26 Jun 2018 //

Drug Abuse—The Reason of Many Senseless Deaths


“The intense societal shaming and criminalization of her addictions led to more resistance by my mother to seek the treatment she needed, until she eventually stopped trying to quit altogether. The stigmatization of her disease impacted me profoundly as a child — almost as much as the regular abuses I endured from her due to her addictive behavior. Whether it was being the regular target of smacking, lying, spitting, stealing, or vicious name-calling, it stung all the more because society made me feel complicit by relation.”

-Laura Kiesel. ‘Addiction, the opioid crisis, and family pain’ from Harvard Health Blog



Introduction to Drugs Abuse

We are aware of drugs and uses them often. They are chemical substances that when inserted would cause changes to the function of the body and/or brain. Medicines, whether prescribes by health professionals or obtained from pharmacies, are legal to help us to attain health, which sometimes they may also be abused. It is important to know that some drugs are illegal—which means it is against the law to own, use or sell these drugs. These illegal drugs are so dangerous that many countries across the globe collide against the use of the drugs. Many international agencies, such as The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and World Health Organization, government agencies such as The National Anti-Narcotics Agency of the Republic of Indonesia have been working in addressing this matter.

Drugs cloud the judgment of users, which means drug users are at higher risks in performing violent behaviors and having unsafe sex. Unsafe sex may lead to the infection of hepatitis, HIV and/or other sexually transmitted diseases. Based on the data obtained from WHO, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among injecting drug users (IDUs) in Indonesia was estimated to be between 60-98% in 2005. Many people who use drugs are often found to be depressed, lonely and feeling sick. They will also not care about their physical appearance.


“People who use illegal drugs come from all kinds of backgrounds. Be it female and, young and old, rich and poor, working and unemployed, from the city and the countryside—it does not matter. Drug use can affect anyone.”


Many Kinds of Illegal Drugs and Their Impact on Our Body

Although will be discussed separately, different types of drugs are often mixed together. This mixing can have severe and unforeseeable effects on the body and/or mind of the user.

Cannabis—Cannabis is produced from the dried flowering tops and leaves of the cannabis plant. All forms of cannabis are usually smoked with the similar manner of tobacco. Large dosing may alter one’s mind characterized with slow and confused thinking. Regular users of cannabis may develop addiction to the point where they lack interest in doing other activities including working and personal relationship. Cannabis smoke contains 50% more tar than the cigarette, which puts users at an increased risk of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases.


Cocaine—Cocaine is white powder that acts as a powerful stimulant. Another type of cocaine, the crack, is a type of cocaine that has been further processed with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Cocaine is usually sniffed/snorted or injected, whereas crack is smoked. If inserted in a short-term period, cocaine cause loss of appetite, faster breathing, increased body temperature and heart rate. This drugs may also cause violent and absurd behavior among users. Excessive doses of cocaine may lead to seizures, stroke, cerebral haemorrhage and/or heart failure, which can be followed by death. Sudden death risk is higher when cocaine is mix with alcohol.



Ecstasy—Ecstasy is a psychoactive stimulant that is usually swallowed but can also be snorted or injected. Ecstasy makes users feel more sociable and energetic. When used in a short-term period, ecstasy can make the body ignore distress signals (such as dehydration, dizziness, and exhaustion) and may interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature. Long-term use may cause convulsions, heart failure, depression and memory loss, as the drugs injured many organs including the heart and the brain. Restlessness, anxiety and severe hallucinations are common when the dosing is high.

Heroin—Processed from morphine, heroin is an addictive drug with pain-killing properties. Heroin users usually injected the drugs into the body, but the drugs can also be snorted, smoked or inhaled. Heroin is highly addictive and may easily make users be physically and physiologically dependent. Heroin caused users feeling detached from emotional or physical distress or pain, and euphoria if inserted in an even higher dose. Tolerance of heroin is quite common; hence users acquire higher doses to achieve the effect that they want. Overdose may lead to coma and death through respiratory depression.


LSD—LSD is a semi-synthetic drug which came from a compound found in fungus that grows on grains. It is usually swallowed. LSD causes delusions and distorted perceptions of users. Sense of time and depth may alter, and the perception of colors, sounds, and touch seem more intense. Some LSD users experience severe and terrifying thoughts of death and insanity.


Methamphetamine—a synthetic drug that usually comes in the form of powder, tablet or as crystals. It can be swallowed, sniffed, smoked or injected. Extreme dosing may lead to seizure and death from respiratory failure, stroke or heart failure. Long-term dosing may cause psychological dependence, triggers aggressiveness, violent and absurd behavior among users.


Current Issue in Indonesia

According to the WHO, 1.5% of the Indonesian population aged 15-64 years was estimated to have ever used drugs (BNN & Puslitkes, 2005). The highest number of drugs consumed is the cannabis (71%), followed by methamphetamine (15%) (BNN & Puslitkes, 2005; McKetin et al., 2008). In 2005, the prevalence of opiate abuse was 0.2% among the adult population, cocaine abuse was 0.03%, and amphetamine abuse was 0.3% (World Drug Report, 2008).



  1. Get The Facts About Drugs [Internet]. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; 2008 [cited 25 June 2018]. Available from: https://www.unodc.org/documents/drugs/getthefacts_E.pdf
  2. Kiesel L. Addiction, the opioid crisis, and family pain – Harvard Health Blog [Internet]. Harvard Health Blog. 2017 [cited 26 June 2018]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/addiction-the-opioid-crisis-and-family-pain-2017110212664.
  3. ATLAS of Substance Use Disorders Resources for the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Use Disorders (SUD) Country Profile: INDONESIA [Internet]. World Health Organization; 2010 [cited 25 June 2018]. Available from: http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/atlas_report/profiles/indonesia.pdf
  4. Waluyo, Imam & WBHT, Jenry & Wen, Huang-Ya. (2012). Drug abuse prevention education in Indonesia.