Free Drug Addiction Research Paper Example
Drug addiction, which refers to the uncontrollable dependency on drugs, is a growing crisis in the USA. Though the US government spends a few billions of dollars on risky substance abuse and drug addiction, only a small percentage of it is spent on the treatment of the addicted individuals. Though it is popularly believed that drug addiction can be overcome through willpower and resistance, in reality, overcoming the crisis requires more effort than just good intentions and willpower. The ABC Model of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an evidence-based treatment that helps the addicted individuals overcome the crisis of drug addiction by identifying the irrational beliefs and correcting the maladaptive behavioral patterns through the adoption of healthy coping mechanisms. This paper has discussed the drug addiction crisis in detail, citing its causes and symptoms and the effectiveness of the ABC model in treating the condition.
Drug addiction is a rapidly growing crisis in the USA. In fact, it is the dangerous epidemic that affects the lives of 40 million people with crippling and debilitating diseases and claims the lives of 600,000 people every year in the country (NIH, 2012). Many life-threatening conditions, such as stroke, cancer, respiratory problem, chronic bronchitis, heart attacks, AIDS, violence and accidents are either caused or exacerbated by the influence of nicotine, alcohol, and illegal drugs. Drug addiction can be traced among people of all classes, climes, and religions in the USA. Even children, as young as 12 years old, fall victim to drug addiction. Every year, the federal, state and local governments spend approximately $600 billion on drug addiction and risky substance abuse, but for every dollar spent by the federal and state governments, only 2 cents are spent on treatment and prevention purposes (NIH, 2012). It is because of the popular assumption that drug abusers intentionally do not get out of their addiction as they lack the willpower and moral principles required to stay away from addictive substances. However, in reality, drug addiction is a complex problem. Quitting drugs is not an easy process, involving more than the strong will and good intentions (Leshner, 1997). Drugs affect the brain in a such a way that people addicted to drugs fall prey to it and develop a compulsive disorder of using drugs, and because of this reason, quitting becomes a difficulty even for those willing to do so. Having said that, however, overcoming drug addiction is not impossible, and with proper intervention programs, it is possible to achieve success in quitting drugs. This paper would address the issue of drug addiction in further detail, touching upon the causes and symptoms of drug addiction, and how with the application of the ABC model of crisis intervention, drug addiction can be treated successfully.
What is Drug Addiction?
Drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder, refers to the uncontrollable dependence on illegal or legal drugs or medication, including marijuana, alcohol, heroin, crystal meth, and others (NIH, 2012). Drug addiction creates an intense urge for drug use in the addicted individual who seeks drugs at all cost, disregarding the harm caused by the drug use. Although an individual begins taking drugs voluntarily, the brain changes resulted from the regular use of drugs cripple the addicted person's ability of self-control to show resistance against the intense impulses that overpower him (Leshner, 1997). Aside from causing physical harm and mental damage, drug addiction affects the relationships, career, and the personal life of the addicted individual, making him prone to commit crimes to fulfill his urges of drugs.
Symptoms of Drug Addiction
Most of the time, drug addiction begins with an individual's experimentation with the use of a drug in social situations. For example, out of sheer curiosity, one might get tempted to try marijuana in a social gathering and then become trapped by it. Though not all, some people develop a desire to try the drugs more frequently, resulting in addiction. The risk of addiction and the pace at which one becomes dependent on a drug depends on the drug used. Some drugs have a higher risk factor than others, causing dependency more quickly (Barnard, 2007). As time flows by, one begins to become tolerant to doses of the drug, requiring larger doses to get high. Soon, the individual begins to crave for the drug to uplift his mood, and as the drug use increases, he begins to find it extremely difficult to spend a day without the drug. If he tries to stop taking the drug, it may trigger intense cravings in him, causing withdrawal symptoms (Leshner, 1997).
Although different drugs cause different health issues, the signs and symptoms of drug addiction are common among the addicted individuals. Below are listed some of the common signs and symptoms of drug addiction:
A strong urge to take the drug regularly, either daily or several times a day.
Developing a drug tolerance and needing the use of larger dose of the drug to experience the same effect as earlier one experienced with smaller dosage (NIH, 2012).
Taking drugs to avoid withdrawal symptoms, which are triggered when the addicted individual goes too long without the drug and experiences sickly feelings, such as nausea, depression, sweating heavily, anxiety, restlessness, uncontrollable shaking, and insomnia (West and Gossop, 1994).
Losing control over the use of the drug and feeling powerless to the urges.
Spending money on drugs beyond the affordability.
Spending a lot of time using and thinking about the drug and how to get it.
Neglecting social and professional responsibilities and obligations because of drug cravings.
Attempting things to get the drug that an addicted individual would have never thought of under normal circumstances, such as stealing (West and Gossop, 1994).
Driving or committing violence under the influence of the drug.
Continuing to take the drug despite the problems caused by the drug use (NIH, 2012).
Causes of Drug Addiction
The propensity to develop drug addiction differs from one person to another. Though two individuals might start experimenting with a drug in a social gathering out of curiosity, it might happen that one individual falls prey to the addiction, while the other remains unaffected. The reason why a person gets addicted to drugs and the other does not depends on family history, mental health, genes, and the social environment (NIH, 2012). Risk factors that increase the chances of an individual to get addicted to drugs include the following:
Family history of addiction: If a child grows up seeing either or both of his parents using drugs, he is more likely to develop the addiction (Barnard, 2007).
Neglect, abuse, and other traumatic childhood experiences: If the trauma of neglect, physical or sexual abuse or any other unpleasant experience of childhood leaves an indelible imprint on the mind of an individual, he or she is more likely to develop drug addiction to escape from the haunting memories (Dube et al., 2003).
Mental disorders like anxiety and depression: Depression functions like a slow poison in the affected individual who in order to feel better might develop an addiction to drugs (Barnard, 2007).
Early use of drugs: Although drug use at any age can cause addiction, the person who has got an early exposure to drugs is more likely to develop addictive behavior (Barnard, 2007).
Interventions and Evidence-based Treatment
With proper intervention programs, it is possible to deal with the crisis of drug addiction and bring a drug-addicted individual back to the normal flow of life. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective intervention strategy used to treat drug addiction and various mental disorders, such as post traumatic disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, phobias, and anxiety. Though CBT techniques were developed initially to prevent the relapse of alcoholism, it was later found to be equally effective for treating various other substance abuse disorders (Kanel, 1999). CBT techniques are based on the theory that learning process plays an important role in the development of addictive behavioral patterns such as drug addiction. Individuals through CBT are taught to identify and rectify problematic behaviors by implementing an array of skills useful for preventing drug addiction and addressing a range of other issues that co-occur with it. According to CBT, an individual's thinking (cognition), his emotions and his behavior are inter-related (Kanel, 1999). In other words, it is the thoughts playing around in the minds that generate feelings and influence people to act a certain behavior. Therefore, negative thoughts can give rise to negative feelings, resulting in maladaptive behavioral patterns. The ABC model is the most famous CBT technique used for analyzing the connection between thoughts, emotions and behaviors (Kanel, 1999).
In the case of treating drug addiction, the therapist applies the ABC model of CBT by telling the addicted individual (client) to write down or recount the event or situation that triggered the negative thoughts and feelings. Then the therapist insists the individual on concentrating on the beliefs or thoughts that pass through his head when the activating event took place. Then the therapist enquires of the feelings that rose in the minds of the client and the actions he committed after the beliefs or thoughts overpowered him. This way, the therapist helps the client to identify his irrational beliefs and challenges the negative thoughts by reinterpreting the incident in a more realistic way. Thus, the client develops more rational beliefs and copes with the crisis in a healthy manner.
For example, if an individual develops drug addiction in order to cope with a traumatic event he suffered during childhood, then the therapist would make the individual realize the trigger points that contribute to the development of negative feelings. It is common among childhood trauma survivors to suffer from a sense of worthlessness and depression, which might be the main reason for the person's addictive behavior (Dube et al., 2003). In this case, the activating event would be the haunting memory of the childhood trauma or anything that reminds the individual of his terrible experience, and the feelings of depression and the sense of worthlessness would be the negative feelings (beliefs) that make the individual take refuge in drugs (consequences). The therapist through the ABC model would help the client reframe the event by reinterpreting it realistically. The therapist would help the client realize that there is no reason to suffer from a sense of shame or worthlessness for something he has not committed and that depression and the feelings of worthlessness are irrational beliefs, and thereby, the therapist would help the client develop healthy coping strategies to deal with the issue instead of falling victim to drug addiction.
However, recovery through the application of the ABC model will not take place overnight. It takes months and sometimes years of concerted effort to replace the irrational beliefs and habits with more constructive and reasonable ones. Patience and compassion are instrumental for the success of this therapy.
Drug addiction is a dangerous epidemic that has affected the lives of millions of people in the USA, costing the government a few billions dollars on the negatives effects issuing from the addiction. Drug addiction refers to the uncontrollable dependence on drugs that develops most of the time with the experimental use of drugs in a social gathering. However, some people soon find themselves trapped by the addiction unable to control their urges and willing to do anything to fulfill the cravings of drugs. Though the physical effects of drugs vary from one drug to another, the symptoms of drug addiction are similar. The risk factors of drug dependency also vary from one person to another. The ABC model of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the effective techniques used to treat the drug addicted patients. Through the application of the ABC strategy, the therapist makes the patient realize his irrational beliefs and rectify his maladaptive behavioral patterns. The success of the therapy requires patience and compassion as it takes months and even years for the patient to come to terms with his irrational beliefs and replace them with functional and constructive thoughts.
Kanel, K. (1999). A guide to crisis intervention. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole.
The National Institute of Health (NIH). (2012). Drug Facts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction. Retrieved on 22nd February, 2015 from <http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction>
Barnard, M. (2007). Drug Addiction and Families. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
West, R., and Gossop, M. (1994). Overview: A comparison of withdrawal symptoms from different drug classes. Addiction, 89(11), 1483-1489. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.1994.tb03747.x
Leshner, A. (1997). Addiction Is a Brain Disease, and It Matters. Science, 278(5335), 45-47. doi:10.1126/science.278.5335.45
Dube, S., Felitti, V., Dong, M., Chapman, D., Giles, W., and Anda, R. (2003). Childhood Abuse, Neglect, and Household Dysfunction and the Risk of Illicit Drug Use: The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. Pediatrics, 111(3), 564-572. doi:10.1542/peds.111.3.564
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