The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) released a report in February 2020 on the number of drug offences that occurred in Singapore. CNB noted that the number of drug abusers arrested last year fell by 15%. A total of 3,014 drug abusers were arrested in 2020, compared to 3,526 in 2019.
However, the proportion of new drug abusers arrested remained high at 38% of all abusers arrested-a total of 1,143 in 2020, compared to 1,460 in 2019. Of these, 62% were aged below 30.
Drug abuse is a common addiction. For a long time, addiction meant an uncontrollable habit of using alcohol or other drugs. More recently, the concept of addiction has expanded to include behaviors such as gambling as well as substances and even ordinary and necessary activities such as exercise and eating.
Addiction is a complex, chronic brain condition influenced by genes and the environment that is characterized by substance use or compulsive actions that continue despite harmful consequences. Rather than using the term “addiction,” psychologists classify it as a substance use disorder.
Some addictive activities are so normal that it’s hard to believe people can become addicted to them. Yet the cycle of addiction can still take over, making everyday life a constant struggle. People may seek out more and more opportunities to engage in the behavior. The desire to experience a “high” from the behaviour becomes so strong that the individual continues to engage in the activity despite negative consequences.
The signs and symptoms vary from one addiction type to another, but some common symptoms of addiction include:
- An inability to stop
- Changes in mood, appetite, and sleep
- Continuing despite negative consequences
- Engaging in risky behaviours
- Feeling preoccupied with the substance or behaviour
- Legal and financial problems
- Losing interest in other things you used to enjoy
- Putting the substance or behaviour ahead of other parts of life including family, work, and other responsibilities
- Using increasingly larger amounts of a substance
- Taking more of the substance than you intended
- Withdrawal symptoms
Substances and behaviors can create a physical and psychological high. Over time, people develop a tolerance, meaning it takes more of something to achieve those same initial effects. Some of the factors that can contribute to addiction include:
- The brain: Addiction leads to changes in the brain’s reward circuits over time.
- Family history: You may be more likely to become addicted if you have family members who also have addictions.
- Genetics: Research suggests that genetics increases the likelihood of developing an addiction66
- Environment: Exposure to addictive substances, social pressure, lack of social support, and poor coping skills can also contribute to the development of addictions.
Frequency and duration of use: The more someone uses a substance the more likely they will become addicted to it.
Addictions take time to develop. It is unlikely that a person will become addicted after using a substance once, although it is possible to develop a mental health problem or to die of an overdose or other complications after one use of some substances.
Addiction is treatable, but not all routes to recovery are the same. Relapses are not uncommon, so the journey may take time. Some of the common treatment approaches that may be used include:
- Support groups and self-help
Many people fear the term “addiction” and believe it is an indication of failure or worthlessness. People with addictions often carry a stigma about their behavior, leading to shame and fear of seeking help. The world is changing, and you may find that getting help for your addiction is the best thing you ever do for yourself. In the meantime, we hope that educating yourself will help on your journey to wellness.
Interested to become a counsellor or psychotherapist for addiction treatments? Join Master of Arts in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy. Career options for MA graduates have never been so varied or looked so promising!