Substance abuse changes lives, careers
USAG DAEGU -- "I love to think. I once considered taking drugs as an attempt to better understand an altered state of mind; however, I decided not to. I didn't want to chance ruining the machine." These are the words by a Nobel Prize winner in physics, Richard P. Feynman. Much closer to home, however, are the words of Dr. Charlene Smith, Manager, Army Substance Abuse Program, USAG Daegu and Area IV, "Drugs can destroy careers." This is a message that Dr. Smith and her ASAP team want to drive home, and make perfectly clear to Soldiers.
The ASAP manager went on to state that substance use and abuse, disturbs Soldiers' readiness and normal lives. "You have a continuum when you are talking about addictions. When it comes to Spice, for example (synthetic marijuana), if you stop you don't have any physical withdrawal, but because of the feelings one experiences, there can be a psychological addiction. It becomes a problem when a person needs to use it in order to function at a normal level every day. That is a continuum," she said.
According to the experts, addiction creates problems in many areas. Among them are health problems, family problems, problems at work, and problems in every area of one's life. To not seek help, is to ensure matters will only get worse. That's why the Army is taking such a strong stance in removing drug abuse from its ranks. "A major change came recently when the Army began testing Soldiers for Spice. Prior to this, the Army didn't test for it. So, the drug was a popular choice for abuse. It was a popular choice for abuse because some individuals thought they wouldn't have positive urinalysis test results. Now, however, the lab can test for Spice, and the abusers' career will be in jeopardy," said Dr. Smith.
Pointing out that there are many negative issues associated with substance abuse, Dr. Smith commented that addiction is the reason quitting is difficult. She said, "There are different types of addiction. There is a psychological addiction. Since these psychologically based addictions are not based on drug or brain effects, they can account for why people frequently switch addictive actions from one drug to a completely different kind of drug, or even to a non-drug behavior. If you stop taking the drugs (mood altering substances), there may not be physical problems, but there may be life skills problems associated with not using the drug. Life skills problems such as getting internally motivated to get chores and tasks completed, finding the motivation to make it to work on time, or just being productive in general. Psychological addictions interrupt normal day to day behaviors. The other type of addiction is physical addiction where you have withdrawal from the substance. Some people can die from withdrawal, depending on the drug. Having a physical withdrawal may seem more serious, but having a psychological dependence can destroy a life as well."
ASAP tries to help those who have problems with substance use and abuse. There are several national campaigns each year such as Red Ribbon Week-- which is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign. Other campaigns are National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week, Alcohol Awareness month and National Drug Facts Week. "The best prevention effort for any individual is not to start using mood altering substances. Any addiction to drugs is not a good thing. If you feel like you have a problem, come in, talk, and see if we can help. Seeking help can turn lives around, and save lives. The ASAP staff cares." said Dr. Smith.