DRUG ABUSE AND ADDICTION: Five Commonly Asked Questions

NJ, a beautiful university student, was found convulsing by her mum. She had never convulsed before. NJ was taken to the hospital where comprehensive evaluation revealed she was not suffering from seizure disorder. Rather, her seizure was caused by drug abuse which resulted to addiction. NJ had been using tramadol in very high doses to get ‘high.’ She however took a decision to stop the use of the drug after she lost a friend who had also abused it. Her attempt at stopping the use of tramadol triggered withdrawal symptoms which manifested in the form of convulsion.

How can you tell that an individual probably has drug addiction? Addiction can be characterised by being unable to stop the use of drugs despite the consequences. Having to neglect work, family, and other social obligations because of the use of drugs are proofs of abuse and addiction. Any individual who cannot perform routine function because he or she had not used a particular drug is addicted.

What drugs are commonly abused? Commonly abused ones include alcohol, indian hemp, cocaine, heroine, codeine, tramadol, and other concoctions peculiar in different environments. However, some newer but strange substances of abuse have been discovered in our environment, for example, methylated spirit in codeine, methylated spirit or bleach in soft drinks, etc. Anyone can get addicted to them. The fact is some of these drugs are prescribed by doctors for certain complaints. They are to be used for the recommended duration and discontinued. For example, codeine and tramadol are prescribed to relieve pain. Due to the light sedation they cause, some persons may begin to abuse them to help them sleep. After a while, they cannot sleep without using these drugs.

How do people get addicted?

  • It has been found that several people started using substances or drugs out of curiosity and gradually progressed to getting addicted to them.
  • Some others, however, start using these substances because of peer pressure.
  • In some cases, the need to ease off stress or pressure from challenging situations tip some persons to use of drugs and ultimately drug abuse.
  • Sometimes, the need to enhance sexual performance and daily functioning is a reason people give for drug use which ultimately leads to abuse.

What are the symptoms of drug abuse? Some symptoms of drug abuse include euphoria, depression, restlessness, violent and erratic behaviour, and hallucination just to mention a few. These symptoms could differ for different types of substances or drugs.

It is important to note that drug addiction is a chronic brain disease which needs to managed by health care professionals.     

Exorcism, ‘unproven deliverance programmes,’ or abandonment, are unhelpful for victims of drug abuse. They need our love and compassion because they are actually suffering a mental disease.

Who are those involved in care of affected individuals? Everybody is involved. The government, health care professionals, individuals, NGOs, the family, educationists, and the whole community at large are involved in the rehabilitation of drug addicted individuals. There are several psychiatric hospitals and rehabilitation facilities that manage these patients. Prompt attention helps every individual.

Remember that there is no health without mental health!

Dr Oyetayo Jeje is a consultant psychiatrist with the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Yaba, Lagos. She is a Fellow of the West African College of Physicians. She has attended various local and international conferences and workshops that focus on addiction, child and adolescent mental health. Dr Jeje has published several papers in recognised Psychiatry journals locally and internationally. Most of her works have been on depression and suicidal behaviour amongst adolescents. Her interests include travel, spending time with her family, developing plans to assist people live up to their God given abilities by improving their mental well-being and mentoring middle and high school students who are interested in the medical career. She can be reached via thaiyor@yahoo.com

Post Author: Dr Oyetayo Jeje

Dr Oyetayo Jeje is a consultant psychiatrist with the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Yaba, Lagos. She is a Fellow of the West African College of Physicians. She has attended various local and international conferences and workshops that focus on addiction, child and adolescent mental health. Dr Jeje has published several papers in recognised Psychiatry journals locally and internationally. Most of her works have been on depression and suicidal behaviour amongst adolescents. Her interests include travel, spending time with her family, developing plans to assist people live up to their God given abilities by improving their mental well-being and mentoring middle and high school students who are interested in the medical career. She can be reached via thaiyor@yahoo.com

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