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Hazards of chewable tobacco abuse

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By: Syed Majid Gilani

Are you aware of the devastating effects of tobacco abuse? It is truly horrifying to think about the severe damaging effects of tobacco on the brain and nerves. As nicotine present in tobacco enters the blood stream, it immediately influences the brain andthe consequences are dire leading to irreversible damage to the brain, nerves and heart.

But the harm does not stop there. Every Ghutka abuser experiences mood fluctuations,weakened immunity, tooth decay, gastric problems and let us not forget about the impact on the senses of taste and smell as they are greatly diminished among tobacco addicts. It is important to realize that quitting substance abuse is possible, but it requires strong will power, a positive approach and unwavering determination.

There is a myth that chewing tobacco provides temporary relief from worries and tensions, but it is not true, it is quite detrimental to an individual’s health. Substance abuse disorder, which includes addiction to tobacco is a serious issue asdrugs, including tobacco, affect the nervous system and alter mood, perception, cognition, and behaviour of individuals besides hundreds of health issues. They have a profound impact on the chemical makeup of the brain and nervous system, leading to changes in awareness, thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

Substance abuse disorder arises from a combination of factors such as genetic vulnerability, environmental stresses, social pressures, individual personality characteristics and psychiatric problems. It is crucial to understand that substance abuse disorder is a treatable mental disorder that affects both the brain and behaviour. Some individuals struggle to control their use of substances, which can range from moderate to severe symptoms.

Addiction is the most severe form of substance abuse disorder. It is not uncommon for substance abuse disorderly individuals to suffer from other mental health disorders, just as individuals with mental health disorders may also battle substance use. Let all of us individually and collectively take a stand against substance abuse disorder. Together we can raise awareness, provide support and encourage treatment for those affected by this debilitating condition

Did you know that substance abuse disorders and mental health disorders often occur together. Research suggests that there are three possible reasons for this?  First common risk factors contribute to both substances abuse and mental disorders. Second, certain genes may be a risk factor for both conditions, as they can run in families.

Finally, environmental factors like stress or trauma can cause genetic changes that may contribute to the development of either a mental disorder or a substance abuse disorder. Mental disorders can also contribute to substance abuse, people having depression or anxiety usually turn to drugs as a form of self-medication. While these substances may temporarily alleviate symptoms, they can actually make the symptoms worse over time.

Additionally, substance abuse can contribute to the development of other mental disorders and may trigger changes in brain structure and functions leading to symptoms like restlessness, nervousness, anger or depression and bipolar disorder. Furthermore, brain changes in people with mental disorders can enhance the effects of substances, making it more likely, that they will continue to use them. This is particularly concerning when it comes to chewable smokeless tobacco like spit tobacco, Ghutka, naswar, pan-masala,kneini and newla. Actually smokeless tobacco is very common in backward and hilly areas and mostly used by the labourer class, but unfortunately its use has spread throughout the county for being easily available and quite inexpensive. While it was initially used medicinally, it eventually became an addiction with severe consequences for brain health. Spit tobacco or ghutka and all other chewable tobacco products involve chewing finely powdered tobacco leaves, its moist paste, plugs that are placed in the cheek pouches and chewed.

Many people mistakenly believe that smokeless tobacco is less harmful than smoking, but that is hardly the case. It too has numerous ill effects, and can cause severe health related consequences. It is important to be aware of the connection between substance abuse and mental health disorders, and also to understand the risks associated with substances like smokeless tobacco. Your health should always be a top priority, so it is crucial to make informed decisions.

The writer is GST Inspector,Jammu & Kashmir

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