Drug Abuse and Addiction...
Many people view drug abuse and addiction as strictly
a social problem. Parents, teens, older adults, and
other members of the community tend to characterize
people who take drugs as morally weak or as having criminal
tendencies. They believe that drug abusers and addicts
should be able to stop taking drugs if they are willing
to change their behavior.
These myths have not only
stereotyped those with drug-related problems, but also
their families, their communities, and the health care
professionals who work with them. Drug abuse and addiction
comprise a public health problem that affects many people
and has wide-ranging social consequences. It is NIDA's
goal to help the public replace its myths and long-held
mistaken beliefs about drug abuse and addiction with
scientific evidence that addiction is a chronic, relapsing,
and treatable disease.
Addiction does begin with drug abuse
when an individual makes a conscious choice to use drugs,
addiction is not just "a lot of drug use." Recent
scientific research provides overwhelming evidence that
not only do drugs interfere with normal brain functioning
creating powerful feelings of pleasure, but they also
have long-term effects on brain metabolism and activity.
At some point, changes occur in the brain that can turn
drug abuse into addiction, a chronic, relapsing illness.
Those addicted to drugs suffer from a compulsive drug
craving and usage and cannot quit by themselves. Treatment
is necessary to end this compulsive behavior.
variety of approaches are used in treatment programs
to help patients deal with these cravings and possibly
avoid drug relapse. NIDA research shows that addiction
is clearly treatable. Through treatment that is tailored
to individual needs, patients can learn to control their
condition and live relatively normal lives. Treatment
can have a profound effect not only on drug abusers,
but on society as a whole by significantly improving
social and psychological functioning, decreasing related
criminality and violence, and reducing the spread of
AIDS. It can also dramatically reduce the costs to society
of drug abuse.
drug abuse also helps in understanding how to prevent
use in the first place. Results from NIDA-funded
prevention research have shown that comprehensive prevention
programs that involve the family, schools, communities,
and the media are effective in reducing drug abuse.
It is necessary to keep sending the message that it
is better to not start at all than to enter rehabilitation
if addiction occurs.
A tremendous opportunity
exists to effectively change the ways in which the public
understands drug abuse and addiction because of the
wealth of scientific data NIDA has amassed. Overcoming
misconceptions and replacing ideology with scientific
knowledge is the best hope for bridging the "great
disconnect" - the gap between the public perception
of drug abuse and addiction and the scientific facts.
additional resources and information on Alcohol and
Drug Abuse, click here.
above material is available through NIDA Infofax
and developed by the National
Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes
of Health. NIDA supports more than 85% of the world's
research on the health aspects of drug abuse and
addiction. There is no copyright on any of the materials
available through NIDA Infofax and all can be reproduced
for further distribution.
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