Drug Abuse and Addition

The world today has become surrounded by drug abuse as well as drug addiction. This escalating disorder has become so common, that its truth is based on misconceptions that people have concerning drug abuse as well as addiction. This paper briefly provides an overview of drug abuse as well as addiction, and at the same time looks at the aspects of epidemiology, social problems, pathophysiology, as well as ethical issues that might arise with medical emergency responders.

Drug abuse and drug addiction; exactly what does that mean and who is affected by it? There is a confusion between drug addiction and abuse. Drug abuse happens when there is usage of a substance, generally illicit drugs or alcohol, while drug addiction takes place in a broad variety of substances and activities. Addiction can be termed as the compulsive need for usage of substance forming habits, such as alcohol, nicotine and heroin, of which is eventually characterized by obviously physiological signs upon withdrawal as well as tolerance; widely: insistent compulsive use of known substances that are harmful to the user. Drug addiction is usually not a substance forming habit, it also includes things such as gambling, sex, video gaming, and even internet. All the same, the primary focus of society is still to do with drugs, tobacco and alcohol. Several characteristics of pathophysiology and epidemiology will be discussed together with the social implications that addiction causes as well as any ethical problems that lie with addiction and medical emergency service providers.

The addictive behavioral study is relatively new. Science just started to study behavioral addictiveness in the 1930. Prior to this, studies were being carried out by scientist on drug abuse that were plagued by misconception shadows as well as nature addiction. But with present day discoveries as well as information on how brain chemicals work and the methods of alteration, there is now a deeper understanding of alcohol and drug addiction. Drug addiction, according to Dr. Dryden-Edwards also referred to as chemical dependency or substance dependence, is an illness that is described by a destructive drug abuse pattern that leads to major problems which involve tolerance towards or substance withdrawal and other problems arising from substance use that could have implications to the sufferer, either by school performance, socially or in terms of work. More than 2.5% of humanity suffer from drug addiction at some point in their lives. Some of the commonly abused addictive substances are alcohol, anabolic steroids, amphetamines, cannabis, caffeine, ecstasy, cocaine, inhalants, hallucinogens, nicotine, phencyclidine, opiates, sedatives, anti-anxiety drugs, and or hypnotic. Despite the fact that alcohol and drug addiction is viewed as a mental health issue, there is no one particular determinant cause. However, several people believe that drug addiction and abuse is a genetic disease of which is a false fact. A person’s environment is cause for the development of a predisposition dependency drug.


The socially associated risk factors of drug addiction and drug abuse encompass the male gender, between the age ranges of 18 and 44 years, heritage of Native American persons, low socioeconomic status as well as the marital status of the unmarried. State statistics reveal that residents from the western U.S are more at risk to substance dependency as well as abuse. While males are very prone to alcoholism development, females seem more vulnerable to alcoholism at fairly lower amounts of alcohol consumption, this is because females have a much lower body mass as compared to males. The combined medical, criminal, economical, as well as the social implications costs American taxpayer more than half a trillion dollars annually. Each year drug and alcohol abuses contributes to 100,000 American deaths, with tobacco contributes approximately 440,000 deaths annually. Individuals of all ages suffer the damaging consequences of drug as well as alcohol addiction and abuse. Babies can get affected while within the mother’s womb if the mother is to engage in drug or alcohol use, which as a result causes defects in birth as well as slows down the intellectual development in the later years of the child. As for Adolescents, they usually perform poorly in school and usually drop out while they are abusing drugs. Adolescent girls stand the risk of having unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and violence. In addition, parents and adults are also affected, usually by having their cognitive abilities clouded. With all the vast exposure, the stage has easily been set for the next generation to simply step into the addictive lifestyle.


Drug addiction primarily affects the brain, but also affects the flow of a person’s organ systems. Drugs as well as mind changing substances which can be abused usually target the body’s natural system of reward either willingly or unwillingly causing entire euphoric effects for the drug user. These effects arise from the dopamine, which is a regulated neurotransmitter movement, emotion, cognition, motivation and pleasure feelings. The release of Dopamine is naturally rewarded to the body for natural behaviors as well as initiations for the cycle to repeat the behavior all over. The dopamine neurotransmitter fills the reward system that is often concealed in restricted amounts from routine activities such as sex or eating. The brain perceives this as a life-sustaining action as a result of the activated reward system. On introducing the chemical substance within a person’s system and the euphoric effects are realized, a person’s brain takes note of several significant happening events and teaches itself to do this action repeatedly until it is a habit. The consumption of illicit drugs can cause an individual to impulsively act when the brain’s reasoning system would normally delay or prevent a form of given action.

This reasoning system is circumvented, hence leading to the undesired action that can possibly have negative consequences on the drug user’s life. However, several drug effects as well as chemical substances are at times euphoric, and other times the substance causes depression, suicidal thoughts, and paranoia. Continuation of the drug causes the brain to become acclimatized to the surplus of dopamine within the reward system. This then leads to the decrease of dopamine release as well as the dopamine receptors numbers within the system itself. In turn, this affects the user’s ability to attain the desired effects of the drug usage. This response from the person’s brain causes the person to try and reactivate the receptors by adding the dosage or amount of the drug in order to attain the same dopamine high. This effect process is referred to as a tolerance. Long term drug abuse causes changes to occur to other systems parts within the brain. The neurotransmitter glutamate of which is a part of the reward systems can be changed and hence cause learning inability. When the brain reaches the maximum level of glutamate, it causes an off balance and the brain tries to compensate, of which as a result affects the drug user’s cognitive ability. Once the brain accustoms to the drug effects, dependence is made and drug abuse cessation causes a result known as withdrawal. While most withdrawal signs are very uncomfortable for the drug addict, there are several serious signs such as seizures, strokes, myocardial infraction, delirium tremens, and hallucinations.

Social, Ethical issues as well as the impact on emergency medical services (EMS)

The consequences of drug abuse and addiction are very evident in an individual social life. The addictions destructive behavior affects every area of their personal life, right from the genesis of the drug abuse. The addictions symptoms from a physical perspective include alteration of sleeping patterns as well as eating habits, which in turn contribute to both weight gain as well as loss. Frequent drug abuse tends to lead to failure in meeting important responsibilities at work, school or even home. Other drug addiction effects include domestic violence, family disintegration, child abuse, employment loss, and failure in school. People with addiction engage in risk taking, and with alterations in the reward system within the brain, the drug users expect positive reactions prior to them taking the substance that would satisfy their needs for the risks they take. Impulse control is difficult when drug choice is available to people with addiction. As a result this fuels the addiction even more.

The effect of the emergency medical service is immense. The calls from addiction range from medical overdosage to trauma. The emergency medical provider’s obligation in response to overdosed patients requires paramedics to find out how much as well as what the patients took, and what is the correct medication to give in order to reverse the condition that is being experienced by the patient or drug user. With the various emergency responses comes danger, with the possibility of violent outbreaks by the addicts or users. Therefore, paramedics must be aware of their surroundings while handling the patients. In addition, patients who experience withdrawals tend to hallucinate a complete event as well as incorporate the paramedics, thus causing the patient to react violently towards the care provider. Drug addiction is a very serious condition that can be considered as a psychiatric problem, of which needs to be treated with a sure diligence as well as suspicion.

Within the realm of the emergency medical service, the response rate of addiction is not considered an emergency condition. The incident will arise if an addict is experiencing withdrawal violent signs or has substance overdose, and the patient would appear in a state of agitation or even unconsciousness. There is no prearranged method in handling a patient that is experiencing problems related to addiction. The key element is in treating the symptoms of the patient. All patients require supplementary oxygen through non rebreathe if tolerance is acceptable. To assist in flushing out a normal saline of infusion, obtaining of intravenous access is a must. Should a patient or addict be in a state of agitation or seizure, administration of a sedative is required, such as versed or valium. Caution must be taken when administrating benzodiazepines because of the risks regarding failure or respiratory depression is present. Should a patient experiencing an opiate overdose as well as low breathing, Narcan 0.4 – 2 milligrams must be administered, but caution must be observed when administering the drug of which is done slowly in order for the patient to breathe sufficiently so as to sustain life. Should breathing and airway problems continue then intubation must be considered in order to secure the airway of the patient. Quick transport with due concern is suggested in order for the patient to be evaluated so as to have the hospital staff commence detoxification.

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