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There are various legal and illegal drugs the use of which may lead to serious drug addiction or drug dependency. The history of drug abuse reaches very early times of agriculture when opium and cannabis was used to get a feeling of relaxation. 20th century made a big step in the drug production, when new chemical drugs were synthesized, such as methamphetamine and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB). This all added to a wider use of drugs among adults and even teenagers.
Drug addiction , also called drug dependency, is a compulsive habit to use legal or illegal drugs despite their harms on health and social life. A person, who is addicted to drugs, cannot control one’s actions towards drugs and has no other choice but to use drugs.
Physical and psychological dependency
There is physical and psychological dependency caused by drugs. Physical dependency develops after habitual use of drugs so that the body becomes accustomed to the effect of drugs and needs more and more in order to overcome the symptoms of withdrawal. Psychological dependency develops after habitual use of drugs when the brain and mind is used to the effects of drugs either relief of pain or pleasure. It can no longer exist without the stimulus of the drug and therefore a person has a craving for the use of a certain drug in order to achieve these effects and to calm down the mind.
There is also another term “chipping” that describes a certain manner of the use of drugs when a person is not psychologically dependant and is able to control the use of drugs. The purpose of the use of drugs is relaxation not escape.
Addiction to drugs varies from substance to substance. Some drugs are said to be more addictive than others. For example, heroine and cocaine need fewer trials than codeine in order for addiction to develop. Drug addiction depends very much upon individual characteristics of a person. There are certain theories, which say that there are people who are genetically and psychologically predisposed to drug addiction. Therefore such people are more likely to suffer from drug addiction after use of drugs than others.
The main features that distinguish a drug addict are continuous use of drugs and purchase of them by any means. Since drugs cost a relatively high price, drug abuse may lead to serious criminal behavior. There is also a tendency to increase a dose of drugs. There is also, as the above mentioned a strong psychological and physical dependence on the effects of drugs. In addition, drug addiction causes harmful effects on an individual and the society.
There are various drugs that are considered to be addictive; such are barbiturates, cocaine, fentanyl, heroine, ketamin, morphin, opium and many others. They cause different effects depending on the individual characteristics of a drug.
It is extremely hard for families of drug addicts to watch their close people ruining their lives. Unfortunately, it is a long way until an addict actually realizes that he or she has a problem. Addicts are known to seek for help only when they reach the bottom and there is no further. However, drug addicts need help of their closest people in order to get professional help before they actually find themselves at the bottom of their lives.
In the world where drug abuse is so common among people there is only one way to escape drug addiction – to say no to drugs and never try any of them. Otherwise you never know when drug abuse becomes a serious disease – drug addiction.
Tobacco smoking originated as a habit among Native Americans 1,500 years ago in western North America. Tobacco was brought to Europe after the colonization of America a few hundred years ago. It became a world spread habit. And now there are 1.1 billion of smokers around the world. Luckily, people have realized that smoking has a lot of negative effects on health. Since then the number of smokers started to decrease, especially in the developed countries. However, still 14 percent of all deaths in Europe are related to tobacco smoking.
There are 4000 of different chemical substances in tobacco products, 40 of them being extremely cancerogenic (cancer causing agents). Nicotine is one of these substances found in tobacco products. It is a psychotropic stimulant and an agent, which causes euphoria. People may develop both physical and psychological dependency and addiction to nicotine. Some research has been made to find out that nicotine actually stimulates and causes the feeling of relaxation at the same time.
Nicotine has been proved to be as addictive as any other drugs , such as heroin or cocaine. Addiction to nicotine develops in a short period of time. When a person starts to smoke, he or she smokes from 2 to 3 cigarettes a day, while after a few year period the same smoker consumes up to 50 cigarettes a day.
Psychological dependency depends very much upon the reasons why a person started to smoke. It is known that 70% of smokers have physical dependence to nicotine, while 15% of them have their first cigarette in the morning within five minutes when they wake up, and about 50% of smokers smoke their first cigarette within 30 minutes when they wake up in the morning.
There is a so called Fagerstroem test to check the stage of physical dependence of nicotine. It consists of 6 questions:
- When do you have your first cigarette in the morning after you wake up?
- Is it hard for you not to smoke in the non-smoking areas?
- Which cigarette is the hardest to refuse?
- How many cigarettes do you smoke a day?
- Do you smoke more within the first hours when you wake up than you do later?
- Do you smoke when you are ill and stay in bed the biggest part of the day?
Within 5 minutes 3 points
After 6-30 minutes 2 points
After 31-60 minutes 1 point
After 1 hour 0
Yes 1 point
The first one in the morning 1 point
Any other 0
More than 31 3 points
21-30 2 points
11-20 1 point
Less than 10 0
Yes 1 point
Yes 1 point
The points are added together to give the answer:
0-2 points – very small dependence
3-4 points – moderate dependence
5 points – average dependence
6-7 points – big dependence
8-10 points – very big dependence
Nicotine is an addictive substance
The stage of physical and psychological dependency is very important when a person wants to quit smoking. Since nicotine is a very addictive substance, it is very hard for a smoker to quit the habit. And even if a smoker succeeds in quitting, only 7% of them do not restart after some time. Like Mark Twain said: “It is very easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it so many times.” The most important thing therefore is not to start smoking again.
As nicotine is an addictive substance, like any other addictive agents, it causes withdrawal symptoms after discontinuation of use. These symptoms may occur after about 8 hours after the last cigarette. The most common withdrawal symptoms caused by nicotine include anxiety, stress, irritability, depressed mood, sudden mood changes, restlessness, impaired sleep and difficulty in concentrating. A person may also have bigger appetite and therefore gain more weight. These withdrawal symptoms progress and are the biggest after 24-36 hours after the last cigarette consumed. They usually fade away within 2 weeks of last cigarette. Therefore it is extremely important to stay out of the habit for at least 2 weeks even though it is the hardest period to survive.
As with all addictive substances, the best and easiest way is to never start the habit in the first place. You should be aware that to some people even a single cigarette may be addictive. At first smoking is for social reasons whereas later smokers consume nicotine only to maintain a stable concentration of this substance in the bloodstream. Don’t you want to be different and say “No” to smoking?
Approximately 10 percent of people in the United States of America are known to have alcohol addiction . 5 percent of the world’s population consumes half the amount of all the alcohol produced in the world. Alcohol addiction, also known as alcohol abuse or alcoholism, is a serious problem in a modern world.
Alcohol addiction is a disease
Alcohol addiction is a serious disease, described as a dependency on alcohol. There are certain features that characterize alcoholism as a medical condition. These are physical dependence , withdrawal symptoms and increased tolerance. In addition, an alcoholic feels a strong need to drink but he/she is unable to control drinking, meaning that an addict cannot stop drinking in spite of a wish to do so. Increased tolerance means that an addict can consume larger amounts of alcohol without actually getting drunk.
All medical associations describe alcohol addiction as a chronic disease. Genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors may influence development and manifestations of alcoholism. It is usually progressive and may be fatal. Among all the above mentioned features of the disease, another symptom that is very usual among addicts is a denial. People who suffer from alcoholism actually do not admit to have a problem, a disease and therefore it is hard to cure a person, who considers himself to be healthy.
Most people have a wrong imaging of alcohol addiction. Some think that alcoholism is a psychological condition. However, it cannot be treated by psychiatric methods. Alcohol addiction is also thought by some to be a moral shortcoming, although it is not. People should also stop thinking that alcohol abuse is a result of emotional problems or difficulties. And there can be no explanation that alcoholism is caused by addictive personality or certain character features. People should be aware that alcohol abuse is a medical condition that can be only cured by professional means.
Reasons of alcoholism
It is still very hard to find the reasons for alcoholism. Many people may drink considerably large amounts of alcohol without actually becoming an addict or developing a disease. However, to some people even a single sip of alcohol is dangerous since it may start a so called vicious cycle when a person needs more and more alcohol after just the first sip of it. Hence there are theories, which claim that genetic predisposition may lead to alcohol addiction . However, genes themselves can do nothing. There should be additional environmental factors for the disease to develop.
As mentioned above, denial is a very usual feature in addicts. They do not find alcohol addiction to be a disease or a problem. In addition, family members may help a person to excuse himself for drinking, blaming it on a person’s character, emotional problems and other. They may also help an addict to keep addiction to alcohol in secret. Or sometimes a person who has alcohol addiction may hide one’s problem from the closest family members and friends so that even they would know nothing about it.
Therefore it gets very hard for professionals to help such a person. There are various methods for them to reveal an addict. One of the simplest methods used in practice was created by Dr. John Ewing. It is called a CAGE questionnaire that is very simple and consists of only four following questions:
- Have you ever felt you needed to Cut down on your drinking?
- Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
- Have you ever felt Guilty about drinking?
- Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing in the morning (Eye-opener) to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?
Two positive answers for a male and one for a female indicate that a person needs a further investigation.
Since even a small amount of alcohol may lead addicts to continuous alcohol abuse, a logical answer is no alcohol at all. It sounds easy in theory but is very hard in practice. Quitting drinking is not very complicated for addicts. However, staying abstinent for a longer period is a serious problem and difficulty for many addicts. They may stop drinking but will most resume their habit again. The length of the period of abstinence is very important since time is needed for psychological, physical and biochemical functions to recover.
Alcohol has long been thought to be an “innocent” substance. Many specialists now say that alcohol is one of the most widely used addictive substances in the world. While social drinking is not harmful, alcohol addiction is a serious disease that needs special care and treatment. It is essential to recognize the features of alcoholism and help people who have alcohol addiction to seek for professional help. Recovery is a gradual process and even once alcohol addiction is treated there is no guarantee that it will not be back later.
Nowadays, coffee and tea are the most popular hot beverages in the world. Tea is an important part of some cultures and countries like China and Japan. Chinese used to drink tea thousands years ago. But those, who used tea and coffee for stimulating purposes, were sufits of Yemen. They drank tea in order to stay awake during prayers in 15th century. 17th century was the time when coffeehouses opened in Europe. Since then coffee and tea became a popular beverage.
Caffeine is the main chemical substance in coffee. Apart from a coffee bean, it is also found in guarrana berries, green and black tea, Kola nuts and cacao beans. Caffeine itself is a stimulating agent. It has psychotropic effects on the brain; it stimulates respiration and the heart and acts as a diuretic agent. Little have we known on the addictive affects of caffeine until studies have shown caffeine to be an addictive substance.
90% of Americans admit to consuming caffeine everyday. They ingest the substance either by drinking coffee, tea or soft drinks. The average amount of caffeine consumed by each person in the United States is 280 mg per day. This number is even higher to some Europeans. Not everybody agrees that caffeine is addictive; however it may cause physical and psychological addiction and withdrawal symptoms after discontinuation of use.
Scientists say that caffeine addiction may develop after a single cup of coffee. However, the state of caffeine addiction is more serious if more cups of coffee are consumed everyday. Therefore, for those who drink more than five cups of coffee or tea everyday, it may be harder to discontinue caffeine consumption or it may take more time in order to quit the habit of caffeine consumption.
Caffeine has various short-term effects on a human body. It stimulates the heartbeat, respiration and basal metabolic rate, and central nervous system. It also increases the production of stomach acid and urine. In addition, caffeine relaxes the smooth muscles. These effects vary from person to person and are very individual. They depend upon a person’s sensitivity to drug, the rate of a person’s metabolism, weight and frequency of the habit.
People consuming caffeine say that the substance gives them a “lift”. This may be defined that they feel more concentrated on what they do, less fatigued, less drowsy and sleepless. These effects of caffeine usually last for 30-60 minutes. Since caffeine has some effects on sleep, it is not recommended to drink caffeine containing beverages at least 5-7 hours before going to bed or planning to fall asleep. Research has shown that caffeine decreases reaction time to both auditory and visual stimuli.
Caffeine addiction symptoms
There are no certain tests to check whether a person is addicted to caffeine or not. Several aspects are used to describe caffeine as an agent causing addiction . Firstly, it causes withdrawal symptoms after a sudden discontinuation of consumption. These symptoms may vary in their extent, which usually depends upon the state of dependency and addiction. Symptoms of caffeine withdrawal may include headache, fatigue or drowsiness. In addition, changes in mood, such as depressed mood or irritability, may occur. Muscles may be painful or stiff. A person with withdrawal symptoms may feel he or she is unable to concentrate. Some may experience flu-like symptoms, such as nausea or vomiting. Withdrawal symptoms may occur from 6 to 18 hours after a sudden cessation of use of caffeine.
Another aspect that describes caffeine consumption addictive is increased tolerance to the substance. This means that more and more of the drug are needed to consume in order for the same effects to develop. For example, a person who ingests coffee as a stimulant in order to stay awake will need to drink a few times more cups of coffee after a certain time of consumption to stay awake.
People, who are used to drinking caffeine containing drinks, develop cravings after discontinuation of use. This adds to psychological and mental dependency, as well as, physical addiction for caffeine.
Do not hesitate that the symptoms of drowsiness, tiredness and headaches will disappear with time and you will feel normal again even without the use of caffeine. You will avoid side effects of caffeine on your health; feel more energetic, awake and concentrated on what you do even without the addictive substance. Remember, that drinking coffee or tea alone or with your friends may be a lovely ritual; however, it is annoying when the habit becomes physical and mental addiction. To avoid that, it is best to consume caffeine wisely.
Chocolate is made of the seeds of Theobroma cacao, which means ‘food of the gods’. Therefore chocolate was long romantically related to as ‘food of the gods’. Aztecs used to make drinks from the seeds of that tree. They believed that Theobroma cacao seeds gave them unusual powers, wisdom and fertility. In 1528 chocolate was introduced to Europe but it took a few centuries until 19th century when cocoa powder, milk and cocoa butter were mixed to form a now known form of chocolate.
Nowadays, there are various types of chocolate and the consumption of it is very huge, in the USA alone a typical person consumes 11.5 pounds of chocolate every year. People love chocolate because of its flavor, taste and texture.
To some it may sound ridiculous that such daily consumed food as chocolate could be described as addictive. However, scientists have shown the addictive effect of it on people. So, if you consume 8 or more chocolate bars a week and define yourself as a chocoholic you may be actually not exaggerating.
When do people actually start thinking that chocolate eating is a problem? It is when they cannot control the craving for this sweet substance. Also, they might feel they are addicted to it when they cannot avoid consuming chocolate even though they wish to. Others may feel guilty because they eat too much of cocoa containing products. Weight gain usually is not associated with chocolate consumption and addiction.
The effect of chocolate
A lot of studies and research have been carried out in order to find out the real effect of chocolate on people. Scientists are still trying to evaluate which form of addiction — physical or psychological — consumption of this sweet and tasty substance causes. In addition to that, research data have identified many substances that may actually cause an addictive effect of chocolate on people.
First of all, chocolate contains substances that are known to cause pleasure feelings in the brain. These substances, like theobromide, anandamin and tryptophan, trigger brain to release mood enhancing chemicals. Therefore people who eat chocolate may experience feelings of euphoria, pleasure and relaxation.
Other scientists have identified that chocolate contains substances that imitate marijuana effects. They claim that chocolate consumers may basically feel ‘high’ just like after having smoked marijuana.
All these substances may be related to women’s craving for chocolate before or during menstrual period. It increases pleasure stimuli and women feel happier after they have eaten chocolate. Some scientists say that the reason why women crave for this type of food especially during the days of menstruation is because they then lack magnesium which is found in large amounts in chocolate products. Others explain that the craving for chocolate is larger in women who consider it to be a dangerous and forbidden food.
Additionally, chocolate was found to have stress relieving characteristics, therefore, people under a lot of stress may be more addicted to it than others. During stress the amount of chocolate eaten may increase. There are people who may eat 15 chocolate bars a day.
People who are or claim to have chocolate addiction feel discomfort and sadness when they stop eating it. This is the reason why they continue eating the substance. Chocolate contains endorphins that cause pleasurable feelings, so when the consumption of chocolate is discontinued, people will logically feel sad and unhappy.
Chocolate, consumed in small amounts, can be a pleasurable substance for your mouth and brain. It could be a lovely present for your loved one on a special occasion. However, too much of anything could kill you, as some may say. It is the same with chocolate. Small amounts are innocent, large amounts are addictive. Watch out!
In the world where exterior looks and image has an increasing importance on people’s life quality and social opinion, eating disorders are one of the increasing psychological problems. There are various types of eating disorders, most common of which are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, generally used as anorexia and bulimia. There are a huge number of women and an increasing number of men suffering from either of these diseases. Although anorexia and bulimia might sound to some to be unserious illness, many people die each year because of either of these diseases.
Self-image distortion, low self-esteem, a fight for perfection and a strong will to control one’s feelings and emotions usually lead to development of anorexia or bulimia. Although these two eating disorders are different in manner, they are similar in some ways. Both of these disorders result from psychological problems a person has and not from problems with food. Usually anorexia and bulimia develops after a longer or shorter period of dieting, bulimia occurring even after anorexia.
The term anorexia nervosa was first described by a French psychiatrist in the 19th century. Anorexia is now defined by a significant weight loss from excessive dieting. Such people usually have a craving for becoming thinner and thinner but even when their image is close to that of the skeleton they still feel too fat. Patients suffering from anorexia decrease the amount of food day by day. They like to eat alone and eating becomes a ritual to them until the phase when the amounts of food they eat become ridiculously small. For example, an anorexic may consume and feel full only with a piece of lettuce and a glass of water.
The lack of calories in diet of course leads to important weight loss. The paradox is that they do not feel hungry at all. At first, when their body starts changing other people compliment on how beautiful they look and this only cause an increased wish to lose more weight. Patients start lowering their diet and exercise a lot. But as they are able to control their body and emotions, they feel very energetic, are active in social life and good students or workers. Later on their body starts becoming exhausted due to excessive dieting and exercise. Only then anorexics start to have problems at work or school. Their social relations are weak and they enjoy more staying alone and focused on persistent control on weight.
Anorexics usually live in socially normal families with a dominant father and a weak mother. Family members may not notice a patient’s body and behavior changes — anorexics are perfect in hiding uneaten food and usually think of an excuse not to eat together with the rest of the family. Another quite usual sign is that anorexics love to prepare meals for others; they may spend hours in the kitchen without actually eating anything themselves only cooking.
Risk of anorexia
Once somebody notices that there is something wrong with an anorexic he or she usually denies to have a problem. They resist the attempts to help them. Once an anorexic admits to the problem it is possible to help him or her. But even so, 10 to 20 percent of anorexics die from complications of anorexia and only 50 percent recover completely.
Other signs of anorexia include fatigue, mood swings and depression, loss or irregular menstruation. When loss of weight is very noticeable that body mass index (BMI) is 16 and lower, an anorexic becomes having physical symptoms, such as skin problems, headaches, muscle weakness, constipation, anemia, and stomach pain and hair loss. They may also develop osteoporosis on a long-term basis.
Bulimia nervosa is defined by repeated bouts of overeating and a craving to control one’s weight by vomiting, use of laxatives, diuretics and starving. Unlike anorexia, bulimia sufferers have basically normal or slightly lower weight and they are a bit older than anorexics. During the episodes of overeating large amounts of food are consumed, usually high fat products and sweeties. Guilt follows the episodes of overeating, which may lead sufferers to vomiting, increased exercise and avoiding “dangerous” fattening food.
Bulimia sufferers usually hide their habits from family members and friends. So, families may be unaware for years and years about it.
Most of anorexia and bulimia sufferers may be referred to a short sentence from a fairy tale, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fattest one of all”. This is usually how people with eating disorders think about themselves looking in the mirror. When they recover, they are able to look in the mirror and say, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all” and see themselves as beautiful and slim.
Shopping normally is a necessary habit of our daily life. We go shopping in order to find and get things we need to survive, like food and medicines, have pleasure with, like toys and music, or just wear them on, like clothes. We buy items that we need or we wish to have just to enjoy ourselves and this is normal. However, shopping habit has transformed into the unhealthy obsession with things these days.
Scientists started to use the term ‘shopping addiction’ at the end of last century. It was a big piece of news to many people. Some made laughs at it and did not consider it to be serious. However, now many researches were made in order to prove the importance and impact of this type of addiction on our society. Statistics shows that more than half of American women are addicted to shopping. Twenty percent of German women have admitted to be thinking constantly about spending money on things they do not need. Even more, half of all British female society finds sex less amusing than having a walk around shops.
Shopping addiction is psychological disorder
Specialists say that shopping addiction is a mental and psychological disorder. It is one of the examples of the compulsive behavior. Usually the cause of such a behavioral disorder lies deep in a person’s childhood. Usually such people grow in shortage of care and love, even though they may live in normal and happy families. Their need for love is not fulfilled during childhood, and therefore such people find the substitute for love in stores.
Another example might be spontaneous personalities. Thinking comes after action in their lives. Such people spend hours in stores just trying to get as many goods as possible. While they are in a store, they do not even think about the amount of money they can spend. Very often this is the cause that they reach negative balance on a credit bank account. Using credit cards is very helpful for shopping addicts as well.
Another group of shopoholics is suspicious and very precautious people. They go shopping in order to calm themselves and to fight with their obsessive thoughts they cannot control. This category of shopping-addicts finds walking around stores and buying items relaxing and relieving. They may fall into this disorder after the breakdown of their love relationship, problems at home, work and others.
Mainly psychologists describe shopping addiction as a typical people’s behavior in order to escape the reality. Those who are addicted fall into trance when they enter a shop. Shopoholics then spend a lot of money on needless items because they lose the sense of control. A problem occurs when they come home and euphoria is not there anymore. Shopping-addicts start regretting for what they have done, how much money they spent and things they bought. Feelings of shame, guilt and hopelessness accompany moments of addictive shopping.
You have to analyze your shopping habits. Identify obsessive wish to buy things and note whether you need to enter a store when you are feeling down or hopeless. Here is a short questionnaire, suggested by the scientists of Stanford, USA. This should help you to find out whether you or people close to you are addicted.
- Do you spend money when you go shopping, regardless of whether you need anything?
- Do you buy things or take financial risks even when you cannot afford to?
- When life gets stressful, do you seek consolation by spending money?
- Do you spend money to cheer yourself up when feeling anxious, depressed or bored?
- Do you celebrate by rewarding yourself with a spending or gambling spree?
If your answer to at least two of these questions is positive you should consider your shopping habit very carefully because it might mean you need professional help.
Shopping addiction, just like gambling addiction , work addiction and eating disorders , is a serious behavioral problem. It is a result of our way of living. Even though people did not have this type of problem half a century ago, nowadays, it is becoming more and more common in our society. If you know somebody who might be a shopoholic do not turn him or her down.