Evaluating the costs and benefits of drinking

Make a table like the one below, weighing the costs and benefits of drinking to the costs and benefits of quitting.

Is drinking worth the cost?
Benefits of drinking
It helps me forget about my problems.I have fun when I drink.It’s my way of relaxing and unwinding after a stressful day.
Benefits of NOT drinking
My relationships would probably improve.I’d feel better mentally and physically.I’d have more time and energy for the people and activities I care about.
Costs of drinking
It has caused problems in my relationships.I feel depressed, anxious, and ashamed of myself.It gets in the way of my job performance and family responsibilities.
Costs of NOT drinking
I’d have to find another way to deal with problems.I’d lose my drinking buddies.I would have to face the responsibilities I’ve been ignoring.

Set goals and prepare for change

Once you’ve made the decision to change, the next step is establishing clear drinking goals. The more specific, realistic, and clear your goals, the better.

Example #1: My drinking goal

  • I will stop drinking alcohol.
  • My quit date is __________.

Example #2: My drinking goal

  • I will stop drinking on weekdays, starting as of __________.
  • I will limit my Saturday and Sunday drinking to no more than three drinks per day or five drinks per weekend.
  • After three months, I will cut back my weekend drinking even more to a maximum of two drinks per day and three drinks per weekend.

Do you want to stop drinking altogether or just cut back? If your goal is to reduce your drinking, decide which days you will drink alcohol and how many drinks you will allow yourself per day. Try to commit to at least two days each week when you won’t drink at all.

When do you want to stop drinking or start drinking less? Tomorrow? In a week? Next month? Within six months? If you’re trying to stop drinking, set a specific quit date.

How to accomplish your goals

After you’ve set your goals to either stop or cut back your drinking, write down some ideas on how you can help yourself accomplish these goals. For example:

Get rid of temptations. Remove all alcohol, barware, and other alcohol-related paraphernalia from your home and office.

Announce your goal. Let friends, family members, and co-workers know that you’re trying to stop or cut back on drinking. If they drink, ask them to support your recovery by not doing so in front of you.

Be upfront about your new limits. Make it clear that drinking will not be allowed in your home and that you may not be able to attend events where alcohol is being served.

Avoid bad influences. Distance yourself from people who don’t support your efforts to stop drinking or respect the limits you’ve set. This may mean giving up certain friends and social connections.

Learn from the past. Reflect on previous attempts to stop or reduce your drinking. What worked? What didn’t? What can you do differently this time to avoid pitfalls?

What is drug addiction?

Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain. It is considered both a complex brain disorder and a mental illness. Addiction is the most severe form of a full spectrum of substance use disorders and is a medical illness caused by repeated misuse of a substance or substances. 

What is the difference between physical dependence, tolerance, and addiction?

Physical dependence can occur with the regular (daily or almost daily) use of any substance, legal or illegal, even when taken as prescribed. It occurs because the body naturally adapts to regular exposure to a substance (e.g., caffeine or a prescription drug). When that substance is taken away, (even if originally prescribed by a doctor) symptoms can emerge while the body re-adjusts to the loss of the substance. Physical dependence can lead to craving the drug to relieve the withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance is the need to take higher doses of a drug to get the same effect. It often accompanies dependence, and it can be difficult to distinguish the two. Addiction is a chronic disorder characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, despite negative consequences.

How do drugs work in the brain to produce pleasure?

Nearly all addictive drugs directly or indirectly target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. When activated at normal levels, this system rewards our natural behaviors. Overstimulating the system with drugs, however, produces effects which strongly reinforce the behavior of drug use, teaching the person to repeat it.

Is drug use or misuse a voluntary behavior?

The initial decision to take drugs is generally voluntary. However, with continued use, a person’s ability to exert self-control can become seriously impaired. Brain imaging studies from people addicted to drugs show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical for judgment, decision-making, learning, memory, and behavior control. Scientists believe that these changes alter the way the brain works and may help explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of a person who becomes addicted.

Can addiction be treated successfully?

Yes. Addiction is a treatable, chronic disorder that can be managed successfully. Research shows that combining behavioral therapy with medications, if available, is the best way to ensure success for most patients. The combination of medications and behavioral interventions to treat a substance use disorder is known as medication-assisted treatment. Treatment approaches must be tailored to address each patient’s drug use patterns and drug-related medical, psychiatric, environmental, and social problems.

Commonly Abused Drugs in Kenya

drugs

Both legal and illegal drugs have chemicals that can alter how your body and mind work. They give you a “pleasurable” ease your stress, or help you avoid problems in your life. People who are stressed or having other issues in life is more likely to abuse substances to escape the reality leading to substance abuse disorders.

Alcohol

Alcohol affects everyone differently. If, you drink excessively and make it habit, your chance of an injury or accident and eventually suffering from alcoholism are high. Heavy drinking also associated with liver and other health problems or lead to a more serious alcohol disorder. Alcohol is among the most abused drug in Kenya.

According to NACADA Substance Abuse Report 2017 12.2% 0f Kenyans aged 15-65 are constantly using alcohol. Current use of alcohol is defined as those reporting use of alcohol in the last one month. About 16.6% of urban dwellers are current users of various types of alcohol compared to 11.4% of rural dwellers.

Effects of alcohol Abuse

  • Failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home.
  • Driving a car or operating machinery will cause accidents leading to injuries or death.
  • Alcohol abuse is the most common cause of liver failure. Alcohol drug can cause heart enlargement and cancer of the esophagus, pancreas, and stomach.

Prescription and Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medicine

These can be just as dangerous and addictive as illegal drugs. You can abuse medicine if you:

  • Take medicine prescribed for someone else
  • Take extra doses or use a drug other than the way it’s supposed to be taken
  • Take the drug for a non-medical reason

Types of prescription drugs that are most often abused include:

  • pain relievers
  • Medicine used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Anxiety medicine

The most commonly abused OTC drugs are cough and cold medicine that have dextromethorphan, which in high doses can make one feel drunk or intoxicated.

There were 1,338 drug related deaths in Kenya in 2016, as per a review of drug abuse data by Nation Newsplex. The leading cause of the deaths was Opioid abuse a drug used as a pain reliever.

Inhalants

 This group of substances includes solvents that emit vapors, causing intoxication when breathed in (inhaled). Individuals who abuse inhalants intentionally breathe in the vapors, either directly from a container, from a bag in which such a substance is in, or from a rag soaked with the substance and then placed over the mouth or nose.

Inhalants may lead into chemical and temperature burns, as well as withdrawal symptoms, chronic mental illness, and even sudden death. Long-term damage associated with inhalant use includes brain and nerve damage as well as heart, liver, or kidney failure.

Marijuana/Bhang

Bhang affects the perception of time, distance, and speed. It upsets coordination, causing unsteady hands, a change in gait, uncontrolled laughter, and a lag between thought and facial expressions. Sexual functions are disturbed.

One may suffer illusions and hallucinations, difficulty in recalling events in the immediate past, slowed thinking and narrowed attention span, depersonalization, euphoria, depression, drowsiness, lack of sleep, difficulty in making accurate self-evaluation, a lowering of inhibition, loss of judgment, mental and physical lethargy.

Drugs abuse is not only dangerous to your body but it will lead to addiction which unless treated well and in dignified way it will lead to serious complications.