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Today, more than 7 million people suffer from an illicit drug disorder, and one in four deaths results from illicit drug use. In fact, more deaths, illnesses and disabilities are associated with drug abuse than any other preventable health condition. People suffering from drug and alcohol addiction also have a higher risk of unintentional injuries, accidents and domestic violence incidents.
Alcohol dependency is not a failure of will or lack of strength of character, as was believed for many years. However, progress in science over the last few decades has shown us that alcoholism is rooted in both biology and behaviour, making it a ‘bio-behavioural disorder’. Biology and behaviour are two sides of the same coin, and alcohol dependency cannot be treated by just focusing on one side alone.
It is unclear whether laws against illegal drug use do anything to stem usage and dependency. In jurisdictions where addictive drugs are illegal, they are generally supplied by drug dealers, who are often involved with organized crime. Even though the cost of producing most illegal addictive substances is very low, their illegality combined with the addict's need permits the seller to command a premium price, often hundreds of times the production cost. As a result, addicts sometimes turn to crime to support their habit.
As with treatment for most substance abuse problems, there are two angles to treating an alcohol problem. The first step is to break the physical dependence on alcohol. As mentioned above, cutting off alcohol after developing an addiction to it can cause withdrawal symptoms that could be severe enough to drive a patient back to drinking. For that reason, the detoxification process of treatment often involves the careful administration of drugs like anti-anxiety drugs to help wean the patient off their dependence on alcohol and through the process of acclimatizing to life without alcohol.
Alcohol is known for lowering inhibitions, but when alcohol is combined with risky activities, such as driving/operating machinery or taking drugs (either prescription or recreational), this may be an indication that alcohol is being taken in at abusive levels. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism warns that mixing alcohol with medication can cause internal bleeding and heart problems, as well as cause liver damage and make the medications toxic to the body.
Stimulants, such as tobacco, cocaine or prescription amphetamines, stimulate the brain and nervous system, causing increased alertness. Depressants, such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines, slow activity in the brain and nervous system, causing relaxation. Hallucinogens, such as LSD and PCP, drastically disrupt the way the brain and nervous system communicate, causing hallucinations. Rehab: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)