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Addiction and Its Aftermath

Many people I've met in my walk of life avoid confronting habits and how bad habits, such as addiction, can lead to undesirable consequences in life. A lack of accountability in people is the number one reason why people do not become educated about why drugs and addiction can be so dangerous to human life experience. For example, many people do not know that nicotine binds to a family of receptors located all around the body, including in the brain, nerves, organs, and muscles. That’s why nicotine can affect many body functions. As the level of nicotine increases, so do signs of poisoning like shaking, nausea, and vomiting. At high doses, nicotine can cause seizures and irregular heartbeat. When nicotine reaches a very high level, the effect of the drug changes. A lethal dose of nicotine can paralyze muscles. A person may have a heart attack or stop breathing. This is extremely serious.

I took psychology studies primarily because I wanted to study behavior with a desire to understand my father who died at the age of 45 (when I was only 13) due to the abuse of alcohol which lead to overdose and ultimately liver cirrhosis. I have no shame in stating this because I am not accountable for my father's actions. My father was an adult and that alone makes him responsible for his choices in life. My memories of my dad are not all bad. Some of the memories I have are worthy to be treasured forever. For example, outside of his drinking habits, my father was an incredibly intelligent man, a great chess player, an avid reader, lover of the classics, who was a big fan of classical music, the Beatles, and opera. With an attempt to understand dad's behavioral patterns, I began to study not only psychology, biological basis of behavior, the brain, and other phenomena, all which brought me knowledge. Drugs, can relieve pain and even cause feelings of pleasure but in high dosage they can be extremely harmful. According to the University of Utah's Genetic Science Learning Center, at high doses, drugs can disrupt essential body functions, leading to overdose. In 2013, poisoning (largely due to drug overdose) overtook motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Overdose is extremely dangerous. One example presented by the University of Utah's Genetic Science Learning Center is opioids, a concept which most people don't know anything about. Opioids bind to receptors in the area of the brain that controls breathing, blocking the signals that tell the body to inhale and exhale. If the dose is too high, breathing stops altogether, quickly leading to death.

I encourage all people, especially young folks, to get educated about the potential health threats that drug overdose can lead to. Change is a very difficult thing but not impossible. If I could have another chance to speak to my father again and turn back the clock to 1994, I would have asked him a simple question: "Why did you not consider change?" But, if I had the chance to ask him today a question, I would ask him: "Why did you not get informed on the consequences of alcohol abuse, before you decided to allow alcohol to own your life?" Do realize, alcohol is one of the many drugs that people can abuse of but it doesn't impact just people with substance use disorder. Per a statement from University of Utah's Genetic Science Learning Center resources on addiction, "It’s not just people with substance use disorders who are at risk. Anyone can overdose—including first-time and occasional users." Learning what leads to addiction of any substance is key in avoiding problems associated with it.


University of Utah, Genetic Science Learning Center: Addiction


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