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O11. Human beings can control many aspects of their lifestyle.


Student Outcome: O11.1

Discuss how choices about nutrition, exercise, and drug use can affect the well-being of individuals.



For some time it has been known that adequate nutrition is essential for proper growth and development. More recently, it has been accepted that healthy eating is a significant factor in reducing the risk of developing nutrition-related problems, including: heart disease, cancer, obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), osteoporosis, anaemia, dental decay and some bowel disorders.


Now, the importance of healthy eating is also being recognized as a way to actively promote health. Healthy eating contributes to an overall sense of well-being and helps people to look, feel and perform better.


What "Reducing Risk" Means

Reducing risk means that the chances of developing a disease are lowered. lt does not guarantee that a disease will be prevented. Since several factors are involved in the development of disease, risk reduction usually involves several different strategies or approaches. For instance, healthy eating is one positive action that may help to avoid a potential problem.


Source: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/res/fg_background-reseignements_ga-1_e.html


Benefits of Being Active

Tuning up your body with physical activity helps you to:


  • Build strong bones and strengthen muscles
  • Maintain flexibility
  • Achieve a healthy weight
  • Promote good posture and balance
  • Improve fitness
  • Meet new friends
  • Strengthen the heart
  • Improve physical self-esteem
  • Increase relaxation
  • Promote healthy growth and development


Add to this:

  • Increase in brain cells
  • Increase in brain cell connections


Source: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/pau-uap/paguide/child_youth/youth/beingActive.html




Addiction: What does it mean?


The term "addiction" is used - often overused - in all sorts of ways. You hear about people being addicted to a lot of things - to tv, to the computer, to video games, to hockey. All people really mean is that the person is obsessively taken to a particular interest or activity. When it comes to alcohol and other drugs, though, "addiction" takes on a more specific meaning.


What is important to understand is that there may be physical, emotional, social or legal risks and consequences in taking alcohol and other drugs. A person may experience a range of problems when these risks and consequences happen in his or her life.


Let's try to understand this more by explaining the following terms which are often misunderstood: addiction, drug dependence, substance abuse and substance use.

Characteristics of a person who is "addicted" to taking drugs and/or alcohol:


  • the person repeatedly takes substances
  • they are periodically or chronically intoxicated, which means that the person is stoned and/or drunk most or all of the time
  • the person shows an irresistible urge to take substance(s)
  • they have great difficulty in voluntarily stopping or cutting down their use
  • he or she is determined to obtain substances by almost any means.


Drug Dependence


You may also have heard of "drug dependence." While it almost means the same as addiction, this term generally refers to a person taking repeated doses of substances to feel good or to avoid feeling bad (both physically and psychologically). Even if taking substances causes problems, this person may not be able to stop.


A person may become addicted or dependent from using / abusing alcohol and/or other drugs without realizing that certain problems come from this use.


Regardless of whether a person calls it addiction, abuse, dependence, or use, the most important thing to remember is that taking these substances causes or contributes to problems in a person's life. He or she needs to understand this and get help to deal with these problems.


Source: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/drug-drogues/index_e.html


What are the Harmful Consequences of Drug Use?


  • Definition


Drugs can be considered harmful when their use causes physical, mental, social, legal or economic problems.


Not all drugs are equally hazardous. Drugs sold legally in Australia for medicinal purposes are generally considered safe when taken according to the directions on the label. However, some of these drugs may produce unpleasant side effects even when used under medical guidance. Drugs obtained illegally are more likely to be hazardous; their effects are much less predictable and potentially dangerous. Many drugs are harmful when used in large doses, or in combination with other drugs.


  • Safety Hazards


Most psychoactive drugs can reduce physical coordination, distort the senses or impair memory, attention and judgment. These effects can lead to serious safety risks, especially if the person who uses the drugs drives a vehicle or operates machinery. Many road injuries and fatalities are caused by drivers intoxicated by alcohol or some other drug or combination of drugs. Also, effects such as reduced physical coordination and impaired judgment can lead to falls and other serious accidents. People who have taken alcohol or other drugs are often unaware of the extent of their impairment.


This makes the risk that much greater.


  • Physical Health Problems


All psychoactive drugs have effects other than those for which they are used, and some of these can be very damaging to physical health. Smoking marijuana or tobacco, for example, can cause lung damage. Alcohol abuse can cause liver damage. Sniffing cocaine can damage the inside of the nose. People who inject drugs by hypodermic needles can get infections such as hepatitis or HIV.


  • Mental Health Problems


Some drugs can cause short-term confusion, anxiety or mental disturbance ("bad trips"). In the longer term, drug abuse can result in personality disturbances, learning problems, and loss of memory, and can contribute to mental health problems. A person who turns to drugs as a way of avoiding normal anxiety and sadness may be establishing a pattern of behaviour that can be hard to break. Many people who use drugs in this way come to believe that they cannot function normally without drugs. People with histories of serious emotional or mental health problems may also turn to drugs as a way of coping with unpleasant feelings. Also, experience of physical or sexual abuse is common among people with alcohol or other drug problems.


  • Violence and Crime


Use of drugs is sometimes associated with violence and crime. Although, alcohol or other drugs do not cause violence, both the victims and perpetrators of violence may be using certain drugs. Date rape is one example, where the effects of benzodiazepines or alcohol may put the victim at increased risk for such violence. Two drugs, Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) and GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) have been associated with date rape because their effects incapacitate the victim and make the person unable to resist the sexual assault. Because they are colourless, odourless and tasteless, the victim may not be aware that the drug has been deliberately added to their drink.


People may also commit crimes in order to make money to buy drugs, and drug problems are frequent among criminal offenders.


  • Tolerance


Tolerance means that, over time and with regular use, a person who uses drugs needs more and more of a drug to get the same effect.


Tolerance increases the physical health risks of any drug simply because it can result in increased drug use over time. Tolerance also increases the risk of dangerous or fatal overdose, for two reasons.


First, the body does not necessarily develop tolerance to all the effects of the drug to the same extent. Long-term use of barbiturates, for example, causes a person to become tolerant to the mood-altering effect of barbiturates, but less so to their depressant effect on respiration. When this happens, the dose required to achieve the mood-altering effect may be dangerously close to the lethal dose and death can result from respiratory failure.


Second, if a person has not taken the drug in a long time, the expected tolerance may actually have decreased. So, after a long period of abstinence, the size of the dose the person had previously become accustomed to may actually be enough to cause a life threatening or fatal overdose.


As people age, physiological changes may mean they need less of a drug to get the same effect.


This result may be compounded if their liver or kidneys have been damaged by chronic disease.


  • Physical Dependence


Physical dependence occurs when a person's body becomes so accustomed to a particular drug that it can only function normally if the drug is present. If people who use drugs drastically reduce their level of use or stop using the drug abruptly, they may experience a variety of signs and symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to seizures. These effects, some of which can be fatal, are collectively referred to as "withdrawal".


Withdrawal symptoms are often opposite to the effects produced by taking the drug, e.g. when a person stops using a stimulant drug such as cocaine they may become depressed, need to sleep a lot, and have increased appetite when they awaken. To avoid the discomfort of withdrawal, the person who uses drugs may start to use again or feel unable to stop using the drug. Not all drugs produce physical dependence, but they may still be abused because the person who uses drugs becomes psychologically dependent on the drug's effects.


  • Psychological Dependence


Psychological dependence exists when a drug is so central to a person's thoughts, emotions and activities that it is extremely difficult to stop using it, or even stop thinking about it. A strong desire or craving to use a drug may be triggered by internal or external cues such as the end of a meal for smokers or seeing injection equipment for people who inject drugs. Like physical dependence, psychological dependence is a cause of continued drug use. An individual may be both psychologically and physically dependent on a drug.


  • Overdose


An overdose of any drug is a dose that can cause serious and sudden physical or mental damage. An overdose may or may not be fatal, depending on the drug and the amount taken. Dangerous overdoses are more likely to occur in people who have developed a tolerance for some effects of a drug more than others, those who return to drug use after a long period of abstinence, or those who use drugs illegally and have no way of knowing the exact potency of what they are buying. Sudden increases in the purity of some illegal drugs (e.g., heroin), have resulted in unintentional fatal overdoses.

Hazards of Using Drugs Illegally


Using drugs illegally has its own set of risks. People who use drugs that have been obtained illegally can never know exactly what they are taking. Dealers may not know (or reveal) exactly what they are selling. Some drugs are laced with other drugs or chemicals, or contaminated by fungi or moulds, that can be harmful. Often one drug is sold in place of another, e.g., PCP sold as LSD. As a result, many bad drug reactions, including fatal overdoses, have occurred. People who use drugs heavily may use any drug that is available at the right price.


As well, people who regularly use drugs illegally, particularly people who inject drugs, are at increased risk for a range of health, legal and social problems.

Combining Drugs


Many drugs become more dangerous when they are mixed. People may combine drugs intentionally to enhance the effects, or to counteract undesirable side-effects, or they may use a hazardous combination of drugs without intending to do so. For example, they may take sleeping medications after drinking alcohol without being aware that using these drugs together is hazardous. Even if the person is aware that mixing drugs is dangerous, they may do so anyway. Today a mixture of heroin and cocaine is a common example. People who use drugs illegally may mix drugs unknowingly because they do not know what they are taking.


Many drugs taken together have the potential to interact with one another to produce greater effects than either drug taken by itself. Or, the combination of drugs may produce a new or unexpected effect. For example, alcohol, opioid analgesics (like codeine), barbiturates (like SeconalĀ®) and benzodiazepines (like ValiumĀ®) are all depressant drugs. When taken alone, they can cause relaxation, disinhibition, loss of coordination and sleepiness. If these depressant drugs are taken at the same time, these effects are increased. Such combinations may result in confusion, injuries from falls, depressed breathing, coma and death.


Some antidepressants and many drugs taken to treat epilepsy, nausea, allergies and colds also have depressant effects. When taken with other depressants like alcohol, they can dangerously slow or stop breathing. Alcohol can also interact with common medications for heart problems, blood clotting disorders, fungal and bacterial infections, and diabetes, either making them less effective or producing unexpected and undesirable effects.


Although classed as a stimulant, cocaine can also cause irregular and shallow breathing. Taking cocaine with heroin, a depressant, increases the risk of death from respiratory depression.


Combining drugs may also seriously impair a person's ability to operate a motor vehicle or other machinery.


  • Legal Problems


A drug-related conviction can have serious consequences for the individual. The conviction may result in a fine or prison sentence as well as a criminal record. Having a criminal record may restrict employment opportunities and travel outside the country. A subsequent conviction may result in a harsher sentence.


Athletes who use a substance that is banned by their local, provincial, national or international sporting organization may be convicted of a doping infraction. This may result in being banned from participating in sports and may also have consequences for their future career opportunities.


Source: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/pubs/drugs-drogues/straight_facts-faits_mefaits/harmful-torts_e.html


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