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The will to change

Addiction is usually seen as a form of akrasia but why do reasonable people do unreasonable things? In the war against drugs, Rashikkha Ra Iyer writes about the impulsivity of falling for a weakness
Last Updated : 22 October 2022, 19:30 IST

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Akrasia, as the Greeks call it, is acting against one’s judgement. In a fast-paced world, stress seems to be prevalent among all age groups. People go into using substances believing it to be an escape, further reinforced by peer influence. Considering the concept of Akrasia, their action may not necessarily reflect their preference. This shall probably serve useful when looking at a loved one’s drug use through the lens of Socrates. At that time, they did what they believed is best for themselves.

An adolescent may come back home from a party and exhibit signs. As a parent, it can be quite alarming to see a child who might likely be under the influence of a drug. If a livid parent screams or interrogates the child scathingly, a violent or aggressive rebuttal may ensue. This is not essentially the child reacting; however, it is the drug in their system. Considering the heightened sensory state, they may easily get frightened. Thus, if you think your child may be intoxicated, have them sit down in a calm manner as a first step. Engaging in a conversation with a low voice would be beneficial.

Although this can be a big ask of parents given the situation, building a trusting relationship here is vital. It can be quite hard to discern between day-to-day moodiness and psychological symptoms associated with drug use. This becomes onerous if the concerned individual has a diagnosis of a pre-existing mental health condition. Nonetheless, when observed with an eye to finding out, there are certain signs of drug use that stand out.

Mood swings become noticeably polarised accompanied by physical expressions. In many cases, cannabis-based substances like hashish or marijuana are the first experimental drugs. This precedes the use of other drugs or is used along with alcohol.

A sign of recent use represents a sense of euphoria and exacerbated physical movements. Their sensory perceptions shall be heightened and noticeable. Anxiety is a common sign of recent use and they also exhibit skewed thinking. This is often times along the lines of paranoia. If it is a recent use of synthetic cannabinoids like spice or K2 a lot of confusion may occur. They may also see things that aren’t there with heightened agitation and hallucination. On the contrary, drowsiness, slurred speech and difficulty concentrating may accompany recent use of other groups of drugs. This includes examples such as hypnotics like prescribed sleeping medicines, benzodiazepines like sedatives or any kinds of barbiturates. There are many more groups of drugs and drug-specific psychological symptoms. However, certain factors such as mood swings commonly apply to all. So are symptoms such as heightened pessimism, weepiness, memory problems, lowered self-worth and esteem, defensiveness and increased rage or temper.

When an adolescent or any loved one exhibits these signs, it is important to find out what they have taken. This is salient if it is likely to be their first-time use. A recent emerging trend involves mixing alcohol with energy drinks. A heavy drug user of many years would probably be able to handle mixing stimulants and depressants better. However, if it is a first-time or episodic user, it can serve to be a deadly combination, often fatal. The same is the case when alcohol and any narcotic drugs
are mixed together. This can result in coma, respiratory depression, cardiac depression, seizures, overdose and death.

Any drug, recreational or otherwise, not prescribed professionally can’t be ascertained as to what it is. Thus, one can’t be sure of its contents and associated risks. For instance, a teenage boy recently died of a possible drug overdose at a Leeds festival.

Thus, if a loved one feels ill after using a substance and is not sure about what they had, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

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Published 22 October 2022, 19:17 IST

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