Say No To Drug Abuse - LISTEN FIRST!

 Mental health could mean different things to different people. However, a good mental health is a sign of a positive way of life. It can affect one’s frame of mind which is also affected by external factors either positively or negatively.  The use of psychoactive drugs is one of such external factors.
Psychoactive drugs have the ability to alter communication between brain cells by interfering with chemicals in the brain. They could affect the brain as depressants, stimulants, opioids or hallucinogens and have effects such as psychosis, anxiety and mood disorders, depression and schizophrenia on those that take them. People vulnerable to mental illness would play safe by keeping away from the use of such drugs.
The use of such drugs makes people vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, increases the number of broken homes, renders people jobless and affects the mental status of many. For instance, people that take cannabis have been found to have risk of coming down with schizophrenia. This risk is higher in young people that use cannabis regularly. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a psychotic compound in cannabis which is similar in structure to a naturally occurring chemical in the brain known as endocannabinoid. Endocannabinoids are involved in various physiological processes such as pain-sensation, mood and memory. Due to their similarities, THC may mimic the action of endocannabinoid in a developing brain thereby, influencing the activity of endocannabinoid overtime. Cannabis remains in the body for a long time so withdrawal is rare.
Substance abuse and mental disorder have been found to be intertwined. As in the case of the chicken and the egg, it is difficult to know which comes first. Substance abuse has been shown to lead to mental disorder in many victims and mental disorder could lead to several forms of addictions of which substance abuse is one. Experiencing mental illness and substance abuse simultaneously is referred to as dual diagnosis.
The Journal of American Medical Association reports that:
·         Roughly 50% of individuals with severe mental disorder are affected by substance abuse.
·         29% of people diagnosed as mentally ill abuse either alcohol or drugs.
·         37% of alcohol abusers and 53% of drug abusers have at least one serious mental disorder.
Beyond stopping drug use, effective treatment requires making healthy lifestyle changes. The treatment of dual diagnosis includes detoxification, psychotherapy, and medications. Self-help and support groups may also help victims by discussing successes, challenges and ways to remain clean from drug abuse. Listening to the younger generation will help them build their self-esteem and keep them from indulging in vices such as drug abuse.

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi


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