Asoka’s achievements are so deep and wide–religion, justice, compassion for animals, healthcare, environment–that we can tell he had a solution-oriented mind. It would be natural for a man so versatile to first get all facts before finding a solution.
We can have fun asking: What would Asoka do? So here we go!
Addiction is considered a brain disease because drugs change the structure of brain, that, in turn, can lead to adverse behavioral changes in people who abuse drugs. Drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to. But modern research has found ways to manage it. Addiction is a kind of slavery to drugs. In human slavery, the slave was miserable in chains, in drug-slavery, the addict is ecstatic in chains. Symptoms include: insomnia, dry mouth, decreased appetite, hyperactive behavior, irritable behavior. Addicts lose all interest in work, friends and relationships–everything that once held meaning in their lives. Ironically, the addicts may not be aware of it.
Most Abused Drugs: 1. Marijuana impairs short-term memory and learning, the ability to focus attention and coordination. It can harm the lungs, and increase the risk of psychosis in those with an underlying vulnerability. 2. Amphetamines (a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant). 3. Benzodiazepines (such as Valium and Xanax are widely prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal and other conditions but are addictive). 4. Methadone (a highly potent synthetic opiate). 5. GHB ((gamma hydroxybutyrate) is a central nervous system depressant. 6. Nicotine (tobacco). 7. Alcohol. 8. Cocaine. 9. Crack. 10. Crystal Meth (it’s like cocaine, addicts suffer psychosis, hallucinations, memory loss, severe depression and sometimes suicide). 11. Heroin (very addictive-the dopamine receptors within nerve cells become exhausted from overstimulation). 12. MDMA, (also known as ecstasy or Molly), is a synthetic, psychoactive drug. 13. OxyContin is a potent synthetic opiate.
Adderall (opioids including amphetamine /dextroamphetamine may also cause some less known effects: bladder pain; bloody or cloudy urine; burning, or painful urination; decreased libido; fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse; frequent urge to urinate, and/or lower back or side pain.
A particularly dangerous and common practice is the combining of two or more drugs. Counterfeit drugs further enhance the risk.
What Happens to Self-Control? The initial decision to take drugs may be voluntary, but with continued use, a person’s ability to exert self-control is greatly impaired; this impairment in self-control is the hallmark of addiction. Brain imaging studies of people with addiction show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control. Research shows that the earlier a person begins to use drugs, the more likely he or she is to develop serious problems. Drug abuse and mental illness often co-exist. In some cases, mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia may precede addiction; in other cases, drug abuse may trigger or exacerbate those mental disorders, particularly in people with specific vulnerabilities.
Can addiction be cured? Research has shown that addiction, like other chronic diseases, can be managed successfully through Rehab (Detox, Withdrawal, and Life Management). Full withdrawal or detoxification is necessary so the body can rid itself of drugs and adjust to drug-free state so the individual can slowly regain control over his/her life. Drug addiction didn’t occur overnight and neither will the recovery.
Source: The Journal of Neuroscience, 21(23):9414-9418. 2001
Does Relapse Treatment Mean Failure? No. The chronic nature of the disease means that relapse is not only possible, but likely. It also indicates that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted or another treatment should be tried.
Research shows that stress, and cues linked to the drug experience ( people, places, and moods), along with exposure to drugs are the most common triggers for relapse. So they need to be avoided.
Treatment with Medications: Different types of medications are useful at different stages of treatment to help a patient stop abusing drugs, stay in treatment, and avoid relapse. Drug testing during treatment is essential.
Treating Withdrawal with Medications. Depression, anxiety, mood disorders, restlessness or sleeplessness are common when patients stop using drugs. Some medications can calm the patient and help staying in the treatment and slow down drug cravings. They help patients focus on counseling and psychotherapy.
Treatment Programs: Individuals are never “cured” of addictions; instead, they learn how to manage their disease so they can lead healthy, balanced lives. Gaining the ability to stop abusing drugs is just one part of a long and complex recovery process. When people enter treatment for a drug use disorder, their whole life has been disrupted, hence the treatment must address the needs of the whole person (medical, psychological, social, vocational) to be successful. The Rehab programs consist of the following:
· Cognitive Behavioral Therapy seeks to help patients recognize, avoid, and cope with the situations in which they are most likely to abuse drugs.
· Contingency Management uses positive reinforcement such as providing rewards or privileges for remaining drug free, for attending and participating in counseling sessions, or for taking treatment medications as prescribed.
· Motivational Enhancement Therapy uses strategies to evoke rapid and internally motivated behavior change to stop drug use and facilitate treatment entry.
· Family Therapy (especially for youth) approaches a person’s drug problems in the context of family interactions and dynamics that may contribute to drug use and other risky behaviors. Certain medications can reduce these symptoms.
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Some other useful sites: