Chemical dependency and drug abuse are common phenomena in most countries all over the world. Governments and agencies try as hard as possible to either prevent or stop the behavior among the young people as well as the old to enable them become independent and productive. Drug abuse among the young people has numerous effects, both short and long term, which interpret to the poor economy, crime in society, among other social impairments. The young people’s minds and organs are in the process of developing, which causes bigger health problems in case of addiction to the chemical products, especially to some as hard as cocaine, heroin, and marijuana.
Development of Drug Abuse and Addiction
Drug abuse and addiction are not inborn behaviors, nor are they genetically comprised. They are attained and picked from an individual’s company, belief or thinking. Adolescents mostly pick the behaviors from the media, billboards, films, and other forms of entertainment. The behavior arises at will, but becomes difficult to stop or control once addiction sets in. Existing statistics show that most adolescents have tasted one or more of the many drugs by the time they leave high school. This behavior either stops immediately or sticks to become an addiction. Those who taste and stop do not become addicted but live to tell tales of those who tried and got addicted (Doweiko, 2011). Others get addicted and fight from within, trying to stop or get out of the behavior. The lucky ones manage to rescue themselves before their lives are ruined, while others die out of the behavior’s consequences.
Alcohol is the most abused drug, with statistics showing that almost 70% of young people below the age of 24 abuse alcohol. This is followed by tobacco, marijuana, and finally, hard drugs. The behavior develops clandestinely with most young people going unnoticed by their parents, guardians or even authorities. At this stage, they are able to control the intake as well as the physical effects. The behavior develops due to different reasons. Frustrations from failed goals and objectives have been taken as one of the major causes of the behavior. Peer influence and experimentation come second and third respectively in the line of causative factors. Lack of checks and balances in the level of freedom awarded to the young people gives this behavior time to grow and develop. This may be accelerated by other factors such as independent living of the young people, less time and attention from parents, teachers’ negligence of these groups of individuals. A developed addiction behavior is difficult to control, and it is the most expensive in terms of time, resources, and attention. The outcome may also be devastating if the victim has reached the point of withdrawal, defiance or is totally mentally incapacitated.
Progression of drug abuse goes through stages before it develops to full addiction. This may be an opportunity for a young person to stop or those in charge to stop him/her from attaining a full addiction status (Winters, 2006). Those who chose to stop at the first stages are never addicted, but those who continue, become fully addicted and are sometimes never able to give it up. It should be noted that some very strong drugs like cocaine may bring about addiction at the very early stages of use.
Tasting and Trial
This is the first stage of drug abuse and addiction in adolescents. The young people see or get the drug they have heard or not heard of for the first time. At this point, they go ahead and taste the drug to experience its taste, effects or feel. The few who dislike the feeling stop at this point and never try the drug again. Others may feel the fear to continue due to different reasons like unaccomplished goals in life, education, fear of authority action, fear of addiction or knowledge of other people’s experience which they abhor. Others may stop due to immediate health effects like allergies, nausea or pain in parts of the body like the nose, ears, chest, and headaches. These are lucky to escape the future ordeal.
This comes in when the adolescents meet over the weekends and holidays to share drugs. This happens if most individuals have not yet gained direct and flowing access to drugs, are in fear of the authorities or have no space and time to abuse drugs. They are able to conceal the physical effects of drugs to all those concerned. At times, they may conceal effects by feigning fatigue, sickness or anger. This helps them go unnoticed. The effects at this time grow internally as a young person is becoming addicted, although gradually. This may continue for a long time, depending on the pace or number of times when the group is meeting or accessing drugs. In some cases, drugs are provided for by other young people, vendors or people with different motives for free. This is mostly done to conceal the heavy financial cost from the susceptible young person in question. The advancing behavior at this point may attract attention of parents, authorities or teachers. The young individual may portray some funny, abnormal or uncommon characters (Ayd, 2000). They may turn violent to inquiries, defensive or even rebellious. They will defend themselves against claims of drug abuse or moral decay terming them as mere unfounded accusations. The young person may also experience mood swings, which will sometimes result into emotional breakdowns, anger, and feeling of victimization, among others. They will try to hide their creeping behavior by withdrawing or demanding for more freedom or privacy.
The young at this stage acquire a careless attitude. They do not mind their publicity and will use the drugs daily. They come into conflict with the law, feel miserable, and suffer a total withdrawal. They lose all sense of mannerism and hygiene. At this point, they demand for money to buy drugs. They fail to care about themselves and are totally defiant.
This can be described as the point of no return for the addicts. They become miserable and reckless. Their lives are characterized by lawlessness, crime, unhygienic leaving, and irresponsibility. At this point, most are struggling with their behaviors and may seek help in trying to quit. The mind may be totally destroyed and may be conditioned. Infections may come in at this stage due to poor hygiene, diet, drug effects, and psychological breakdown. The parents, teachers, and authorities, are, at this point, helpless and cannot do anything physical to bail out the young one. At this stage, most lives are broken beyond repair. Those who lack moral support may end up committing suicide, dropping out of a school, place of work, while others move away from their relatives.
Addiction in Adults
Adults get addicted to drugs just like adolescents. This may occur when the old addicts go back to their behavior, when the old people adopt negative behaviors, or when they are drugged unconsciously by individuals with different motives. Addiction in adults may not be so different from that in young people, though the circumstances and effects may be quite different (Bystryn, 2002). Most old people who start taking drugs and finally get addicted may do so mostly due to frustrations in life. The rate of addiction in adults is lower as compared to that of young people. The difference in rate may arise due to factors such as a different level of reasoning between the two groups, with the latter having a higher capacity to reason, and a different rate of affordability and access. The effect of drug abuse and addiction is more devastating on younger people than on old ones. This may come in as a result of unaccomplished objectives of the young, high level of financial dependence, lack of responsibilities and inexperience in dealing with difficult situations.
The rate of addiction and the time during which its effects are observed are higher in young people as compared to adults. The young people are vulnerable to more outcomes, especially health related issues due to their growth and development factors. The young people are more likely to suffer quick mental breakdowns, cancer infections, depression and even indulge in crime to get money to sponsor their newly acquired behaviors.
Drug users and addicts are more or less likely to succumb to other effects immediate to drug usage and addiction. The risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other STI’s is high given the blurred decisions they are likely to make. They are also likely to be victims of other illegal activities like robbery as they seek to get funds to drive their behaviors. The other effects likely to occur due to drug abuse for both the young and the old are abandoning of individual families, antisocialism, mental breakdown, and failure to meet life objectives like education and employment. Drug addicts are burdens to their families and the government as they are highly dependent but unproductive (Committee on Opportunities in Drug Abuse Research, 1996).
To conclude, it can be presumably said that the effects of drug abuse are not only devastating to the victims but to the community at large. It is also evident that addiction negatively affects both the young and the old but at different levels and perspectives. The acquiring of the right measure, attitude, and behavior sounds as the only solution to the problem. Support is also necessary for the already addicted in order to help them get out of the problem. Rehabilitation centers and other collection centers have a responsibility to control this problem; they should inform not only the addicted but also the other members of the young and old generation about the dangers of such a behavior. Parents and teachers should also take it upon themselves to find ample time for the young generation and give them time and opportunity to express and air their challenges in life. This will immensely help them avoid the pitfall.