Conduct Disorders

1. Addictions
Addiction refers to a difficulty in controlling certain repetitive behaviours to the extent that they have harmful consequences. They are the result of powerful compulsions to use and do certain things excessively, often out of a need to escape from upsetting.

Alcoholism
'Alcoholism', also known as alcohol addiction or alcohol dependence, describes the repeated use of and dependence upon alcoholic substances. It is a progressive illness, where sufferers are unable to control their compulsion to drink in excess. They will be preoccupied with alcohol and will continue drinking even when it starts to cause problems. There are two common variations of alchohol addiction - physical and psychological.

Physical Addiction
People who feel a need to drink for pleasure and an emotional high are considered to have a physical addiction. Just the sight, thought or smell of alcohol can evoke sensations of anticipatory pleasure. Due to chemical changes in the brain, heavy drinkers start to crave the emotional release and pleasure alcohol creates.

Psychological Addiction
In some cases people develop alcohol dependence as a way of coping with a psychological issue. Drinking fills a void and helps to block out negative experiences and relieve associated stress. Psychological addictions are not the result of chemical changes in the brain. Individuals drink to excess on a regular basis to numb emotional strain Factors that can increase a person's risk of becoming an alcoholic include:

Family history
Research suggests that alcoholism runs in families. In one study, over a third of alcoholics had relatives who were also heavy drinkers. This suggests some people might be more at risk if they have a parent or close relatives with a drinking problem. Personal experience Certain experiences can make someone more likely to become an alcoholic. Alcohol abuse can be a side effect of a traumatic life event, as drinking is often used as a form of escapism.

Personality
Personal causes of alcoholism can include:

  • Boredom - Many young people tend to drink out of boredom.
  • Anxiety - Alcohol can calm the nerves.
  • Depression and other mental health problems - It's common for people with mental health issues to have problems with alcohol and other substances.
  • Age - People who begin drinking at a young age are more likely to develop alcohol dependence.

Effects of Alcoholism on appearance

  • Skin - Premature ageing, wrinkles and rosacea are common side effects of alcohol abuse. Alcohol is dehydrating and dilates capillaries under the skin, causing them to break. This leaves red irritation - especially around the nose.
  • Hair - The dehydrating effects of alcohol can leave hair dry, brittle and prone to breakage.
  • Eyes - Blood vessels in the eyes are likely to break, which causes blood-shot looking eyes. Alcohol abuse can also cause the whites of eyes to turn a yellowish colour.
  • Weight - According to the Department of Health, drinking just five pints of beer a week is the equivalent of eating 221 doughnuts a year. Alcohol is extremely fattening because it is essentially sugar. It can cause rapid weight gain, which is linked to other health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.


Effects of Alcoholism on the Body
  • breast cancer
  • obesity
  • infertility
  • stroke
  • heart disease
  • impotence
  • ulcers
  • high blood pressure
  • damage to the heart muscle
  • cancer of the liver
  • alcohol poisoning.


Effects of Alcoholism on the Mind
Alcoholism is thought to increase the risk of:
  • depression
  • dementia
  • hallucinations
  • personality breakdown
  • memory loss
  • blackouts
  • mood swings
  • decreased sex drive
  • suicidal thoughts
  • suicide.

2. Drug Abuse
Drug abuse is an unhealthy dependence on a medication or drug that usually begins with the voluntary taking of drugs. It is characterised by an intense psychological and physical dependency that develops when persistent use of drugs triggers changes in the brain. These changes challenge a person's self-control and gradually limit their ability to resist intense cravings to take the drugs. In the more advanced stages of drug addiction, overwhelming withdrawal symptoms can develop which keep people trapped in the negative cycle. Even when their habit starts causing them and their loved ones serious harm, people with drug addiction cannot control or stop their drug using. Recent statistics show that around nine in 1000 people have a drug addiction, yet a vast majority of these will be unaware that their drug use has escalated to levels of addiction.


Signs of Drug Abuse

  • Physical signs of drug abuse
  • Deterioration of appearance and neglected grooming.
  • Unusual smells on the breath, clothing and/or body.
  • Bloodshot eyes and/or pupils looking larger or smaller than normal.
  • Changes in sleeping patterns and/or appetite.
  • Sudden weight-loss or weight gain.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Impaired coordination.
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Vomiting, tremors, sweating (common signs of withdrawal symptoms).
  • Behavioral signs of drug abuse
  • Sudden and unexplained financial problems - may be resorting to stealing.
  • Secretive behaviour.
  • Frequently getting into trouble (accidents, illegal activities, fights etc.).
  • A drop in attendance at school or work.
  • Change in friends, hobbies or favorite places to socialise.
  • Psychological signs of drug abuse
  • Mood swings and constant irritability.
  • Lack of motivation or energy - appears 'spaced out'.
  • Seems anxious or fearful for no reason.
  • Paranoid thinking.
  • Poor memory.
  • Unexplained changes to personality or attitude.
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity or agitation.


Treatment for Drug Abuse
Treatment for drug abuse typically involves organised treatment programmes that include counselling, withdrawal therapy and self-help groups to help people overcome their addiction and resist using the drug in the future. The exact methods of treatment however will vary between individuals according to their personal needs and level of drug addiction.

3. Smoking
Smoking is one of the greatest causes of illness and premature death. It can create a number of problems not only for the smoker, but also for the people around them. Second hand smoke often leads to ill health in adults and can also harm young children and babies, increasing their risk of intense coughing, wheezing and asthmatic symptoms. It can be difficult to stop smoking, but the benefits are numerous. After one month of giving up your skin will seem clearer, after three to nine months your breathing will have improved and after one year the risk of a heart attack or heart disease will have fallen dramatically.


Facts About Smoking

  • Tobacco smoke comprises of over 4,000 chemical compounds.
  • For a long-term smoker, the life expectancy is 10 years less than that of a non-smoker.
  • Half of all regular smokers die of smoking-related diseases.
  • Smoking accounts for over one third of respiratory deaths, over one quarter of cancer deaths, and about one seventh of cardiovascular disease deaths.


Effects of smoking

  • Heart disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Lung cancer
  • Other cancers-Smokers also develop other cancers including cancer of the throat, mouth, larynx, nose, oesophagus, kidney, blood (leukaemia), and bladder.
  • Sexual problems-Smoking can lead to impotency and other sexual problems in middle life.
  • Smoking increases the risk of hardening of the arteries, which is also known as atheroma. Atheroma is one of the primary causes of strokes and heart disease.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Smoking causes around one in five cases of rheumatoid arthritis, which causes inflammation of the joints.
  • Premature ageing
  • Smoking can worsen the symptoms of the following conditions: asthma, chest infections, tuberculosis, chronic rhinitis, diabetic retinopathy, Crohn's disease and multiple sclerosis. It also increases the risk of developing a number other conditions including: osteoporosis, dementia, pulmonary fibrosis, optic neuropathy, psoriasis, gum disease and tooth loss.



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