Essay on Drug and Alcohol Addiction and How Structural Social Work Affects It

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  1955 Words
Date:  2021-05-26

Drug and alcohol addiction is part of todays culture. Many people have engaged in drug addiction due to various factors which include depression, peer influence, and curiosity. Many people, however, perceive those addicted to drugs as people who do not have the willpower or moral principles and that they have the option of stopping their behavior by simply making a choice. Such people lack knowledge on how drug addiction is because it is a complex illness and takes up more than the addicts strong will or good intentions. They change the addicts brains in various ways thus making them have hard times when trying to quit the act even when one is more than willing to do so. Alcohol is the most addictive substance used all over the world. There are other drugs commonly abused as well and their include marijuana, tobacco, cocaine, and heroin. The structural social work has played a major role in ensuring drug addiction is minimized in the society, and the already addicted victims are rehabilitated into better citizens.

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Drugs Use

There are legalized drugs and those that are considered illegal. Alcohol and tobacco are the main legalized drugs. People who use the drugs are embraced as citizens in good standing however when they cause public inebriation; they could be arrested and incarcerated for their actions. Alcoholism has been regarded as a social acceptance in the society, and few people are punished for indulging in alcohol. Tobacco has lost its importance of social acceptance over the recent years, and it has been restricted to indoors or designated smoking area zones in Canada. The tobacco industry has fought the restrictions but the health ministry with the public health administration have argued with the effects tobacco causes to users and passive users as well unlike alcohol. Marijuana has been illegal in most states in America. In Canada, illicit drugs are present in the high-risk population such as street youth, natives, injectors and the inner-city poor. The illegal drugs include marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Cannabis is however preferred areas such as Canada. It is still used regularly despite it being an illegal drug as there are cartels undertaking illegal drugs trade in the nation. The government as well as the citizens have argued that it is similar to most drugs especially the legalized ones such as alcohol. Others have argued that it even has better effects to a user than alcohol.

Alcohol has been found to be more addictive than marijuana in the nation. Many marijuana users in Canada are not regular users, and few of them become dependent on the drug. Those taking alcohol, on the other hand, become addicted to it after using it for some time and quite a number end up becoming alcohol addicts. Alcohol has been found to be more damaging to the body as well than marijuana. Alcohol causes liver disease among various kidney problems while cannabis is only linked to lung cancer when a user smokes it. In the society, alcoholism causes violence and reckless behavior, unlike marijuana. Most marijuana users are conscious after taking it . Hence they can realize when they are acting wrongly in public unlike a person who has taken alcohol and does not know the acts he or she did after becoming drunk. The Canadian government has advocated for regulation and legalization of marijuana for entertaining use. Legislation is in place to allow the drug to be sold in a similar way as alcohol in various shops in Canada using different provincial alcohol control boards retail shops. Some of the large pharmaceutical sellers have begun applying for retail licenses to trade medical marijuana also.

Drug addiction

Addiction is regarded as a chronic illness described with the drug use and seeking which is difficult to control, compulsive, and with detrimental consequences. Most people begin taking drugs voluntarily. They, however, make it a habit that leads to changes in the brain which make the drug user have difficulty in self-control thus interfering with his or her capability to resist acute urge to depend on the drugs. When the brain changes become persistent, it leads to addiction (Alexander, 2000). It has been found to be a reversing illness and it evident where people who are rehabilitated from drug use still go back to the behavior some few months or years of not taking the substances. Reverting to drug addiction is common to many previous addicts, and it should not bring a worry to families who have used a lot of finance in the rehabilitation of a loved one, but no change seems to be visible. The treatment process is an ongoing process that may take many years based on how fast the addict responds to the treatment. The plans of the treatment, therefore, need to be reviewed as the treatment process goes on to fit the addicts changing needs.


The reward circuit of the brain is the major part likely to be affected by many drugs. The part controls a persons power to have the desire and encourage the person to iterate behaviors required to make him or her happy such as visiting new places. When the person overstimulates the reward circuit, it makes him or her extremely pleasurable which can make a person who loves taking drugs as a form of finding satisfaction taken them persistently (Kuhar, 2012). The brain adapts and adjusts to the high production of dopamine when the person goes on taking the drugs by minimizing the power of the reward circuits cells in the response. Tolerance occurs where the high feeling one gets normally reduces compared to the feeling one has when he or she takes drugs making the person to rely on the drug to attain the same high levels of dopamine. Drug intake helps these people to focus on the other activities that made them have pleasure as the drugs offer enough comfort.

Substance abuse makes the liver function harder which accelerates the rate at which it becomes damaged or suffers from liver failure. Drug addicts have abdominal pains, vomiting, and nausea. They also have a weak immune system which increases ones susceptibility to contracting infections. Drug and alcohol abuse have led to stroke, seizures and brain damage as well and it leads to memory lapse, decision-making, and attention issues among the victims. They have encountered permanent brain damage or mental confusion. Other effects include cardiovascular conditions that include heart attacks and abnormal heart rate. Theo who uses injections may in the long term have collapsed veins, heart valves, and blood vessels infections. Drug addicts encounter appetite fluctuations and increase of body temperatures. Some have inflamed kidneys while others encounter gastric distress and muscle wasting.

Factors leading to addiction

Long-term use of drugs not only affects the reward circuit but also changes other circuits and chemical systems of the brain. The major functions of the brain affected include judgment, learning, memory, decision-making, behavior, and stress. Addiction, however, varies in different people due to different factors. A single factor is hard to predict if one becomes addicted to substance abuse hence a combination of different factors is the major influence on the risk of drug addiction. Therefore, the more risk factors a person has, the higher the chances one has to be addicted. Biology is one of the factors leading to addiction. People are born with different genes that determine about half of the ability of a person to be at the risk of drug addiction. Other factors considered in the biology of an addict include the ethnicity, gender and any presence of mental disorder. Some communities may have exposed their children to alcohol intake as they grew up. It majorly influences the next generation to take up the habits of the elders and hence a community that engages in alcohol consumption will make the offspring behave similarly when they grow up. People with mental disorders are at a risk of engaging in substance abuse because they may be finding ways to alleviate their problem or just trying out drugs without proper knowledge of the effects they can have on the person. Gender involves femininity and masculinity. In most communities, men are more rampant in drug abuse than women. The male gender is therefore at a high risk of indulging in drug abuse and addiction than the women.

The environment one is exposed to can influence his or her addiction to drugs (Mate, 2010). The people one lives with such as friends and family influence a persons way of living. The economic status of a person is also an environmental determinant of whether one becomes addicted to drugs or not. Stress, peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse and parental guidance are among other factors. People who are wealthy majorly indulge in alcohol abuse or shisha indulgent as a way of having fun with friends at home or clubs. It is common in the weekends in various countries. Others are influenced by their peers and efforts to fit in the group activities their peers take part in. the young people are the most affected especially in their teen ages. During these ages, many young people indulge in alcohol and drug abuse and it is the time that is most associate with the beginning of drug addiction for many addicts. Some parents have lacked to control their childrens behavior especially as they grow up. Parents today focus on building their careers by advancing their education, job promotions and businesses. They forget to monitor their children which is one of their core responsibilities hence children can take advantage of the absence of their children and indulge in negative activities such as drug and alcohol abuse. Additionally, people who have faced abuse in their lives may end up being drug addicts as they look for ways that offer them comfort or enable them forget the problems they have faced in their lives. People who have been physically or sexually abused are among those who highly indulge in drug abuse and addiction due to their life experiences.

Developmental stages of a persons life interrelate with the environmental and genetic factors that influence the risk of drug addiction on the person. Drug addiction occurs at any age. However, earlier one begins to take drugs, the faster one becomes addicted to the behavior. The young people especially teens are highly affected by their development (Wilson & Kolander, 2011). Their brains develop with time hence affecting their judgment, decision-making, and self-control. They are at the stage of life where they become experimental such as indulging in drugs because of their peers or curiosity. If one begins taking drugs at the age of 12, he or she will become addicted earlier than one who starts it at the age of 17. The environmental and biological factors however still influence the developmental factor of drug addiction.

Tool for identifying addiction

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has outlined one of the best tools used in identifying if one is an addict or not as published by the American Psychiatric Association. Professional have used the criteria in the determination of the severity and presence of alcohol and drug abuse. It involves lack of control where a person the addict ends up using large amounts of substance than he or she intended to use. The desire to limit use explains the efforts an addict may be trying to make on cutting back on the addiction but does not manage to. Cravings explain the urge or desire a substance user experiences in the use of the drug. There is a lack of responsibility where the addicts forego school, work or home responsibilities and prefer indulging in drug and alcohol abuse first. The users have problems in their interpersonal relationships which are majorly strained by their use of drugs. Additionally, the...

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Essay on Drug and Alcohol Addiction and How Structural Social Work Affects It. (2021, May 26). Retrieved from

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