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Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Question on "International Drug Day" Addiction a Choice or Disease?

Posted by Dr Prahallad Panda on 9:24 PM Comments

A new Bollywood film gives a rare glimpse into the exploitation and enslavement of women in India's drug trade, highlighting how the stigma surrounding women drug users leaves them vulnerable to abuse.
'Udta Punjab' (Flying Punjab), directed by Abhishek Chaubey and released on 17th June, 2016, shows how one of India's most prosperous states has been blighted by drug use, with corrupt politicians and police complicit in the trade that largely afflicts young men.
Alongside a drug-addicted rock star, the film tells the story of a nameless young female migrant worker, who is enslaved by a gang of drug dealers, made an addict and forced to have sex with multiple men. 

Addiction is defined as a chronic relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.


According to the United Nations there are more than 10 million drug addicts in India. Drug addiction has crossed all barriers of caste and class. The drug addicts in cities in India are predominantly synthetic drug users, while in rural India natural substances like ganja & hashish form the majority of usage.

What is addiction:

People feel pleasure when basic needs such as hunger, thirst and sex are satisfied. In most cases, these feelings of pleasure are caused by the release of certain chemicals in the brain. Most addictive substances cause the brain to release high levels of these same chemicals that are associated with pleasure or reward. 
Over time, continued release of these chemicals causes changes in the brain systems involved in reward, motivation and memory. When these changes occur, a person may need the substance to feel normal. The individual may also experience intense desires or cravings for the addictive substance and will continue to use it despite the harmful or dangerous consequences. The person will also prefer the drug to other healthy pleasures and may lose interest in normal life activities. In the most chronic form of the disease, addiction can cause a person to stop caring about their own or other’s well-being or survival.  
These changes in the brain can remain for a long time, even after the person stops using substances. It is believed that these changes may leave those with addiction vulnerable to physical and environmental cues that they associate with substance use, also known as triggers, which can increase their risk of relapse.
Short Definition of Addiction American Society of Addiction Medicine:
Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.

Here are some of the reasons young people have given for taking drugs:
  • To fit in
  • To escape or relax
  • To relieve boredom
  • To seem grown up
  • To rebel
  • To experiment
They think drugs are a solution. But eventually, the drugs become the problem.

Commonly Abused Drugs:

Commonly abused classes of prescription drugs include opioid painkillers, stimulants, and depressants. Opioids are usually prescribed for pain relief. Commonly prescribed opioids include hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin®), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin®), morphine, fentanyl, and codeine.


Marijuana (cannabis) is the most commonly used illicit substance. This drug impairs short-term memory and learning, the ability to focus, and coordination. It also increases heart rate, can harm the lungs, and may increase the risk of psychosis in vulnerable people.

Medical Marijuana:

However, THC-based drugs to treat pain and nausea are already FDA approved and prescribed. Scientists continue to investigate the medicinal properties of cannabinoids—or the individual components of the marijuana plant (e.g., THC, CBD). 

People drink to socialize, celebrate, and relax. Alcohol often has a strong effect on people—and throughout history,people have struggled to understand and manage alcohol’s power. Why does alcohol cause people to act and feel differently? How much is too much? Why do some people become addicted while others do not?


A hallucinogenic tea made in the Amazon from a DMT-containing plant (Psychotria viridis or Diplopterys cabrerana or other) along with another vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) that contains an MAO Inhibitor preventing the natural breakdown of DMT in the digestive system, thereby facilitating a prolonged hallucinatory experience.


A powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America.
A synthetic drug producing intense but relatively short-lived hallucinogenic experiences; also naturally occurring in some South American plants (Ayahuasca).


A depressant approved for use in the treatment of narcolepsy, a disorder that causes daytime "sleep attacks.
Drugs that cause profound distortions in a person’s perceptions of reality, such as ketamine, LSD, mescaline (peyote), PCP, psilocybin, salvia, DMT, and ayahuasca.
An opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant.
Solvents, aerosols, and gases found in household products such as spray paints, markers, glues, and cleaning fluids; also nitrites (e.g., amyl nitrite), which are prescription medications for chest pain.
A dissociative drug used as an anesthetic in veterinary practice. Dissociative drugs are hallucinogens that cause the user to feel detached from reality.


Pronounced "cot," a shrub (Catha edulis) found in East Africa and southern Arabia; contains the psychoactive chemicals cathinone and cathine. People from African and Arabian regions (up to an estimated 20 million worldwide) have used khat for centuries as part of cultural tradition and for its stimulant-like effects.
A tropical deciduous tree (Mitragyna speciosa) native to Southeast Asia, with leaves that contain mitragynine, a psychoactive (mind-altering) opioid. Kratom is consumed for mood-lifting effects and pain relief and as an aphrodisiac.
A hallucinogen manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. LSD is an abbreviation of the scientific name lysergic acid diethylamide.
Marijuana (Cannabis):
Marijuana is made from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. The main psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly):
A synthetic, psychoactive drug that has similarities to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. MDMA is an abbreviation of the scientific name 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine.
Mescaline (Peyote):
A hallucinogen found in disk-shaped “buttons” in the crown of several cacti, including peyote.
An extremely addictive stimulant amphetamine drug.
Over-the-counter Cough/Cold Medicines (Dextromethorphan or DXM):
Psychoactive when taken in higher-than-recommended amounts.


A dissociative drug developed as an intravenous anesthetic that has been discontinued due to serious adverse effects. Dissociative drugs are hallucinogens that cause the user to feel detached from reality. PCP is an abbreviation of the scientific name, phencyclidine.
Prescription Sedatives (Tranquilizers, Depressants):
Medications that slow brain activity, which makes them useful for treating anxiety and sleep problems.
Barbiturates: pentobarbital, phenobarbital, Benzodiazepines: alprazolam, chlorodiazepoxide, diazepam, lorazepam, triazolam, Sleep Medications: eszopiclone, zaleplon, zolpidem.
Prescription Opioids:
Pain relievers with an origin similar to that of heroin. Opioids can cause euphoria and are often used nonmedically, leading to overdose deaths.
Codeine (various brand names), Fentanyl, Hydrocodone or dihydrocodeinone, Hydromorphone, Meperidine, Methadone, Morphine, Oxycodone, Oxymorphone.
Prescription Stimulants:
Medications that increase alertness, attention, energy, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate.
Amphetamine and Methylphenidate
A hallucinogen in certain types of mushrooms that grow in parts of South America, Mexico, and the United States
A benzodiazepine chemically similar to prescription sedatives such as Valium® and Xanax®. Teens and young adults tend to abuse this drug at bars, nightclubs, concerts, and parties. It has been used to commit sexual assaults due to its ability to sedate and incapacitate unsuspecting victims.
A dissociative drug (Salvia divinorum) that is an herb in the mint family native to southern Mexico. Dissociative drugs are hallucinogens that cause the user to feel detached from reality.
Steroids (Anabolic):
Man-made substances used to treat conditions caused by low levels of steroid hormones in the body and abused to enhance athletic and sexual performance and physical appearance.
Nandrolone, oxandrolone, oxymetholone, stanozolol, testosterone cypionat.
Synthetic Cannabinoids:
A wide variety of herbal mixtures containing man-made cannabinoid chemicals related to THC in marijuana but often much stronger and more dangerous.
Synthetic Cathinones (Bath Salts):
An emerging family of drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, a stimulant found naturally in the khat plant. Examples of such chemicals include mephedrone, methylone, and 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV).
Plant grown for its leaves, which are dried and fermented before use.
Cigarettes, cigars, bidis, hookahs, smokeless tobacco (snuff, spit tobacco, chew)

Burden in India

According to Data and Analysis of 2011 by UNODC, use of cannabis among young people in India was between 12 – 18 years of age. About 3% of youngsters consume cannabis at least once in a year (as recorded in 2001).

In his message on World Drug Day, the Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said, “Drug abuse and illicit trafficking have calamitous consequences for the world’s efforts to deliver greater prosperity and equality for all. There are up to 200,000 preventable deaths each year from overdoses. Illicit drugs spawn criminal violence and weaken a state’s essential institutions.”
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) of India has devised various awareness programs for school and college students as part of celebration of 'International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking', which falls on June 26.
Iran marked the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on Tuesday in ceremonies which were held concurrently across the country.
During a ceremony, which was held in Tehran, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said there are some 7,500 rehabilitation centers in Iran which helped about 700,000 drug users quit addiction over the past year.
Nearly 380,000 former drug addicts who are now detoxed are being trained under job training programs, Mehr news agency quoted Rahmani Fazli as saying.
Over some 2,522 operations we succeeded in seizing 618 tons of drugs and disbanding 3,017 smuggling organizations,” he added.

Difficult as it may be to face one’s problems, the consequences of drug use are always worse than the problem one is trying to solve with them. The real answer is to get the facts and not to take drugs in the first place.

Your genes are not your destiny. The 50% of addiction that is caused by poor coping skills is where you can make a difference. Lots of people have come from addicted families but managed to overcome their family history and live happy lives. 

Use this opportunity to change your life.

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