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Chemical Dependence: Crisis of Addiction


Drug abuse and substance use has negative consequences on the society. Governments the world over invest heavily in enhancing rehabilitation services to eradicate drug abuse. However, the rate of drug abuse remains high. This paper evaluates social-cultural factors that influence drug abuse. It also provides an overview of the dynamics of drug abuse, the link that exists between addition and crime. Besides, the paper presents factors that, despite financial, physical, and psychological costs of drug abuse, influence addiction. Finally, it provides an overview of the most common defence mechanisms. Some of the mechanisms are useful while others are detrimental to life.

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Chemical Dependence: Crisis of Addiction

Drug abuse and substance are the problems that affect negatively the economic, academic, and social development of a nation. The effects of these items can be seen in patients of specialized hospitals. Drug addicts form a significant part of patients who are seeking medical assistance. Despite the unfavourable effects of drug abuse and substance use, the rate of addictions is still on the increase. Research partly attributes this increase to socio-cultural determinants of addiction and defence mechanisms that addicts rely on (Lyman & Potter, 2007). These influence substance abuse by providing the abusers with perceived psychological benefits.

Socio-cultural factors considerably determine the approach and behaviour pertaining drug use and abuse. First of all, the widespread use of drugs in the society encourages teenagers and adolescents to get addicted. According to Lyman & Potter (2007), peer influence has led to a significant increase in the number of drug addicts among young people. Adolescents whose parents abuse drugs are highly likely to abuse the same drugs. The authors present that young people also abuse drugs to fit in a group, and not merely to manage emotions. Among teens, weak family ties, poor parental supervision, and lack of parental concern and affection are major causes of drug and substance abuse.

Indirect and direct financial costs also influence abuse of drugs. There is a higher possibility of adolescents who are smoking to give up or lessen smoking in reaction to cost increments than adults to do the same. Research has shown that 15 to 17 years old individuals are more likely to respond to increase in cigarette price by quitting smoking compared to 18 to 20 old individuals. In addition, alcohol use among young people is extremely sensitive to price increase. On the other hand, the use of drugs and substances among college students is typically not affected by price changes (Lyman & Potter, 2007).

Apart from the impact of direct costs on drug and substance abuse, indirect costs influence the use of these items. The cost of treating diseases that are caused by substance abuse is high. In addition, most economies spend millions yearly to acquire special equipment to take care of addicts. The costs discourage many people from abusing certain drugs. However, peer pressure and other determinants still make the vice to thrive in the society.

Apart from the financial cost, drug abuse and substance use influence psychological and physical costs as well. The first psychological effect is depression. As individuals use drugs, they develop tolerance to this particular substance. With time, addicts’ intake of drug begins to increase. Eventually, they need for more and more of the same drugs or substance that they cannot afford. Consequently, the individuals begin feeling remorse about their condition and chronic depression set in leading to a cycle of addiction (Long Term Drug Addiction Effects, n. d.).

Another psychological effect of addiction is paranoia. This condition makes addicts of marijuana and cocaine feel that everybody is out to fix them. The condition in worsened by the awareness of the risk to be arrested. The other effect of addiction is anxiety, which is characterised by restlessness. The problem often becomes more serious while addicts wait for the next dose of the drugs.

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Addicts also suffer from physical impact of the drugs. Foremost, the use of some drugs over a long duration cause harms to the kidney. Users of drugs such as heroin and crystal meth have high risks of suffering from kidney failure. Alcoholism is another common cause of liver damage. Individuals using Vicodin and Oxycontin routinely also risk suffering from liver failure. Besides, abusers of stimulants such as cocaine do great harm to their heart. They increase the risk of suffering from various heart diseases. Drug addiction also damages the lungs. Smokers are highly prone to this problem. Smokers put their lives in jeopardy because nicotine that is found in tobacco and other drugs. (Long Term Drug Addiction Effects, n. d.).

Drug abuse is also a major cause of crime and accidents. Experts say that alcohol and drug use disorders have a strong link with suicide. A recent research has also indicated that men who abuse drugs are 2.3 times more prone to taking their own lives than non-addicts. In case of women, the research has indicated that they are 6.5 times more prone to attempting suicide than man.

Addiction has also lead to homicides in many countries. The Ford Hood and the Shooting in Oregon are examples of homicides that happened in the US and blamed on substance abuse (Reinhart, 2007). Substance abuse also affects interpersonal relationships. It makes parents to neglect their responsibilities. It also leads to domestic violence, verbal assaults, and criminality (Substance Abuse and Interpersonal Relationships, n. d.).

Addiction has several dynamics. It involves habit forming, deterioration at work, and using defence mechanisms in an attempt to regain respect. Some of the common defence mechanisms include denial, regression, displacement, intellectualism, and rationalization (Grohol, 2007).

Denial enables addicts to assume that nothing wrong is occurring. This is one of the many primitive defence mechanisms. It involves hiding real problems by citing success in other fields. Another defence mechanism is regression. It involves the reversion to actions of earlier life stages. When addicts are under significant deal of stress, they may engage in primitive acts, such as refusing to take part in everyday life activities. Other addicts also use displacement as defence mechanism. Individuals who cannot express their frustration openly turn to displacement. For instance, when they disagree with their bosses and cannot express their feelings, they come home and begin kicking dogs or crying without any proper reason.

Another common defence mechanism is intellectualization. It is the overemphasis on reasoning when a stressful condition arises. For instance, when most addicts are diagnosed to be suffering from terminal medical problems, they focus on the possibility of having gone to unqualified physicians. Alternatively, they may use rationalisation to put a concept into a different perspective. For instance, when a man abandons a woman, she may reframe in her mind that the man is destined to failure before feeling relieved. The dynamics of addiction and the defence mechanisms make abusers of drugs live in a non-realistic world making it difficult for them to make rational decisions.


Grohol, J. M. (2007). 15 common defense mechanisms: Psych central – Part 3. Psych Web.

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Long Term Drug Addiction Effects. (n.d.). Psychological and physical effects of drug addiction. Web.

Lyman, M. D., & Potter, G. W. (2007). Drugs in society: causes, concepts, and control (5th ed.). Newark, NJ: LexisNexis / Anderson Pub..

Reinhart, C. (2007). Under the influence crimes. Hartford: Connecticut General Assembly, Office of Legislative Research.

Substance Abuse and Interpersonal Relationships. (n.d.). DARA Drug Alcohol Rehab Asia. Web.

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