If you open any news app or search on google about ‘drug abuse in India’, you may come across news such as ‘8-year-old raped at her house by neighbour who is a drug addict.’ or ‘an actor called in for inquiry related to drug use.’ or ‘the narcotics busted a huge about of drugs in their raid.’ or ‘more teenagers are getting roped into drug use or drug abuse.’ Or ‘a 26-year-old person died due to drug-overdose.’ And all of this news could be just of the last week.
Reading this may have given you the idea of the depth of drug abuse in India, and it is alarming. According to a report, a survey conducted in 2019 stated that around 2 crore individuals use opioids in India and around 3 crore individuals are using cannabis in different forms. So, we can say that drug abuse is not a small issue that out country faces, but it has risen up to be the greatest issue especially when it comes to school- going children and teenagers. At the same time, the numbers of suicides because of drug use or drug abuse have also increased terrifyingly. Now we know that drug abuse is real in our society, but does it adversely affect us psychologically? Let’s find out.
How Does Drug Use Affect Our Society?
Usually, the ones who use drugs are looked down on, and are outcasted. Yes, dealing with someone who is suffering from drug use or drug abuse is extremely difficult, but let’s understand that drug use and drug abuse are serious illnesses and it requires proper treatment and emotional support to get someone out of it.
1. Effect On The Brain
The main and strong effect of drugs is on one’s brain and mind. Now why and how does this happen? We have neurons in our brains who are responsible for sending and receiving messages and also processing the messages. The neurons do this with the help of neurotransmitters. Few drugs can act like neurotransmitters and can activate neurons for sending, receiving or processing any message, but since drugs are not natural neurotransmitters, they send abnormal signals thus resulting in altering the information inside the brain. There are other drugs which release excessive number of neurotransmitters which results in chemical imbalance in brain.
Ever wondered why one cannot stop using drugs? Well, brain has a part to play in that. When somebody starts using drugs, these drugs affect a part of the brain which is called the ‘the reward circuit’. This reward circuit is responsible for ‘feeling good’ factor. When it is stimulated you tend to feel happy- like when you receive a gift from a close friend, or when you see your loved one etc. Now these drugs stimulate the reward circuit in brain and then the brain makes a connection that taking drugs will make the person feel good. Once that connection is made, it becomes impossible for the brain to feel that happiness again by any other stimulation, because drugs elicit the level of happiness to extreme level. Hence, when a person can experience happiness only when they take drugs that is because the reward system in their brain gets stimulated only by drugs and hence the dependency on drugs increases.
Now we know how the brain plays part in an individual’s life when drugs are involved. This individual is a part of society and thus the drug use is going to affect it further.
The issue of drug use and drug abuse is prominently seen in adolescents. According to research conducted by Tsering, Pal and Dasgupta, the easy availability and relief from stress are main two reasons for today’s adolescents to fall prey to drug use. It is also observed that today’s youth is well informed by the deadly and hazardous effects of drugs, but they are still willing to give it a try. The peer pressure could also be one of the reasons why the initial step is taken towards drug use by the youth. Let’s also not forget the media that plays an important part here, because what we see is what our mind perceives. Kids today are been exposed to movies and TV series which openly shows scenes of drug use, there are news showing celebrity drug scandals which could be perceived in harmful ways by today’s youth. The want of portraying oneself as a ‘cool person’ can lead to imitation by the adolescents extracted by such movies or TV series.
Yes, today’s youth truly have to suffer from external pressure: the pressure of education, the pressure of competition, the pressure of maintaining social relationships and much more. And this exact pressure is treated as a trap to lure the youth into the game of drugs. School going children have contacts for obtaining drugs, nothing else can be as harmful as this for today’s youth. Adolescence is the time when the children have tendency to get carried away because of the influence of their friends, media, social media and many other things. This is phase where the right and wrong line is extremely thin and hence the adolescents can fall prey to drug abuse very easily.
The most worrisome fact is that the youth is the future of our country and that very future is at risk today. Drug abuse in school going children is directly going to affect the employment factor of the future. The rate of suicide in the school going children is also frightening. The number of homicides and accidents caused to due drug abuse are also threatening factors to the society. Moreover, the effects of drugs on physical health are also dangerous. Today’s youth are at great risk of developing physical disabilities and diseases in future, which will again affect different factors in the society.
3. Employment And Economy
Drug use is not a ‘class issue’, its effects can be seen across all genders, age, race, religion and classes. We cannot say that unemployed youth of the country are the only one’s falling prey to drug use, but drug abuse is seen in people who are working in local shops, in small scale companies, multinational companies, in people who have high pressure jobs etc.
Coming down to the employment factor, using drugs at early stage in life creates extreme difficulty for an individual to get a job and to hold down the job for long term. On the other hand, individuals can follow the path of drug abuse because of long-term unemployment. In both the cases, along with financial instability, there is great mental instability too.
Today’s youth who are abusing drugs will lose their skills that are required to get a job. And let’s face it, having a stable job is one of the needs for an individual. If this need isn’t fulfilled then it is going to affect other areas of that individual’s life.
Why is it difficult for people who use drugs to sustain a job? Like we discussed above, drugs have the power to alter one’s state of mind. Now, drug abuse and this altered state of mind is going to hamper the individual’s capacity of getting up every morning and go to the office. The euphoric or depressive symptoms (because of drug abuse) will hamper one’s quality of work at the workplace. The behaviour manifestations of the individual who abuses drugs are altogether on different levels which can affect their relationship with peers, the authorities at work and of course can highly affect their capacity of working.
Individuals who are addicted to drug use have great issues with maintaining healthy relationships, be it with parents, friends, extended families or a romantic relationship. Individuals, who are in the initial phase of drug use, will know that this is hampering not only their own wellbeing, but also the wellbeing of their loved ones. Usually, the individual agrees to become clean because they understand the repercussions of drug use or because of the family pressure and concern, but being clean is not an easy task. There can be number of relapses. Additionally, due to drug abuse, the individual can develop immense trust issues towards anyone in the social group. This may become difficult for their support system to tolerate.
The individuals with drug abuse are so trapped in their drug abuse condition that they may neglect the needs of their family or the responsibility altogether. This can cause conflict and suffering for both- the individual and the people around him/her. There can be helplessness, anger, frustration, sympathetic behaviours in the family members or in the people who are close to the individual because of the individual’s drug use problem. All these emotions definitely cause distress for the family/ close members and could lead in them drifting away from the individual.
When it comes to romantic relationships, the individual may focus more on maintaining the habit of drug use than to maintain the relationship which can be perceived as neglect by their partners. Along with the emotional disturbances, a rift can be caused due to financial issues too.
According to the reports and researches in this field, more serious crimes are committed by an individual if they are participating in high forms for drug abuse. This makes complete sense. Remember the brain part we discussed in the starting? Now we know how the brain alters the reality and what all happens in the brain and life of a drug abuser. Now if this individual’s drug use level is high, it is natural that the effects it will have on their brain will be equally high and effective. So, their conscience and consciousness are going to take a toll. In such state, crimes that are committed by an individual, who uses drugs or is a drug abuser, is going to increase.
Drug abuse leads to crimes such as drug trafficking, eve teasing, assaults, abuse, rape, murders, crimes related to money etc. This directly implies a threat to the society.
6. Domestic Abuse
Drug abuse and intimate partner violence is connected. There are rising cases of separations, divorce or life-threatening harm caused due to the partner who is involved in drug abuse. Intimate partner abuse is a great issue under domestic violence, but more than that it is a public health issue when it comes to our society.
Domestic abuse is not only limited to intimate partner abuse. It can also be extended towards other family members. Drug abuse will enhance the rate of domestic abuse in households, again threatening the public health overall.
How Does Drug Abuse Affect Society?
Drug abuse alters an individual’s perception towards all the things, making him engage in unwanted and most of the times harmful behaviour. This behaviour, such as rash driving, physical abuse, theft, killing someone in rage, abusing others- all under the influence of drugs directly causes ill effect on the people of the society. It is not just physical threat that the society has to bear, but the mental health threat is high too.
Moreover, drug abuse is making the youths of the nation fall prey to ill health, both physical and mental health, keeping the future of our nation hanging by a thread. The mental health effects, which are genetic, will been seen in generations with no fault of the future kids, and this is the biggest threat to our society- a society with poor physical and mental health.
Yes, drug use and abuse are bad and extremely harmful to both, the individual and to the society. But at the same time, let’s understand that using drug for the first few times can be a choice, but after that it becomes a need of survival for the individual as the withdrawal symptoms can be very painful. But if we want to eradicate drug use in our society then we have to stand by the individuals who have succumbed to drug abuse.
We need better health care systems, the best psycho-education on drugs and most importantly a strong support system for all the victims of drug use and drug abuse.
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