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Trans-Cultural Health Issues - Ethnicity and Substance Abuse

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World Health Organization's definition of drug addiction is: “ Any form of substance use which goes beyond traditional and customary dietary uses or deviates from a medical regimen and results in an uncontrolled compulsive intake of the substance is an addiction. ” (p. 6) To explain it further, the drug is any substance taken to modify perception, mood, cognition, behaviour or motor functions. The need for repeated doses of a drug to feel good or to avoid feeling bad is a sign of dependence /addiction. Repeated usage of a drug, results in reduced effects, or tolerance, and greater doses are needed to have the same psychoactive effects.

The drug scene is grave. The present efforts being made by various Government and non-Governmental agencies, UNO agencies, medical practitioners and philanthropists in the area of substance demand reduction, are like blocking a furiously advancing avalanche with the fence of straw. Or trying to reach the moon by sitting on a kite! Or trying to control the rising flood waters of the river by filling pitchers! Statistical studies and research like the ones conducted by the authors in the cited book are no doubt needed, but it is no use digging the well when the house is on fire.

The present drug-scenario is like the war situation. When there is a war, the goal is to win the war, no matter how one wins. The process of addiction to de-addiction is like driving a vehicle in the reverse gear. It is slow-- to be done with extra care and total dedication! The first thing one must understand about addiction is that alcohol and drugs are basically 'painkillers' of one kind or the other.

Drugs chemically 'kill' physical and emotional pain. For a person to be attracted by the drugs, there must be some underlying happiness, sense of helplessness without its consumption, insurmountable problems or even physical pain. Peer-pressure and sheer boredom with life can also be factors for the initial try of drugs but that alone cannot cause addiction. When the drug addicts are deep into it, they are notorious and become manipulative and deviant, in order to get what they want.

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