Human beings are capable of incredible things. Just our presence
on this planet after centuries of war, disease, famine and a proclivity
for self-destructive behavior proves that we’re a resilient
species, determined to use our unique mental gifts to further and
better our existence and not simply destroy it on a quest of vanity.
However, strong-willed as the mind may be, intent on survival, there’s
also a darker, destructive side dwelling within us all. Every human
is susceptible to addiction and its crippling effects on the mind,
body and spirit.
condition known as drug addiction affects millions of people across
the globe, seizing millions more in its unrelenting grasp every
year. Like all addiction, the compulsion to use drugs is characterized
in a few ways: the continued use of a substance regardless of the
damaging effects; a preoccupation with the drug; severely impaired
control over the drug’s use.
There are certain
genetic markers which make a person more prone to addiction, and
with drugs in particular, the substances cross the blood-brain barrier,
changing the chemical milieu of the brain, creating a feeling of
euphoria, in some cases, thus signaling to the user that they’re
enjoying the drug. This is why drug addiction is so incredibly difficult
to fight. An addict literally becomes dependent on a drug, and that
pathology is an improbable obstacle to overcome. The drug addict
is forever at risk of relapse.
of addiction, including problem gambling, overeating, sex and work
dependencies, though also damaging, are thought to be more easily
treated. Through therapy or just a higher degree of self-control,
non-chemical addictions can be overcome without the physical effects
seen with chemical dependency. The mind-altering drugs are so dangerous
that a person doesn’t even have to abuse them to form this
dependent relationship. Recreational users are often victims of
The types of
drugs an individual can become dependent on are vast. They include
inhalants, marijuana, nicotine, phencyclidine (PCP), steroids, methamphetamine,
heroin, cocaine, alcohol, and even prescription and over-the-counter
drugs. It is impossible to police or to reign in the drugs; any
individual is capable of receiving drugs from a multitude of sources
if the need is strong enough.
some experts claim, the losing “war” effort is better
spent on treatment and especially prevention. Drugs will always
exist in the world; there will always be mind-altering substances.
By focusing on the user and not the user’s drug, awareness
and discipline can be helped along. Whereas with drugs, another
takes the place of the one removed, resulting in a cycle that’s
impossible to stop.
Once an addict,
the treatment options are a lifelong process. Drug addiction is
a certified brain disease. As such, prolonged, individually-tailored
treatment courses are offered. Over time, the dependency, intensity,
and risk of relapse do diminish. However, the disease is only cured
by the individual choosing to not use. Abstinence only is the only
ironclad option. Therapy sessions and behavioral exercises can help,
but free will is both the bane and blessing of existence.
awareness is raised in hopes that the individual exercises personal
responsibility. Throughout schools and in homes across the globe,
lessons are taught on ways to overcome peer pressure and curiosity.
The adverse effects of drug use and addiction are illustrated and
individuals are left with shocking images and horrific tales of
what drugs can do to their lives. Even still, these measures need
to be greatly increased, as more people fall victim to addiction
As science evolves
and technology advances, we see the human brain in ways which previous
generations would have never dreamed possible. Perhaps science will
one day find a permanent cure for addiction. But until then—and,
moreover, if and when it does—individuals should still be
aware of addiction and exercise common sense and self discipline
as to not fall prey to the clutches of dependency.
Jayden may be
contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org