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Raja T., Chaudhari A. B., Pereira J. H.


The drug epidemic is several decades old in India. It has moved from culturally accepted recreational phenomena towards the newer drug use of Heroin,  ocaine and other designer drugs. Routes of administration have shifted from oral intake and inhalation to chasing and injecting drug use. While this, in a way, represents man’s hedonistic nature, it is also a symptom of the inherent dysfunction in  society and its social groups and structure. Societal dysfunctions and the modern rat race has led to the breakup of the family unit, bringing along a lack of parenting and value systems. The need to belong, however inadequately, comes across as a sign of changing times and values. Success, failure, low self esteem, low job opportunities, problems of identity etc., are nodes in a viscous cycle of self destruction. Not the least impediment in this cycle is the example set by our peers and role models of over-indulgence in mood altering substances which is justified by them as stress reducing agents. With advancing addictive behaviour, a balanced lifestyle takes a back seat. For, as many that fall victim to substance abuse, many more, through individual example and dysfunctional families, perpetuate addictive behaviours, addictive logic and self destructive coping mechanisms. Obsessive and compulsive addictions include work, sex, food, gambling and many more. As the newer trend of “Polydrug abuse” is experienced and observed across the globe, it becomes essential to focus treatment strategies onto the whole person instead of focusing upon the visible symptoms of addiction. Addiction is all pervasive; it is a disease as listed in the DSM 4 of the American Psychiatric Association. It is a disease of relationships - lack of human ones and a compensatory attachment to other things. It is also a disease of attitudes, reinforcing the fact that being substance free without commensurate change of lifestyle or spiritual awakening invariably tends to result in relapse. Addiction is an abnormal relationship with an object or an event. The individual departs from the normal and socially accepted functions of the object or event and sets up with it a pathological relationship. For the addict - the food, sex act or the drug takes up a new function. Under relatively normal circumstances, human beings get their emotional and intimacy needs met by connecting with other human beings, their own selves, their community and with a spiritual power greater than themselves. It is through a balanced combination of these relationships that people get healthy emotional nurturance. This way of acting intimately involves a pattern of reaching out to life. In addictive patterns of behaviour this reaching out motion is almost totally inward, bordering on the point of withdrawal. As Craig Nakkan (Ref.14) points out; addiction exists within the person and when an individual connects with his addiction he withdraws from external relationships. This is what underlies the social inadequacy aspect of addiction. The longer that an addictive illness progresses, the less a person feels the ability to have meaningful relationships with others. An addictive lifestyle is marked by a progressive loss of control and an emotional evading of the realities of living. Addiction is an emotional illusion - an illusion of meeting emotional needs through addictive behaviours. It is a commitment to a negative and self destructive way of living; basically a faulty mechanism of coping - a repetitive seeking of the illusion of relief through avoidance of reality and its consequences. In dealing with this extremely complex problem of addiction, practical strategies concentrate on demand reduction activities instead of on supply reduction approaches. In polydrug and substitute addictions any numbers of escape routes are available to allow the “unchanged” client to continue his indulgence of self gratification and opt not to be “in recovery”. “Whole Person Recovery” begins with an abstinence from drugs and other chemicals and progresses towards maintaining a drug free life style in terms of actions - working towards the top priority of remaining drug free. Along with this, it is also important to have acceptance and a sense of reverence for higher values and a spiritual way of life. Adapting to work and responsibility by balancing self reliance and interdependence with others and by following a self disciplined routine is vital to the recovery process. If addiction is viewed in terms of social inadequacy “Whole Person Recovery” requires reestablishing comfortable and honest relationships with others.

KEY WORDS: Addiction, Polydrug abuse, low self esteem, family dysfunction, emotional deprivation, whole person recovery

Cite this Article
Raja T, Chaudhari AB, Pereira JH. A study of Indian female substance abusers in treatment: demographic and psychometric variables. Research and Reviews: Journal of Health Professions. 2017; 7(2): 1–9p.

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