Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crises

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Pharm. Sesan Kareem

The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, or World Drug Day, is marked on 26 June every year, to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving a world free of drug abuse.

Drug abuse has reached an unprecedented level in our nation today and its dire consequences are around us. It has destroyed thousands of young people’s lives, predisposed millions of people to danger, and negatively impacted our socio-economic landscape as a country.

Did you know that 70 percent of people who commit crimes are under the influence of drugs? Kidnapping, armed robbery, insurgency, and other crimes can be traced to the consequences of abusing such substances as alcohol, marijuana, tramadol, Rohypnol, codeine with syrup, just name them.

A myriad of lives have been lost, and many individuals have been maimed. The question is who is next? Yes, who is next?

People who abuse drugs are endangered species to themselves, their family and friends, as well as society at large. Everybody loses to drug abuse – physically, socially, financially, and mentally.

It is a strange fact that many people abuse drugs out of ignorance. Oh, yes, they abuse drugs to feel good, ease stress, escape reality or build confidence. People abuse drugs because they want to experience the peace, joy, and love they lack in their lives. They aspire to feel on top of the world and experience life fully, despite its challenges. Unfortunately, while they experience some immediate benefits, they also, in the short and long term, experience devastating consequences that alter the quality of their life forever.

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The basics

Let’s remind ourselves of the terminologies of drug abuse. A drug is any chemical substance that when administered to a living organism produces a biological effect that may cause a physiological or psychological change in the body as the case may be. Drug abuse is more concerned about a psychological change in the body than physiological change. All drugs are poisons, depending on the dose.

What is medicine? Medicine is a chemical substance used to treat, cure, prevent or diagnose a disease or to promote well-being. A drug is different from medicine. All medicines are drugs but not all drugs are medicines. Heroin, for instance, is a drug but not a medicine. When it comes to drug abuse, we have medicine abuse and substance abuse.

What is drug abuse? Drug abuse is the habitual use of drugs for non-therapeutic purposes. Drug abuse leads to dependence, and dependence becomes an addiction. Drug addiction is the compulsory use of drugs for non-therapeutic purposes. This is not just about when it puts your health or finances or life in danger; but when you cannot do without using it. It is when someone has become a slave to the drug and the drug has become the master. Then, the person is addicted.

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Drug abuse is close to drug misuse. However, they are different. Drug misuse is when you are not using a drug appropriately, whether in terms of dosage or frequency. For instance, when instead of taking medicine two times daily (12 hourly) a person takes it once daily or three times a day. Or when, instead of taking two paracetamol tablets, you decide to take three because you want “fast action”. These are examples of drug misuse.

The bottom line

So far, we have seen that people abuse drugs to feel good, build confidence, ease stress, avoid reality or face challenges of life. Again we differentiated between drugs and medicines. We opined that all medicines are drugs but not all drugs are medicines. Furthermore, we also shed light on drug abuse and drug misuse. Drug abuse is the habitual use of drugs for non-therapeutic purposes while drug misuse is the inappropriate use of medicines for therapeutic purposes.

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Is there a way we can experience peace, joy, and love in our lives without abusing drugs? Yes, there is a sure way. Are there truths we need to learn and live by as an individual and a society concerning drug abuse? Yes, there are facts about drug abuse we must have at our fingertips.

Can we fight this menace from a point of understanding and compassion, instead of from a point of ignorance and judgment? Definitely, we can; together we are stronger!

Winning the war against drug abuse requires holistic efforts from all stakeholders. We must educate our young ones to stay away from drug abuse and encourage those who are currently abusing drugs to stop the act.

ACTION PLAN: Resolve to avoid drug misuse.  Take stock of your life to find out if you are abusing any substance. Be an ambassador against drug abuse. Educate people, especially your friends and family, on drug abuse and its consequences.

AFFIRMATION: I stay away from drug abuse and misuse. I am blessed and highly favored.

PS: Kindly watch out for our social media campaign against drug abuse as we educate people on drug abuse, its dangers, and how to feel good without abusing any substance.


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