International overdose awareness day is a worldwide event conducted on the 31st of August every year. It aims to raise awareness to the people about different types of drugs and their overdose and awareness about the dangers of drug addiction. It gives out an important message which tells you that deaths due to drug overdose can be reduced and prevented.
People were ribbons of the color purple to extend their support for this day.
On the occasion of International overdose awareness day, it is very important for us to educate ourselves on the different types of drugs and their effects on our bodies.
Read on to know more and stay tuned for more amazing content!
What are Drugs?
Drugs are certain substances that have any effect on your mental and physical state of the body.
They have a very drastic effect on the way your brain works, your feelings and your behavior, etc.
Drugs cause different effects in different people so not all drugs work the same way for every single person.
Why are Drugs used?
People consider drug consumption for a variety of reasons. Some of them are:
- Peer pressure
- Drug Dependence
- Enjoyment or Fun
- Helps cope with conditions like pain
How are drugs consumed?
Drugs are consumed in a variety of ways some of which are:
Oral Ingestion (Swallowing or drinking)-Absorption through the stomach lining
Breathing into the lungs- absorption through Lung surface
Snorting- absorption through nasal lining
Through Skin- absorption in the case of creams or patches.
Rectal/Vaginal (Suppository): absorption through the bowel or vaginal lining.
Injecting: absorption directly from the bloodstream.
Sources of Drugs:
Plants: Cannabis, Tobacco, etc.
Processed Plant Products: Heroin
Synthetic Chemical: Ecstasy
Ingredients used to make Drugs:
Active: Affects your body Biologically
Inactive: Do not have any effect biologically.
Legal Drugs: Alcohol, Caffeine, Nicotine
Illegal Drugs: Cannabis, Ecstasy, Cocaine, Heroin, etc.
Selling, processing, making, or import of any one of the illegal drugs is an offence and you can be charged depending on the situation.
Illicit Drugs: They are substances that are used unprofessionally or inappropriately, for example: inhaling thinner(paint).
Medicines that are not used medicinally or have been obtained illegally.
Types of Drugs:
Stimulants also called 'uppers' affect the body's central nervous system and give the user a feeling of increased pace in day-to-day activities, that is, increases their energy levels, and makes them relatively more hyperactive. Stimulants increase blood pressure, heart rate, alertness, breathing and glucose levels in the blood.
Stimulants are generally prescribed by doctors to control attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy and asthma (in the case of asthma stimulants open up the respiratory passage for easy flow of air exchange in the lungs).
Stimulants are also used to assist weight loss as they cause a decrease in appetite when used.
Stimulants are usually consumed in the form of pills but are also snorted and may also be taken as food or drink. For example, caffeine and cocaine are examples of stimulants in which caffeine can be found in many beverages while cocaine is a powder that is usually snorted.
Some other examples of stimulants are:
- Synthetic Marijuana
Stimulant abuse is commonly found in athletes and high school teenagers who want to improve their athletic or sports performance.
Stimulant abuse can lead to a lot of consequences some of which include:
- Heart Failure
Opioids are substances that produce very powerful pain killing effects and induce a sense of euphoria or excitement in the user.
Opioids are derived from the poppy plant (Papaver somniferum/Opium Poppy). Doctors mainly prescribe to patients who suffer from extreme pain. These drugs are extremely addictive and if not careful while using them, it can lead to addiction in a very short time period.
Opioids are usually taken as pills, injected, smoked or drunk or eaten.
Some examples of opioids are:
Risk of Opioid Use:
Opioids can destroy the life of a user in a very big amount. Should a person suddenly stop using opioids, he will have very bad withdrawal symptoms which include flu for a very long period of time.
Some other effects are:
- Dilation of Pupils
- Cardiac Arrest
Depressants affect the body exactly like stimulants but they produce an effect that is contradictory to the effect produced by stimulants. Depressants slowed down body functions. It makes you feel calm.
Depressants or prescribe to patients who suffer from disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), insomnia, anxiety, etc. examples of commonly used stimulants are:
Many other substances such as alcohol and tobacco also act as depression.
Alcohol is used as a depressant as the majority of people use alcohol as a means of escaping the stress and to relax themselves.
Some people experience a sudden burst of energy when they consume alcohol but after a certain amount of time, they will notice that their body functions are beginning to slow down. Alcohol addiction and over-dependence on alcohol and alcohol overdose can lead to death.
The ingredient in tobacco which is called nicotine acts both as a depressant and a stimulant. Just like alcohol tobacco gives the user a sudden rush of energy followed immediately by a feeling of relaxation or calmness.
Risk factors for using Depressants:
Depressants can prove to be useful if used in the right amounts but too much of something is dangerous, likewise, too much of the presence can cost short and long-term effects which are:
Death caused due to withdrawal symptoms
High body temperature
Risk of getting diabetes and gaining weight and also developing higher BP.
Confused thought process, also known as Delirium.
Abuse of hallucinogenic substances can have very long-term effects on our body such as:
- Increased BP
- Flashbacks or hallucinogen persisting perception disorder
- Affects Cognitive Abilities
Dissociates are known for causing harm to a person’s perception of reality which includes a feeling of them being watched by their own self and outside their bodies. This can lead to the person being very confident and engaging in risky behaviors.
Disassociates work by affecting the receptors present in the brain concern with the chemical glutamate which plays a role in the cognitive abilities of a person, pain perception and emotional abilities.
They can be used as solids or gases or liquids or even powders.
Some examples of disassociates are:
Dissociates are very risky in the long run. The immediate effects which can be observed after using dissociates are:
- Social withdrawal
- Memory loss
- Speech problems
Inhalants mainly cause feelings of euphoria or increased excitement. From the name itself, it must be very clear as to how inhalants are used, that is they are always inhaled or used as gas or fumes and inhaled into the body.
Some examples of inhalants are:
- Nitrous oxide
- Room deodoriser
- Fumes of Markers, thinners, gasoline etc
Inhalants cause the following effects on the body in the long run:
- Speech problems
- Increased heart rate
- Bleeding nose
- Loss of smell
- Damage to the brain
Most commonly known around the world as marijuana, cannabis can act as a hallucinogen and also as a depression. It is categorized as a schedule 1 drug, which means it has an extremely high potential for being very addictive. It also has medicinal uses but it is abused more than it is used for medicinal purposes. Some examples of marijuana include:
- Medicines such as Sativex
- Marijuana Leaves
The risk of cannabis abuse has both long-term and short-term effects on the body some of which are given below:
- Lowered immunity
- Reduced sperm count
- Senses become enhanced
- Lowered reaction times
- Chronic anxiety
Drug dependence versus drug addiction
Dependence is not the same as addiction but people tend to confuse both terms. Let us look at each of them.
For addiction to occur, dependence is not a necessity
Indicators of addiction may include:
Not being able to stop using drugs
Even after knowing the certain consequences of drugs, you still continue to use them.
Not being part of social gatherings because of drug abuse.
People get dependent on drugs even while they are not addicted to it. Dependence can sometimes manifest itself as a response produced by the body against substance. This occurs most of the time when you are using certain medications to treat a chronic medical condition. A few of such medical conditions are listed below:
- Glaucoma (An eye disease that can potentially cause blindness)
- High BP
Dependence may or may not involve all symptoms of addiction. Physical symptoms of withdrawal are observed when you try to stop using the drug immediately and are also indicative of dependence. Dependence can also mean your body’s increased requirement of the particular drug when you subsequently continue taking the drugs and your body’s tolerance level for the particular drug increases.
Can drug abuse lead to dependence?
An estimate of 22.7 million Americans requiring help for treating drug or alcohol addiction problems was documented by the National Institute of drug abuse.
Many people use a particular drug to treat a certain medical condition which in the long run has chances of becoming an addiction.
A few risk factors for developing substance use disorders are:
Having a family history of anxiety, depression, addiction or even living in an environment or a surrounding where drugs are easily accessible.
Symptoms of drug dependence:
When a person who regularly takes drugs suddenly stops consuming a particular drug, certain physical changes are easily observed in his body which are known as withdrawal symptoms. Certain symptoms can sometimes even be fatal to the person.
Some symptoms of drug dependence include:
- Muscle weakness
- Body aches, etc.
Treating drug dependence in people:
If a person has been abusing drugs for a long time, it has a tendency to switch to dependence, which means the person can be completely dependent on the drugs to carry out his day-to-day activities. When this happens, treatment becomes extremely complicated. The person must stop using drugs but he cannot immediately stop using the drug because if he stops the drug immediately, he can experience severe withdrawal symptoms.
Certain substances which mimic the effects produced by such illegal drugs are used to slowly reduce the amount of drugs the person takes and eventually stop using the drug. Programs that are designed to help people that are dependent on drugs such as Detox programs, treat the victims of drug abuse by using a combination of medical treatment and therapy.
If drug dependence is left untreated, each time you consume that drug your body will demand more doses of drugs and will finally lead to addiction and in the long run can cause death due to overdose.
What is drug addiction?
Addiction happens due to over usage of a particular substance. It affects the brain and the person‘s general behaviour. Even though a person knows how bad it is for him, he will not pay any heed to it and proceed to continue taking drugs because he is not able to resist the urge to use them.
It is better to find a treatment for addiction at the earliest stage because, in the later stages, it can become uncontrollable and sometimes lead to overdose and death.
Addiction is not only about drugs like heroin or cocaine. Addiction can even occur with alcohol, nicotine, anti-anxiety medications, etc.
What is the difference between drug abuse versus drug addiction?
Drug abuse happens when you consume a substance more than it should normally be consumed. If you consume a prescribed drug excessive to the normal prescribed amount because you tend to start enjoying the effects that particular drug has on your body then drug abuse has begun to kick in.
Drug addiction on the other hand is when you cannot stop taking the drug and you need that particular drug to carry out your day-to-day activities.
Addiction is not the same as tolerance or dependence.
Dependence is when your body starts noticing withdrawal symptoms when you stop consuming the drug. When a substance becomes less effective over periods of time then it is considered to be tolerant.
How does this affect your brain?
Drug consumption has a very ‘feel-good effect on your brain. So the more you take such substances, the more quantity the brain demands each time you take it. When you take such drugs, there is an inflow of a hormone called dopamine which is responsible for producing feelings of excitement and pleasure.
Due to this inflow of dopamine, the brain tries to attain higher levels of dopamine each time you take the drug, so naturally, your drug intake increases each time and finally leads to drug overdose.
Drug usage over very long periods of time can cause changes in the chemical components of your brain and can affect your:
- Learning Ability
- Decision-Making Ability.
Risk Factors for addiction:
Not every single person who takes drugs gets addicted but certain factors increase your chances of getting addicted to a particular drug.
Family History: If anybody in your family has had problems with drug abuse in the past, your chances of getting addicted increase, as well as genes, play a very major role in your behavior.
Mental Disorders: People tend to resort to drugs to escape the harsh reality that they are going through and when they feel pleasure in such stressful and depressing life circumstances, they feel good and end up taking more of it and getting addicted.
Early Drug Abuse: Kids Who take drugs are more susceptible to addiction as their brains are currently in a growing phase and if they consume drugs during the early ages of their life, in the long term it can lead to addiction and abuse.