The overall nature of addictions is mostly insidious and evil. I believe that drugs themselves are not to blame for today’s addiction problems – it is how they are abused that is the problem. Therefore, “the War on Drugs” campaign today needs to be called either the War on Drug Abuse or a hopeful campaign pursuit called Education, education, education the Hope of Ending Drug Addictions. I say these things because both legal and illegal drugs have positive uses for people, especially for medical reasons if their usage and dosage is strictly monitored – things go awry when people start using these drugs inappropriately so that they develop a dependence upon them. Drugs like Klonopin may help with anxiety, but can also be extremely addictive. This form of dependence can take three forms: physically, tolerance and psychologically. The hopefulness of helping people with addictions is that 2/3 rds of these dependencies can be treated more successfully than those that are psychologically dependent.
Overall, it appears from what I have read that the reasons why people desire to remain addicted to drugs are heavily dependent upon the reinforcements that they continue to receive which makes that person continue the risky behavior of abusing these drugs. I believe the hope in ending drug addictions for many people lies in discovering what reinforces their addiction and then replacing the drug abusing behavior with another type of behavior that gives them the same feelings/rewards as the drug usage behavior gave the addict. The great challenge lies in conditioning the person to change their habitual ways, which is very difficult due to our human nature of resisting change – especially when we derive pleasure from it.
I am also hopeful that the current trend of education of today’s youth continues to be the most effective and promising way to prevent drug abuse into the future. Another way that I believe is helpful in prevention of drug abuse is for all the drugs that are already illegal for personal use without unsupervised medical attention,remain that way. According to the Ksir…etc, 2009, children are less likely to try drugs if they are less prevalent and out of the view of general society – then the children have few to no one to model this negative behavior from. Children are less likely to become interested in drugs too if they are taught that drug abuse is harmful as well. I am also of the belief that some type of greater regulation of current drugs like nicotine found in cigarettes and alcohol should also be categorized very similarly as other drugs like marijuana because of its strong possibility of being a “gateway,” for the child to try additional drugs like marijuana, cocaine, …etc.
The greatest concern that I have about drug addictions are when their use not only affects their brain chemistry temporarily and thus the person’s behavior – but that over time the prolonged usage of some of these abused drugs alters the person’s brain chemistry in a fixed way(maybe not permanently) as well as their personality and behaviors in negative ways that can lead to criminal activities. It can be difficult to remember things, think logically, or manage stress. At the same time, I am hopeful that the field of Science and Neurobiology will continue to make progress towards reversing these effects. Some current research that I discovered has shown that this work in helping people break their dependent behaviors is well under way. “Addiction science has provided a solid foundation for understanding the neurochemical problems that take place at the cell level in the mesolimbic dopamine system. Based upon this understanding, new medications have been developed that alter the basic neurochemical process. The medications are not “magic bullets”, they require concurrent counseling and/or abstinence-based programs to work best. The medications work to reduce relapse, enhance abstinence, and reduce craving for the primary drug of choice. All are “non-addicting”, do not seem to be abused by people for whom they’re prescribed, and have minimal side effects compared to other powerful prescription drugs. Medications for treating alcohol dependent individuals include naltrexone and acamprosate; for nicotine dependent individuals, bupropion and varenicline. All have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in alcohol and dependence treatment, along with counseling.” (Erickson, 2007).
Erickson, C.K. Ph.D. (2007). The Science of Addiction: From Neurobiology to Treatment. New York: W.W. Norton.
Hart, C., Ksir, C., Oakley, O. (2009). Drugs, Society amp; Human Behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill Inc.