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Addiction 101

The Science of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful effects to the individual and others. Drug dependence is a complex disease process and the drug abuser cannot voluntarily stop their use of illicit or prescription drugs. People who become addicted to drugs are not necessarily immoral or lacking in character; in fact, drug addiction occurs throughout the mainstream of society. Brain circuit changes may challenge an addicted person’s self-control and hamper his or her ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs. While someone who becomes addicted to drugs is always at risk for relapse, there are effective treatments for drug addiction. (Drugs.com)

Four Surprising Facts About Addiction

1 Addiction is unpredictable—it can happen to anyone at any time
2 Many addicts suffer from co-occurring disorders, meaning they have an addiction alongside at least one other mental health condition
3 Relapse happens to many people during recovery
4 Addiction is a disease that is completely treatable (Foundations Recovery Network www.foundationsrecoverynetwork.com)



Why Do We Drink or Use Drugs?

1 Many people feel that it is necessary to drink or experiment with drugs when at parties and social gatherings.
2 Some people drink or abuse drugs as a way to cope with the daily stress and tension from school or work, or to cope with other problems such as marital distress or even physical illness.
3 Alcohol and drugs may become a substitute for satisfying personal relationships, challenging work or self-fulfillment.
4 Some may use alcohol and drugs as a way to compensate for feelings of guilt, shyness or low self-esteem. (Florida Institute of Technology www.fit.edu)

Why Do Some People Become Addicted While Others Do Not?

No single factor can predict whether a person will become addicted to drugs. Risk for addiction is influenced by a combination of factors that include individual biology, social environment, and age or stage of development. The more risk factors an individual has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction. For example:

Biology. The genes that people are born with—in combination with environmental influences—account for about half of their addiction vulnerability. Additionally, gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders may influence risk for drug abuse and addiction.

Environment. A person’s environment includes many different influences, from family and friends to socioeconomic status and quality of life in general. Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, stress, and quality of parenting can greatly influence the occurrence of drug abuse and the escalation to addiction in a person’s life.

Development. Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person’s life to affect addiction vulnerability. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier that drug use begins, the more likely it will progress to more serious abuse, which poses a special challenge to adolescents. Because areas in their brains that govern decision making, judgment, and self-control are still developing, adolescents may be especially prone to risk-taking behaviors, including trying drugs of abuse. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, United States www.drugabuse.gov)

Signs of Drug Addiction

Some of the signs of drug dependence include:

1 Avoiding non-users
2 Feeling uncomfortable and alone without drugs
3 Losing weight
4 Lying or not being honest with friends and family about how much you’re using
5 Getting into debt or spending money you can’t afford on drugs
6 Selling belongings to pay for drugs
7 Stealing from other people to pay for drugs (ReachOut.com, Australia http://au.reachout.com)

Note: Read the existing literature on addiction published by the Narcotics Anonymous. For Manipuris, there are also brochures available in Meiteilon: www.na.org/?ID=literature

In Black and White

Most Manipur addicts kids: Study, The Telegraph
http://www.telegraphindia.com/1131223/jsp/northeast/story_17711262.jsp#.VPwBzY5MntQ

Heroin, party drugs from Myanmar coming to Manipur, The Times of India
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/Heroin-party-drugs-from-Myanmar-coming-to-Manipur/articleshow/18682818.cms

Drug demand reduction and preventive policies: Government of India’s approach - A Synopsis, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt of India http://socialjustice.nic.in/aldd.php

Check the essays and opinions on Drug Awareness & HIV/AIDS Problems in Manipur: Educating the Mass, Epao.net http://e-pao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=education.Health_Issue.Drug_Awareness_Education

Two Leading Organisations Dealing with Drugs, the Complexities and Humane Solutions

Harm Reduction International www.harmreductionjournal.com

Harm Reduction International (HRI) is one of the leading international non-governmental organizations promoting policies and practices that reduce the harms from all psychoactive substances. A key principle of HRI’s approach is to support the engagement of people and communities affected by drugs and alcohol around the world in policy-making processes, including the voices and perspectives of people who use illicit drugs. The organization has Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Narcotics Anonymous www.na.org

Narcotics Anonymous offers recovery to addicts around the world. In their own words, “We focus on the disease of addiction rather than any particular drug.  Our message is broad enough to attract addicts from any social class or nationality. When new members come to meetings, our sole interest is in their desire for freedom from active addiction and how we can be of help.”



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