Substance Dependence (Drug Dependence)
Medical doctors can prescribe drugs to patients for their treatment. However, the purchase of drugs without a prescription is illegal. Additionally, some drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy are banned from production and distribution since their effects are detrimental to the human body.
Drugs can be useful or harmful, depending on the user. Drug intake should be controlled to prevent the active ingredients from altering the chemical balance of the body.
What Is Substance Dependence?
Substance dependence, also known as drug dependence, refers to the adaptation of the body to drug administration and consequent development of withdrawal symptoms upon quitting the drugs. It causes the body to require one or more drugs to function.
Withdrawal leads to negative reinforcement whereby the user must continue abusing the substance to avoid adverse symptoms. Substance dependence may lead to the development of tolerance, causing to an urge for more doses due to increased resistance to the effects of the drug. This may develop into a drug addiction, which may be difficult to manage.
Types of Substance Dependence
The physical dependence on drugs refers to the physical symptoms that arise from the withdrawal of a drug. In this situation, the body cells cease functioning normally as they become more accustomed to the drugs. This may lead to painful physical withdrawal symptoms. As a result, drug users may repeatedly take drugs to manage pain.
Psychological dependence, on the other hand, refers to the addiction of drugs due to a perceived thought that the drugs fulfil. This type of addiction may be as a result of mental illness such as depression. A mentally unstable person may feel the need to use drugs for psychological fulfilment.
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Signs and Symptoms of Substance Dependence
The signs of substance dependence can be classified into physical signs, which are noticeable upon observing the client closely, and behavioural signs, which require a closer look into the activities, mood or general attitude of the addict. However, the signs may be from a pre-existing physical or psychological condition, hence proper assessment should be done.
Behavioural changes that occur as a result of substance abuse include a sudden change in personality, paranoia, prolonged dishonesty, change in friends to people who are drug dealers and excessive need for privacy.
Drugs increase the production of dopamine, which regulates mood and emotions. As a result, a person’s ability to make informed choices on their own is hindered as they seek more drugs. Drugs affect the health of a person, leading to a weaker immune system, heart conditions, lung diseases, seizures and stroke.
In severe cases, drug dependence, especially on illegal drugs, can lead to the death of users. For pregnant women, substance dependence may pose a danger to their unborn babies. Some women may give birth to premature babies that may develop learning problems in the future.
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