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MARCH TOWS- PREVENTION & TELLTALE SIGNS OF ADDICTION- DR. NNEKA UNAOGU, & DR OLUSEUN PETER OGUNUBI


Guidelines

Definition of Addiction

Types of addiction

Telltale signs of addiction

How does addiction start

Ways to prevent addiction

Questions/Contributions

Definition of addiction.

Addiction is an inability to stop doing or using something, especially something harmful. It can also be defined as a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal or abstinence: it’s the state of being addicted.

Drug abuse is now a national problem, a dangerous trend in our country and all hands must be on deck. We must destroy drug abuse before it destroys our youths, our future. Drugs of abuse are drugs that alter people's behavior and can make them behave abnormally.Our brain is very delicate and important, hence should be kept safe because it is fragile. Once the brain malfunctions, one begins to act abnormally. Some drugs like Tramadol, Codeine, Heroin,Cocaine, Indian hemp, Pentazocine and Caffeine have effect on the brain including alcohol. Others are Arizona, Molly, Colorado. This involves all forms of mixtures that affect the behavior, mood and thinking of an individual.

Types of addiction

There are two major types of addiction:

1. Chemical addiction: This addiction involves the use of substances

2. Behavioral: This refers to the addiction that involves compulsive behaviors which are repetitive and persistent even when they don’t offer real benefits. The inability to stop compulsions associated with certain behaviors often signals a possible addiction. Some of the behavioral addiction include sex, gambling, gaming, internet, etc.

Telltale signs of addiction include

1. Taking the substance in larger amounts or for much longer than you’re meant to.

2. Wanting to cut down or stop using the substance but not able to.

3. Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance.

4. Cravings and urges to use the substance.

5. Not managing to do what you should at work, home, or school because of substance use.

6. Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships.

7. Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use.

8. Using substances again and again, even if it puts you in danger.

9. Continuing to use, even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the substance.

10. Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance)

11. Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance

How does addiction start It usually starts little by little in form of experimenting, before it becomes compulsive use. After that, the person becomes a “junky and an addict” and can't do without it again- “dependence state”. No matter what is spoken to the addicted person, it won't enter his or her ear. Even when all his or her organs-brain, liver, kidney, lungsand skin are getting destroyed, or after losing home/family, getting jailed or being disgraced in the society. They are unable to stop because it has become an addiction.

Ways to prevent addiction

1. Primary prevention: This should be targeted to individuals at risk of addiction. These include children and adolescents especially those who have been abused. Also, people who have been traumatized especially psychologically should be supported so they don’t use substances or maladaptive behaviors to cope. These people should be educated on the dangers of substance abuse. There’s a close relationship between substance abuse and domestic violence. Parents should note that domestic violence affects children and this may push them into use of drugs. Appropriate prescriptions should be given for controlled drugs like opioids, etc. Youths involved in sports should be educated on the dangers of performance enhancing drugs

2. Secondary prevention: This is targeted on early diagnosis and prompt treatment of people with substance or behavioral addiction. People with addiction should be treated and rehabilitated to reduce disabilities caused by drug use, improve social and occupational functioning and also their quality of life. Persons with addiction should be treated and not punished.Parents should be mindful of their children when using alcohol and other psychoactive substances because the children can learn it from them and become addicted.

Prevention can be seen as the best way to stop addiction. In conclusion, let’s watch out for telltale signs of addiction in people around us and offer them help as much as possible. More importantly, let’s prevent drug and behavioral addictions.





Questions/Discussions

Q--Gambling has become a daily pastime in Nigeria. Should we be worried about it becoming an issue like drugs?

A-- Gambling is already an issue we all should be worried about. It’s on the increase as a result of the get-rich-quick syndrome. It’s fast destroying our youths.

The government should be trying to regulate the gambling industry and treat it like a public health issue, but because of the money involved in taxation, they’ve turned a blind eye.

Q-- Why do people who successfully are able to manage their addiction then come back to it even after many years without taking drugs?

A-- Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease. Staying in recovery after treatment of an addiction depends largely on the person’s sustained motivation to change. Many factors can also be responsible for this. There are many reasons people return back to drug use, they sometimes face new challenges in their lives and they decide to use drugs to cope. Also, people who have recovered from an addiction may need to change their friends and/or their environment to remain in recovery. Cues in the environment can make someone in recovery to go back to substance use.

Q-- What signs can parents with teenagers look for when they suspect their children are taking drugs?

A-- Some teenagers start withdrawing from family interactions and become secretive; One may start seeing strange friends around the teenager; Darkening of lips and fingers in those who smoke; There may be a change in sleep and appetite; Unexplained outings and keeping late nights; Some that abuse injectables may wear long sleeve shirts at all times even in hot weather; Stealing and selling of household items and personal belongings, etc. Also, parents should be closer to their children, rather than pursuing money every time and leaving the care of the children to house maids. Don't leave your ward unattended to, pay unscheduled visits to him in universities, check his or her luggage from time to time and check his or her body to ensure she or he has not joined cultist groups in school, ask for his school reports and look for signs of needle marks on his arms. Check his or her nose for signs of sniffing cocaine and check his or her lips for cannabis if the lips suddenly become dark.

Q-- But how does one do this without communicating to the child that “I don’t trust you”? Wouldn’t that push the child away?

A-- No, it shouldn’t push the child away. Parents should be close to their children and should let their children know their concerns. Communication should be clear and unambiguous Q-- How do we begin to help people with addiction?

A-- We need to let them know the dangers of substance use. They also need to realize that they are ill and we should offer help. First, we need to get them motivated to change from the addictive behaviors.

Q-- How do we prevent addiction?

A-- Government must block all drug leakages- Illegal chemists and joints. The youths should be gainfully employed, as an idle hand is the devil's workshop. Also, watch your company. Learn good coping skills and better ways to deal with frustration.

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