Identifying the Problem of Drug Addiction is the Initial Step Toward Tackling the Problem
In modern times, the problem of alcoholism and drug addiction has become particularly acute. The growth of production and consumption of harmful substances, together with the decrease in income, urbanization, intensification of neuropsychological activity, caused the expansion in the number of dependent ones. It has become a real threat to society that generates many problems in the world, both demographic and economic. The total cost of drug and alcohol treatment, from the loss of productivity and the costs associated with the crime, exceeds hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
The urgency of the issue at the present stage in all nations has increased and attempts to solve it remain extremely unsatisfactory. These diseases have a pronounced social character; therefore, under conditions of instability and inequality in society, the further spread of drug addiction will be accompanied not only by worsening medical consequences (Neville & Foley, 2020). Still, it will also take horrible forms in social terms. The range of negative outcomes of the spread of alcoholism and drug addiction is extremely wide. The most serious are economic difficulties and changes in intra-family relationships.
However, as terrible as these figures are, they do not fully describe the depth of their devastating health and safety results. Alcoholism, drug addiction undermines well-being and claim millions of lives. One in three crimes in the states is committed while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (Neville & Foley, 2020). Addiction can be compared to an iceberg, the invisible part of which is many times larger than the noticeable part. Thus, these problems reach global proportions, disrupting the social order in every country.
Extent of the Problem
It is significant, to begin with, the fact that the trend in alcohol and drug abuse has recently been growing. Statistically, it can be demonstrated that there have been 700,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States since 2000. There is also a $35 billion federal budget to fight drugs in 2020. At the same time, 19.4% of people have used illegal drugs at least once. (Neville & Foley, 2020). However, drug use varies by gender, race/ethnicity, class, and sexual minority status (lesbian, gay, or bisexual). Other types of substance consumption, particularly alcohol (59.4%) and marijuana use (43.5%), were common among students who are now overusing prescription opioids (Neville & Foley, 2020). Moreover, addiction to drugs can have direct health consequences, starting with effects on heart rates and overdose deaths.
The statistics presented by the CDC also should be analyzed. According to the CDC, in 2019, there were an estimated 81,000 deaths from an opioid overdose (Stulberg et al., 2019). Regular drinking can lead to hypertension, liver problems, and cancer. In addition, frequent intake of marijuana causes chronic bronchitis and cardiovascular disease. It can also cause risky behaviors, including drunk driving, which can have deadly consequences. Thus, in contemporary society, alcoholism and drug addiction are a threat to human health. Although, in recent years, trends aimed at leading an active and healthy lifestyle are increasingly popular.
Internal and External Forces Influencing Addiction Crisis
Different external and internal factors can be the causes of abuse. For example, earlier drug use is most often associated with the search for release from a state of emotional and physical unhappiness: pain, boredom, frustration, loneliness, anxiety, depression, and other unpleasant feelings (Priest et al., 2020). People often treat themselves without proper respect and try to suppress this with alcohol or drugs by considering themselves ashamed.
Public attitudes also play a very prominent role in the development of bad habits. Common opinion can have both positive and negative effects on a person’s behavior. The view of others is especially critical for adolescents (Priest et al., 2020). Abuse is against the law, condemned, and therefore involves risk, but the latter makes it attractive to them. The excitement resulting from the danger may seem even more rewarding than the effects of the drugs themselves.
Moreover, teenagers always want to follow trends and not be the black sheep, so when they get into a group where someone else already has a bad habit, they start to adopt it and thus become addicted. The high level of poverty and decay of a neighborhood is also a factor that can affect a person’s decision.
The environment is very important to everyone, and deprivation is a risk factor for the onset of abuse. Moreover, children from less fortunate families who do not feel the fullness of care from their parents have a rather low moral and ethical level (Priest et al., 2020). If they also observe the systematic use of alcoholic beverages and consumption by adults, they tend to adopt their asocial behavior. Rates of drug and alcohol abuse are also particularly high among the homeless population. Abuse becomes one of the causes of losing one’s home, and vice versa.
Virtually everyone without a house has a drinking problem. It is a consequence of constant stress and problems, which homeless people try to drown out with alcohol or drugs. This way, they think they feel better and can distract from difficult routines. It is usually that teenagers try to use drugs and alcohol for a variety of reasons. For example, to find more friends or to become popular, but regular consumption leads to addiction. Accordingly, if a person drinks alcohol every day for a month, it will be complicated to refuse his addiction after six months (Priest et al., 2020). Thus, if one has been using drugs for several years, it becomes almost impossible to stop using them.
In such a case, even treatment often does not have the desired effect. Interestingly, most people who try to give up their addictions do not conduct prevention of relapses. That is, they do not consult doctors and do not attend courses that provide psychological and moral support. As a consequence, they abruptly begin to use alcohol and drugs in large doses, which is harmful to their health.
In addition, this behavior, and the fact that most people consider alcoholics and drug addicts dangerous, encourages society’s alienation from them. Therefore, former addicts find it problematic to find a job to provide a decent living and resume their bad habits. Also, the lack of support negatively affects addicts, who do not even try to change their lives because they are believed that no one needs them (Priest et al., 2020). Another reason for the spread of alcohol and drug addiction disorders is problems at school or university. Teenagers are acute with all emotions, so if they realize they are falling behind in certain subjects and do not receive help, they find it in using illegal substances or alcohol.
Actions Taken to Tackle the Drug Problem
Primarily, the first thing that should be done to make the problem of people’s addiction to harmful substances disappear is to investigate the reasons for their use. That is, if one understands the mechanisms of how alcohol and drugs affect the human body, one can argue that they help people to forget their problems. Therefore, if persons find help at school, university, or in the community, narcotics will become irrelevant. Promoting and funding the explanation risk of this problem is essential to preventing it from spreading (Calcaterra et al., 2019). Thus, it is important to utilize television, radio, and social media to educate families on the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse. Thus, if parents are informed of the problem and have the knowledge to deal with it, the level of drug usage will decrease.
Additionally, social education for adolescents will help them recognize the potential harms of abusing illegal drugs. If a person already has difficulty with alcohol or drug use, it is crucial to promptly help them improve their knowledge of these matters. Thus, creating medical centers where addicts can receive moral and educational help will improve the level of awareness of addicts about possible ways to overcome it. Another key thing that can help reduce the abuse of narcotic drugs is the constant monitoring of addictive drugs. That is, it is essential to supervise the release of drugs that are in abnormal demand on the market.
It is also important to increase the availability of drug and alcohol treatment programs (Calcaterra et al., 2019). Accordingly, it is possible to attract doctors on a volunteer basis to provide advice and assistance to addicted patients. Moreover, it is reasonable to introduce deductibles that can be applied to drug and alcohol dependence treatment. Currently, all strategies are successfully implemented and lead to positive results.
Levels of Prevention
Drug and alcohol prevention is a movement aimed at limiting the initiation of abuse and overcoming its consequences. It is declared a two-component system at the state level, including measures to limit the distribution of substances and anti-propaganda provided by mass media and social institutions. The classification of restricted areas is based on objective criteria, indicating its target groups (Stulberg et al., 2019). Primary prevention is aimed at healthy citizens to limit the possibility of their beginning to use harmful substances. Secondary prevention plays a key role in recognizing risk factors and early identifying people in need of treatment. Tertiary prevention, in turn, aims to treat, rehabilitate and stop the recurrence of the problem.
Primary prevention is far-reaching; it includes the whole group of youths and adults and strives to counter macrosocial determinants. Such elements incorporate primarily sharp socio-historical, administrative, or commercial renovations, which unavoidably increase aberrant behavior in society. It intends to acquaint the populace and legislators of victim groups about the state tactics, the attitude of the authorities, and the implemented projects regarding drug and alcohol abuse (Priest et al., 2020). It also strives to shape common opinion to change ‘at-risk’ management standards and create programs that promote normative healthy behavior values.
Primary prevention incorporates the matter of reporting modes that are harmful to the well-being and is intended to support people, notably youngsters, who seek mental and other professional help. A set of such measures helps prevent the development of addiction and the formation of psychological cravings from trying harmful substances to obtain the desired euphoria. Strategies of this type are intended to support people and reduce personal and social dysfunction and the need for comprehensive interventions (Stulberg et al., 2019). By strengthening and maintaining personal and cultural protective factors, the likelihood that people, especially the young, will use drugs or alcohol decreases, thus contributing to their mental and physical health and increasing their chances of living.
Secondary prevention of drug addiction is early identification of substance users, overcoming their physical and mental dependence, and providing supportive therapy. Unfortunately, there are no unified methods that can recognize a person prone to addiction. Still, it is not completely impossible because there are social categories that fall under the greatest risk. It includes people with low income, the unemployed, and other socially disadvantaged classes that require special attention. Furthermore, it is essential to say that doctors’ directions should be more closely monitored, and prescribing drugs should be strictly consistent with the purpose of treatment.
There is now a widespread problem of prescription drug abuse, which is also a cause of addiction and requires particular attention (Priest et al., 2020). Lectures or personal discussions with individuals who have already experienced this problem are also part of the secondary prevention measures. It is important to make people aware of how devastating the consequences can be if they do not stop in time.
The third level of prevention concerns the issue of rehabilitation and treatment programs primarily. Recovery is ordered to recover the psychical and communicative abilities of those who have sustained treatment. Its goal is to motivate the patient to withdraw completely and permanently from drug or alcohol use, including prevention of possible relapse. This last observation emphasizes the central problem – keeping the patient on the path to recovery. It is extremely mattering to make each stage of rehabilitation as accessible to the patient as possible (Priest et al., 2020). In extension to the regular model, which requires the subject to go through psychiatric, emotional, and social care steps, there are standards based on admittance to church and job.
Furthermore, many organizations play a key role in recovery and treatment, such as the CDC or the Drug Overdose injury center, created to help people return to society and start a new life. Rehabilitation center staff also provide companionship to the person after therapy. Furthermore, people who inject drugs are among the populations most at risk of infection and further transmission of HIV. At the same time, these people have the most difficulty accessing HIV prevention and related treatment and care services because of the stigma and often criminalization of their use of dangerous substances (Priest et al., 2020).
Therefore, therapy programs to reduce HIV rates among these populations are also particularly significant. It is also critical to recognize that addiction can happen to anyone, and there is no single cause. However, it is a dangerous disease, not a personal quality, and proper treatment can be the key to recovery. Reducing stigma is very relevant for addicts and their future lives.
Role of the Community Health Nurse
The main role of nurses is to provide care for patients. In addition, community nurses can provide education to society members on general issues to support their health so that they can reduce illness and death (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2020). Thus, physicians can conduct consultations and training for adolescents or their parents, presenting additional knowledge about the condition from a medicinal point of view. As a result, the level of tolerance among the population will increase, which will lead to a decrease in the use of drugs and alcohol.
At the same time, health experts have to grant the right of self-determination and the power of patients to make their own decisions. Thus, they can advise people to be active and healthy, but they cannot force them to do it. Significantly, the positive temperament of nurses can help persons with addiction deal with it. In this way, they will understand that there are individuals who care and support them (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2020). Finally, the nurse’s role is very valuable in collaboration between hospitals and health authorities. This can appear in several ways, such as the sharing of experiences among substance abuse treatment workers.
Ethics and Other Measures to Solve the Problem
Physicians who are involved in the treatment of people addicted to alcohol and drugs must reject personal beliefs, judgments, and attitudes. The history of how society relates to people with problems of addiction is full of emotions, misconceptions, and prejudices that have influenced the care of addicts (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2020). For example, in health care settings, a patient may be perceived negatively just because he or she abuses drugs and alcohol, but that is not ethical. Thus, nurses should be sensitive to this situation because dependence is also an illness that requires treatment and care.
It seems to me that a perfect solution to help is to open free rehabilitation centers. Rehabilitation centers do not just support but remain the only chance for an addicted person to return to a healthy life without narcotics or alcohol. This is because they apply a unique rehabilitation program that allows not only to overcome dependency but also to return to a healthy lifestyle and realize its value. Thus, the proposed supplements are an effective method of treatment.
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Neville, K., & Foley, M. (2020). The economic impact of the opioid use disorder epidemic in America: Nurses’ call to action. Nursing Economic$, 38(1), 7-15.
Priest, K. C., Englander, H., & McCarty, D. (2020). Now hospital leaders are paying attention: A qualitative study of internal and external factors influencing addiction consult services. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 110, 59-65.
Stanhope, M., & Lancaster, J. (2020). Public health nursing: Population-centered health care in the community (10th ed.). St. Louis: Elsevier.
Stulberg, J. J., Schäfer, W. L., Shallcross, M. L., Lambert, B. L., Huang, R., Holl, J. L., & Johnson, J. K. (2019). Evaluating the implementation and effectiveness of a multi-component intervention to reduce post-surgical opioid prescribing: study protocol of a mixed-methods design. BMJ Open, 9(6), 1-13.