Essay Sample on Use of Substances and Public Health

Published: 2024-01-07
Essay Sample on Use of Substances and Public Health
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  United States Criminal law Public health Drug abuse
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1039 words
9 min read


Alcohol and illicit drug use is an issue concerning public health that contributes to about 5.4% of the disease burden globally (Peacock et al., 2018). Drug addiction (DA) and substance use disorders (SUDs) are prevalent in American society and the world at large. Drug addiction is sometimes it is used in place of SUDs to define the disease that affects the brain of a person and their behaviors (Hawk & D’Onofrio, 2018). In DA, the affected persons develop the inability to control the use of legal or illegal drugs. SUDs arise when a person using drugs such as alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, or other drugs harms them or others (Brook et al., 2002). Therefore, in this study, both DA and SUDs will be used interchangeably since the term addiction itself goes beyond dependence on substances such as cocaine or heroin (Brook et al., 2002). It defines a situation where an individual is unable to stop taking some drug, whether legal or illegal hence their dependence on substances, including chemicals (Merikangas & McClair, 2012).

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Drugs and Crime

According to the 2012 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the current DA and SUDs in individuals between 15 and 64 years old account for up to 6.6% of the population around the world (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2012). Though SUDs cause a significant public health concern requiring economic and social intervention, they also lead to negative consequences for an individual. The recurrent and continuous use of alcohol and illicit substances causes impairments with clinical and functional significance resulting in SUDs (Albertson et al., 2015).

Studies have indicated that those individuals who seek treatment for the use of substances often abstain compared to those who do not go for treatment (Beaumont et al., 2016). Recent research, however, identified the relapse rate up to 60% following the substance use treatment (Eriksson et al., 2018). The prediction of relapse of post-treatment substance use has been identified and influenced by numerous risk factors. Among these factors include self-efficacy, stress, motivation, and negative affect, among others (Eriksson et al., 2018). The current scenario indicates that the common approaches used in the treatment of substance use are groups with mutual support and programs with 12-step, including Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous (Basharpoor et al., 2014). These approaches often advocate for abstinence, and their application is often seen as better than having no treatment at all.

However, even with the suggested treatment approaches, they may not be effective for some substance users, especially those who have comorbid psychiatric problems. Empirical evidence shows that SUDs make it difficult for users to regulate their emotions and are not easy for them to understand and identify their emotions (Eriksson et al., 2018). As a result, practitioners and researchers have focused on utilizing alternate and additional treatments for various addictive disorders, considering the identified risk factors in relation to relapses (Carlyle et al., 2019). In the process, self-compassion is considered a positive emotional stance towards oneself. Multiple studies correlate the presence of self-compassion strategies to have positive affect. Psychologists such as Neff indicated self-compassion as a strategy that allows individuals to accept the negative feelings with, understanding, kindness, awareness, and a humanity sense (Cavicchioli et al., 2018). Self-compassion is identified as the potential protective action for relapse following the treatment. This is enabled by a variety of psychological and behavioral therapies that have been identified to demonstrate effectiveness, such as the 12-step facilitation therapy (12-SFT), motivational enhancement therapy (MET), and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) (Albertson et al., 2015). These therapies serve as a conventional intervention strategy to support self-compassion.

Self Determination

The concept of self-compassion has been synonymous with Eastern philosophical thought, though it is relatively a new concept for Western psychology. As a result, the past years have seen significant dialogue between Western psychology and Eastern philosophical thought with particular reference to Buddhism (Chen et al., 2019). The dialogue has been critical in changing the understanding of mental wellbeing as the focus shifts to the concept of self-compassion, which is majorly a Buddhist idea.

In the Buddhist psychology, self-determination defines how a person relates to the self- with kindness. Many other psychologists, such as Kristin Neff, measured and operationally defined self-compassion as the kindness one has towards self (Neff, 2003). According to psychologists, self-compassion is being supportive, understanding, and gentle instead judging self harshly based on personal shortcomings. It offers self-warmth and unconditional acceptance and creates the ability to recognize how different it is from making a bad decision to being a bad person (Platt, 2018).

It is, therefore, suggestive that self-compassion directly relates with the feelings of compassion and the concern one has for others. It, then, means that a self-compassionate person is not selfish or self-centered, nor such a person prioritizes self needs than others (Albertson et al., 2015). Instead, having self-compassion encompasses acknowledging that the human condition is characterized by failure, suffering, and being inadequate (Brooks et al., 2012). Similarly, one gets to know that everyone, including oneself, is worthy of compassion. The metacognitive activity undertaken in self-compassion should be such that they recognize the related self-experiences and those of others. Many psychologists, the whole process is intended to break the self-absorption and self-identification circles where people feel develop the feeling of egocentrism and having an entitlement to oneself (Eriksson et al., 2018). Consequently, it facilitates the reduction of the egocentric feelings where individuals tend to separate from others. Simultaneously, the interconnectedness feeling is increased while putting the personal experience of a person in greater perspective to see one's suffering. Psychologists view self-compassion as having an understanding and kind attitude towards oneself when a person feels emotional pain and failure (Armstrong and Rimes, 2016).


Studies have associated self-compassion with significant outcomes that affect functioning of psychology, including optimism, one’s positive affect, and the general wellbeing of a person (Eriksson et al., 2018). Research has indicated that self-compassion relate to lower stress, depression, and anxiety. Research has also established self-compassion as being effective in buffering against distressing experiences considering that those people that are more self-compassionate strain less when they face rejection, failure, and embarrassment (Brooks et al., 2012). Thus, the usefulness of self-compassion concerning a person's attitude towards oneself and their wellbeing has been continuously growing. This growing usefulness has attracted multiple studies towards attempting to further the understanding self-compassion itself as a construct and the attached facets.

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