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An excessive use of both drugs and alcohol can

An
addiction is strongly craving something that results in losing control of its
use and ultimately causing people to abuse its intended use, in spite of the
negative consequences it creates. According to Harvard Health Publications, addiction
hijacks the brain by “first, subverting the way it registers pleasure, and then
by corrupting other normal drives such as learning and moving” (HHP). In the
early 1900’s researchers believed that people who developed addictions were
simply morally flawed. Today however, researchers have come to the conclusion
that it is a “chronic disease that changes both brain structure and function”
(HHP). While many pleasurable activities such as shopping and sex can lead to
addictive behaviors, two of the leading addictions in America are drug and
alcohol abuse.

A drug
is a substance that has a psychological effect when induced or introduced to
the body and is typically used for medication or in the process of preparing
medication. Alcohol is a liquid containing the substance ethanol, as a beverage
popularly used among adults. Reading these definitions sound so harmless,
right? Truth is, while a small amount is harmless, an excessive use of both
drugs and alcohol can result in extreme effects on both the mind and body. This
excessive amount of both substances commonly leads to an unhealthy and in some
cases, deadly addiction. But what exactly causes people to develop such an obsession
with the two, and how recovery is possible?  

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Let’s
begin with some causes that lead to drug and alcohol addictions. Environmental
factors, peer pressure, curiosity, genetic tendency and stress are all reasons
why people may begin to abuse drugs and alcohol, ultimately leading to an
addiction to one or the other and in some cases, both. Effects of drug and
alcohol addictions can be extremely harmful to the human body and can even
result in death. People that are under the influence of drugs and alcohol experience
psychological effects such as, extreme mood swings, hallucinations, depression,
anxiety and paranoia. Furthermore, some physical impairments caused by abuse of
drugs and alcohol are heart rate irregularities, respiratory problems such as
lung cancer and emphysema, abdominal pain, kidney and liver damage, seizures,
changes in appetite, body temperature and sleeping patterns. One example is
brain disruptions, which can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to
think clearly and move with coordination. Not only are mind and body effects
involved but such addictions also take a toll on relationships with those
around them. Indeed, drugs and alcohol are created to ease the pain and
discomfort of people in distress, but not to add more to it.

According
to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our nations annual cost for those who
are suffering with these addictions is expected to be more than $740 billion
dollars. The NIDA surveys show that in recent years, people who abuse drugs
begin as early as under 12 years of age. Surveys also show that marijuana being
one of the leading drug addiction causes is abused by nearly 57% of Americans
in which, 42% of them are between the ages of 12-17. In 2015 the total number
of deaths of men and women combined due to drug abuse is 50,000 in just America
alone. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism,
15.1 million adults between the ages of 18 and older have been reported to have
suffered from alcohol use disorder. These statistics also show that an
estimated 623,000 adolescents between the ages of 12-17 have also been reported
to have had AUD. Death rates due to alcoholism? “An estimated 88,000 people die
from alcohol related causes annually, making alcohol the consumption the 4th
preventable cause of death in the United States” (NIAAA).

The road to recovery for people suffering from a drug or
alcohol addiction is no overnight task. The recovering process from such
addictions takes constant specialized care and intensive work, with the first
step being to acknowledge that the person has a problem. According to Carlo C.
DiClemente’s author of “Addiction and Change’ quitting an addiction to drug or
alcohol requires designing interventions through two main processes,
motivational interviewing and cognitive therapy. DiClemente goes on to explain
that self help groups, therapy and continued involvement is the best outcome
during a recovering addict’s lifelong journey.

Juan Santos, a mechanic residing in Jersey City, New Jersey
understands firsthand the effects and struggle of a recovering addict since he
himself is one. After speaking and listening to Santos for a little over an
hour, I learned that he watched his father struggle with Alcohol abuse
throughout his childhood before his father died due to his alcohol addiction.
Santos grew up realizing he was no different. Just like he watched his father
ruin jobs and relationships, Juan saw the same in him yet, he couldn’t stay
away. It was the cries of his children begging him to seek help that he
ultimately decided to seek help. While for years he’s tried and failed, Santos
found that with the help of a self help group at his church is what ultimately
helped do the trick. He’s now living almost 15 years clean but admits that
without the help of his family, church community and God, he would not be here
to today. He says “changing my surroundings is what got me so far and though it
is a struggle, with their continued help, I am able to continue forward”.   

Addiction to drugs and alcohol causes nothing but harm,
affliction and even death. Therefore, in order to avoid these life-threatening
consequences, one must never abuse their use. Consuming the right and proper
amount of both can prevent such consequences. Just a matter of control and
self-discipline is required.

 

 

 

Works Cited
DiClemente,
C. C. (2003). Addiction and Change.
Harvard Health Publications. How addiction hijacks the
brain.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse. Facts and Statistics.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Statistics.
 

 

 

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