Thursday, May 14, 2009

Anxiety and Drug Abuse

Bright Stars

Some students start using drugs when they experience anxiety. They need to understand that anxiety is a normal and natural physiological response to a threatening situation. The situation could be actual or perceived. In either case it triggers the Fight or Flight response. The Fight or Flight Response is your body's automatic, inborn response that protects your survival. It prepares the body to "fight" or "flee" from any real or perceived threat to your survival. When the fight or flight response occurs, it stimulates an area of your brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus prepares your body for fighting or running. It does this by flooding your brain with chemicals such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. This process creates physical reactions.

If you lead a very stressful life, your sympathetic nervous system may be sending you “false alarms” much of the time. For example, your fight or flight response may be activated when your teacher gives you an assignment with a tight deadline and you have stage phobia. You are frightened of your presentation. In such situation the body interprets it as a “threat” and flight or fight response is activated. When the fight or flight response occurs you might experience a few of the following symptoms: rapid heartbeat, dizziness, muscle tension, numbness, sweating, shortness of breath, nausea or abdominal distress, trembling or shaking. Anxiety usually follows a vicious cycle that consists of five stages: Trigger, Fight or Flight, Internalizing, Assuming the Worst, and Intensification of Symptoms. The first stage of the vicious cycle involves a trigger. A trigger could be a lack of sleep because you were preparing for your assignment and you were conscious of your performance. As a result of the trigger, your body moves into the second stage. It activates the fight or flight reaction. This produces physical reactions such as faster breathing, sweating, and so on. At the third stage, you internalize your physical reactions. You make the reaction “mean something” about you. “What’s wrong with me? Why are my muscles so tense? I shouldn’t be feeling this tense.” That’s internalizing. It moves to the fourth stage. It assumes the worst. You may think, “I must be having a heart attack! What am I going to do?”
You go on to fifth stage there is an intensification of symptoms. You will find it harder to breathe, plus you start to experience additional symptoms.

Monday, May 11, 2009

When and how does drug abuse start and progress?

Bright Stars

Studies such as the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicate that some children are already abusing drugs at age 12 or 13, which likely means that some begin even earlier. Early abuse often includes such substances as tobacco, alcohol, inhalants, marijuana, and prescription drugs such as sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medicines. If drug abuse persists into later adolescence, abusers typically become more heavily involved with marijuana and then advance to other drugs, while continuing their abuse of tobacco and alcohol. Studies have also shown that abuse of drugs in late childhood and early adolescence is associated with greater drug involvement. It is important to note that most youth, however, do not progress to abusing other drugs.
Scientists have proposed various explanations of why some individuals become involved with drugs and then escalate to abuse. One explanation points to a biological cause, such as having a family history of drug or alcohol abuse. Another explanation is that abusing drugs can lead to affiliation with drug-abusing peers, which, in turn, exposes the individual to other drugs.Researchers have found that youth who rapidly increase their substance abuse have high levels of risk factors with low levels of protective factors.