Drug Addiction

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It is often heard about a drug problem on television and other media. Drug addiction is a progressive chronic disease caused by the use of narcotic substances. A main symptom of addiction is the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms as a consequence of the presence of the physical dependence on a particular substance. Wilson and Kolander (2011) state that “drug abuse generally refers to chronic, excessive use of drug, such that physical or other personal harm is very likely to occur.”

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Causes of Abuse

Different drugs cause different dependences. Some of them cause a severe psychological dependence, but do not cause any physical one. Others cause the severe physical dependence. Many drugs cause both physical and psychological dependences. Landry (1994) emphasizes that “addiction can be described as a progressive, chronic, primary disease that is characterized by compulsion, loss of control, continued drug use despite adverse consequences, and distortions in normal thinking.” It is a progressive disease that should be treated. Otherwise, the person’s conditions will get worse. According to the article “Drug Addiction” (2011), “drug addiction can cause serious, long-term consequences, including problems with physical and mental health, relationships, employment and the law.”

From a standpoint of sociology, addiction is a form of unusual behavior deviating from accepted moral standards. The deviant behavior is a behavior that differs from accepted society values and normative standards. A person that does some particular socially unacceptable actions is considered as a social deviant. Hartney states the following:

Heroine use, for example, is quite rare in the general population, and would be considered quite shocking in most social circumstances. However, in communities and sub-cultures where heroin use is common, it is not really socially deviant to take heroin. (2013)

A drug problem appeared long ago. Thousands of years ago, such plants as cannabis, opium poppy, and coca were used for the preparation of portions that altered consciousness during various religious ceremonies. Trade relations between countries facilitated the exchange of not only useful goods, but also some recipes of these substances. Thus, during the Crusades, Europeans discovered opium and hashish, which had been popular in the east.

First, the term drug was used by the famous Greek physician Hippocrates, who meant substances that had caused the loss of sensitivity to pain. Most of these substances were used for medical purposes, including the treatment of alcoholism, but their effects on the brain's pleasure centers also had provided their improper use.

With the occurrence of drugs, first people, who abused them and needed some treatment for such diseases as drug addiction and alcoholism, appeared. The history knows many famous people, who had been exposed to addiction. In antiquity, the Roman emperors Nero, Claudius, and Caligula were notorious for their love of booze and drugs. In the twentieth century, Adolf Hitler received injections of the drug Pervitinum several times a day. Thus, he quickly became dependent on it.

However, before the beginning of the twentieth century, there had been no laws prohibiting the manufacture or use of narcotic substances. Opium smoking became illegal in many countries only in 1909 in connection with the adversity around this drug in China. While Britain was trying to make China its colony, it imported a huge amount of opium in China with a view to the expansion of its army. The population could not get the competent treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction, so soon the use of this drug in China had gained a truly massive scale. It contributed to the adoption of the laws prohibiting it.

After a drug boom of the 1960s, caused by the hippie movement, most states began to adopt legislation, which regulated a turnover of drugs. However, an effective treatment of drug addiction as well as the treatment of alcoholism was not possible.

The modern society refers to addicts as to a separate union of people, often as to outcasts of a society. Many people are afraid of drug addicts. However, this contemptuous attitude does not frighten people, who use drugs. They live in their fabulous and colorful world.

Young people are the most affected ones by drugs. The vulnerability of adolescents is determined primarily by their intermediate state, when it is extremely significant to feel like an adult. However, this position has not yet mastered. In fact, the adolescents are in the face of the greatest challenges in their life without the soil underfoot.

The main reasons, why adolescents are attracted to drugs, are rooted in the society. The common reasons of emergence and development of drug addiction include identity, mental and physical disorders, and the impact of various social factors. One of psychological causes of addiction is the subjective dissatisfaction with the life due to extremely varied circumstances. These ones include such as: personal difficulties, defects of the social and cultural sphere, unsettled leisure, social injustice, disorder of life, and some failures at school or work. Sociology explains the use of drugs as an individual’s response to the pressure that occurs from the changes taking place in the today's society. The main socio-cultural determinants of drug abuse are an unfavorable social environment, the availability of drugs, advertising, a frequent change of residence, familial predisposition, inconsistency in education, and the communication with peers using drugs.

The development of drug dependence leads to the destruction of motivation and work behavior, in general. Thus, there is a constant outflow of labor from the sphere of the material and intellectual production. As an intensive substance use is incompatible with any business or learning, drug abuse leads to reducing of the overall intellectual potential and to the impoverishment of labor resources.

Drug abuse has a variety of social consequences. It leads to the increased mortality and the development of somatic as well as mental illnesses. Many criminal offenses are committed on a basis of drug abuse. The addict degrades as identity; the slavish drug addiction forces him or her to perform immoral acts. Thus, drug users are standing on their way of committing a crime, because it does not matter in what way the money is received – legally or illegally. It is only essential how many doses are available for it. The addict is even capable of a murder for the minimum dose of the drug. Moreover, it should be remembered about the suicide and accidents in a state of intoxication. Talking about a crisis, James (2008) emphasizes that “crisis is a danger because it can overwhelm the individual to the extent that serious pathology, including homicide and suicide, may result.” The hardships of life and the failure of a drug refusal create a mental trap, an only way from which is considered to be a suicide.

Regardless of an original motive of the drug use, the effect being obtained after its consumption (euphoria) induces to a repeated use. The attraction to euphoria becomes immune to sufficient control by reducing the quality functions of consciousness. The defense mechanisms of the person’s mental protection work beyond the will of a man. Grohol (2007) states that, “defense mechanisms are one way of looking at how people distance themselves from a full awareness of unpleasant thoughts, feelings and behaviors.” Thus, the drug user justifies his condition. For example, with the help of a mechanism of repression unpleasant, traumatic experience for the person, some circumstances or facts are being removed from consciousness. Rationalization is a psychological defense mechanism that makes a traumatic fact seem insignificant or fair through some explanation and justification. According to “DrugFacts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction” (2012), “although the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, the brain changes that occur over time challenge an addicted person’s self control and hamper his or her ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs.” Projection ensures the satisfactory preservation of oneself, the one’s integrity through the attribution of unwanted emotions, desires, and ideas to others. The replacement directed at an object may be provoked by another inaccessible object.

Under the drug’s influence, a person can express feelings to another person, who is not guilty. Strong agitation narrows the human mind. No one can evaluate the behavior in such a condition. If the person does not want to consider the real facts, another powerful psychological defense begins to work, i.e. a denial. According to Garrett (2012), “in conscious and deliberate deception the individual remains aware of the difference between his own truth claims and what he realizes is the actual truth of the matter.” This protection is intended for rejecting reality. The addict convinces himself or herself that he/she does not have any problems. However, such defense mechanisms do not help the addict. It is important to begin the treatment of drug addiction in order to save the life.

Addiction treatment includes some methods that are aimed at ridding an addict from the physical and emotional craving for drugs and reducing the doses, received by the addict. Ideally, drug experts strive to achieve a complete and lifelong patient refusal from drug use. Currently, there is no single clearly described addiction treatment. However, it is generally accepted that the effective treatment should be carried out by a particular scheme. First, the addict should be relieved from the physical dependence. Then, a course of a psychotherapeutic rehabilitation and support for securing an idea that the life will be happier without drugs should be provided. The most effective way to treat drug addiction is to pass three stages: a removal of crisis in a hospital with the help of detoxification or AMLO; rehabilitation; and social adaptation.


Today, there are many different drug treatment centers: commercial, governmental, and religious ones that are based on the author's methodologies, settlements for addicts, some centers working on foreign techniques, and acting on a principle of therapeutic communities. Science does not stand still, thus, drug and alcohol abuse is constantly enriched with the new knowledge. Frequently, new methodologies flow into some proven methods of treatment (e.g. psychotherapy). The method of positive psychotherapy, which is based on the person's ability to give up personal desires in favor of something higher, was founded in the 1950s in the United States. This method has already proved its effectiveness. All this time, it has been enriched by new methods, techniques, and subtleties. Today, a psychotherapy method includes the work on the development of spirituality, the ability to feel as a part of the whole, and abandon selfishness. Also, this method contains the communication therapy, involves communication between a patient and a mutual support. Psychotherapy starts including social rehabilitation, which is based on the involvement in a labor activity.

The wide distribution of drug abuse is a result of social conditions, namely unemployment, uncertainty in the future day, and everyday stress. The problem of drug addiction had appeared before the society since ancient times. Nobody suspected that the disease will lead to large losses, and most importantly to the loss of young, energetic, and talented individuals, in whose hands the future was. Drug addiction is a problem of the safety of everyone. A man, intoxicated by drugs, poses a threat not only to a child walking in the street, a pensioner returning home after receiving the pension, but also for all other citizens. A drug issue is the problem of all ages and the whole society.