Degrees of Effects of Drugs and Alcohol

An individual begins down a non-survival path with the use of drugs or alcohol to solve problems. Problems in their most stripped-down view are something countering or opposing something else.

Drugs are basically poisons: a little bit of it speeds you up, a little bit more of it slows you down, and too much of it can kill you. That is true for all toxic substances. It doesn’t matter which substance an individual is using; they all act the same way. All mind-altering substances have side effects that are part of their composition.

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How the nature of drugs and alcohol affect the person

Most of us have seen someone having a couple of drinks, getting up, dancing, and having a great time. The alcohol is acting as a stimulant. Well, how about when you see that person later after many more drinks? At that point, they most likely lost some motor control* and are stumbling. They can’t talk straight. They may even pass out. Now, the alcohol is acting as a sedative.

After this point, if the person continues to drink in excess, the increase in alcohol would become toxic. It may require emergency intervention. People can overdose from alcohol toxicity. (alcohol overdose)

The same goes for illicit drugs. A small amount of cocaine will excite, much more will bring about psychosis, and too much can stop the heart. Marijuana will do the same, but over a more extended time frame. It has been noted that too much pot makes one stupid and unresponsive. 

Use of Drugs for Medical Reasons

While this may be true of all toxic substances, there are many obvious examples where taking a drug or medication can be beneficial. A person may have a serious infection. The prescribed medicines could kill the infection and save their life. The consequences of not taking the drug are far worse than any side effects created by taking it. Taking a pain suppressant drug acts the same way for a short period to permit healing. Taking it for a long period can bring about dependency, as seen with some opiates. (oxycodone)

Many people struggling with substance abuse disorder have similar background stories. There are thousands of individuals in Canada living with opiate addiction due to some physical pain. It occurs because the prescription ran too long or was used beyond the person’s recommended time.

Emotional Pain and Discomfort

Emotional pain or discomfort is the result of life trauma with no immediate solution. Having no solution becomes a problem; it lingers and hinders one’s lifestyle. It can be the loss of a loved one. It could be a natural disaster, such as an earthquake destroying one’s home. Verbal and emotional abuse can bring about a loss of self-esteem, and it can create PTSD. There are many examples of these conditions that people wish to be rid of or, at the very least, find relief from.

Speaking to your family doctor about a problem is common in our society. The response is often a prescription medication. If the medication is not helping, one will seek relief elsewhere. Some people find out that some drugs or alcohol will bring better relief. They notice a brief period of relief. But, by continued use, one is playing in the realm of substance abuse and addiction, such is the nature of drugs.

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Dealing with substance abuse and underlying issues

When a person must deal with substance abuse, a treatment counsellor knows that underlying issues will surface. As a person does a detox and treatment program, it is expected that emotions and discomforts will show up. Counsellors in the field of addiction are fully aware and trained to address such situations.

Removing the substance that the person was using to cover up their pain, discomfort, or inabilities brings about positive change. Substance abuse treatment programs are set up to help the person face up to these changes. Counsellors in the field of substance misuse are trained to assist the person in gaining some tools and understanding to face such issues. Grieve if needed, expel anger and frustration, overcome fears, and gain confidence in yourself.

Building self-control and self-esteem permits the person to guide their own life choices and reach for survival goals. Drugs and alcohol all but destroy anything good in people.

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Marc J. Bernard

Substance Use Disorder & Recovery Professional,
Referral & Consultation Counsellor

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