View Full Version : Drug addiction-is it an illness?
7th May 2008, 08:30
I must admit, I've always been fascinated with drug addicts. (Or the PC term- those with drug dependency problems.)
Probably 'cos I've got some affinity with lifes underdogs.
Society doesn't like 'em- 'cos they rob and break into cars and smell.
The police arn't that keen on 'em 'cos they carry nasty blood bourne diseases, (and they have to deal with their victims).
The judiciary don't like 'em 'cos they don't know what to do with 'em and non of their programmes work.
Health professionals can be a bit ambivelent, 'cos they are disruptive and manipulative and take up resources which could be better spent on Mr nice middle aged man, f8cked up by a life time of smoking, watching "Britains got talent" and supersizing his motorway snacks.
I was strangely fascinated to watch the demise of Amy Whinehouse, from talented beauty, to toxic waste, in last nights documentary (?C4).
You don't need a degree in medicine to spot when someones really ill.
Its pretty obvious her locus of control is slipping away, but I must admit, I guess she still does have some element of choice left in her life.
But would we treat her differently if she had cancer?
7th May 2008, 08:38
Seek out a bloke called Pete Doherty, he will give you a comprehensive rundown on the 'benefits' of drug dependency! :}
7th May 2008, 09:22
Seems to be the consensus from her 'friends' in that doc that Ms. Winebar was ok until she hooked up with Mr Fielder-Civil, obsessive personality notwithstanding.
What's interesting to me about drugs is how much of a political football they are in this country. I watched a doc the other week with some silly moo trotting off to Amsterdam to try getting stoned for a couple of weeks on the weed. Nothing particularly revealing about that until we found out about the Dutch tolerance policy. Marijuana it turns out is illegal in Holland, but it's tolerated within strictly controlled environments I.e. the coffee bars & a few other places. This, the cops reason, satisfies demand, keeps it confined to checkable venues (why would you hide under the railway bridge smoking joints when you could be having a beer & listening to Pink Floyd) and gives the state control over the trade.
Turns out that this policy has led to the cloggies having a lower rate of marijuana consumption per capita than us.
However, one cannot imagine middle England in general & the daily mail in particular having any truck with this kind of policy. Drugs are not for me & I tried em & it would break my heart if my kids got into them, but the policies we have really don't work at all.
7th May 2008, 09:58
In Scotland, young women, say, caught shoplifting to feed a drug addiction, are put in an infamous women's prison (Cornton Vale) whilst awaiting trial or whatever.
In panic and despair, several have comitted suicide over the last few years. They are, of course someone's cherished daughter and sometimes mothers of young children.
Some on this aviation forum, I have guessed by now, will say "good riddance".
IMO they should receive help to defeat their problems.
In the long run, this will save the NHS and the country at large considerable money, too, I get the impression from some experts.
Putting them in prison is cruelty of mediaeval style and does nothing for the jailed or the jailers (us).
7th May 2008, 10:03
Drug addiction-is it an illness?
That's a really interesting question. One medical dictionary defines illness as ...
"A malady of either body or mind the symptoms of which may be physically unobservable. Within general medical practice, "disease" is nearly synonymous with "illness"; however, illness has a more general connotation, encompassing the subjective aspects of the patient as a whole rather than just physical or diagnostic symptoms; thus an alternative medical practitioner may prefer to treat illness rather than only the disease."
Looking at those parameters, it could be more accurate to say that the illness is the result of drug addiction. The first couple of hits/puffs/pops/drops of the chosen substance are unlikely to produce either full-blown addiction or illness (there are a few notorious exceptions to that) so possibly it is a progression from interest to experiment to need to full scale addiction. Illness will make its appearance sooner or later along that track.
7th May 2008, 10:12
It's not a disease. People escape into drug dependancy for all kinds of reasons. For many it's an escape from the tedium of their lives. For others it may start like fun and end in the gutter. The likes of Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse use it probably because it's available and because despite their talent are essentially insecure.
The difference with a disease is that a disease usually needs drugs to get rid of it. With drug dependancy, eliminate the drugs and you eliminate the problem. But not of course the reason for starting drugs in the first place. I read recently that many addicts sent to prison often recover well from their addiction and come out clean. But they go straight back to the areas they come from and all the old reasons they started in the first place. Drugs are like an old friend. They revert. Pete Doherty, will go back to prison for that reason.
The solution? I don't know. Who does?
Even if we exclude soft/ hard drugs or recreational pharmaceuticals - we all take drugs to some extent in the form of tea / coffee, alcohol or cigarettes -only the degree separates us from becoming addicted to whatever form of these drugs.
7th May 2008, 12:31
27mm raises a good point about tea, coffee and cigarettes also being addictive. We all know about cigarettes, I remember being told that giving up smoking can be as hard, or even harder, than giving up heroin.
I never thought about tea and coffee being addictive until about twenty odd years ago. One of my sales rep's was a staunch Christian and gave up something for Lent each year. One year he gave up tea and coffee. All was well for the first couple of days. Then the "cold turkey" cut in and he started to feel really bad. One of his friends was a Mormon who said that when someone converted to Mormonism they had to be put onto a coffee/tea substitute for some months to get over the addiction.
7th May 2008, 13:46
It is generally held in the treatment community that substance abuse itself is a symptom of an underlying malady. Whether it is or is not, it makes way for effective solutions. Since generally the underlaying pathology is emotional, and psychological, the population at large may sense this, and make quick and harsh judgments based on ignorance that are not helpful if recovery is the goal.
Cancer is a disease folks "can't help" getting, there is no volition involved. If I say to you "Addiction is similar to Cancer" in that one can not avoid the presence of the disease, people would argue (incorrectly, in my view) that they are not similar at all. Just Say No! comes to mind.
So the professional community approach is that of "disease" concept. The public approach is "Don't Do Drugs". Well. "don't be depressed, Bi-Polar,PTSD, Schizophrenic then either". Drug abuse is an indicator of problems beneath it's presentation, a "symptom". Knowing that, it is a treatable disease. Also consider that much of addiction has to do with troubled people "self-medicating" with substances outside the medical model of "treatment", this deserves our kindness and help.
Stepping down off box, Airfoil
ERR, it's an addiction as answered in your own question. It can cause disease though!
I firmly believe that the susceptibility to addiction is in your genes. Some of us are unfortunate to be pre-disposed to become addicted to stuff much more readily and more deeply than your average person. I'm convinced that someone will isolate the offending gene that makes us more susceptible.
If this is the case, then you could say addiction a disease waiting to happen (ie to be triggered). Like some Cancers, or Iritable Bowel Syndrome, or Hayfever etc etc.
In my case, knowing that if I ever had so much as a puff of a cigarette, I'd be back to two packs a day within the week helps to keep me safely off them. Or if I went into a casino, I wouldn't leave until I was chucked out for not having a shirt. Or if I tried to have just half a pint, I'd go on to complete the full gallon as per the old days!!
Just another point of view
8th May 2008, 00:18
It seems to me that you don't know very much about Drug Dependency or who it affects.
Im going to speak my mind cause that's what JB is for. For the record my brother was a herion addict for 10 years and i have known many many more, but i have been to hell and back with him and all for the better.
"Affinity with life's underdogs" what exactly does this mean?. Not all addicts are so called underdogs, some are lawyers, QC's, you would probably be surprised as to who they really are.
"They rob and break into cars and smell". Well, i hope youre taking the pi$$ here, cause whilst it does happen its a small minority. You would be amazed at how resourceful and legal addicts can be. Never once have i had to bail out a drug dependant friend. Although i have had to bail out mates who got drunk and started fights - albeit only twice.
"Cause they carry nasty blood bourne diseases" - Again whilst it does happen, its not prevalent, a lot of addicts are extremely clean about their habit cause they want to keep taking drugs. You never see the clean addicts or the ones whose lives havent yet been destroyed in documentaries or the like.
"Health professionals can be a bit ambivalent" - Maybe, but ive seen some bloody brilliant nurses and doctors who devote so much time, effort and emotion into helping addicts for no reward and they just keep on doing it. Saints in my eyes.
I guess it can seem somewhat glamorous at times and definately portrayed that way some times, but if youre so "fascinated" about it, learn about it. Read about it, hell, get out there and help some of the underdogs you feel affinity for. I think you might find its not so fascinating.
Is it a disease? in my eyes, yes. Because whatever leads people to drugs and gets them hooked is a weakness, more a disease of the mind than anything else. The impending need to keep going, to recapture that first high, to escape. IMO the body will do anything the mind tells it, and all they need is mental strength. Sounds easier than it is i imagine.
8th May 2008, 01:26
Cancer is a disease folks "can't help" gettingI understand your point and largely agree with it, but there are some self induced cancers also.
8th May 2008, 04:10
A cousin about the same age as me had the good luck to become quite successful, popular, and prosperous early in his 20's -- as a budding Rock-style musician. He was quickly surrounded by a circle of 'friends' and hangers-on who provided social amusement and support. Some ones also provided him discrete samples and even very large containers of the considerable variety of drugs popular at the end of the 60's. The fellows in that crowd were mostly angling for connections and opportunities that might spin out from his run of luck, the girls enjoyed the entertainment, frequent parties, and general affluence of the scene, and the ones who handed out intoxicating substances were either addicts themselves or aspiring dealers. While he did not totally abstain from the substances offered, my cuz managed to avoid becoming wrapped up in addiction (excepting whisky and cigarettes) despite the frequent opportunities.
A few years after that heady period, I asked him how he avoided getting hooked, when so many others we knew in similar situations had gone that way. "Simple enough," he said. "I tried things sometimes when a person I trusted spoke well about them, but deliberately never paid cash money or even quid pro quo for any of the stuff." The effect of this strategy was to remove the incentive for the 'pusher' types, he added, so they didn't hang around very long. Saved from dark things by remaining true to form; a stingy Scot, he really was!
My own observation about addiction: 'Market forces' in the drug business work to select 'products' which are 'competitive' in their market by virtue of available supply and the predictable disposition of many individuals to become partially or completely addicted to them." Some may be more sensitive, but we're all at risk. People who fall into the trap are victims and fools, in the main - and they are likely trapped for good without patient and generous outside help.
8th May 2008, 04:35
Keep away from Willies bus (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfgZH8kFAKc) http://www.augk18.dsl.pipex.com/Smileys/smokinggun.gif
8th May 2008, 05:10
As S'Land said, going cold turkey for tobacco is bloody hard. I did this many moons ago on rotation from the 'Big Sandpit'. It was absolute hell for all 28 days, couldn't sleep, concentrate, dizzy spells, not appetite, didn't want to socialise or leave the abode. Started again when back in Saudi. Tried many times since with the same effects, my GP said it's as hard, if not harder than
coming off heroin/crack/c.meth etc. I have to believe her, as never used any class A/B/C (UK classification) compounds apart from the odd spliff way back & fags & booze.
8th May 2008, 06:58
Singapores solution to the problem is to lock the addicts up in a drug rehabilitation centre. There they are treated and do not contaminate the rest of society with their vile habit. Third time caught taking heroin ? Get caned. That and a MANDATORY death penalty for drug trafficking (+15g of heroin, +30g cocaine, +5kg cannibas) ensures very little illegal drug taking goes on.
British solution, let the addicts roam free breaking into cars and mugging old ladies once they have spent their dole money on drugs. Free solicitor at taxpayer expense for those caught committing crime. Short sentance in a cushy prison if found guilty.
Jeffrey Archer in one of his Prison Diaries stated that if there was no drug problem in the UK 1/3 of the prisons could be closed and there would be no waiting list on the National Health Service.
8th May 2008, 08:22
Hey Richo, my post wasn't meant to be offensive, rather to stimulate debate, but having re-read it, I can see that my flippant comments may cause be upsetting to those personally involved- if you have taken offence, then I apologise.
My comments are largely based on observation, not empirical evidence, and unfortunately the attitudes I have highlighted are, I'm afraid, probably accurate. I take your point that the stereotypes I've portrayed my be innacurate.
I hope your brothers doing well. I have seen many addicts "come out of the other side" fit and well. They just seem to "grow out of it." and go on to lead a "normal" life.
I do deal with people misusing substances, I feel my main role is to keep people safe. I can't really do much more than that.
The Amy Winehouse thing disturbed me slightly, as the physical and pyschological changes were starkly presented. In contrast, as I switched channel, there was the great David Bowie, hinting about his previous substance troubles, but now looking, sounding and acting fantastic.
8th May 2008, 09:28
As a Paramedic who deals with the drug addicted on a frequent basis I can honestly say that I have not met one yet who has wanted to be like they are.
8th May 2008, 13:04
Have looked after quite a number of addicts in latter days, however sympathy played no part within that global delivery. Understanding of the why,s and how yes....sympathy no. I was not forced to start smoking cigarettes....but I did against all advice. I know of only one case where drugs were forced upon a person, the rest did not say "no". I stopped taking the weed after realising the cost in money and health and really stinking like an ashtray on legs!As for drug addicts, It is an illness of sorts...a social cancer! It supports crime, it funds such activity and it robs the users/s of a true perception of reality and environs...something at times they say they purposely want.It diminishes the moral censor thereby allowing unrestrained antisocial behavioural traits free rein.
As Metroman has pointed out, you dont get such a big problem in Malaysia after Lee Kwan Yew began the big clean up. They dont pussyfoot about and waste valuable resources on such problems...get caught and you are straight in for the cold turkey treatment....keep on with the stuff and you will feel the rattan cane across your backside...deal and quite simply, they will shoot you.
9th May 2008, 00:02
No need for an apology Ginge, just speaking my mind. I take your points on board, everybody has their own view and my experiences have obvoiusly been different from your own.
My brother is fine, thanks. But he will always be an addict.
I know he still wants it, but now he has the willpower to abstain and i hope he always will.
D SQDRN 97th IOTC
9th May 2008, 06:41
a good post.