By – Dr. Jatin Tarwani, Addiction Psychiatrist Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences
Fortis Shalimar Bagh, Delhi
International Day against drug abuse gives us the opportunity to highlight an important problem that has become a public health issue. As per the largest Pan- India study on drug abuse conducted in 2018, close to 80 million people need professional help.
The problem of drug abuse does not occur in solitude but is related to mental health problems through multiple pathways. Psychological problems can act as a precursor in initiation, or can act as a fuel that rages fire making a person who is dependent on substance unable to leave it. This has been highlighted in many contemporary movies showing a person who has faced disappointments in life taking the help of alcohol or drugs to forget and escape, however they forget how the problems are kept on back burner only to haunt the person again.
Mental health issues can also be a consequence of using the substance. These consequences can occur either directly due to changes in brain physiology on account of using substances or indirectly through the stress associated with changes brought in by person’s family, social, occupational, financial, academics or physical problems. The family and social problems often lead to loss of respect and trust with frequent conflicts.
Occupational or academic problems often are in form of loss of interest and frequent drop outs. These problems do not necessarily occur after a long-term usage but can also occur after a single time usage. The problems of depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, regret, impulsivity, violence, forgetfulness, sleeping problems and psychosis are commonly associated with drug abuse.
Occasionally, finding no way on how and where to seek treatment, many people find themselves in an unending loop of consuming and unsuccessfully trying to stop using substances, which at times leads death by suicide. One can only imagine the total toll of psychological problems associated with drug abuse.
It has to be reiterated that prevention is the best policy. Teaching and learning life skills and values during young age, having warmth among family members and friends, having a stress-free workplace goes a long way in preventing many psychological problems.