Victims of the Silent Killer! | Sunday Observer

Victims of the Silent Killer!

10 January, 2021

“An addiction is an extreme obsession over something that arises within a person which makes him insist on constant consumption. Drug and alcohol addiction have topped the rankings as the most common addictions around the world. The victims are growing in number despite the range of age. The extreme levels of inclination could jeopardize health while resulting in life-threatening disease conditions”.

Dr. Lahiru Prabodha, the medical officer of the District Base Hospital, Dikoya, shared his medical knowledge on drug and alcohol addiction with the Youth Observer. As a dedicated medical officer in the psychology and counseling field, he educates the community on critical issues which prevail in society. One of his major concerns is Drug and Alcohol Addiction, which is a silent-killer living among us.

“In our society, many people suffer from this kind of addiction. It is essential to understand the term 'addiction' in-depth. When the consumption of alcohol or drug exceeds its limit and disturbs day to day life, it is the point where one has become an 'Addict’. In this situation, a person needs to go for immediate medical assistance before the addiction starts to take control of his life”.

Addictions to alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis, heroin, ice, illicit drugs (tablets) are common in Asian communities. Gender-wise, with reference to the Sri Lankan context, the number of male addicts is higher than the female addicts. As a result, domestic violence, financial issues, untimely death, cancer, mental disorders, and terminal diseases are noticeable in society, just like the common cold. Therefore, raising community awareness to eradicate addiction from society is crucial nowadays”, he said.

How does the human brain react towards drug addiction?

Referring to the medical background of drugs and their effects, he explained how the brain reacts and the functions of an addict. 'The drug cannabis is used by medical professionals for Ayurvedic practices, in small doses. High doses of cannabis could cause immediate addiction as the brain reacts to the intensity of the drug.

The human brain possesses pleasure points, which detects the nature of a consumed substance. Depending on the intensity and amount of the dose, the brain creates pathways that stimulate frequent consumption. When the brain settles down by creating a track to a particular drug, the addict finds it very difficult to break the pattern. For example, 'Ice' is a powerful substance that causes immediate addiction once consumed. As a result, the brain creates a strong track of stimulation. The brain reacts in the same way to the drug ‘heroin', he said.

The Rehabilitation process

As a medical professional in the psychology and counseling field, Dr. Lahiru discussed the process of rehabilitation, particularly for alcohol and substance addicts. According to him, depending on the addict, the rehabilitation duration stretches till the patient fully recovers.

Above all, the patient must be strong enough to stand for himself in the rehabilitation process. If he is not ready, willing, or hesitates to withdraw from the addiction, the medical team also undergoes stressful situations and vain attempts.

In our country, there are rehabilitation centres in every district. Additionally, one can seek medical guidance from the psychiatrist at a nearby hospital in advance. During the rehabilitation period, the patient is restricted from consumption of any substance by the medical staff. This procedure helps to break stimulation patterns created inside the brain.

As a result, the person may undergo withdrawal symptoms in the initial stages. Depending on the addiction, the withdrawal symptoms may vary. Some patients may experience hallucinations, dilutions, sleeping disorders, anxiety, depression, stress, excessive sweating, shaking, respiratory and heart problems, loss of weight and immunity among others. However, rehabilitation is worth more than anything as it could save a life from psychological and physical breakdowns.

Why immediate action is essential

Dr. Lahiru revealed another dark side of substance addiction prevalent in society today . “Along with drug addiction, the cases of sexually transmitted diseases are increasing in number. When drug addicts gang up, most of them end up in this kind of situation. Especially, the heroin addicts share the same syringe to inject the drug into the body. Also, intoxicated addicts engage in sex without any conscious mentality. As a result, they become victims of sexually transmitted diseases. On the other hand, they are vulnerable to financial instability. Therefore, they intend to steal or cause violence to fulfill the financial shortage to continue their addiction'

Alcohol and drug addiction is a disaster caused to humans by humans. Everyone despite their age should learn and be confident enough to resist it, not only for their wellbeing but also for the future of the younger generation.