Drugs are not an Escape, they are a Trap: Understanding drug use and addiction


Have you felt tempted to try drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with stress and pain? Stress and pain are parts of life but so many teens turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to feel better when used too often in large amounts or for the wrong reasons they can be very dangerous. Not only this, many of these substances are illegal and vary in every country’s legal and illegal substances according to the Drug Regular Authority (RDA). Legal drugs can either be bought over the counter or with a prescription from a medical doctor. Illegal drugs cannot legally be manufactured, bought, or sold. And some other drugs are legal in some situations but illegal when abused. There are a wide variety of drugs and alcohol we call substances that include legal substances like prescription medications caffeine and household chemicals such as glues, aerosols, and cleaners’ substances legal for adults and illegal for teens, and in some states nicotine products like hookah, cigarettes and e-cigarettes marijuana which is legal for adults and illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines.

Academic research revealed that parents, adolescents, and adolescents’ best friends had perceptions about drugs, especially distinctions between legal and illegal drugs used more by younger people. LSD, cocaine, and heroin were judged by all groups as causing personal and family problems, being strong and dangerous, not socially acceptable, bad for one’s health, and associated with crime. Marihuana, tobacco, and alcohol were judged in opposite terms, as well as being perceived as popular, widespread, and used by youth (Wilks J, Callan VJ. 2009).

Substance use and abuse are two different things, although they are related. Basically, substance use refers to the use of drugs or alcohol and includes substances such as cigarettes, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, inhalants, and solvents.

Substance abuse is a broad term that includes drug abuse. Abuse of any substance can cause chemical changes in the brain that can lead to addiction. Substance abuse leads to drug addiction which is the complete dependency of a person on drugs. When you are addicted to drugs, you can’t resist the urge to use them, no matter how much harm the drugs may cause. Although a majority of people who use substances will never develop a substance abuse problem, it is true that everyone who develops a substance abuse problem starts as a user.

According to the gateway model, we can see how and why people progress from drug use to drug abuse. It says that some substances act as gateway drugs, meaning that their use can lead to the use of other, more dangerous substances. If someone starts smoking pot and is experienced with cigarettes and alcohol then eventually, they wind up using drugs like marijuana heroin, and cocaine. In this example cigarettes and marijuana are the gateway drugs which leads to harder drugs. When your brain is exposed to one of these substances, the substance triggers areas of your brain that make you feel pleasure some want to feel that pleasure over and over again so they continue to take the substance and may take it in larger amounts they may come to a point where the body and brain in need the substance to feel normal this is called addiction. One of the Singaporean former politicians Dr. T.P. Chia talked about addiction in this way, “Drug addiction is a self-punishing disease that ruins mental, psychological and physical health.”

“I am not addicted to alcohol or drugs; I am addicted to escaping reality.” One of the research studies published in March 2020 by the Pakistan Social Sciences Review quarterly journal, looked into the causes behind drug abuse among university students and it found the major reasons for drug abuse were peer pressure (96%), educational stress (90%) and inquisitiveness (88%). It put the number of drug addicts in Pakistan at 7.6 million people, mostly young people and university students, of which 78% are male and 22% are female and said this number is increasing by 40,000 per year.   

According to U.S National Institute on Drug Abuse 2018 only pleasure, drug availability, and curiosity are not only individual influences to take drugs while other influencers play a role to addict the individual to use drugs such as Genes, Family history, Peer pressure, presence of other psychological conditions, Social and environmental influencers.  

Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi last year directed all universities to curb the use of narcotics on campuses and asked the Higher Education Commission to formulate guidelines and policy actions to support universities in tackling drugs among students.

Substance abuse is a major problem across the world and a chronic issue of the current time that destroys the social order of humanity. In order to deal with substance use, and drug addiction we need to educate our people about drugs in short , we need to promote drug education among our youth, and for effective tools we need prevention programs involving youth, families, schools, communities, and the media to reduce drug use and addiction. Although individual-level events and cultural factors affect drug use trends, they create a sensation to protect oneself from the harmful effects of drugs. In order to get rid of substance abuse, authorities not only need to formulate guidelines and policy actions but also implement these policies strictly. 




Written by Amna Sarfaraz

Edited by Amna Sheikh

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