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Increasing Substance Use amongst Youth

As per a national survey in India, the prevalence rates within the age group of 12-18 years was 21.4% for alcohol, 3% for cannabis, 0.7% for opiates and 3.6% for other illicit drugs (UNO, 2006). The teen years are a critical period of development, and adolescents are given to be experimental with many risk-taking behaviors including the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol. The line between casual use and drug abuse is thin and dangerous. Some teenagers may turn to substances simply out of curiosity or even as a faulty coping mechanism to deal with their feelings of loneliness, depression, stress or anxiety, or to cope with family related problems and stressors.

Consequences of Substance Abuse

  1. Physical health: The consumption of drugs leads to clearly evident physical changes, influencing the person’s vital regulatory processes including sleeping and eating patterns. Some of the immediately visible overt effects of substances, depending on the nature of the drug, could include insomnia or hypersomnia, difficulty in motor coordination, lethargy, unsteady gait, stupor, delirium or even lack of consciousness. Further more, a prolonged use of certain drugs can cause sleeping disorders, respiratory problems, pulmonary problems, menstrual irregularities, and a lack of sex drive.

  2. Psychological well-being: Drugs can contribute towards mood instability, apathy and feelings of indifference, psychosis, extreme emotional experiences including either a dissociation from the real world around the person, or an enhanced experience of emotionality and stimulation from the environment. Furthermore, a prolonged use of substances increases vulnerability to feelings of anxiety, panic or insecurity, irritability and anger or aggressive outbursts, especially when the substance is unavailable.

  3. Cognitive abilities: Substances lead to not just some immediate side effects, but also cause long lasting changes in the neural pathways of the brain as well. Poor decision making abilities is common in people consuming substances frequently. In addition, an impaired sense of judgment, disturbances in perception, attention, thinking, concentration, memory, increased suggestibility, and distortion of time and space are other common effects associated with the use of substances.

Dr. Puneet Dwevedi says: According to the WHO, "Mental Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well‐being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” When a person is in a state of mental well‐being or is mentally healthy, he can cope with his life roles and responsibilities and is aware of his strengths. A person with a healthy mind has the capability to think clearly and logically, enjoy healthy relationships with family, colleagues and friends and feel a sense of happiness and confidence in his abilities.

If you’re in good mental health, you can: •Make the most of your potential •Cope with life •Play a full part in your family, workplace, community and among friends Some people call mental health ‘emotional health’ or ‘well-being’ and it is just as important as good physical health. Everyone has mental health issues or challenges from time to time that can affect one’s mental health. This is how we understand the concept of ‘stress’. We all feel stressed at some time or another in life. However, when this stress exceeds one’s psychological and emotional coping resources is when Mental Health is compromised.

5 Steps to Better Emotional Hygiene If you don’t know what emotional hygiene is, don’t worry; most people don’t. Here’s a brief definition: In much the same way that dental hygiene involves brushing our teeth and flossing every day, and personal hygiene involves cleaning ourselves and taking care of physical injuries when we sustain them, emotional hygiene refers to being mindful of our psychological health and adopting brief daily habits to monitor and address psychological wounds when we sustain them. Currently, our general neglect of our emotional hygiene is profound. How is it we spend more time each day taking care of our teeth than our minds? We brush and floss but what daily activity do we do to maintain our psychological health? Now ask yourself what habits you’ve adopted to better your psychological health: Do you monitor psychological injuries such as failure or rejection when you sustain them, to make sure your self-esteem recovers and rebounds? Are you aware of the ways negative self-talk impacts your emotional resilience? Do you know how to break out of a cycle of ruminating and brooding about distressing events? Chances are the answer to these questions is no. To get you started, here are five tips for improving your emotional hygiene: Protect Your Self-Esteem Our self-esteem acts as an emotional immune system which can buffer us and lend us greater emotional resilience. Therefore, we should get in the habit of monitoring our self-esteem, boosting it when it is low, and avoiding negative self-talk of the kind that damages it further.

Pay Attention to Emotional Pain If a physical ache or pain doesn’t get better in a few days, you probably take some kind of action. The same should be true of psychological pain. If you find yourself hurting emotionally for several days because of a rejection, a failure, a bad mood, or any other reason, it means you’ve sustained a psychological wound and you need to treat it with emotional-first-aid techniques. Stop Emotional Bleeding Many psychological wounds launch vicious cycles that only make the pain worse. For example, failure can lead to a lack of confidence and feelings of helplessness that only make you more likely to fail again in the future. Having awareness of these consequences, catching these negative cycles, and stopping your emotional bleeding by correcting them is crucial in many such situations. Battle Negative Thinking It is natural to think about distressing events, but when our thinking becomes repetitive we are no longer problem-solving, we are ruminating. Ruminating can be very costly to our psychological health, as well as to our physical health, and can put us at risk for clinical depression and even cardiovascular disease. (See "The 7 Hidden Dangers of Ruminating.") We have = to battle negative thinking and avoid falling into the habit of overfocusing on distressing events. Become Informed About the Impact of Psychological Wounds There is much more we need to learn about emotional hygiene and how to treat psychological wounds.

Fortunately, much information is available in this blog as well as elsewhere on When you learn how to treat psychological wounds—and teach your children how to do so as well—you will not only build emotional resilience, you will thrive. Issues of Caregivers of the Mentally Ill In today’s hectic lifestyle, looking after ill or aged relatives is clearly recognized as an additional responsibility. Providing care and support to someone with a mental illness can be even more of a challenging task. Stigmatization of Mental Illness Besides the demands of the patient, the caregivers in our society are invariably faced with the additional challenge posed by the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illnesses. Whether it is the family’s concerns regarding the education, marriage or employability of the patient, there are multiple factors that contribute to their fears and feelings of insecurity regarding the future of the persons with mental illnesses. Considering the barriers created by this stigma, it is of utmost importance to realize that the patient experiencing distress is not to be blamed for his or her illness. Similar to other physiological illnesses, all mental illnesses also have underlying biological causes. And seeking help from a professional is as necessary for mental health as it is for physical health. Caregiver Burnout Taking care of the person’s needs is a very taxing task, and can be a very heavy burden on the shoulders of the caregivers. Invariably, the focus is all shifted to the patient and his or requirements, ignoring the ‘invisible’ needs of the caregivers dealing with the patient. They would need to juggle their time between their work, their family as well as the patient. This can create a significant burden that can compromise the health of the caregivers themselves, leading to an exhaustion or burnout. Tips for Caregiver Well-‐Being 1. Share your feelings and frustrations. 2. Take temporary breaks from caregiving. 3. Set aside time for yourself. 4. Stay healthy by eating right and getting plenty of exercise and sleep. 5. Recognize and accept your potential for caregiver burnout.


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