Jail Staff Training

Jail Staff Training

The problem of chemical and alcohol addictions stands among the most burning issues of safety and healthcare of today’s society. There are numerous healthcare and research centers which keep searching for the best solution to the problem. In fact, chemical and alcohol addictions are placed among the most dangerous health issues that kill thousands of people regularly, along with all types of cancer and AIDS. “There are more deaths, illnesses and disabilities from substance abuse than from any other preventable health condition” (Horgan et al., 2001, p. 6). Prisoners are considered to be one of the risk groups in this concern. Many of them get to prison already being addicted to some kind of drugs, other chemicals or alcohol. However, there is also a high percentage that becomes addicted while serving the sentence due to many reasons. Working with this part of population, it is crucial to understand the basic reasons and causes of the phenomenon to form an appropriate system of prevention, controlling and elimination of the problem.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, alcoholism is “a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations” (as cited in Weiner, Silberman, Glowacki & Folks, 1997, p. 2). This disease is progressive most of the time and even fatal. A drinker’s suffering starts from such symptoms as losing control over the use of alcohol, drug alcohol preoccupation, and physical discomfort without using alcohol or drugs (Horgan et al., 2001). No possible consequences can stop a drinker from using alcohol. There are also strong thinking distortions among which denial is the strongest one.

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The definition of chemical dependency or drug addiction is the same, in general. Specific symptoms of addictions can differ following to the type of chemical that the patient is dependent on.

The Origins of Addictions

  • Genetic predisposition. There is evidence to suggest that addictions do not emerge out of nowhere. Some people are more inclined to get an addiction, while others are less vulnerable in this regard. Numerous studies from Harvard Medical School prove the fact that genetic predisposition to drug or alcohol abuse is one of the roots of its appearance. In 50 percent of cases, the main cause of getting an addiction was nothing but genetic predisposition (Horgan et al., 2001). In addition, there are bright examples with adopted children whose biological parents were addicts. To illustrate, a child with a genetic predisposition gets adopted by a decent family that gives him or her love, care, brilliant education etc., and the social environment is absolutely normal. Nevertheless, there is still a high risk that getting older a child can start using drugs or drinking. In contrast, if to put a genetically not predisposed child into a family with drug or alcohol issues, the chances that he or she will start using drugs or drinking are low. American scientists have conducted a research among children with hyperactivity syndrome and lack of care. These children had low academic results, were very disseminated, and had serious problems in socialization. This syndrome remains throughout a person’s life, but as an individual gets older, it  weakens. What is more, the syndrome of hyperactivity can be inherited. The research showed that the number of so-called “difficult children” is higher in dysfunctional families with parents or relatives who are addicts. Thus, it is parents’ drug and alcohol abuse that results into children’s destructive syndromes which, in their turn, lead to addictions among their children.
  • Environmental issues. According to Columbia University neuroscientists’ estimate, environmental risk is the second largest one for general population. Some factors of environment are of a significant value. Been raised in a dysfunctional family is a number one factor that leads to addictions. Here, age also plays important role. The earlier a person starts using drugs or drinking, the more likely he or she is to become an addict. Researchers claim that 50 percent of children who drink become alcoholics by the age of 14. Conversely, an individual who refrains from abusing alcohol or using drugs till the age of 21 is less likely to get addicted in further life (Horgan et al., 2001). This circumstance makes children in dysfunctional environment the highest risk group in terms of environmental issues. Another important point is the amount of love, care, emotional support a person gets within a family and in social life. For example, children who have an adult to trust to are much less likely to get addicted than those who do not.
  • Psychological factors. It is largely believed that drugs and alcohol from a psychological point of view play a part of a so-called psychological shield that protects a person from the problems of the outer world and helps to relax. People who are inclined to depressions, rebelliousness, adjustment problems and seeking for sensation are in the risk group. Among the specific pre-drug and pre-alcohol traits we can differentiate: (a) attention-deficit disorders, (b) childhood hyperactivity, (c) history of violence, (d) child neglect or abuse, (e) low academic achievement, (f) psychopathic tendencies, (g) aggressiveness, (h) impulsiveness, (i) emotional instability, (j) lack of inhibition (Horgan et al., 2001).
  • Socio-cultural factors are influential as well. Ethnic background, region of inhabitation, cultural background, age, professional background, religious views, gender, social status are able to affect the level of addiction predisposition of a person. Most popular alcoholic example is an unemployed single man who lives in the urban area.
  • Biological factors. The biological issue in this concern still requires more studies. However, as it has already been proven, if a person has any kind or psychic dysfunction, it is mostly  connected to the lack of serotonin, the element which regulates human’s emotional states, motivations, purposefulness, etc. With the lack of serotonin, an individual starts experiencing deep negative emotions, depressions, apathies, changeable moods and, consequently, searching for the ways to weaken them. This obstacle is also the roar to using drugs and alcohol as both are able to generate positive feelings and distress for a short period.

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