Substance use is the world’s most pressing problem. World society at the turn of the millennium faced a new reality when dangerous addictions, which primarily gripped the young population, began to progress rapidly, increasingly shifting from the medical to the social sphere. Modern medicine has developed a drug testing program to predetermine those prone to addiction in an as yet unexpressed stage. However, this is not a fully effective method, so possible alternatives to the above-mentioned solution must be analyzed. In addition, alternatives to help families whose members have been exposed to drug addiction should be considered.
An Overview of Drug Testing
There are several classifications of drug tests. All drug tests are classified by the type of biological material needed for analysis, so these tests most commonly use blood and urine for diagnosis. Less common biological materials are sweat, saliva, hair, and fingernails. There is also a distinction between mono and multi tests, which allow detecting in the biological fluid either one drug substance or several drugs at once; such tests are performed from 6 hours to 10 days. There are also special express tests which allow you to get the result within 30 minutes. There is a screening analysis of the biological environment for alcohol, opioids, cannabinoids, cocaine, amphetamines, and psychoactive substances (Pérez-Muñoz, 2017). The rapid test shows if a person has taken drugs in the next seven days (Pérez-Muñoz, 2017, p.7). Any test can be taken anonymously. The drug test shows the presence of all currently known drugs in the body. At the end of the test, a documented confirmation of the presence/absence of illicit drugs in the body is issued.
In order to diagnose a person without their knowledge, hair is most often used. Hair can be used to detect drug use over the past few months. Hair from the head or other parts of the body is usually used for analysis. With this method, it is possible to establish when and in what quantity the drug was taken. Just a few hairs are enough for this anonymous drug test without the patient’s knowledge. It is mandatory to take the hair from the very roots (Pérez-Muñoz, 2017, p.7). Nevertheless, all of the above methods have their shortcomings. The fact is that sometimes the tests may show erroneous results due to environmental nuances or equipment malfunction. In addition, effective methods should fight not only addiction but also its emergence. Therefore it makes sense to consider possible alternatives, the essence of which is the prevention of potential addiction.
The problem of the spread of drug addiction among young people also remains acute. An effective means of combating the spread of drug addiction is prevention, a term understood by most authors as the creation of a system of measures to ensure the preservation and improvement of the physical and mental health of society. Traditionally, prevention work is divided into three large components: primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention, which differ from each other by the degree of development of addiction.
Primary prevention is preventive measures to influence young people not affected by addiction, with the aim of influencing their behavior and attitudes, personal and social development, and preventing their initiation into substance use. Secondary prevention is associated with the early detection of developing addictions, with the creation of a set of medical, psychological, and socio-pedagogical measures that provide early intervention in the course of the disease, in which full recovery is possible. Tertiary prevention is aimed at people who have been ill with various types of drug addiction for a long time, so the set of measures implemented in relation to them is aimed at preventing breakdowns and relapses during remission at restoring the social and personal status of patients.
Activities for the early detection of persons admitting non-medical use of narcotic drugs are a universal tool for all components of prevention work since their result is both the deterrence of “independent” youth from using drugs; the timely detection of so-called “drug takers,” and the provision of qualified counseling to them; and the direct identification of relapsing drug-dependent citizens and encouraging them to use treatment and rehabilitation. In addition, the statistical data obtained in the course of such events allow us to create the most objective picture of the scale of drug addiction in the region. Drug prevention is aimed primarily at preventing the use of psychotropic substances and limiting their spread (PR Newswire, 2020). It is a complex of measures that are carried out at several levels – state, community and local, and family. There are several types of drug prevention.
General prevention includes anti-drug propaganda among adolescents and young people, forming skills to adapt to society and overcome difficult life situations. The main goal of general prevention is to create natural conditions of resistance to the factors that contribute to drug addiction. This requires psychologists, social pedagogues, and social workers whose activities are aimed at the selective prevention of persons at risk. Their main task is to encourage adolescents from disadvantaged families or citizens in difficult life situations to seek help from specialists, as well as to see the problem in time before the individual starts to use drugs. The complex measures in these cases are aimed at correcting the behavior of society. Many activities and programs can involve educational institutions – schools, gymnasiums, lyceums, institutes, colleges, technical colleges, and universities.
- The main focus of the strategy under consideration is the promotion of healthy lifestyles, sports, family, and human values. It is necessary to make a list of proposed programs:
- Work aimed at primary prevention. It is possible to hire experienced specialists, in particular military servicemen, who will propagandize the population about healthy lifestyles and proper behavior in extreme situations: the basics of first aid, hand-to-hand combat, and working with fire. This can interest civilians in creative interaction, besides instilling respect and value of life on a psychological level.
- Restore the popularity of various sports, including backyard sports. Various tournaments, competitions, and field days are offered as part of the program.
- The work of the helpline service. Anyone can call such a place and report information that may save more than one human life. All calls should be free, and the helpline should work around the clock. This is explained by the fact that it is important to make this opportunity available to any place of residence and person of any income. It is important to understand that many families or low-income people are at risk of addiction.
- Providing important information to schoolchildren and adolescents about the dangers of drug addiction, signs, and consequences of using drugs and psychotropic substances.
General prevention and anti-drug government propaganda alone is not enough. The atmosphere in each individual family plays a big role in the fight against drugs. The absence of psychological trauma, friendly, trusting relationships, and understanding between parents and children significantly reduce the risk of a child getting addicted to drugs (PR Newswire, 2020). Parents should be informed as much as possible about psychoactive substances, their types, their influence on behavior and the human body, and their consequences. This information will help to identify the problem at the initial stage and take timely measures to save the child.
Building a trusting relationship between children and parents, as one of the key causes of drug addiction, is a difficult family situation. Giving children the opportunity to share their experiences, successes and achievements give them support and confidence, which significantly reduces the likelihood of drug use. To instill norms of behavior and morality in parents with the help of psychologists. If parents have bad habits, smoking or foul language, you can show children by example how adults get rid of them. This strengthens parental authority and respect in the eyes of the child. Children who grow up in families where they are not afraid to talk about serious problems and their consequences, trust their worries, support each other and rejoice in every success, however small, are rarely at risk.
Helping Families in Need
First of all, it should be emphasized that in families where children have begun to take drugs, there are certain prerequisites for it. A child may try drugs because it’s cool. An unformed psyche, a desire to appear older than you are, to become an adult. Children confuse the possibility of taking drugs with independence, trying to prove to society that they are trying their best, trying to be self-harming, or have a desire to get involved in an adventure.
The desire to be “cool” in their company, the desire to stand out, to draw attention to themselves – often this is what pushes the teenager to drug addiction. Under the influence of psychotropic substances, teenagers feel more confident and unique. It should be noted that at an age when hormones rule individuals, it is difficult for them to adequately assess their own actions.
The first group of risk is those who want to feel danger. The desire for an explosion of adrenaline pushes such children to different kinds of activities. Some jump on the roof of a train, while others descend into the underground. There are others who try drugs because this, too, evokes a feeling of danger. After all, it’s not allowed, and it’s against the law. The next time the drug is taken, it’s much calmer (Klein et al., 2015). But there was a release of ephedrine, and it was possible to experience a state of complete euphoria. The second group takes the drug in order to join the “pack. Most often, it is children who have psychological problems in the family or in school. They are drawn into the company where they feel good. They are not hurt, they are listened to, and they are accepted (Klein et al., 2015). Teenagers who lack warmth and understanding can easily fall under the influence of the leader of the group. That person becomes their role model and their advocate. And when such a leader offers them to try the drug, they will not be able to resist the drug addiction of the child. Option three is to get rid of the mental pain, for example, a breakup with a partner, the death of a loved one, or other personal problems. The first drug helps “alleviate the suffering” (Klein et al., 2015). Then a teenager or an adult gets involved, psychological and physical dependence arises, the transition from “light” to “heavy” drugs occurs, and it is impossible to get out of there on one’s own.
Based on all of the above, the first idea of assistance to families at risk is psychological help. This implies the assignment of a highly qualified child psychologist to such a family whose functions are to regulate the parents’ behavior and outlook and to assist the children. It is important to emphasize that it is precisely specialized knowledge and skills in the field of psychology that will allow specialists to recognize peculiar markers in the behavior of individuals in time to signal the need for intervention.
The environment of addicts behaves. Differently, most of them do not understand how to act in this situation. Some, being unable to tolerate unpleasant antics, turn away and cut the bad relative out of their life; some, on the contrary, tolerate too much. In some families, there is such a phenomenon as co-dependence, when relatives help the alcoholic or drug addict with money, hoping in this way to keep him from committing unlawful acts. The presence of co-dependence can be determined by the following signs:
- The close person of a drug addict is busy constantly solving his or her problems, setting himself or herself the only task – the complete deliverance of the patient from addiction;
- The desire to always be near the addict in order to control their actions as much as possible;
- The way of life of the whole family is radically reconstructed according to the needs, demands, and moods of the addicted person.
All of these behaviors are wrong because they either leave the person alone with the problem or encourage further drug use. Relatives who have signs of co-dependency and cannot cope with a difficult situation should not fight alone. It is necessary to introduce specialists in rehabilitation centers who will be ready to advise on any issue and teach all aspects of life to an addicted person in order to free themselves from a heavy psychological burden. With the knowledge gained, relatives will be able to look differently at the situation in their family and build a new relationship with the patient. In the course of personal and group conversations, relatives of addicts learn algorithms of behavior in those or other cases, ways of communication with addicted people, and measures of necessary assistance in each situation. In addition to personal conversations with the doctor, relatives can get acquainted with the same people who have gotten into similar life circumstances. Mutual support of friends in misfortune helps them not to get stuck in personal problems and overcome difficulties quicker. A competent approach to the treatment of drug addicts and alcoholics includes working with their immediate environment.
Modern science and medicine have already invented tools to identify drug addicts, the main one being drug testing. Nevertheless, the problem cannot be called solved because it is necessary to fight the causes of the emergence of such addictions primarily. Therefore, healthy lifestyle promotion and family problem solving contribute to the reduction of drug use cases as most of the risk group has psychological reasons. Nevertheless, if a person has already become addicted, it is necessary to support the family and environment. If this is not the case, the goal to help the addict turns into co-dependency, and the number of addicts who suffer indirectly or directly from addiction increases.
Klein, M., Moesgen, D., Thomasius, R., & Broening, S. (2015). Children of Alcohol and Drug Addicted Parents: Risks, Needs, and Results of a Selective Prevention Study. European Psychiatry, 30(Supplement 1), 1073. Web.
Pérez-Muñoz, C. (2017). What is Wrong with Testing Welfare Recipients for Drug Use? Political Studies, 65(4), 912–929. Web.
PR Newswire. (2020). New Survey from Drug Test City Shows Drug Testing Welfare Recipients is Unpopular. PR Newswire US.