December 3, 2017
Psychological Effects of Drug Abuse
Millions of people in the United States have
abused drugs. Drugs affect every part of the body. They can affect the
physical, mental, and emotional states of the body. Having a drug abuse problem
can be linked to biology, sensation/perception, consciousness, learning,
cognition, development and social psychology. Understanding and identifying
signs of drug abuse can give people the ability to recognize others that have a
drug abuse problem.
Drug abuse happens often, but there is one
thing that leads a person down that road. Biologically speaking, certain people
can be more susceptible to addiction, which can lead down to the path of drug
abuse. One example of this is when a child was born from a mother that used
drugs during her pregnancy. This will cause the child to be born with an
addiction to the drugs. This is a biological phenomenon because the child has
inherited the drug addiction from the mother because of her abuse of drugs.
This means that, in the future, the child is more prone to having a drug
problem because the mother caused the baby’s reliance on the substance before
he or she was born. This goes to show that drug abuse could be biological
because of the heritability from mother to child. Even though drug abuse can be
biological, it can also affect a person’s sensation and perception.
Sensation and perception alteration can
happen to people who abuse drugs. Sensation is the process by which our sensory
receptors and nervous systems receive and represent stimulus energies from our
environment. This means that when people are on drugs, their sensations are
altered, and they can have an out-of-body sensation when on drugs. Perception
can also be altered when someone is on drugs. Perception is the process of
organizing and interpreting sensory information, enabling us to recognize
meaningful objects and events. This means when a person is on drugs, their
perception can be affected due to hallucinations. So when people are on drugs,
they can have their sensation and perception changed because of the substances.
While drugs can
affect perception and sensation, they can also affect the consciousness.
Consciousness is our awareness of ourselves and our environment. Drugs are one
of the ways that can change the consciousness. One way drugs affect the
consciousness is through influencing the neurotransmitters that operate at the
synapses of the central nervous system. Changing the consciousness can be
healthy or unhealthy. An example of a healthy way to change the consciousness
is by hypnosis. Hypnosis is a social interaction in which one person (the
hypnotist) suggests to another (the subject) that certain perceptions,
feelings, thoughts, or behaviors will spontaneously occur. An example of a
non-healthy way of altering the consciousness is through psychoactive drugs.
Psychoactive drugs are chemical substances that alter perception and moods.
Some psychoactive drugs are LSD, marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, etc. The
consciousness can be affected through drugs which are an unhealthy way to alter
the consciousness. Furthermore, consciousness can be changed but learning can
also be altered with drug abuse.
Learning can be
affected by drug abuse. Learning is the process of acquiring through experience
new information or behaviors. One way learning is affected is with the
continuation of drug use. An example of this would be a parent using drugs in
front of a child continuously. When a parent uses drugs in front of a child,
the child may learn by observing the behavior of the parent. This may lead to the
child mirroring the actions of the parent. This type of learning is called
social or observational learning which was discovered by Albert Bandura through
his bobo doll experiment. Learning can also be affected by drugs because of the
biological constrains in conditioning. Some biological influences can be
through genetic predisposition, unconditioned responses, and adaptive
responses. These types of biological influences can lead a person to have
deposition in their learning when drugs were presented before they were
born. For example, when a mother uses
drugs during her pregnancy which leads to a biological alteration in the child
before she or he was born. This goes to show that learning can be effective by
drug abuse because of social learning though an adult and/or biological
constraints on conditioning. So, observational learning is linked to
conditioning because operant conditioning is a type of learning in which
behavior is strengthened if followed by a reinforcer or diminished if followed
by a punisher. Having learning affected by drug abuse also links to cognition.
Cognition can be altered and affected by drug abuse.
Cognition is all of the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing,
remembering, and communicating. People that abuse drugs alter their cognitions.
Having their cognition altered can lead to memory problems for the user. Memory
is learning that persists over time and information that has been acquired,
stored, and can be retrieved. So, a drug abuser interferes with their memory
when taking drugs, because they can cause a memory loss because of the lack of
brain communication. When drugs affect the cognition, it hinders other areas
too. This relates back to learning because children learn via social learning.
That means that children observe and learn though the situation around them,
which generates more of their thinking that is linked to memories. This would
lead to them having an operant conditioning because the behavior that is showed
to the child is modified by a reward or a punishment, which eventually leads to
automatic thoughts. If the drug abuser takes the drug because he or she feels a
certain high from the drug, then the child that observes the situation will do
the same. If the reaction is the child feeling a happiness from it, then the
child will continue to use drugs because it is a reward for them. This could
also lead to situations involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors
which refer to cognitive dissonance. Having the drugs leads down the path of affecting
the memory. Even though drugs affect memory they also affect development.
Development is affected with drug abuse. Drug abuse affects
a person across their lifespan. Developmental issues can begin at a very young
age. One example is a child developing in a household that has drug abusers,
which can affect their development. According to Erick Erikson, children
develop through different stages of life. The Erikson Scale starts from basic
trust, autonomy, initiative, competence, identity, intimacy, generativity, and
integrity. When a child develops in a household that has drug users, the child
may not feel that they have a basic trust with the drug abusers because they
did not take care of the of the child when they most needed it. A child that is
around the age of zero to one and half years old are at the stage of trust or
mistrust. When a child is left to cry for a long time, this can cause a
mistrust for the caretaker because the child is not taken care of. This leads
to the child having a lack of trust in people when they are growing up. Even
though their drug abuse affects development it also affects social psychology.
Social psychology happens every day in a person’s life but
people’s views on different issues do change. When people observe or hear about
a person taking drugs, their view of
that person starts to change. One example is a group of high school students
that take drugs and sell drugs behind the school. People’s points of views of
them might be that they are all going to be drop-outs. Having a point of view
like that would be called stereotyping. Stereotyping is a generalization of a
group of people. This type of thought that is present in other people’s point
of view is the social perception which is based on appearance, behavior, and information
from others. Social perception happens because people make judgements about
what they observe and what they hear. Taking drugs and having a drug abuse
problem leads people to think and have a social perception about drugs.
Drugs abuse affects many different parts of
a life, from biological to social perception. Understanding the basis of how
people might develop a drug abuse problem can stem from the mother’s addiction,
which is biological and was given to the child before it was born. Having a
drug abuse problem affects sensation and perception because of out-of-body
sensations and hallucinations. Drug abuse is shown in consciousness because of
the change in consciousness during use. Learning is affected like consciousness
when taking drugs. Cognition takes a toll when a person takes drugs, along with
development if the person lives with a drug abuser. People can also have social
perceptions of people that take drugs or are drug abusers. So, when a person
has a drug abuse problem, it not only affects them personally, but also the
people around them.