8.5.2 Addiction and Dependence

Because of the perceived benefits, drugs are frequently used repeatedly. The most important thing, which one fails to realise, is the inherent addictive nature of alcohol and drugs.

Addiction is a psychological attachment to certain effects –such as euphoria and a temporary feeling of well-being – associated with drugs and alcohol. These drive people to take them even when these are not needed, or even when their use becomes self-destructive.

With repeated use of drugs, the tolerance level of the receptors present in our body increases. Consequently the receptors respond only to higher doses of drugs or alcohol leading to greater intake and addiction.

However, it should be clearly borne in mind that use of these drugs even once, can be a fore-runner to addiction. Thus, the addictive potential of drugs and alcohol, pull the user into a vicious circle leading to their regular use (abuse) from which he/she may not be able to get out.

In the absence of any guidance or counselling, the person gets addicted and becomes dependent on their use. Dependence is the tendency of the body to manifest a characteristic and unpleasant withdrawal syndrome if regular dose of drugs/alcohol is abruptly discontinued.

This is characterised by anxiety, shakiness, nausea and sweating, which may be relieved when use is resumed again. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms can be severe and even life threatening and the person may need medical supervision.

Dependence leads the patient to ignore all social norms in order to get sufficient funds to satiate his/her needs. These result in many social adjustment problems.

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