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Pharmacological and Physiological Effects of Drug Abuse - Paper Example

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Harvey Mudd College
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Drug abuse, addiction, and misuse are vital issues which affect the society because of their significant economic, social and personal costs. Substance abuse has a massive effect on the brain of an individual because these drugs affect the neurons. Many addictive agents such as morphine and heroin attack the neurotransmitter pathway and the neural transmitter. Drug abuse is mainly characterized by destructive patterns of substance use which results in health problems and significant distress (Mosher & Akins, 2014). The most affected population is the youth because they are increasingly exposed and engage in abuse of drugs. The most abused drugs by the young are narcotics which are used in relieving severe pain and substances for stimulation which lead to the occurrence of disorders such as attention deficiency disorders. The pharmacological and physical effects of substance abuse are variant depending on the type of drug which is abused. The impact of substance abuse is often devastating, including symptoms of withdrawal and intoxication. These severe effects include euphoria when alcohol is often misused, inhalants which increase intoxication levels and poisoning from steroids. Additionally, marijuana can result in paranoia, suicidal thought, and severe depression. The physiological effects of addiction to drugs come in the form of the changes in the brain. People begin using drugs to assist with the coping with pain or stress, and one of the physiological effects of drug abuse is craving. When one craves for a drug, he or she is obsessed with finding the drug. Other physiological effects include wild mood swings, the decrease in everyday life's pleasures, mental illnesses complications, hallucinations, and confusion.

Question 2


Stimulant refers to any drug which can excite the functions of the body, stimulates the central nervous system and the brain. Effects include elevated mood, alertness, wakefulness, decreased appetite, increase in motor activity and speech. Stimulants have acute pharmacological effects when used in quantities that are not regulated. Examples of these pharmacological effects include the rapid release of the neurotransmitter which results in the occurrence of euphoria. Stimulants also have an impact on increasing libido and energy, reducing fatigue and influencing behavioral responses. Its sever adrenergic effects include an increase in blood pressure. The physiological effects of stimulants include raising the diastolic and systolic blood pressure, increasing the heart rate and increasing the rate of respiration. Stimulants also contribute to rising in temperature of the body, improving motor activity and causing pupillary dilation (Mosher & Akins, 2014).


Hallucinogens lead to alteration to an individuals thoughts, and emotions. Common types of hallucinogens include deliriants, dissociative and psychedelics. Hallucinogenic chemicals lead to the occurrence of states of derision while the psychotomimetic affects the brain. Hallucinogens affect the human brain by attacking the neurotransmitters which help in the communication with the mind. Classic hallucinogens such as LSD has an effect on serotonin which is a neurotransmitter which helps in controlling functions including perception, mood, and behavior. The brain is then flooded with signals which break down the inhibitions of the use, and it can lead to the crossover of senses. Hallucinogen such as the PCP affects the way the body uses the glutamate, which affects functions such as memory, learning, and perception. Hallucinogens have lesser physiological effects compared to cocaine (Mosher & Akins, 2014).

Question 3

On the one hand, Process addictions happen when someone develops an obsession with a behavior that is rewarding, and it is not inclusive of substances that are addictive such as eating, sex or gambling. It is sometimes referred to as compulsive behaviors and it involves the compulsions of acting regardless of its adverse repercussions. Through this approach, people have the possibility of suffering from dependence on processes which are dependent on addiction as the critical aspect of life. On the other hand, substance abuse disorder develops from substance addictions. Substance abuse disorder is defined as a condition where using a substance or more leads to distress or significant impairment (Kreitler & Kreitler, 2015). It primarily involves overdependence or overusing a drug which leads to detrimental effects on the mental and physical health of a person. Additionally, it is mostly characterized by continued medication. This makes addiction a chronic disease of the brain which is presented when one is addicted to a process or a substance. Behaviors which are addictive including gambling, eating, and sex all use the reward system of the brain through releasing neurotransmitters. Apparently, this stimulation results in people seeking experiences of pleasure on a frequent basis. After constant exposure, people start exploring driving skills, and at the same time, their capacity of obtaining satisfaction from an action declines. The apparent difference between substance and behavioral addiction is that for behaviors, the brain is affected while the physical change neurotransmitters are affected. Our ability of survival calls for the experiencing of pleasure from eating and sex. Drugs including heroin offer shortcuts to the reward system of the brain through flooding it with dopamine that increases the rate of addiction.

As a disease, addiction exists in the reward system of the brain before one starts using drugs or engaging in behavior that is very much addictive. This is a significant similarity. Apparently, most of the behavioral addiction problems are acceptable in the social sphere and are inclusive of behaviors such as eating and sex. This leads to the lack of awareness of the fact that a problem is occurring while its negative repercussions keep on increasing. A process and substance abuse only happen if one loses control to a point which it leads to many life problems. Process addictions do not have the physical attributes which people were having alcohol and drug abuse problems such as intoxication possess. Regardless of their invisibility, process addictions and substance abuse result in severe issues in the well-being and life of an individual. On the same note, the symptoms of both substance and process addictions are same. They include cravings, minimal interest, decreased tolerance, denial, guilt, lack of exposure of behavior, and irritability from withdrawal. The loss of control by user characterizes both addictions, and this uncontrollability is irreversible without the will. There is the need for treatment to overcome these types of habits. The cure for process addiction is the same to that of other dependencies which also has its challenges. Its most significant problem is dealing with a process where there are series of abstinence on addictions which are near impossibility. Treatment in process addiction has to be tailored accustomed to addressing the particular situations and foods which lead to compulsive behavior. Process addictions are coexistent with other habits and, the type of treatment has to be holistic and geared towards the improvement of lifestyles. This helps in the prevention of cross addiction and relapse (Kreitler & Kreitler, 2015).

Fostering a Strong Relationship

Establishing a relationship with patients having co-occurring disorders such as substance addiction is difficult and necessary at the same time. I will effectively manage my biases and feelings which can arise from the interaction with these clients. I will also monitor the disorders of the client through carrying out an examination of the status of every disease and giving alerts over any notable relapse. I will also utilize an empathic, culturally supporting and empathic approach to working with substance addiction clients. It is also crucial that I differentiate beliefs and behaviors which are cultural from those that indicate signs of mental disorder. Finally, I will increase support and structure to assist clients to have steady improvements in their process of recovery. A good plan for treatment involves many strategies and tools that are used in addressing the identifiable strengths of a client, deficits and problems. I have to determine how severe the abuse of substances is because it forms the foundation of a good treatment program. The importance of patient-caregiver rapport is one which cannot be underestimated and it involves a lot of trust in the other party. With the realization of trust, one is better placed to receive the full information as disclosed by the patient. I will have to allow the patient to participate fully in the whole process, to provide his or her opinion on the treatment process. This will ensure that there is the creation of trust, which will in turn guarantee success and results in the execution of the entire operation (Miciak & University of Alberta, 2015).

Question 4

History of Drug Use in the United States of America

Substance abuse is a big deal in the United States of America since the 19th century which marked the first discovery of cocaine and morphine. As recently as 2011, more than 23.5 million Americans abused drugs, and a few seek treatment. The early history of drug abuse and addiction is connected to the technological and medical advancements. The first significant incident of violence of drugs started in the 20th century. There were laws which were formed to limit the abuse of drugs such as cocaine and heroin. The united states experienced changed in the 1960s where drugs were regarded as a significant problem. Drugs abused during this time were marijuana, amphetamines, and LSD. The 1970's marked a period of awareness which led to the reduction of the utilization of specific substances such as LSD. This period marked the use of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and depressants. The 1980s marked the increment in awareness on dangers associated with drugs and the advancement of treatment programs for drugs. The 1990s marked the improvement on information on alcohol and drugs dangers (Acker & Tracy, 2004).

Modern Practices

There have been changes in the abused substances over the years. Addiction to alcohol still accounts for a large percentage of habit but, there is increased abuse of opiate which has created a lot of concern. Approximately 20% of people seeking treatment abuse opiates, and among these abusers, over a quarter is not heroin. The abuse of marijuana has increased and accounts for 17% of individuals seeking treatment for violation of the substance. The rates of cocaine account for 11.3% (Hill, 2015).

Development of Multi-Disciplinary Teams

The abuse of substances is a significant problem which has been in existence for many years, but it does not mean that the recovery from addiction is painful. From the 1960s, there have been scientific investigations on the dangers associated with substances. These studies have provided insights which are useful to professionals. Accordingly, it has led to the development of different solutions to treatment which are based on information and research which have been carried out over the years. Professionals have helped in the recovery process by finding the right approach to treatment.

Part Two

Theory Similarities Differences

The psychodynamic approach. This theory holds the opinion that personality is explained through unconscious and conscious forces such as the desires and beliefs (Luyten & Target, 2017).

People use drugs and alcohol as a means of putting up with negative relationships and experiences which are traumatic and many of these developed f...

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