Drug Abuse Screening Test

by M. Williams

Drug abuse is synonymous to drug addiction or dependency, a serious public hazard that affects every individual in some way and over indulgence can be detrimental to physical and psychological health. It destroys the morale and vitals of the society, thereby affecting the country’s growth. Drug abuse refers to the over indulgence of prescribed or over the counter medications and any other use of medicines. Abuse occurs with no dependence, whereas, dependency drives to abuse.

Major social problems, such as violence, stress drugged driving and child abuse are associated with drug abuse. Homelessness, crime or job problems are common. It might be harmful or fatal to an healthy individual, as well as , growing fetuses thereby destroying families. Prevention is better than cure. Prevention of drug abuse is the best way to reduce damage.

Types of Drug Abuses

Drug abuse includes usage of sleeping pills, barbiturates, steroids, depressants, tranquilisers, inhalants, heroin, cocaines,  over the counter medications for headache, acidity, stomach pain and so on. It also includes psychoactive drug or performance enhancing drugs in non therapeutic ways, such as in doping. In addition to physical, and psychological harm, it is an offence, calling for punishment. Changes in moods and in the sense of perception and sensation are the effects on the central nervous system. Drug-induced effects are commonly seen to afflict the other organs also.

A common test followed by physicians to evaluate the degree of addiction of a drug is the Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST). This test provides a concise, uncomplicated, sensible and valid method for identification of drug abusing individuals. It also provides a quantitative index score of the intensity of the problems with respect to drug use and misuse. It is a 20-item instrument given as a self-report or in a prearranged interview layout. Being a closed questionnaire, a yes/no reply is enquired from each of 20 questions.

Prescription drug abuse is a serious and growing hazard in this country. The elderly are at more risk of drug abuse, as they are prescribed additional medications than their younger counterparts. The abuse of certain prescription drugs like opioids, depressants, and stimulants changes the brain's action and lead to dependence or obsession. The simplest way to restrain drug abuse is reducing availability of certain drugs. The commonly abused drugs are Opioids (pain treatment), Central nervous system (CNS) depressants (anxiety and sleep disorders treatment) and Stimulants (sleep disorder narcolepsy and (ADHD) attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder).

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