Drug and Substance Abuse


Psychoactive drugs are substances that can interfere with the consciousness, emotions and thoughts of those who use them. Legality or illegality of these substances varies from one country to the other. Some of them such as cocaine are banned globally. Across the world tobacco and alcohol are the most used of the legal substances. Other commonly abused substances, though illegal in many countries, includes marijuana (Cannabis sativa), Cocaine and Opium. This paper is, therefore, a reflection on the social, economic and health effects of the psychiatric substances.


Through my personal experience, I have learnt that psychoactive substances not only affect the users but also the people around them. For instance, research by many scholars shows that the individuals who inhale smoke emitted by the smokers are affected much than the actual smokers. Another example is on the effects of alcohol on families. Most alcohol users become violent at home a factor that ends up affecting the families much than the actual users. My desire to understand better my, psychoactive substance victims dominated environment interest in the psychoactive substance abuse class influenced my hope, aspiration, and determinations to learn how to counsel and manage the users that are in my environment and at the same time find out how to handle my emotional status when around them.

In this course, the most important thing that I have learnt about alcohol and tobacco is that they have psychoactive effects on the users. The appreciation of this fact has helped me understand that the users’ mental state is entirely different from when they are not under the influence. Such an understandings are vital as it would help a person that lives with or among the users know how to relate to them.

The most abused substances in my environment are alcohol and cigarette smoking. From my past interactions and observation of the users, I learnt many things about the effects of these drugs. Apart from direct observation, I have also acquired much information about these drugs and other psychoactive drugs through social education, media education and home education.

Media Education

Drug and substance abuse is a pandemic that affects the general society. Use of these substances, legal or illegal, has severe consequences for the user’s mental health. Statistics on mental health revealed that there is a very high number of persons with mental health disorder in the U.S.

The National Institute of Mental Health conducted research that indicated that, in every five adults, one was mentally ill in a given year this ratio was about 43.8 million people. The study further showed that in a particular year in every twenty-five adults in the U.S, one of them had a mental disorder a condition that significantly interfered with their daily life activities. This ratio was about 10 million People. Of the number of Youth of the age of between thirteen-eighteen who were affected by mental illness in a given year, the report indicated that in every five youth, one of them was mentally ill. This ratio was 24.4 percent of the youth population. 

An understanding of the environmental factors that cause mental illness of the NIMH report reveals of the total number of people who were homeless and stayed in tents, 26 percent of them lived with critical mental conditions. Of the total population that was in these harsh environmental conditions, 46 percent of them lived with an acute mental disorder. The report also did an analysis of the State and local prisons it indicated that of the total prison population, twenty-one percent of them had a history of mental disorder. Seventy percent of the juvenile population had experienced a psychological health condition whereas twenty-five percent of them had a dire mental disorder. 

Half of all severe mental conditions begun at age 14, at age 24 the rate had increased to three-quarter of the population. The significant of this data is that due to a majority of the mental illnesses are caused by drug and substance abuse. It, therefore, means that the users start consuming these substances at a tender age. 

Due to the social, cultural, health and economic effects of the consequences of psychoactive substances, the government has invested heavily on the awareness. From the constant media awareness by both the government and private institutions, I was able to learn the connection of alcoholism and smoking with mental illness and cancer. The media outlets put much emphasis on informing the public of the dangers of alcohol and smoking and that the fact its usage is legal does not make it suitable for human use. 

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Social Education

Social education has been the most efficient method by which I have learnt about drugs and substance abuse. I have gained much knowledge from observation of the alcohol and cigarette users around me. Some of the direct effects of Alcoholism are as follows:

  • Lose of Employment

Almost all psychoactive substance has an addiction effect. Users reach a point where they cannot operate without them. As a result, their input in their workplaces reduces drastically which eventually lead to their loss of employment or income.

  • Breakage of Families

Drug and substance abuse have also lead to the collapse of families. It requires significant efforts for a non-user to accommodate and a drug user. A majority of these users becomes violent to their spouses and children a factor that becomes a ground for family breakups. Other users due to their addiction fail to provide basic needs to their families causing their families to poverty.

  • Economic Effect.

Apart from consuming many resources in buying the drugs and other substances such as alcohol and cigarettes, the user’s ability to work and make a living is affected. A drug and Substance user, who is under the influence, is much similar to a mentally unstable person. An individual who is in such a condition cannot efficiently perform their daily activities. It, therefore, means that they not only become less productive to their families but even to the society. Another observation that I have established is that these persons spend most of their time sleeping or lazing around when under the influence. 

Home Education

Home education has been an important source of learning the effects of alcoholism and cigarette smoking through observation. From my childhood, I observed both my parents who were smokers. My siblings are also into smoking and alcoholism. It was never easy to live with my family members while I was not using these substances. I learnt about the effects of alcohol and smoking the hard way. In many instances that I was a victim of secondary smoking as sometimes, they could smoke in my presence making me inhale the smoke they emitted. 

As though the alcohol and cigarette pandemic was following my back to wherever I went to, my husband is also alcoholic. 

The experience of drinking and cigarette smoking in my family is the primary factor that made me distance myself from their usage. The tragic effect of these substances in my family is that they caused the death of my mother who succumbed from lung cancer. After the demise of my mom, my father knowing that smoking resulted in the life of his wife, quite smoking a few months later.


Though, from my childhood, I have lived in an environment dominated with alcoholics and cigarette smokers, I have never desired to try them. One of my personal principles is that before I engage in any new activity, I usually assess its effects and the impacts it has on the persons who have tried it before. My assessment on the users of alcohol and cigarette around me showed me not a single positive impact that has been caused by their usage. In contrast, alcohol has claimed the lives of many people who succumbed to alcohol-related ailments. Cigarette smoking has also lead to diseases such as throat cancer which has claimed the lives of many people. As a woman, my desire to have a healthy family could not allow me to use in either of them after I learnt that alcoholism and cigarette smoking affects the pregnancies and could result in miscarriage or stillbirths. Of all the factors, what influenced me the most not to engage in alcoholism and smoking, is the high number of loss of lives due to luxury choices such as alcoholism and smoking.

Before undertaking this course, I had perceived the legal and illegal drug and substance abuse issue as a personal problem that needed to the dealt with by the users only. I had been of the opinion that everybody’s choice should be respected and that I did not have a place in interfering with their choices. My views on this issue have completely changed. I believe that if my parents had told us about the harmful effects of alcohol and cigarette smoking, my siblings could not be users. Since I may not change much my siblings’ views about alcoholism and cigarette smoking, I purpose to nurture my children well and inform them of the dangers and effects of drugs and substance abuse. 

The drug and substance abuse course has considerably changed my perception of the content and drugs users. Before the course, I perceived these persons as less important and that they added no value to the society. With the realization that their condition is a health issue rather than a choice issue, my perception has since changed.

Oct 8, 2020 in Research
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