Becoming more aware of substance abuse in 2012

Bowl with pillsBecoming more aware of substance abuse in 2012



Let’s start with this: according to the World Health Organization (WHO), “harmful use of alcohol has a major impact on public health. It is currently ranked as the third leading risk factor for disease and disability in the world. In 2004, harmful use of alcohol was estimated to cause about 2.25 million premature deaths worldwide and be responsible for 4.5% of the global disease burden, even after the protective effects of low and moderate alcohol consumption had been considered. Levels, patterns and the social context of drinking differ among regions, nations and communities in studies, but the overall negative health results are clear” (WHO website).

Taking drugs, in any form, can be dangerous not only because of the physical impact they can have on the body, but because they can also limit one’s ability to set limits. There is a difference between substance use and abuse, however. It is when an individual engages in the continued use of drugs or alcohol despite repeated negative effects on the user and others, does this constitute “abuse”. Drug abuse is less about the amount of substance being consumed or frequency, and more to do with the consequences of usage. No matter how often or how little one is consuming, if substance use is causing problems in one’s life or affecting the major areas of functioning (work/school, home or social) they are likely to be experiencing an addiction problem.

Some problematic substances to be aware of today are alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, “club drugs” (i.e., GHB, LSD, Rohypnol); ecstasy,inhalants and solvents (i.e., gasoline, lighter fluid, butane lighter fuel, spray paint, paint thinners, transparent glue, hair spray, nail polish remover, and cleaning fluids), performance-enhancing drugs (i.e., anabolic steroids, stimulants, narcotics/analgesics, diuretics, andro, marijuana), magic mushrooms and crystal methamphetamine, and of increasing concern is the use and overuse of prescription drugs; opioids (for pain); central nervous system depressants (for anxiety and sleep disorders); and stimulants (for ADHD and narcolepsy).

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