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Addictive Behaviour Explained

This page looks at addictive behaviors, types of addictive behaviors and the reasons why certain behaviors are addictive. It is thought that addiction can result from repeat exposure to a substance or rewarding stimuli. Dopamine – the neurotransmitter responsible for reward and motivation, is thought to play a central role in addiction.

Addictive behaviors, therefore, can be identified by which such behaviours affect the dopaminergic pathways in the brain. Addictive behaviors are a distinct entity to compulsions, defined as actions that do not necessarily lead to satisfying or pleasurable outcomes.

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What is Addictive Behaviour?

Addiction can have many faces. It’s important to recognize addiction as you might be suffering from it yourself or someone else in your life may be struggling with an addiction.

There are various types of addictions, but some examples of addictive behaviors include discarding ordinary pleasures in favor of just focusing on one's addiction to the exclusion of all else; a preoccupation with something or someone that interferes with obligations like work or relationships. When a person engages in activities persistently or for too long, this could indicate addictive behaviours. The dangers posed by an addiction are to someone's physical, mental and social health. Quite often the problem begins with small steps that slowly evolve into more obsessive behaviour over time.

Addiction can be both psychological and physical — some people can become physically dependent upon certain substances like heroin while others may be psychologically driven to engage in addictive acts like spending money excessively.

Types of Addictive Behaviour

Chemical addictions and addictive behaviours are something that can spiral out of control very quickly. It can be anything that triggers a compulsion to do it again and again- perhaps in the beginning you just wanted one glass of wine but by the end of the night you drank the whole bottle! That feeling of being “off track” is then chased with another high – whether it is buying shoes or getting more into drugs.

This behaviour can go further and ultimately lead to dangerous scenarios such as when one becomes so out of control with gambling they see no other option than to steal from their family members or friends. It is important to make sure your boundaries are clear so these instances don’t happen because this then affects everyone involved and not only yourself.

Make sure you have a support system in place who will help you regain control over all these different forms of addictions moving towards that healthy boundary we know all need to be more mindful about setting for ourselves.

Examples of compulsions include nail-biting, overwhelming cleaning or washing and other specific behaviors. Compulsions are usually a result of one trying to feel in charge when they really feel unable to do so.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder categorised by recurring uncontrollable thoughts. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and addiction both feature compulsive behaviour as a core feature, the difference being that addiction is centred around rewarding stimuli, whereas compulsions are not.

Addiction Psychology Explained

Addiction is fundamentally a brain disease but many psychosocial and psychological factors play a role in the development of this condition.

What is the Psychology of Addiction?

Many psychological experts have studied the specific causes of addiction and their findings do not all agree upon what part, if any, psychology plays in addition to the physical reasons why an addiction happens. We do know that people who become addicted to drugs or alcohol may also suffer from some form of mental illness and that it is likely that there is a clear biological basis for their addictions, but the specifics are still widely disputed.

So we have come up with a number of ideas which are based chiefly on academic studies in order to shed light on the potential psychological causes of addiction as well as psychologically driven triggers which might lead to the onset of an enduring addictive habit.

Addiction Psychology is the study of addiction and what causes people to overindulge in particular activities or substances, despite knowing the physical, psychological, emotional, social and financial consequences that are often associated with it. There are instead several motivational factors that may be at play when it comes to Addiction Psychology.

Some common examples are seeking pleasure or trying to minimize uncomfortable psychological states. A behavioral perspective sees addiction as a habit which can be broken by changing one's actions. Cognitive and social moderating theories see addiction as something which develops from problem-solving processes such as ineffective coping mechanisms, distorted cognitions and downward spirals in mood and affect.

How Can a Habit Become an Addiction?

When someone engages in specific behavior, their brain may respond to the characteristics of that behavior by judging it to be “rewarding”. Rewarded behaviors are often intrinsically pleasurable or result in extrinsically rewarding effects.

The more a behavior is reinforced, the more one wants to repeat it to achieve and sustain dopamine levels which naturally occur whenever dopamine-inducing rewards are received - like the feeling you get after eating your favorite meal! In this manner, dopamine acts as a marker for positive reward or motivation - especially related to activities that are crucial to survival such as eating.

In this way, what may begin as a simple habit can transform into an addiction. It's important to remember that the reward system in the brain can be changed and when it is abused, it can adversely affect your body as well as other systems in your brain aside from the reward system such as the frontal cortex, which covers up executive functions needed for decision-making or social impairment if they get weakened too much.

The Disease Model of Addiction versus The Choice Model of Addiction Psychologists investigating addiction have traditionally fallen into one of two camps: those supporting the disease model and those supporting the choice model of addiction respectively.

The disease model of addiction sees addiction as being a disease with potential biological, genetic, and/or environmental origins. This model attributes addiction to developments in the brain – in particular, in the mesolimbic pathway – which may or may not result from any conscious choices the affected individual may make.

Because of the neurological basis of the disease model of addiction, those espousing it may believe that a pharmaceutical – or even surgical – cure for addiction itself might be found which could “heal” the affected areas of the brain and remove the compulsion to engage in addictive behaviour.

On the other hand, the choice model of addiction places the responsibility for the development of the condition on a person's own shoulders. According to this model, it is the conscious choice to engage repeatedly in a behavior despite awareness of any negative consequences that might result from doing so that leads to addiction. One who subscribes to this model typically believes that no pharmaceutical or surgical cure for addiction is possible and that change can only come through an addict making conscious decisions to change their behavior rather than live a life controlled by outside forces.

Individual Differences and Susceptibility to Addiction

Not everyone is equally susceptible to addiction; some people are naturally more vulnerable than others. Scientists are not quite sure why people develop addictions, but they know that there are risk factors for developing the condition.

Genetic Addiction is known to be hereditary, and that a family history of addiction is one of the most significant risk factors for developing it in someone. Moreover, scientists have discovered a genetic basis of addiction: an overexpression of DeltaFosB in the mesolimbic pathway has been associated with nearly all cases of natural-born addiction.

Personality disorders

There are various personality disorders which can cause impairments to personal and interpersonal functioning. These disorders may be related to addiction as it is a way of dealing with this burden or an attempt to relieve one's feelings of worthlessness or social incompetence.

Mental disorders and addiction

Mental disorder can sometimes lead to addiction whether directly or indirectly. Some mental disorders can drive compulsive behaviour whether it's direct by definition. Other disorders may result from addiction as a means of self medication or escapism; and also from addiction itself.

Psychological coping strategies

Many people who suffer from intense stress or trauma turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism. This is an understandable manner of dealing with things, but it can quickly take on an addictive quality when indulged in too often. Some common examples of this behavior include drinking alcohol to remove oneself from trauma or stress, over-eating or consuming junk food in the same way, and even oversleeping can be a form of addictive behaviour when one is attempting to escape their troubles rather than facing them head on.

Sometimes these behaviours become so ingrained within us that we don't even see them for what they are: avoidant habits which do little more than temporarily pacify our stress instead of treating the core issue at work here!

Dual diagnosis and addiction

It can be extremely frustrating when you have a substance use disorder that also occurs in conjunction with another mental health disorder. Although the prevalence of dual diagnosis is not fully known, most healthcare professionals agree that it certainly does happen and occurs far more frequently than many people realize.

Due to this fact, many individuals who present for substance abuse treatment also require psychiatric care which in turn makes addiction recovery significantly more complicated (since both conditions need to be treated simultaneously and the treatment of one may potentially disrupt that of the other).

Psychological Mechanisms of Addiction

Numerous psychological mechanisms associated with the development of addiction have been identified.

Rebound effect

When you quit an addiction, the symptoms that had initially been suppressed or controlled by consuming a drug begin to emerge rather quickly. These may return in a more severe manner than before if not properly dealt with. For example, someone who is using medication or drugs to deal with insomnia could experience their insomnia getting worse; this is called the "rebound" effect because they are experiencing a rebound from having come off their meds or substances.


In behavioral psychology, “reinforcement” refers to the strengthening of a behavior over time when preceded by a specific stimulus. Reinforcement may be positive or negative and both can contribute to developing an addiction. Positive reinforcement is a reward that increases the likelihood of a particular behavior occurring in the future.

For example, someone develops an addiction but continues to abuse substances because they feel good when they do. Negative reinforcement is when something decreases the frequency of a behavior following removal of that something, whether it is done consciously or unconsciously. When an individual has an addiction and tries to quit but begins using again out of fear that life will be less pleasurable without their drug or activity of choice, negative reinforcement plays a role in their decision-making process.

Reward system

The reward system is the name for the parts of the brain responsible for addiction and impulsive behaviours which drive people to engage in (or avoid engaging in) particular behaviours.

The reward system comprises all or part of a large number of different areas and structures, connected by neurons of various types, and abnormal behaviour in any of these areas of the reward system can drive an individual's compulsion to engage in addictive behaviour.

Addiction is fundamentally a disorder of the brain's reward pathways, though scientists and psychologists are not yet fully in agreement as to specifically how this disorder develops.


Sensitization is the process in which an individual becomes progressively more reactive to a stimulus after repeated exposure to it. A person who's never tried gambling before may enjoy some of the more mild excitement associated with placing some small bets at first.

But over time, they could develop a tolerance to that feeling and seek out something stronger, like buying into a slot machine event. The same principle applies when it comes to drug use. Drug sensitisation involves the heightened effects or increased side effects of drugs due to progressive or excessive consumption.

Brain Structures, Hormones and Addiction

A number of different parts of the brain, and hormones acting within and upon them, are fundamental to addiction.

Dopamine and addiction

The human brain releases dopamine which is a chemical that drives people to act. For instance, when someone enjoys ice cream or another similar food that contains glucose as an ingredient, the body produces dopamine as a reward for its enjoyment. The body then recognizes this and produces more dopamine the next time it consumes something with glucose.

It is because of this mechanism that people become addicted to certain foods and substances. People who have low levels of these chemicals in their brains often get depressed and anxious, making them susceptible to trying harder and harder things until they feel relief from their emotions - however temporary it may be (hence the term “addiction”).

Nucleus accumbens

The nucleus accumbens is a region of the brain, that together with the olfactory tubercle forms the ventral striatum. It's linked to motivation and reward - in other words it functions like some kind of pleasure center of the brain and ultimately it's associated with things like addiction because if an individual is exposed to a substance or action over and over again they can wind up needing more as time goes on.

Over time the DeltaFosB gene (or transcription factor) in this part of the brain adapts, which means that dopamine (a neurotransmitter) gets overproduced and reinforces this way of thinking.


Serotonin is a type of neurochemical that is produced and stored in some neurons, which transmit signals by secreting it into the synaptic cleft. Serotonin is thought to contribute to feelings of happiness,

wellbeing and pleasure as well as complex brain activities like reward with the release produced by the nerve impulse being linked to certain functions including sleep regulation, cognitive processes like learning or memory formation and appetite control. Many substances of abuse,

including psychedelic hallucinogens as well as antidepressants are known for their ability to stimulate serotonin release in the brain via traceable mechanisms that can be used within clinical treatments.


Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change. The regular engagement in addictive behavior can lead to a restructuring of key parts of the brain, which reinforce addiction and make it significantly more difficult for the affected individual to overcome the condition.

Likewise, certain forms of substance abuse can drive aspects of neuroplasticity which cause reinforcement of addiction as well as negative long-term effects such as cognitive impairment.

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Addiction Psychology and Dependence

Psychological dependence is a psychological reliance on a substance or habit to relieve stress, and it’s a condition of proficiency with a certain behavior. Individuals can become psychologically dependent on substances and/or habits through the repeated practices of that particular drug addiction over time, and may eventually experience withdrawal symptoms when they have removed themselves from that addictive substance’s influence.

Psychological dependence, or psychological addiction involves abusing a substance to fulfill an emotional need. Never depend solely on pills or drug treatment for a substance abuse disorder. If support is needed after detoxification (detox), then you will likely need treatment that addresses the psychological issues underlying your dependence as well. The most common way to break this cycle of addiction is to get involved with 12 step programs and/or day treatment facilities.

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Modalities of Treatment for Addiction

Addiction is something that has affected many people all around the world. There are various approaches to rehabilitating people with addictions, and different medications may be used depending on what type of addiction they have.

With treatment being given out by organizations in every sector, from public to private and volunteer-run groups, there are now more options than ever for overcoming addiction. Many medical professionals are able to help you treat your addiction, so make sure to take advantage of their expertise if necessary.

There is a general consensus that the most effective form of addiction treatment is residential rehab, with addicts staying onsite to receive treatment in a dedicated facility, though various other formats are also known to be successful in many cases. Recovery from addiction is typically considered a long-term, even lifelong, process continuing long after the completion of any addiction treatment programme in which an addict may engage, and numerous self help groups and organisations exist worldwide providing support to recovering addicts.

  • Detoxification and Medically Managed Withdrawal
  • Long-Term Residential
  • Short-Term Residential
  • Outpatient Treatment Programmes
  • Individualised Drug Counselling
  • Group Counselling
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Benefits of Addiction Treatment and Rehab Centres In residential rehabilitation, addicts stay onsite in secure, drug free facilities to receive treatment. Patients benefit from having medical professionals around them 24/7, as well as the support of fellow recovery patients.

Treatment usually involves a detoxification phase and rehabilitation phase where addicts can be provided therapy. They also have the opportunity for up to a year's worth of aftercare!

Addiction Psychology and Counselling

Counselling is extremely valuable during recovery from a drug addiction. Addiction counsellors deal with specific issues and advise addicts on how to keep their addiction in check so as not to relapse. Many addicts consider the counseling received from trained experts in the field to be life-saving because of the psychological impact of an addiction.

Drug rehabs offer counselling as well as psychotherapy, but many people move on to independent substance abuse counselors once they leave a clinic in order to help others who are struggling with their own addictions.

Substance Use Disorder (Drug Use Disorder)

Substance abuse is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Individuals who start drug use in small doses, gradually move up to larger doses which lead to addiction and have an immense difficulty quitting their drugs. When this happens, their lives revolve entirely around their drugs and they struggle with daily life without them.

An individual should get help early on before developing a substance use disorder so that he or she can take control over his or her own compounded drug problem at the moment he/she realizes it’s imminent enough to warrant seeking professional treatment. If an individual has fallen victim to a substance use disorder, he or she may want to seek therapy for overcoming their dependence on drugs. Since it's often difficult for people with substance abuse disorders to overcome them alone, they will need assistance and support from individuals who can get them through the struggles and provide them with good guidance.

Substance use disorder refers to a physical and/or psychological dependency that develops due to prolonged drug and alcohol abuse. This addiction may cause impairment of judgement, intense cravings for the substance, a breakdown in social relationships, withdrawal symptoms or tolerance.

The severity of the addiction can range from mild to severe; if you're suffering from a more severe case, it might be necessary to seek immediate medical treatment.

What Causes Substance Use Disorder?

A genetic predisposition to drug use can cause substance use disorder. Individuals from families with a history of drug addiction are more likely to follow suit. Peer pressure is also another factor.

Young people often want to associate with their friends and end up using drugs to fit into social groups. Mental health disorders such as depression can cause people to seek drugs repeatedly, leading to a drug use disorder. Early use of drugs can lead to changes in the brain‘s functionality at an early age, hence increasing the chances of the user developing a drug use disorder.

A user develops tolerance with time and ends up increasing the drug dosage to feel the effects of the drugs, rendering him or her susceptible to a substance use disorder . This is exacerbated by factors such as stress, anxiety, and peer pressure which means that these individuals turn to drugs as a coping mechanism for dealing with these situations .

Signs and Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder

  • Withdrawal symptoms: The user develops physical and psychological symptoms when they attempt to quit using drugs.
  • Uncontrollable cravings: The person feels an urge to use drugs regularly.
  • Tolerance: The individual may need an increasingly larger dose to feel the effect of the drugs.
  • Taking drugs for longer periods than intended.
  • Failed attempts to stop using drugs.
  • Inability to cut down on the costs of drug purchase.

Dangers Associated with Substance Use Disorder

Drug use can lead to memory problems, with the user being unable to make informed decisions on their own. Health complications such as lung diseases, liver damage and heart conditions like heart attacks may arise. Additionally, the user may develop a weakened immune system with an increased risk of contracting opportunistic diseases.

Drug users are prone to accidents because they are more likely to engage in dangerous activities while under the influence of drugs. Extreme dangers may also include brain damage and death of individuals suffering from drug use disorder.

Additionally, drug users spend large amounts of money on the purchase of drugs which could lead them into financial instability, bankruptcy and ultimately poverty.

Substance Dependence (Drug Dependence)

Drug dependence, also known as substance dependence or addiction, refers to the adaptation of the body to drug administration and consequent development of withdrawal symptoms upon quitting the drugs. Drug use causes the body to require one or more drugs to function.

Withdrawal leads to negative reinforcement whereby the user must continue abusing drugs to avoid adverse symptoms. Losing access to a drug may result in experiencing painful detoxification symptoms, creating an urge for more doses due to increased resistance and a desire for greater effect due to increasing tolerance as a result of chronic use. This may develop into a drug addiction, which may be difficult to manage.

Types of Substance Dependence

  • Physical dependence: Our bodies adapt to the drugs and can then function less efficiently without them. The withdrawal process brings withdrawal symptoms that are very unpleasant.
  • Psychological dependence: the drug is the source of pain relief or emotional support. Psychological dependence, on the other hand, refers to addiction of drugs due to a perceived thought that the drugs fulfil. This type of addiction may be as a result of mental illness such as depression. A mentally unstable person may feel the need to use drugs for psychological fulfilment.

Signs and Symptoms of Substance Dependence

There are many signs of substance dependence which can be classified into physical and behavioural signs.

Physical signs may include insomnia, decreased appetite, nausea, hyperactivity and a staggering walk while behavioural signs include deterioration in health or general attitude towards life. The pre-existing condition could include a physical condition or some form of mental illness so it’s important to perform an assessment before immediately jumping to conclusions.

A person’s personality undergoes a sudden change as a result of substance abuse. Some signs include paranoid actions, an individual will want to spend some time alone and they may become defensive when confronted about their behavior.

Drugs increase the release of dopamine in the brain, which regulates mood and emotions, making it hard for the person to be able to make informed choices on their own behalf. Using drugs can affect a person’s health over time in many different ways such as causing heart conditions or a weakened immune system. It can lead to seizures or stroke if not monitored carefully.

In severe cases, drug addiction, especially of illegal drugs, can lead to the death of users. For pregnant women who are addicted to substances, there is a chance that their unborn babies will not survive in utero or after birth. Some babies may be born prematurely and develop learning problems as a result later in life.

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Physical Dependence Explained

Addiction is primarily a psychological disorder, but the abuse of some substances can also lead to physical dependence – making the addiction all the harder to overcome.

What Is Physical Dependence?

Drug dependence - also known as substance dependence - is a condition in which the repeated use of a specific substance (i.e. legal or illegal) causes the user's body to adapt to the regular presence of that substance. When the user stops taking the substance in question, he/she experiences withdrawal symptoms.

What Causes Physical Dependence?

The way that you physically react to certain substances is called physical dependence. Of course one must take into account that that this is only an overall indication as there are cases where you can be physically dependent on a substance, but still not have an addiction to it.

Addiction arises when the positive benefits and pleasurable effects of a given substance outweighs the negative ones, causing both psychological and physiological changes in your brain (in particular, in the parts of the brain known as the amygdala and the ventral tegmental area), hence changing how you react accordingly.

What Are the Symptoms of Physical Dependence?

If you're dependent on anything, there's a chance that the first time you go without it for any length of time, you'll experience withdrawal symptoms. It's important to be aware that what those symptoms are will vary based on which substance you've been dependent on and various other factors. For example, older people tend to have more potential withdrawal symptoms than younger ones do.

That's because as you age, your liver tends to not work as well so those who are elderly often end up needing more time to get through their detox while younger ones may only need help with easing particular symptoms like nausea or vomiting as they could be cyclical in nature or caused by a lack of eating.

Vomiting itself can also be symptomatic of severe alcoholism and some stimulants in large enough doses are known to cause hallucinations or seizures.

How Is Physical Dependence Diagnosed?

Diagnosis often relies on the identification of certain symptoms that are typical when a person who has been abusing a particular substance stops using it. Depending on which substance is being abused, doctors must consider the nature and duration of symptoms that may arise if the patient suddenly stops taking the substance in question.

As a doctor’s job is to ensure the safety of their patient, withdrawal can be a dangerous condition – as demonstrated by the fact that in some cases it is fatal without proper medical attention.

How Is Physical Dependence Treated?

Dependence on a substance can be treated by guiding your clients to detox (detox). Abstinence after use is followed by withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are monitored by medical professionals for the client’s safety and medicines may be prescribed to alleviate some of these more distressing symptoms. When using alcohol or benzodiazepines, for example, you may substitute a different type of this substance so that withdrawal is easier to manage. For example: heroin can be substituted with methadone, which has a longer acting time and thus reduces cravings over a slower and less painful process.

Govt. of India Initiatives

Central Sector Scheme of Assistance for Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drugs) Abuse for Social Defence Services (effective from 01.01.2015)

'Scheme of Assistance for the Prevention of Alcoholism & Substance (Drugs) Abuse and for Social Defence Services’ is the flagship scheme of the Ministry in the field of drug demand reduction. The Scheme has two parts viz.

'Assistance for the Prevention of Alcoholism & Substance (Drugs) Abuse' (Part I). The cost norms of the Scheme have been revised w.e.f. 1.1.2015.

'Financial Assistance in the Field of Social Defence' (Part II).

  • Assistance to Voluntary Organizations for Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse

    The Scheme of Assistance for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drugs) Abuse is being implemented for identification, counseling, treatment and rehabilitation of addicts through voluntary and other eligible organizations.

    Under this scheme, financial assistance up to 90% of the approved expenditure is given to the voluntary organizations and other eligible agencies for setting up/running Integrated Rehabilitation Centre for Addicts (IRCAs), Regional Resource and Training Centres (RRTCs), for holding Awareness-cum-de-addiction camps (ACDC) and Workplace Prevention Programmes etc.

    In the case of North-Eastern States, Sikkim and Jammu & Kashmir, the quantum of assistance is 95% of the total admissible expenditure. The balance has to be borne by the implementing agency.

  • Financial Assistance in the Field of Social Defence

    The Scheme of ‘General Grant-in-Aid Programme for Financial Assistance in the Field of Social Defence’ aims to: a. Meet urgent needs falling within the mandate of the Ministry which cannot be met under the its regular schemes andb. Support such initiatives of an innovative/pilot nature in the area of welfare and empowerment of the Ministry’s target groups, as cannot be supported under its regular schemes.

    Financial assistance is given up to 90% of the approved expenditure to the voluntary and other eligible organizations. In case of an organization working in a relatively new area where both voluntary and Government effort is very limited but the need for the service is very great, the Government may bear up to 100% of the cost.

Nasha Mukt Bharat: Annual Action Plan (2020-21) for 272 Most Affected Districts E-Launched on International Day against Drug Abuse & Illicit Trafficking Today

“Nasha Mukt Bharat: Annual Action Plan (2020-21) for 272 Most Affected Districts’ was e-launched by Shri Rattan Lal Kataria, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment on the occasion of “International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking” here today.

On this occasion, he also released Logo and Tagline for National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction and 9 Video Spots produced for Drug Abuse Prevention. Secretary, M/o SJ&E Shri R. Subramaniam and Joint Sec retary Ms. Radhika Chakravarty were present. Representatives from State governments and NGOs also participated online.

dressing on the occasion, Shri Rattan Lal Kataria said that the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment observes 26th June every year as “International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking”. It is the nodal Ministry for drug demand reduction which coordinates and monitors all aspects of drug abuse prevention which include assessment of the extent of the problem, preventive action, treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, dissemination of information and public awareness.

The Minister said that Nasha Mukt Bharat Annual Action Plan for 2020-21 would focus on 272 most affected districts (list in Annexure) and launch a three-pronged attack combining efforts of Narcotics Bureau, Outreach/Awareness by Social Justice and Treatment through the Health Dept.

The Action Plan has the following components: Awareness generation programmes; Focus on Higher Educational institutions, University Campuses and Schools; Community outreach and identification of dependent population; Focus on Treatment facilities in Hospital settings; and Capacity Building Programmes for Service Provider.

He said thatbased on the finding of the National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India and list of districts which are vulnerable from the supply point of view provided by Narcotics Control Bureau, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment would undertake intervention programmes in vulnerable districts across the country with an aim to: Reach out to Children and Youth for awareness about ill effect of drug use; Increase community participation and public cooperation; Supporting Government Hospitals for opening up De- addiction Centers in addition to existing Ministry Supported De-addiction Centers (IRCAs); and Conducting Training programme for participants.

The Minister said that his Ministry provides community based services for the identification, treatment and rehabilitation of addicts through Voluntary Organizations. It provides financial assistance to NGOs across the country for running de-addiction centres. The Ministry has also set up a 24x7 National Toll Free drug de-addiction helpline number 1800110031 to help the victims of drug abuse, their family and society at large.

Shri Kataria said that the Ministry has also prepared a National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction for the period 2018-2025 which aims at reduction of adverse consequences of drug abuse through a multi-pronged strategy involving education, de-addiction and rehabilitation of affected individuals and their families.

The Action Plan includes components for preventive education and awareness generation, capacity building, treatment and rehabilitation, setting quality standards, focussed intervention in vulnerable areas, skill development, vocational training and livelihood support of ex-drug addicts, State/UT specific interventions, surveys, studies, evaluation and research etc.

Shri Subramaniam in his address said that the problem of drug abuse and illicit trafficking is at Society level andso we have to involve Communities along with health department officials with focus on our youths. He said that the funds for this programme in the year 2017-18 was Rs 49 crores and now in the year 2019-20 it was Rs 110 crores and in the year 2020-21, the fund has been increased to Rs 260 crores, i.e. more than 5 times. It shows our commitment to tackle this grave problem of drug abuse and illicit trafficking.

Taking cognizance of the fact that addressing the problem of drug abuse requires concerted action at different levels of the Government, the Ministry has asked the State Governments to plan and take specific initiatives, taking into account their local considerations and devise specific and suitable strategies for drug demand reduction in their identified areas. The State Governments have also been involved in the monitoring process for programmes under the NAPDDR in order to ensure its effective implementation.

Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment could not conduct the presentation of the National Awards for outstanding Services in the field of Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drug) Abuse on the occasion of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking today.

Anti Drug Action Plan for 2020-21

Recently, on the occasion of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking an annual Anti-Drug Action Plan for 2020-21 for 272 districts was launched by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

The plan includes awareness generation programmes, identification of drug-dependent population, focus on treatment facilities and capacity-building for service-providers to curb drug abuse and alcoholism.

Drug abuse or substance abuse is the use of illegal drugs (Heroin, Morphine, Opium etc), or the use of prescription drugs for purposes other than those for which they are meant to be used.

Key Points

Action Plan for 2020-21:

  • De-addiction Facilities: These would be set up in the “most affected” 272 districts identified by the Narcotics Control Bureau focussing on building up treatment and de-addiction facilities and giving emphasis on reaching the youth and high risk population.
  • The districts mostly belong to Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and the North-East.
  • Drop-in-Centres for Addicts: The focus will be on setting up drop-in-centres for addicts and also on peer-led community based outreach programmes for high risk populations – particularly the youth.
  • These centres will have provision for screening, assessment and counselling and would provide linkage to treatment and rehabilitation services for drug dependents.

Integrated Rehabilitation Centre for Addicts (IRCAs): Funded by the Ministry, IRCAS would reach out to communities to help those affected by drug addiction.

Drug-Free India Campaign: The ministry also announced the launch of the ‘Nasha Mukt Bharat’, or Drug-Free India Campaign which focuses on community outreach programmmes.

To step-up the battle against the severe challenge posed by drug use and alcoholism, the campaign will focus not just on institutional support but also on community outreach programmes in the districts identified in coordination.


  • Awareness and Sensitisation: Apart from celebrity backed ‘Say No to Drugs’ publicity campaigns, national level campaigns are planned across schools and higher education campuses to sensitise youngsters, parents and schools about the issue.
  • Enhanced Funding: Ministry would ramp up greater funding for institutions to curb the drug abuse


National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, conducted a National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India through the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi during 2018, which is key to the action plan for 2020-21.

It is estimated that about 850,000 Indians inject drugs, about 460,000 children and 7.7 million Indians require help for opioid dependence.

As per the survey, the prevalence of opioids (a type of drug e.g. Heroin) use in India is three times the global average

Challenges to Curb the Drug Menace:

Related Data: The findings of the “Magnitude of Substance Abuse in India” report 2019, revealed the estimated 16 crore alcohol consumers in the 10-75 years in the country, as many as 19% of them were dependent on alcohol.

Legally Available Drugs: Such as tobacco is a huge problem which is usually seen as a gateway drug which children take just to experiment with.

  • Lack of Availability of Rehabilitation Centres: There is a lack of rehabilitation centres. Also, NGOs operating de-addiction centres in the country, have failed to provide the required kind of treatment and therapy.
  • Smuggling of Drugs: Smuggling of drugs through the states like Punjab, Assam and Uttar Pradesh which share the border with neighbouring countries.
  • Global Initiatives: The United Nations with the aid of its anti-drug abuse arm, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) spreads awareness, urges governments to avoid stimulating the Narco economy and deal with the Illicit trafficking of drugs in the disguise of legal pharmaceutical businesses.

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

  • History: Also known as ‘World Drug Day’, it is celebrated annually on 26th June since 1987.
  • The day is also meant to commemorate Lin Zexu’s efforts towards the strategic dismantling of the opium trade in Humen, Guangdong in China right before the First Opium War on the Chinese Mainland.
  • Theme 2020: Better Knowledge for Better Care.

It emphasises the need to improve the understanding of the world drug problem and how better knowledge will foster greater international cooperation for countering its impact on health, governance and security.

Way Forward

The action plan aims at addiction-free India by countering the growing menace especially across colleges and universities. However, there is a need to design a more targeted campaign against drugs and substance abuse.

Addiction should not be seen as a character flaw, but as an ailment that any other person could be struggling with. Therefore, the stigma associated with drug taking needs to be reduced through social awareness and voluntary processes like medical help by psychologists, as well as strong support from family.

Influence of medicines

How Medications Help with Addiction Treatment

Even as a drug or alcohol addiction threatens to rewrite a person’s life, substance abuse treatment options exist that can begin to address the harm done and help the person to achieve health and balance. While counseling and aftercare support address many mental and emotional challenges, the drugs used for addiction treatment or substance abuse can assist with breaking the chains of physical dependence, helping to ease an often-difficult withdrawal period, and managing any other medical or mental health issues that may have been left untreated (and in some cases, undiagnosed) along the way. Certain treatment medications may have some risks of their own, but they can be very useful in stabilizing those in early recovery and helping them to manage the symptoms of withdrawal during detox.

The withdrawal symptoms of addictive drugs can lead recovering addicts to relapse and start using again. This is why medications are often prescribed as part of an inpatient or outpatient rehab programme. Doctors can adjust dosages during the course of treatment which means that struggling addicts have a better chance of achieving sobriety.

How Do Medications for Addiction Treatment Work?

The addictive nature of some substances derives from the way they manipulate the brain’s pleasure and reward centers. Though their mechanisms of action vary, some pharmacotherapeutics help to restore balance to the very neurochemical processes that are disrupted when one uses drugs or alcohol.

Treatment for addiction comes in the form of prescription drugs to help a person control their cravings, withdrawal symptoms and get through the ordeal with relative ease.

Drug Withdrawal and Detox

During the initial stages of recovery, the body must rid itself of drugs. This is called the detox period. Detox can last several days to several weeks depending on the drug. Coping with withdrawal symptoms is often the most challenging part of detox. During detox, former drug users experience many uncomfortable symptoms. Some of these may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating

Different medications are used to treat different withdrawal symptoms. Some of the drugs that physicians prescribe in detox include:


Benzodiazepines are a form of prescription drugs which are often used to treat anxiety or muscle tension. If you have been prescribed benzodiazepines, it’s important to know that they can cause dependence and have a withdrawal effect if you stop them. Doctors aren’t used to prescribing benzos because they are addictive, so talk to your doctor about your options before taking them.

These drugs have a sedative effect. They are prescribed by doctors to produce calming effects in those who might be experiencing extreme irritability or anxiety that is brought on by withdrawal symptoms related to heroin use or other dependence on different types of drugs. However, a doctor having a patient go through withdrawal symptoms without supervision might lead said patient to become addicted because they feel no pain or discomfort so they won't know when it's time for them to stop taking the drug.


Without drugs, an addicted person cannot produce natural amounts of happiness-inducing chemicals in their brain. As a result, they often feel severely depressed and emotionally unstable. While this can be very hard to deal with it just takes elapsing time whilst on support until the brain is able to naturally produce happiness producing chemicals once more.


Used to treat alcohol and opiate withdrawals, Clonidine reduces sweating, cramps, muscle aches and anxiety. Clonidine can also stop tremors and seizures.

The severity of withdrawal symptoms varies based on past drug use. Those who were taking drugs in high doses for an extended time have the worst symptoms.

Detoxing from alcohol or benzodiazepines like Valium or Xanax can be deadly, so people with these addictions should never quit “cold turkey.” Withdrawals from other drugs aren’t always life-threatening, but complications can still arise. Medical help ensures safety and success in detox.

Alcohol Addiction Medications

Abusing alcohol continuously for a long period of time can cause withdrawal symptoms, which can last for weeks to months. This prolonged withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is severe in some cases because it may mimic certain mental disorders and manifest in substance-seeking patterns or compulsive behaviors. Maintenance therapy may help reduce the severity of PAWS and curb cravings as well as make the user unable to stomach alcohol. Prescription medications usually come in tablet form for patients to take daily.

Medications for alcohol addiction include:

  • Naltrexone

    Naltrexone blocks receptors in the brain that produce alcohol’s pleasurable effects. It also subdues the urge to drink. Naltrexone may cause some nausea or headaches.

  • Acamprosate

    This medication relieves emotional and physical distress caused by alcohol addiction. Recovering alcoholics can start taking acamprosate after completing detox. Acamprosate reduces the urge to drink.

  • Disulfiram

    Disulfiram was the first medication approved for alcoholism. If a person taking disulfiram drinks, the medication causes side effects such as nausea and vomiting. The idea is that those taking disulfiram won’t drink if it makes them sick.

  • Heroin and Opiate Addiction Medications

    Opiates include heroin, morphine and narcotic painkillers. Medications for opiate and heroin treatment ease cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These medications are usually provided in tablet form on a daily basis. Some people experience heroin and opiate withdrawal for as little as a week. Others may have long-term withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms of withdrawal can last for months or years in some cases. Long-term replacement medications can stop cravings and PAWS. Former users can typically take medications for as long as necessary.

Addiction medications for heroin and painkillers include:

  • Methadone

    Methadone is used to treat moderate or severe drug addictions because it is an opiate that helps suppress cravings and withdrawal symptoms without getting the user high. However, some people are still counted among the users of methadone clinics due to how addictive they have found this drug to be. Methadone is only dispensed at a clinic on a daily basis to prevent abuse, so those who can’t get their hands on actual heroin often resort back to methadone as their side effect-free alternative.

  • Buprenorphine

    Buprenorphine works in the same manner as methadone but is less closely regulated because the addiction potential is lower. Buprenorphine users can often take the drug home with them instead of going to a clinic every day to get it.

  • Naltrexone

    Naltrexone works the same way for opiate addiction as it does for alcohol addiction. It stops the urge to use. It works for both addictions because alcohol and opiates activate some of the same receptors in the brain.

  • Medical Detox and Rehab

    Some people choose to detox on their own. This is not only harder, but also more dangerous than detoxing with a doctor. Medical detox is the best way to get sober in a safe, comfortable environment. For those addicted to alcohol or benzos, medical detox is a must.

A supervised detox is the first step to treating any type of addiction.

A supervised detox can help alleviate health issues. Physicians will monitor your vital signs, like temperature and heart rate, to ensure your detox is proceeding as expected. They also observe any pain or discomfort you may be going through during this process and determine if an adjustment to the appropriate medication is necessary. A physician can work with those who have any other health conditions in addition to their addictions and make a plan to ensure that their symptoms don’t get worse while they recover from their addiction with support from other licensed professionals. Any professional attempting to undergo a drug or alcohol treatment program without supervision put themselves at risk of less effective outcome that could potentially lead to potentially detrimental side-effects or even overdose and death! Let doctors protect you by preventing potential complications!

Naltrexone and Buprenorphine

naltrexone works by blocking the receptors in the brain that opioids would otherwise bind to and activate, rendering those drugs incapable of eliciting their addictive high. Naltrexone is safest when used after the person has finished medically supervised detox, because using it when opioids are still in the body may prompt extremely severe withdrawal symptoms.

The drug Naltrexone is considered to be an ideal treatment for opioid abuse because of its ease of administration, minimal side effects and the fact that it isn’t as prone to abuse as other drugs designed to help with such addiction.

While naltrexone keeps your brain’s opioid receptors completely blocked, buprenorphine only activates them partially. This makes them very different from each other – and you should get one or the other based on your doctor’s recommendations.

Buprenorphine is a medication used to ease withdrawal symptoms for those who want to stop using full opioid agonists. Since it's a partial agonist drug, the maximum possible effect of buprenorphine is less than that of full opioid agonists. Because of this, buprenorphine has the lowest potential for misuse of any substance used to treat opioid dependence. In fact, this fact is what makes buprenorphine such an effective and important tool in helping people safely withdraw from their addiction.

The Drug That Could Combat the Heroin Epidemic

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