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Chemical Dependence and Defense Mechanisms

Social-cultural determinants of substance abuse

Children born in families with parents who abuse drugs are more likely to do the same. Parents and TV stars are role models. As a result, children copy this habit to abuse drugs. Prevalence of drugs misuse is common in families with low socioeconomic education status because they have little knowledge of drug use and experience ill-treatment (Langwith, 2007). Peer influence also compels one to abuse drugs. A person who is not principled is vulnerable to drug abuse like his friends. Adverts and promotions persuade teenagers to use some drugs so as to feel good (Henderson, 2005).

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Reasons for rampant drug abuse

Most teenagers abuse drugs out of ignorance. Parents mislead them showing that some drugs don’t need to be prescribed by a medical practitioner. Parents make children realize that drugs, such as paracetamol, are safe for use compared to illegal ones. Some teenagers use drugs to overcome stress in school. This makes them forget real life and live in a fantasy world (Henderson, 2005).

Lack of proper drug outlets, depression, and anxiety make teens resolve to self-medication so as to get quick recovery. Most teenagers indulge in alcohol so as to gain social acceptance and increase their self-esteem. They believe that abusing drugs makes them have fun. The ease of accessing such substances makes most people abuse them (Langwith, 2007).

Psychological and physical cost of drugs

Drugs have numerous side effects. They change the way the body responds to pleasure, alter the appetite and body temperature. Excess drug abuse can lead to kidney and liver damage, respiratory problems, heart attacks, stroke, brain damage, abdominal pain and vomiting accompanied by diarrhea (Henderson, 2005). Substance abuse is a cause of psychological problems like hallucinations and confusion. In other instances, it can make someone have wild mood swings, depression, and anxiety (Langwith, 2007). These people are likely to develop mental health complications, thus become violent. Addiction creates a cycle in which a person sees no meaning in life without drugs. People tend to indulge in drugs as a remedy for their stress (Langwith, 2007).

The indirect and direct financial cost

Drug abuse and addiction have an association with poverty. Drugs are costly, and people spend family resources to buy them. In case of dependency, they want to get the satisfaction they can’t obtain from the consumption of excess drugs. Such victims are prone to medical complications that require a lot of money to treat. As a result, they are forced to pay large amounts of money for their cars, lives and health as premiums to insurance companies to cover their lives. Such addiction leads to poor concentration at work and individuals are more likely to lose their jobs due to reduced productivity (Henderson, 2005).

The link between addiction and suicide, crime, homicide, accidents & interpersonal relationships

Drug abusers commit delinquent acts. They turn out to violence, kill other people, and steal as a way of tapping income to purchase drugs. Drugs inhibit a sense of moral judgment making people commit suicides, assaults, and impulsive murders. 45 percent of deaths in road accidents result from drinking and driving. Domestic violence is a common cause for abusers, especially when there is not enough money to buy drugs. Violence reduces interpersonal relations greatly. (Henderson, 2005).

Defense mechanisms


In regression as a defense mechanism, an individual reverses behavior to an early stage of development when fighting unacceptable thoughts (Cobb, 2013). The person becomes childish and may resolve to cry or refusal to eat, thinking he/she is solving a problem. Another example involves a grown-up person who wets the bed because of great stress (Hentschel, 2004).

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In this mechanism, a person doesn’t want to be in touch with reality. One behaves in a way to suppress the feeling of a painful event or thought as if it didn’t happen. It is a backward defense mechanism of dealing with painful experiences. For example, an alcoholic person will deny being an addict because of the desire to avoid reality (Cobb, 2013).


The defense mechanism involves the transfer of character traits onto a person who doesn’t have them at all. If one considers a feeling or a thought to be unacceptable, he/she thinks that it’s him/her that gets offended and not the other party. An example is a man talking continuously to his spouse without pausing. When the wife interrupts him, he accuses her of being a bad listener. He knows it’s wrong to be a bad listener, which he is, but he accuses his wife (Hentschel, 2004).

Reaction formation

The mechanism involves a change of unpleasant stimuli to be interesting. For example, a woman who is unhappy in her marriage because her husband beats her may want to quit the marriage. She doesn’t show her anger and betrayal to her husband. Instead, she pretends to be happy and says openly how her husband loves her and thus has no reason to quit the marriage (Cobb, 2013).


This mechanism involves the transfer of one’s frustrations onto an object. People resort to diverting their anger when they can’t express their opinion in the correct manner to the right person. An example is a lady who gets mad at her boss but doesn’t confront him for fear of losing the job. When she gets home, she redirects her anger on a dog. It is an inappropriate defense mechanism because the anger is directed at an innocent dog (Hentschel, 2004).


Cobb, D. (2013). Defense mechanisms. New York: America Star Books.

Henderson, H. (2005). Drug abuse. New York: Facts on File.

Hentschel, U. (2004). Defense mechanisms. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

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Langwith, J. (2007). Drug abuse. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.

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