Another term for alcohol addiction is alcoholism, which is characterized as a craving habit for alcohol and one’s inability to prevent oneself from drinking especially when this habit can result in extreme personal and/ or social harm. Frequent drinking, drinking more than intended, trying to quit drinking but is unable to do so, developing alcohol tolerance, experiencing withdrawal when stopping, hampering personal and professional responsibilities wallowing in favour of drinking and spending more time and effort in getting and drinking alcohol are some of the symptoms of alcohol addiction.
However, not all who drink are alcoholic, but those whose life is negatively affected due to consistent alcohol abuse are considered to suffer from alcohol use disorder.
Tobacco abuse is most common substance abuse in the world, which is harder to hide than other substance abuse or addictions. This is probably because it is legal and is easily available to public. Additionally, the cigarette smoke smell also follows the users in their clothing and hairs.
Nicotine is the main chemical that causes addiction by causing adrenaline rush in users when absorbed in the bloodstream or when inhaled via smoke. Nicotine triggers dopamine secretion, which is a “happy chemical” and stimulates the area of the brain that is associated with reward and pleasure. Excessive use of tobacco for an extended period can result in psychological and physical addiction.
Excessive consumption of Marijuana can result in the following problems:
Irrespective of these known effects, users continue to use this drug as they stop caring about the damage and focus more on staying stoned due to addiction. This is similar to meth or crack or pain pills. Users claim that it is not addictive as it does not have withdrawal symptoms like heroin or alcohol. Two major misunderstanding related to this are: 1) marijuana is twice as stronger as it was 20 years ago and 2) chronic cannabis usage have withdrawal symptoms. Some of the common symptoms are irritability, insomnia, anxiety, nightmares, anger, fluctuating moods, headaches, depression, loss of zeal for life, loss of appetite and craving for drug abuse. The intensity of these symptoms differs in users depending on the amount and duration of marijuana consumption. It also depends on the mental and physical constitution of the user.
Opiates consists of different substances such as morphine, heroin and thebaine, however the mode of action is same for each. These are highly addictive substances and are known as opiates as they are derived from the chemicals that are found in the sap of the opium poppy plant. Prescription opioids such as fentanyl, hydrocodone and oxycodone also have the same mode of action as that of natural opiates. Opiate relaxes the irises by creating pinpoint pupils or pinpricks. The long- term effects of opioids are brain damage as a result of hypoxia, respiratory depression, liver damage, vomiting, nausea, abdominal bloating and distension, constipation, tolerance development, and dependence.
Stimulants include the class of drugs that includes illegal drugs such as methamphetine, MDMA (ecstasy), methylphenidate (a prescription drug) and cocaine. Stimulants increases alertness, attention, energy and boast mood. They are highly addictive in nature even with a little dose.
Users can over the time can build tolerance and require higher dosage of this drug to get “high” in order to feel just normal. However, discontinuation of these drugs after regular use can result in withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, intensive drug cravings and insomnia. Some users also find these drugs more pleasurable than other enjoyable activities such as sex or eating. Thus to avoid these feelings, users depend more on these stimulants, thereby perpetuating the addictive cycle.
Stimulants pushes the users body beyond its original limits as it gives artificial energy boosts and provide immense pleasure at a significant cost. They excite the central nervous system and increase the feel- good chemicals in the brain and helps users experience euphoria. However, it has a number of side- effects such as: increased blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, severely high body temperature, chronic insomnia, depression, impotence, and nutritional deficiencies.
Hallucinogens are a diverse group of drugs that can alter one’s perception, feelings and thoughts. They can result in sensations or hallucinations, and images that seem real but are not in reality. Some hallucinogens can cause the users to feel disconnected or out of control from their body and surroundings. It can be used in various ways such as snorting, smoking, and absorbing through the lining of the mouth. It interferes in the brain’s chemical actions that control mood, sensory perception, sleep, muscle control, body temperature, and memory and pain perception. Long- term effects associated with hallucinogens also include psychosis and flashbacks.
Abusers use inhalants by breathing them through mouth or nose in different ways. One can snort or sniff fumes from a dispenser or a container, spray aerosols using nose or mouth or by placing chemical- soaked rag in their mouth. They can be also consumed by inhaling the fumes from a plastic or a balloon or a paper bag. The feeling of “high” developed due to inhalant consumption usually lasts for few minutes and users usually try to prolong it and repeatedly inhale it for several hours
Inhalants other than nitrites can depress the central nervous system in a way that is not similar to alcohol. The over- consumption of inhalants can result in slurred speech, euphoria, lack of coordination, and dizziness. It can also result in hallucinations, light- headedness and delusions. Repeated inhalations can make abusers feel less controlled or inhibited. It can cause drowsiness for several hours and lingering headache. These are psychologically and physically addictive in nature. Nausea, muscle cramps, excessive sweating, muscle cramps, chills, headaches, agitation, and hallucinations are some of the withdrawal symptoms of inhalants. In some cases it can also result in convulsions.