There has been a rise in the report of drug abuse cases amongst teenagers and youths. As mothers, sisters and leaders, it is advisable we check on our loved ones, also to educate them on issues like this. 

What is substance abuse? 

Illegal drugs that are consumed usually in excess quantities.

It’s also when people use alcohol, prescription medicine and other legal substances in the wrong way.

Substance abuse differs from addiction

Many people with substance abuse problems are able to quit or can change their unhealthy behaviour. 

Addiction means that a person can’t stop using harmful substances even when the person’s condition causes harm to him or herself.

Both legal and illegal drugs have chemicals that can change how a person’s body and mind work. They can give a pleasurable ‘high’, ease stress or help avoid problems in life via denials or a state of euphoria.

Some commonly abused drugs/substances include:

1. Alcohol

Alcohol affects everyone differently. But if a person drinks too much and too often, the chance of an injury or accident goes up. 

Heavy drinking also can cause liver and other health problems or lead to a more serious alcohol disorder.

2. Heroin

This illegal drug is the natural version of manmade prescription opioid narcotics.

Heroin gives a rush of good feelings at first. But when it wears off, everything slows down. 

The affected person will move and think more slowly and may have chills, nausea and nervousness. They may feel a strong need to take more heroin to feel better.

3. Cocaine

This drug speeds up the whole body. With the use of cocaine, a person may talk, move or think very fast. They may feel happy and full of energy. But the mood may then shift to anger suddenly.

The person may feel like someone is out to get them. It can make them do things that don’t make sense.

Using cocaine for a long time will lead to strong cravings for the drug.

4. Marijuana

Marijuana can make a person feel silly and laugh for no reason. Or the person may feel sleepy and forget things that just happened. 

Driving while high on pot is just as dangerous as drunk driving, and heavy marijuana use can leave some people ‘burned out’ and not able to think or care about much.

5. Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products

The person may not think of these as drugs. But tobacco has a chemical called nicotine that gives a little rush of pleasure and energy. 

The effect of nicotine can wear off fast and leave a craving/wanting for more. A person can abuse and get addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes, just like other drugs.

When people first start taking substances, they may think they can control how much they use.

But over time, they may need more of the drug to get the same feeling or effect. For some people, that can lead beyond abuse to addiction

Signs that a person may have a problem with substance abuse includes:

  • Lack of interest in things they used to love

  • Changing of friends  very often

  • They stop taking care of themselves

  • They spend more time alone than they used to do

  • They’ve been eating a lot more or less than normal

  • Sleeping at odd hours

  • Having persistent problems at work or with family

  • Switching quickly from feeling good to bad

Abuse of drugs can also lead to addiction and even cause serious health problems/death.

As mothers, sisters and leaders, when you observe anyone suffering from drug-related issues and are finding it difficult to quit, it is advisable to get help

You can refer such a person to a counsellor or a doctor to figure out the best treatment/medication to overcome this challenge. Remember, health is wealth!