging the child ranging from telling them how proud the society is to have them amongst them, to praising their efforts and successes. Furthermore, instead of focusing on the wrong committed by a child or teen or young adult, and reprimanding them over and over again, society should avoid being critical when such mistakes are made and should focus on what the child has done right.

Works Cited

AHIMA. (2007). AHIMA. Retrieved 10 16, 2013, from ICD-10-CM/PCS:

Buckley, J. (2009). Drug Addiction, Treatment and Rehabilitation. Ireland: Department of Community and Rural Gaeltach Affairs.

Counsellig for Care Givers. (2007). Dealing with Drug abuse. Commonwealth of Learning.

Hagland, M. (2007). Linking Anti-fraud and Legal EHR functions. Journal of AHIMA , 78 (3), 69-61.

Mon, D. T. (2010). Model EHR: Status and Next Steps for an International Standard on EHR System Requirements. Journal of AHIMA , 81 (3), 34-37.

Talking to your child about Drugs. (2004). Retrieved October 21, 2013, from Kids Health:



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