NEXT on RealTalk Undressed - DRUG ABUSE: Health Benefits and Possible Advantages?

Many people do not understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. It is often mistakenly assumed that drug abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will.

In fact, because drugs change the brain in ways that foster compulsive drug abuse, quitting is difficult, even for those who are ready to do so.

What Is Drug Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her. Although the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, the brain changes that occur over time challenge an addicted person’s self-control and hamper his or her ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs.

What happens to your brain when you take drugs?

Most abused drugs directly or indirectly target the brain's reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. This flood of dopamine is what causes the "high" or euphoria associated with drug abuse. When drugs enter the brain, they can actually change how the brain performs its jobs. These changes are what lead to compulsive drug use, the hallmark of addiction.

Health Problems

The impact of drug abuse and dependence can be far-reaching, affecting almost every organ in the human body. Drug use can:

1. Weaken the immune system, increasing susceptibility to infections.
2. Cause cardiovascular conditions ranging from abnormal heart rate to heart attacks.
3. Injected drugs can also lead to collapsed veins and infections of the blood vessels and heart valves.
4. Cause nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
5. Cause the liver to have to work harder, possibly causing significant damage or liver failure.
6. Cause seizures, stroke and widespread brain damage that can impact all aspects of daily life by causing problems with memory, attention and decision-making, including sustained mental confusion and permanent brain damage.
7. Produce global body changes such as breast development in men, dramatic fluctuations in appetite and increases in body temperature, which may impact a variety of health conditions.

Behavioral Problems

Impaired Judgment
Loss of Self-Control

Possible Health Benefits and Any Advantages of Drug Abuse?

A growing number of people are taking psychedelic drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy to help them cope with a variety of conditions including anorexia nervosa, cluster headaches and chronic anxiety attacks.

Many others are using the drugs to deal with chronic anxiety attacks brought on by terminal illness such as cancer.

For other social users of psychedelic drugs, it brings them into a state of happiness that they won't otherwise have experienced. In their argument, they point out that when they are in such states of euphoria, they tend to think more positive and less negative, including boosted self-confidence and related effects.

The ultimate question thus remain; does the use of psychedelic drugs cause more harm than good?

Credit: United Nations 2016 report on Drug Use, Abuse and Addiction


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