Drug

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Drug abuse is the use of illicit drugs or the abuse of prescription and/or over-the-counter drugs. The abuse of legal drugs (prescription or over-the-counter) occurs when people use the drugs in manners or quantities other than directed, or for other purposes that are not legitimate.

Alcohol and drug abuse do not only affect the user; in fact, the people most affected by alcohol and drug abuse are often those close to, or dependent upon, the user.

Recovering from alcohol and drug abuse problems can be done in many ways and in many venues. Research shows that most of the community-based self-help programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous are helpful for a substantial group of people.

Some people trying to change their alcohol or drug problems may require medical supervision for detoxification. Others can recover through setting a good behavioral plan with a mental health provider. Still others benefit from inpatient treatment. A growing number of medications seem to aid people in staying abstinent and/or controlling urges to use. For some, a comprehensive plan is necessary in which all or some of the preceding interventions are employed.

When alcohol and drugs impair a firefighter or someone he cares about, the ripple effects can be far-reaching.

The IAFF stands firmly behind those in recovery from this problem, and encourages the use of local EAP representatives to facilitate treatment.

In summary, firefighters who have alcohol and/or drug problems or who may have friends or family with alcohol and drug problems can access the following services: Web based information for Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Full resumption of family, work and social life is the reward that awaits those who successfully resolve alcohol and or drug problems. 

Defining the Problem

Definitions for problematic drug use include:

  • Drug misuse is defined as taking more than the prescribed amount for longer than prescribed. In the case of illegal substances, any use, by definition, is considered misuse.
  • The discontinuation or loss of important social, work, or recreational activities because of drug use.
  • 50% of child abuse and neglect cases are attributed to alcohol or drug abuse.

Drug Abuse - defined as an unhealthy pattern of use with one or more of the following occurring within a year:

  • Use resulting in failure to fulfill maj or work, school or home obligations.
  • Recurrent use in situations in which it is hazardous.
  • Recurrent drug-related legal problems
  • Continued use despite knowledge of problems caused by or aggravated by use.
  • Drug dependence - defined as having three or more of the following symptoms in the past year (DSM-IV, 1994): ** Tolerance (needing more of the drug to become intoxicated) ** Withdrawal ** Drug use for periods longer than intended. ** Considerable time spent in obtaining or using the drug-of choice, or recovering from its effects. ** The discontinuation or loss of important social, work, or recreational activities because of drug use. ** Continued use of drug despite knowledge of problems caused by or aggravated by use.

Those who are experiencing health risks associated with drug misuse should know that lots of help is available, and effective treatment and resources are increasing each year. Excellent web resources at the National Institute of Health on Drug Addiction