Excessive use of drugs damages human health and is known to cause coma or death due to respiratory, heart or cerebral damage. The immediate effects of drug abuse can also result in reckless behaviour, vandalism and sometimes violence. Long-lasting use of drugs and alcohol damages the nervous system and causes cirrhosis in liver. The identifying symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse are withdrawal, an unnaturally glazed look, disregard for personal hygiene, depression, fatigue, isolation and rebellious behaviour.
A teenage abuser may register a drop in academic performance or altogether stop going to school or college, lose interest in hobbies and a loss of appetite and weight. Sometimes, in desperation, abusers take to stealing to be able to find money to buy drugs. Such behaviour understandably is a source of distress to family, friends and teachers.
Drug abusers who take drugs intravenously are also susceptible to fatal diseases such as AIDS and Hepatitis B, due to the sharing of infected needles and syringes. Sportspersons have also been known to misuse drugs to enhance their athletic performance. They take narcotic analgesics, anabolic steroids, diuretics and certain hormones to increase muscle strength and bulk. Of these, anabolic steroids cause side-effects such as aggressiveness, mood swings and depression.
In women, anabolic steroids mimic the effects of male hormones such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone.Likewise, in men, they result in reduction in the size of the testicles, decreased sperm production, enlargement of the prostate gland and acne. In adolescents, apart from severe facial and body acne, it can also result in stunted growth due to the permanent closure of growth centres of the long bones.
Together with the help of vigilant parents, teachers and even friends, drug and alcohol abuse among adolescents can be checked. Often, peer pressure, high expectations from academic performance and utter disregard for talents and hobbies lead disgruntled adolescents on a wayward path of drugs, alcohol or smoking.
Therefore, it is important not to compare adolescents with their peers and not to push them too much to perform academically or in sports. The moral support of both family and friends is important to adolescents in times of crisis and disappointment. It is the time when teenagers should be trained and counselled to handle the problems and stress that life brings. Both parents and teachers should be alert enough to note any change in behaviour and habits of the adolescents.
Lastly, professional psychologists, psychiatrists and deaddiction and rehabilitation programmes can also be sought to help drug abusers. The objective behind such counselling and medical assistance is to diagnose the underlying cause of the abuse and to take remedial steps.