06 Mar Addiction
I met Moses from Rajasthan in a rehabilitation centre in Bangalore. After a morning devotion Moses came to me and shared his testimony of his addiction to drugs which made him a murderer, robber and finally sentenced in prison. Then he came to know about this rehabilitation centre where they renew the mind of the Addicts through God’s Word. Moses when he decided to leave the addiction of drugs he was locked in a room. There he experienced anger, running nose, shivering, etc. By leaving him as such for a few days only with food he became normal. Slowly he was counselled, motivated and his mind was renewed with God’s Word. Today he is running a rehabilitation centre in Rajasthan.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is a condition that results when a person takes in a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or health. Users may not be aware that their behaviour is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.
About 10.7 million Indians more than the population of Sweden are drug users: according to a National Survey Report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Indian Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Mizoram, Punjab and Manipur are among the states where people are most vulnerable to drugs. One reason could be their proximity to porous international borders and international drug-trafficking zones, such as the “Golden Triangle” (Myanmar, Thailand and Laos) and “Golden Crescent” (Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan).
Types of drugs and what they do to the body:
Some drugs make you feel invincible, some make you forget your worries and troubles and others ‘pretend’ to enhance your creativity. The thing they have in common is that their high is short-lived. Another thing they have in common is that they all have harmful long-term effects. You can successfully trick your brain into feeling ecstatic and blissful for a short while, but if you are exposed to an overdose, it could lead to serious complications and even death, in many cases.
Dr Balbir Singh Kohli, Healthenablr India Said, “Most drugs that are abused for recreational or illegal purposes are actually used in surgical procedures such as anaesthesia or used as painkillers. Therefore, abuse of such substances is injurious to life and hazardous to health.”
Breaking down the four most common types of drugs further, we tell you what they do to the body.
Heroin: This drug is derived from opium from the poppy plant before it is refined to morphine, then further chemically modified to become heroin.
Body’s reaction: When heroin is ingested into the system (orally, injected or via smoking), it converts into morphine that binds the Opioid receptors of the brain. The affected nerve cells then release dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for mediating feelings of pleasure.
Effects: This sensation of pleasure is what causes a user to get addicted. Frequent usage of this drug causes collapsed veins and infections of the blood vessels and heart valves. Other side-effects of long-term heroin abuse include tuberculosis and arthritis.
Cocaine is a form of cocaine used as a topical anesthetic. It is commonly ingested by snorting through the nose or rubbing it on the gums.
Body’s reaction: It steadily increases the dopamine levels in the brain without allowing it to reset. This continued release disrupts the normal brain and sensory communication causing an extreme state of pleasure.
Effects: Short-term side effects include extreme mental alertness, nausea and paranoia, irritability, restlessness, and hypersensitivity to any kind of light, sound or touch, increased heart rate, rising blood pressure, muscle twitching and jitters. Long-term effects include deterioration of the respiratory tract, permanent damage to the organs, cardiac arrests, strokes, etc. Increased chances of contracting infectious diseases and also HIV during needle exchange are also real problems.
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is derived from the ergot fungus that grows on grains like rye. It creates a bizarre state of hallucinations causing the user to lose touch with reality.
Body’s reaction: Once ingested, LSD is responsible for constraining consciousness and it stimulates the serotonin receptors in the brain, causing an increase in brain activity, leading to an overactive imagination.
Effects: This can lead to severely impaired judgment and the person loses the ability to comprehend physical sensations and environment correctly. These conditions can cause terrors and panic attacks and send the user into a state of shock.
Crystal Meth: This drug is highly addictive and is a powerful central nervous stimulant. Crystal meth is the illegally manufactured, crystalline form of methamphetamine.
Body’s reaction: The drug travels through the blood stream to the brain and stimulates the release of dopamine, that is three times more than that produced by cocaine and six times more than what the body can produce naturally.
Effects: The high can cause hyperactivity, making the user push one’s body beyond its limit and resulting is a severe crash once the effects of the drug have worn off. Other short-term side effects include extreme weight loss, disturbed sleep patterns, nausea, increased aggressiveness and irritability.
Long-term effects include damaged blood vessels in the brain, leading to strokes, cardiovascular collapse or death, and liver, kidney and lung damage. Addicts also suffer from brain damage, memory loss and those who recover usually suffer from memory gaps and extreme mood swings.
Identifying Signs of Addiction:
Addicts cannot identify their outward signs of addiction. The drug and alcohol use and abuse manifest themselves in different ways, they share a number of common signs and symptoms.
• Addicts isolate themselves and emotionally drawn to take the substance they are addicted
• Addicts reveal a rapid change in mood, depression, irritability, fatigue, sweating, and anxiety.
• Addicts tend to spend all their earnings in buying the substance so will not have even money for basic needs.
Isolation, change of mood and Spending are the three simple signs of addiction. Isolation, withdrawal, hiding drug and alcohol use, and stealing are all dishonest behaviors, and lying becomes a daily habit for individuals struggling with addiction. Rarely are people truthful about their addiction. Family members often know that something is going on, but even when they confront or approach an addict about the problem, the person will deny having a problem – most often because he or she is in denial about even having a problem with drug or alcohol use and abuse.
This is not a complete list of signs of addiction, but rather a series of common habits and behavioral changes present in both drug and alcohol users. The degrees of addiction may vary, but the common signs of isolation, lying, and behavioral / mood changes are present in almost every person with a substance abuse problem. If you think that you or your loved one may be struggling in addiction, consider having a discussion about how outpatient or residential addiction treatment can help him/her achieve sobriety and reclaim life.
Helping to come out of Addiction
When we come to know that a person is addicted we try to avoid the person and gives him/her the sense of rejection and loneliness. Instead hold them and motivate and give them the hope. That would build trust in you for future interactions, counsel and guidance.
Teaching to Come out of Addiction:
The Word of God has the power to “renew the mind of a person from the old stuffs” the Bible says in Romans 12:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will”
Ephesians 4:22,23: You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
Do not conform to the Pattern of this world:
We know the Words of Jesus in John 8:11b “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Lord Jesus never looks at the past He forgives our sins and gives one counsel not to do it again.But it may tempt, Christian life is the life led by the Spirit of God through His Word. Learn to say no to the temptations which may lead to sin again.
But be transformed by the renewing of your mind:
The two powerful words “Transformation” and “Renewing” will make a righteous person. “Be transformed” is the end and final product before that comes the “Renewal” which means removing the old thoughts, desires and filling our mind with Word of God. That makes a person get transformed.
God’s perfect will
In a transformed person’s life, God takes responsibility in guiding him/her according to His will, as we saw in the case of Moses in the introduction. God may use the transformed person to help many Addicts to be renewed and transformed.
Gospel has the power to “renew” and “transform” the person and gives new life with hope for the future. Do not allow the addiction to overrule. You can break free from Addiction.
The author is an Urban Mission Teacher, Founder and Director of Preserving Life Urban Movement, Bangalore. Married to Catherine Deborah, a software engineer. Presently they are engaged in building youth and Strong families through Teaching, Counselling, Training and Mobilising for God’s Mission.