Causes and Effects of Drug Addiction

A family is a natural social system that occurs in heterogeneous forms today and represents a diversity of cultural heritage. The addictions that have effects on marriage can be classified into two groups: substance addiction and process addiction. Prominently ranked among the various types of substance addiction is drug addiction.

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Drug abuse entails constant and excessive usage of drugs to create feelings of happiness and blot out reality despite its well-known harmful effects. The substances misused are mostly unlawful (Cutter, Jaffe-Gill, Segal & Segal) such as uppers {stimulants like cocaine}, downers {depressants like heroin}, all around {psychedelics like marijuana, LSD, and MDMA [ecstasy]} (Inaba & Cohen, 2) or in several cases even legal substances such as prescription drugs to treat illnesses such as dementia, depression, hypertension, arrhythmia, psychosis and panic disorder (Inaba et al., p. 214). Such prescription drugs are antidepressants like Prozac, antipsychotics like Zyprexa, anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax, and panic disorder drugs like Inderal (Inaba et al., p. 34). Drug abuse turns into drug addiction when the drug ceases to exist as a choice and turns into an essential need (Cutter et al.). Drug addiction is defined as the recurring inability to avoid drug use despite prior decisions to do so (Qureshi, Al-Ghamdi & Al-Habeeb). It has developed into a major problem that is currently plaguing almost every nation in the world irrespective of whether they are developed, under-developed or undeveloped or whether their people are prosperous or poor.

Several causes have been identified that lead to drug abuse. The first cause is to seek relief from mental illnesses. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reported that nearly 50% of drug addicts are burdened with mental illnesses like depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder (Cutter et al.). The second cause is to look for thrills (Cutter et al.). Potential users are attracted by several refined and synthesized forms of drugs that are to be put in the body by using unique new, efficient, and rapid methods (Inaba et al., p. 2). Users are curious to try out a drug and judge for themselves if the reportedly ‘high’ feeling is indeed experienced (Cutter et al.), such as using PCP to spike a marijuana cigarette to check the reported ‘high’ (Inaba et al., p. 64). A study conducted in 1987 revealed that thrill-seeking behavior could be hereditary (Qureshi et al.). The third cause is peer emulation. Users who are weak-minded or peer-adulating, tend to imitate others and use the drug not because they want to, but to appear ‘cool’ and ‘one of the group.’ This is a powerful cause in the case of school and college students. In addition young men easily become victims to peer emulation because it is the male tendency to value autonomy {like power, aggressiveness, and competitiveness} (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, p. 56). The fourth cause is to escape from emotional suffering brought about by natural calamities {such as the widespread disruption of families that took place in the U.S in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, p.10)}, as well as personal difficulties in life such as bad grades, failed relationships, stress, isolation, and disesteem. Although the drug user knows that the drug cannot and will not deal with the personal difficulty effectively, still the temporary relief obtained from its usage can be so alluring that the harmful effects of the drug seem insignificant (Cutter et al.). Such relief occurs when the psychoactive drug acts directly on those parts of the brain that exercise control over emotions and actions, generating positive feelings in the addict (Qureshi et al.). The last cause is an abnormality in the brain structure of some individuals that make them more prone to drug addiction. In the latest breaking news released in October 2008, scientists based in the UK’s University of Nottingham discovered this trait. The abnormality is contained in the decision-making portion of the brain called the frontal cortex. Of all the people who start as experimental drug users, it is only around 15% who cross over the dividing line between experimental use and hardcore addiction. The Nottingham University scientists are now certain that a significant part of this 15% segment comprises individuals with brain abnormalities (Medical News Today).

Drug addiction has several harmful effects on the addicts, their friends, and their family. The first is a danger to physical health. Drug addiction involves long-term molecular and cellular modification. Drug addicts are in real danger of damaging physical organs like the heart, liver, and lungs. Drug addiction {especially cocaine addiction} is fast emerging internationally as a formidable conduit for the expansion of deadly infectious diseases like AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis (Qureshi et al.). The second effect is a serious dent in the finances of the drug addicts and their family members. It is natural and necessary for the family to generate savings to develop a reasonable standard of living. The money family members earn is regarded as ‘family income’ (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, p. 15). The drug addict splurges their hard-earned savings on his or her drug addiction, thereby contributing to financial instability in the family. There are also high possibilities of addicts’ jobs or school enrolment being put into grave jeopardy, which is another worrying finance-related factor. The third effect is the alienation of family members. A family relationship is characterized by love and loyalty (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, p. 4). Instead of giving love and affection to other family members, the drug addict’s erratic behavior tends to break the close bond that exists in the family. Drug addicts are unable to relax or have fun without imbibing drugs. They alternate between mood swings, angry tirades, incoherent speech, irritation, hysterical behavior, and general change of attitude. This is accompanied by widespread neglect of responsibilities towards the family (Cutter et al.). The fourth effect is endangering reputation in the eyes of society. A family is an institution that is embedded in society (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, p. 23). Drug addicts frequently resort to money borrowing, selling household articles, and stealing money from others. These crimes, in addition to the crime of possessing and using drugs, could well result in arrest and incarceration, thereby bringing disgrace to the addicts and their spouses.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that drug addiction has nothing but bad effects on the addicts and those near and dear to them. The only way to alleviate the problem is for the addict to obtain treatment as quickly as possible. The psychological intervention has now become more accessible to people in the U.S as compared to the pre-War days (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, p. 101). Addicts should realize that it is not only them that need help but their family members to are hurting and need help (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, p. 20). It would greatly help if the addicts’ family members take an active interest, encourage and participate in the treatment process as such a response will not only act as a self-confidence booster for the addicts but will also make them realize the reliability and value of their loved ones. It would greatly help if the spouses can rope in the support of a network of friends, extended family, clergy, neighbors, and employers to contribute to the recovery of the addicts (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, p. 11).


  1. “Could Brain Abnormality Predict Drug Addiction?” Medical News Today. 2008.
  2. Cutter D., Jaffe-Gill E., Segal R. & Segal J. “Drug Abuse and Addiction: Understanding the Signs, Symptoms, and Effects.” 2008. Web.
  3. Goldenberg H. & Goldenberg I. “Family Therapy: An Overview.” USA: Brooks Cole. 2007.
  4. Inaba D. & Cohen W.E. “Uppers, Downers, All Arounders.” USA: CNS Publications. 2003.
  5. Qureshi N.A., Al-Ghamdy Y.S. & Al-Habeeb T.A. (2000). “Drug Addiction: A General View of New Concepts & Future Challenges.” Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal. 2000. Web.
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