Growing up in here in Australia, it didn’t matter what primary school you went to, you’d seen the program. Cross legged and straight-backed listening to a giraffe by the name of Harold, discussing the issues that illegal drugs can cause to a person. Especially at a young age, many of our classmates murmured the words “I will never do drugs.” We understood then, the risks, so why in our late adolescence and early 20’s do we see such a large drug culture here in Australia?
According to Inga Ting, more than 40 per cent of the Australian population have admitted having tried using illicit drugs in their life time. Yep, that’s right, nearly half of the Australian population have tried an illegal drug at some point in their life. Pretty confronting right? I mean it isn’t as though we haven’t heard the risks enough times. We saw the presentations at school, we’ve seen the ads, and if you’ve been to a music festival, you’ve most likely seen the effects for yourself.
As a human, without argument, the most important organ in our body, is our brain. It controls the way we think, move, function etc. As we are all aware and have been told, drugs and alcohol effect our brains, by altering the chemicals inside that keep it functioning normally. Even for brief periods of time drugs have the power to alter perceived reality and release more dopamine into our brains. Dopamine makes us feel more euphoric but incidentally, increased levels of dopamine from substances can makes a person want more of the drug. It is because of this, that drug addiction occurs. Over copious amounts of time, reoccurring exposure to high level dopamine enhancers, have the ability to effect a person greatly and make them dependant on particular drugs in order for them to function ‘normally’ with altered dopamine levels
This chemical change in the brain, also has the ability to affect a person’s mental health. Drugs that are psychoactive, which include cannabis, alcohol, ecstasy and heroin, are all drugs that have the ability to affect your mood. These drugs have the risk of affecting many attributes of your short term metal health and may include drug- induced anxiety disorder, anything from panic attacks and severe anxiety, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, trembling and sweats; drug-induced psychosis- where delusional thoughts may occur to the person, hallucinations where the user may see or hear things that aren’t actually there; and drug-induces mood disorder- where the a person may feel depressed, manic from elevated moods, impulsive behaviours and experience delusional thoughts during or after the use of illicit drugs.
Not only does taking illicit substances stand the risk of affecting the person involved, it may also take its toll on the persons family as well. Those who are unfortunate enough to have become addicted to drugs often do not appreciate how much their addicting affects their families and close ones. It may impact a family’s finances, their psychological health and their physical health as well. Often family members blame themselves for the addictions that can arise, and stages of addiction may breakdown these relationships as well. While it may appear to solely affect the person suffering addiction, it also takes a vast toll on the people surrounding them as well.
When you think about how drugs can affect the brain and families of those who abuse drugs, it’s pretty scary to think that nearly over 40 per cent of the population have been willing to experiment with illicit drugs. We have all heard the risks, and many of us may have seen the affects first hand, and it really does beg the question, why are so many of us willing to expose our bodies to the dangers and effects of illicit drugs?