PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE prevention

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1 PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE prevention Understanding Drug Addiction Many people do not understand how someone could abuse drugs even when their life seems to be falling apart. It is often assumed that those who become addicted lack willpower or moral principles and they could simply stop abusing drugs. Addiction is a complex disease and often misunderstood. Certain drugs change the brain in ways that foster abuse so quitting drugs can be very difficult. Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking even despite very negative consequences. While initially the decision to use drugs is voluntary, over time brain changes impair self-control and hamper the ability to resist the urge to take more drugs. Effective treatment combines addiction treatment medication with behavioral therapy. Why do some people become addicts while others don t? Drug addiction is affected by several factors: 1. Biology-Some people have a genetic susceptibility to drug addiction. Gender, ethnicity and having other mental disorders can affect whether one becomes addicted to drugs. 2. Environment-Peer pressure, physical or sexual abuse, quality of life, quality of parenting and stress are all environmental factors that can affect the problem of addiction. 3. Development-Every person goes through critical stage of development. The earlier drug use starts, the more likely it is that they will progress to serious abuse. The adolescent brain is still developing and teens are more likely to be engaged in risky behaviors like trying drugs. Some drugs are more addicting than others and the faster the drug gets to the brain, the more addicting it becomes. Smoking or snorting a drug gets a drug to the brain the fastest. Injecting a drug is the second fastest way of getting a drug to the brain centers. Drinking, such as in alcohol consumption is the slowest way.

2 Understanding drug addiction... continued What happens to the brain in drug addiction? The brain has many chemicals that are involved in sending and receiving signals to the body. These chemicals control our mood, movement, motivation and other critical functions. The chemicals in the brain are known as neurotransmitters, and many drugs are similar to and impact the neurotransmitters of the brain and can sometimes fool the brain into sending abnormal messages. Drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine cause brain cells to release large amounts of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. The result of too much dopamine in the brain can affect movement, motivation, feelings of pleasure and the reward system. When the reward system in the brain is overstimulated, it can cause feelings of euphoria which encourages people to repeatedly use or abuse the drug. With repeated use of these drugs, the brain will eventually make less of its own dopamine which causes the person to feel extremely depressed and eventually lose pleasure in normal life events. Decreased levels of dopamine forces a person to keep using and abusing drugs in an attempt to bring the dopamine levels in the brain back to a normal. As dopamine levels decrease, greater amounts of the drug is needed to help increase dopamine in the brain. This physiological need to continually increase drug usage is known as drug tolerance. Continual drug abuse also causes other changes to the brain which is critical to judgment, decision-making, learning and memory. When these changes occur, the individual is prone to compulsive drug seeking behaviors despite the devastating consequences. Because of the biological basis for addiction, criticism and condemnation are counterproductive. What is needed is support from family, friends, physicians and substance abuse professionals. Prevention is the Key. Drug addiction is preventable. Research shows that prevention programs involving families, communities, schools and the media are effective in preventing drug abuse. Education and outreach are critical in sending the message that drug abuse is preventable. To learn more about drug addiction or treatment options, please call the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board at (513)

3 Signs and Symptoms of Drug Use/Abuse. Each drug has its own manifestation but the following are signs or symptoms that may indicate drug use: (Some of these symptoms may be caused by other disorders so please consult a specialist if you are concerned about a symptom) Sudden change in behavior Mood swings Withdrawal from family members Loss of interest in hobbies, normal activities Runny or sniffly nose Change in sleep habits Red or glassy eyes Carelessness about personal grooming Cocaine: Dilated pupils, irritability, decreased sex drive, excessive talking, scratching, paranoia, hallucinations, sleeplessness, loss of appetite. Heroin: Constricted pupils, nodding off, nausea, vomiting, itching, flushed skin, dry mouth, slow breathing, needle tracks. Tranquilizers and Barbiturates Slurred speech, slow movement and slow reflexes, poor judgment, lethargy, disorientation, staggering gait, decreased inhibitions. Opioids Drug cravings, muscle and bone pain, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, restlessness, leg spasms,.

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