Nimali, Gayanthika set to provide ideal start to Sri Lanka’s campaign

A healthy rivalry for supremacy in middle and long distance running commenced when they were schooling at remote Sooriyawewa and it grew into the most looked forward to battle at National Athletics Championships from the time Nimali Liyanarachchi shifted to the 800 metres from steeplechase to compete against her school alumni Gayanthika Abeyratne. This battle went a step further when they started brushing shoulders at the Asian level in the women’s 800 metres.

In Liyanarachchi Sri Lanka has an athlete defending a gold medal for the first time in many years when the 23rd Asian Athletics Championships commences in Doha, Qatar on Sunday. Abeyratne will want to better the silver medal she won behind Liyanarachchi at the last edition. Their competition will be one of the looked forward to events in Sri Lanka’s prospective on day one.

“She (Nimali) is doing well and I am also confident. I am happy to compete against her because whoever wins it will be good for Sri Lanka,” Abeyratne told The Island. ccording to IAAF statistics the Sri Lankan duo are among the top performers of the region. They earned their qualification by producing mpressive performances at the selection trials held in February and March.

Liyanarachchi clocked 2:02.83 seconds to win the first trial held in February. Abeyratne was placed second in that trial for a time of 2:03.36 seconds. When they met again in the second trial the result was similar with the time achieved being slightly different to the previous one. Liyanarachchi clocked 2:02.65 seconds. Abeyratne returned a time of 2:03.62 seconds.

Apart from competing in the 800 metres Liyanarachchi will also compete in the 4×400 metres. The others in the team are Nadeesha Ramanayake, Upamali Ratnakumari and Dilshi Kumarasinghe. The athletes from Sooriyawewa have provided local fans with lot of entertainment throughout the last few years with their tight contests. It will be interesting to see how they continue to thrill the fans when they compete once again on a different soil. The heats of the women’s 800 metres will be conducted at 11.00 am Sri Lanka time on Sunday. They wi

State Vesak Day Festival holds from May 15-21

The State Vesak Day Festival will be held from May 15-21 at the Thotagamuwa Ranpath Rajamaha Viharaya, Thelwatta in the Galle District.Two hundred temples and Dhamma schools will be developed concurrent to this programme with a minimum of Rs.200,000 allocated for each temple to develop sanitary facilities, buildings and Dhamma schools, District Buddhist Affairs Unit sources said.

A number of programmes covering the district will be held in parallel with the State Vesak Festival where around 3,000 schoolchildren will observe Sil and participate in meditation programmes. There will also be programmes introduced on the preservation of old olas, compose the ‘Galu Viharawanshaya,’ developing Dhamma school buildings, the preservation of archaeological sites at ancient temples, demarcation of temples, implementing of tree planting programmes, conducting awareness programmes on the protection and preservation of Buddhist Literature, drug prevention programmes, providing scholarships for 500 children, conducting education and cultural exhibitions and reconstruction of roads near temples.
A Rs.20 million project to develop the historical Rathpath Mahanaya in Hikkaduwa is in progress under the auspicies of the Central Cultural Fund, Department of Archaeology, Road Development Authority and the Department of Buddhist Affairs.

Let’s observe this ‘Double Joint’ Understanding the Hypermobility Syndrome

We may come across individuals who claim to have ‘loose’ or ‘double joints,’ but the condition they are actually referring to is hypermobility.For acrobats, athletes and dancers, being graced with natural hypermobility may be perceived as a major advantage against their less (naturally) flexible competitors. However its precarious side, especially in the long-run and its connection to more serious issues like Ehlers-Danlos or Marfan Syndromes is one that isn’t commonly discussed. Shedding light on all the aspects of Hypermobility, Dr. Himantha Atukorale, Consultant in Rheumatology and Rehabilitation spoke to the
Health Capsule.

Defining Hypermobility
While society most often views this condition as a case of extreme flexibility of certain parts of the body, Dr. Atukorale explained that there’s more to it.
“Hypermobility takes into consideration the joint mobility. That is; how moveable the joints are. There are various reasons as to why the joints move beyond the normal range of movement. Any condition that can cause an excessive movement of joints, we define as a hypermobility syndrome.”

He added that hypermobility considers the “elasticity of the tissues that surround the joint. The area within the joint is healthy, the bones are alright, but somet aspects surrounding the bone including the capsules, the muscles, and the ligaments being elastic can give rise to excessive mobility.”

Causes of Hypermobility
“It could be inherited. There is familial hypermobility syndrome where certain families and their children have hypermobility. This is the commonest cause, but mutations are also possible, where suddenly someone gets it and it cannot be traced back to parents or relatives.”
Dr. Atukorale also mentioned that there are Syndromes associated with hypermobility -such as Marfan or Ehlers-Danlos – usually  inherited disorders that are passed on to children by their parents.

Signs and symptoms
According to the American College of Rheumatology, while some children may have no symptoms, others may have joint and muscle pains or mild swelling in the late afternoon or evening or after exercise. These aches and pains are more common in the knees, elbows, and calf and thigh muscles. Symptoms usually improve with rest.Hypermobile children are more prone to sprains, soft tissue injuries and dislocations of affected joints. Some children may have chronic pain. Others may have loose skin, increased bruising, thin scars and nerve compression disorders.Growing pains may be more common with hypermobile children. These are cramping or deep, aching pains of the legs, thighs or calf muscles. They typically occur at night and usually are relieved by massage. The involved joints do not tend to have any signs of inflammation like redness or warmth.
Most children become less flexible as they grow older, and their symptoms improve. Rarely, however, symptoms may persist, and a few people are prone to recurrent injuries or dislocations.

Associated risks
While it is common to see children with hypermobility compete seriously in the sporting arena, their temporary edge over the rest may take a turn with time.
“Children with hypermobility may excel in activities like gymnastics, but the long-term outcomes may be disastrous, if they are not properly trained. Excessive training of the body to accept hypermobility may lead to joint instability later on. So they are more prone to joint disease later on in their adulthood,” Dr. Atukorale stated.

“There are serious instances when hypermobility may cause other problems like issues with blood vessel or heart problems. People who have various imbalances in their spine or joints may encounter secondary problems. For example, if someone with hypermobility has an abnormal spinal curvature, this could put pressure on their other healthy structures and cause long-term joint diseases or muscular skeletal pain,” the doctor said.

And as mentioned earlier, there is the possibility that, children may have a more widespread connective tissue disorder associated with their hypermobility such as Marfan or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

Diagnosis
Most often, hypermobility is detected and diagnosed when they are children or adolescents. Dr. Atukorale described the use of the Beighton Score System to diagnose hypermobility. This assesses how long the pain has persisted, the symptoms experienced and studies the relevant joints which include toes, ankles, hips and even the neck.“Some may have only three or four joints with hypermobility, where as other joints are healthy. It is debatable if we should still classify such children as hypermobile, but we still go ahead with physiotherapy and exercises to minimize the symptoms and stabilize the joints,” he explained.Dr. Atukorale continued that while some people seek medical help as a result of experiencing joint pains and aches, others ( predominantly adolescents) simply discover that they possess hypermobility and consult them with inquiries about the condition. He stressed that early and apt diagnosis is crucial in preventing injuries.
After assessment, the hypermobility may be categorised as mild, moderate or severe. If it is severe, they are given expansive lifestyle modification advice, but if it is mild they are simply directed to physiotherapy.

Treatment of Hypermobility
“There is no proper cure as such for hypermobility, because it affects your connective tissue. This cannot be reversed or changed by administering drugs. If it does persist, the main thing we do is give good advice as what not to do in their adulthood,” Dr. Atukorale expressed.He added that if a patient with severe hypermobility is engaged in a profession that demands much manual labour, they may be advised to consider a career change in order to avoid many health issues. In addition, even when it comes to sports or fitness, hypermobile people are discouraged from certain activities like weightlifting which might prompt serious spinal problems.“Pain killers and other tablets don’t usually work. The underlying issue cannot be addressed using painkillers or tablets. Even if it helps in the short-run, in the long run there could be serious side effects from these tablets. So we recommend physical therapy instead,” Dr. Atukorale said.

Liver consumption good or bad?

As of now we have to live in a world where all consumables, especially foods, are associated with hazardous compounds, which adversely affect our health. For example, not like during the ancient time, now we don’t have fresh and pure green harvest. There was a time when agriculture  didn’t use chemical fertilizer and pesticides; made available with industrialization. Not only fruits and vegetables, animal food resources are also contaminated with chemicals such as certain drugs and food additives in order to earn a big profit. Animal based foods are generally a solid source of protein. These days, people are more interested in organ meats because the latter promises good nutrition values such as a rich source of  vitamins and minerals including vitamin B, iron, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin D , vitamin E and vitamin K.
Among different kinds of organ meat, liver is the most nutrient dense meat and it is a powerful source of vitamin A. This vitamin is beneficial for eye health and for reducing diseases that cause inflammation, including everything from Alzheimer’s disease to arthritis. Moreover, the liver contains folic acid, iron, chromium, copper, and zinc and is known to be particularly good for the heart and for increasing hemoglobin level in the blood. As a result of these benefits, most of the people are willing to eat the liver of animals and fish. However, there are some health risks which are associated with frequent animal liver consumption. Liver is the largest organ in animals. It has three vital functions including detoxification, synthesis and storage.  It is true that the liver should not be consumed frequently because the liver is some sort of water and food filter, metabolizing nutrients, and accumulating these undesirable substances.

Toxicity due to antibiotics residue
During past few decades, poultry has gone through massive growth and due to the increase of production, farmers tend to use certain drugs and feed additives in order to prevent diseases, for treatment and growth promotion. However, the excessive use of antimicrobial drugs accumulate in the tissues and organs of treated animals as residues and eventually become part of the food pyramid. For example, studies have discovered higher concentrations of levamisole (drugs used to treat parasitic worms) residues in liver of broiler chicken compared with other body tissues, including thigh muscles, due to the lipid-soluble nature of the drug. The veterinary drug residues in poultry products can potentially be transmitted to humans via consumption of contaminated edible parts such as liver and it leads into serious public health hazards such as antibiotic resistant bacterial formation, allergic manifestations, or alteration of useful microflora of digestive tract to no microflora and/or harmful or non-healthy microflora. Moreover, Penicillin (Antibiotic) residues are considered as the most problematic because of the vulnerability of a large proportion of allergic people and residues of penicillin in poultry can lead to severe anaphylactic reactions while eggs containing residues of sulfonamides in higher concentrations cause skin allergies upon consumption. Furthermore, the residual levels of tetracycline (antibiotic) in meat consumed by human have been reported to lead to poor fetal development, staining of teeth in young children, gastrointestinal disorders, and pro-inflammatory, toxic to living cells and immuno-pathological effects. Likewise, residual amounts of tilmicosin (antibiotic) affect hematological; white blood cell (WBC), red blood cell (RBC), total protein, albumen, cholesterol, and triglyceride concentration. Most of veterinary drugs residual in animal based diet may produce toxic, mutagenic, or cancer effects, transmit antibiotic resistance among human gut microorganisms and also reproductive abnormalities or bone marrow toxicity.

Toxicity due to mycotoxin
Mycotoxins are toxic metabolites produced by fungus under specific conditions. Among them, aflatoxins, dangerous toxicants and health hazards for both humans and animals is produced by toxigenic fungi mainly Aspergillusflavus, Aspergillusparasiticus and Aspergillusnomius. Aflatoxins, even in small amounts, are biologically active compounds that pose potential toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic effects in human as well as in farm animals  due to poor quality feed. According to the previous research, Aflatoxins B1 was detected in chicken liver and gizzard samples confirming the poultry’s exposure through feed or feed ingredients.  Aflatoxins B1 is known as the most toxic and carcinogenic natural toxicant which may cause liver cancer.

Toxicity due to growth of hormone residue
Besides antimicrobial drugs, hormones are extensively used for growth promotion because one of the major factors controlling the deposition of protein in an animal is the activity of the hormones circulating in its blood. The hormonal substances used in animal production are the naturally occurring steroids such as estradiol-17β, progesterone, and testosterone, as well as synthetic compounds including zeranol used to  improve meat quality by decreasing the deposition of fat, producing the lean meat that consumers desire, increase feed efficiency, thereby allowing more growth with less feed, increase lactation period in cows when injected with bovine growth hormone. Growth promoting hormones enhance endogenous estrogen production and growth.  In general, orally administered estradiol is inactive because it is metabolized and conjugated in the gastrointestinal tract and liver. Studies have shown that growth hormone residues in animal liver adversely affect human health including neurobiological, genotoxic and carcinogenic effects. There is a recent research evidence that the natural hormone 17β-oestradiol has to be considered as a complete carcinogen and it exerts both tumor initiating and tumor promoting effects. Estrogens bind to the estrogen receptor and subsequently stimulate cancer cell growth in breast, endometrial and ovaries.

Toxicity due to heavy metals
There are two types of minerals namely essential and non-essential minerals whereas essential minerals are also toxic to our body if it exceeds the required limit. The metal level in many aquatic ecosystems has increased due to environmental pollution caused by human activities and fish in this ecosystem consume water which are contaminated with heavy metals. Eventually, it raises the concerns of metal bioaccumulation in human and related health hazards via food chain. The particular study in our country has discovered that affinity of heavy metals accumulation in fish liver is higher than in other parts of the fish such as muscle and gills. According to this study, most of fish’s muscle tissue is not an active organ for accumulation of heavy metals while their liver has more capacity to store metal ions by producing metallothioneins which appears as a metal detoxification mechanism within the body. Metallothioneins is a cystein rich protein in animals and their synthesis can be induced by a wide variety of metal ions such as cadmium, copper and zinc. Lead, cadmium and mercury are biologically non-essential metals and accumulation of these ions in human tissues is harmful to human health.

Vitamin A toxicity
The potentially harmful effect of eating liver is vitamin A toxicity since liver is a good source for vitamin A. The body stores any vitamin A, which is not used for future use. Hence, we do not need to consume it every day.  As mentioned in research studies, eating too much liver can interfere with our bone density and contribute to fractures because of its high vitamin A content. Other effects of vitamin A toxicity include blurred vision, trouble with muscular coordination and birth defects.
In conclusion, we have to avoid frequent consumption of liver meat since it has several adverse effects on our health eventhough liver meat is a more nutritious source of animal food.

(The writer is a medical laboratory technologist at a private hospital and holds a MSc. Degree in Industrial and Environmental Chemistry from the University of Kelaniya and BSc. Food Production and Technology Management Degree from the Wayamba University of Sri Lanka)

(under the courtesy of dailymirror.lk news web)

Stepping out of a stroke It’s all about time

Of all the self-fulfilling prophecies in our culture the assumption that ageing means decline and poor health is probably the deadliest” says Marilyn Ferguson. Everybody ages, but getting there in the right way at right time can be misinterpreted by most people, re-defining the process of ageing as something deadly and debilitating. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), healthy ageing “is the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age”. Functional ability in simple words is the capabilities that enable all people to be and do what they have reason to value which includes a person’s ability to meet his or her basic needs, learn, grow and make decisions, be mobile, build and maintain relationships and to contribute to society.

Stroke is one of the biggest worries, one can encounter during old age and its after-effects can completely demoralise the affected person as well as the family. The incidence of stroke has risen significantly during the past few decades, probably due to the unaccepted lifestyles of our people. Hence on today’s Health Capsule, we are discussing on this timely topic with input coming from Dr. Prasad Thilakarathna, Registrar in Geriatric Medicine, the National Hospital of Sri Lanka

One of the leading causes of long term disability
“Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability in Sri Lanka with a prevalence of 10.4/1000 in adults and the fourth leading cause of hospital deaths. One person dies of a stroke every six seconds in the world with the main causative factor being thickening of the blood vessels by a process called Atherosclerosis. The older you are, the higher the chance of getting a stroke due to high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol levels, smoking, excessive alcohol, obesity and sedentary lifestyle which have been identified as the commonest risk factors” says Dr. Thilakarathna.

Ways of presentation can vary
The most common and best known presentations of Stroke include numbness or paralysis of a part or one side of the body. Patients can also present with a sudden change in the vision of one eye or both or inability to speak. Some may even start with a severe splitting headache, dizziness and inability to walk steadily. And in severe cases the patient may become unconscious or end up in sudden death. Early interventions are vital in saving the lives of stroke patients and this is where the importance of knowing about the warning signs comes in handy.

“Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, sudden confusion, trouble in speaking or understanding speech, impaired vision in one or both eyes, sudden onset difficulty in walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, sudden onset severe headache with no known cause are all possible warning signs of impending stroke” explains Dr. Thilakarathna. According to him, the time limit within which the brain tissue can be revived lasts for only 4.5 hours (GOLDEN time) after a blockage, so if you suspect a stroke, note the time at which it happened and bring the patient to the nearest hospital as quickly as possible. More importantly, never ever make attempts to give the patient food or liquids as they may have impaired swallowing which can lead to aspiration.

 Golden period 
“Once the patient is brought to the hospital, we immediately get a background history of the situation along with patient’s underlying illnesses which must have predisposed to the condition following which a CT scan of the brain is carried out in order to differentiate a haemorrhagic stroke from an ischemic stroke. This differentiation is extremely important as the rest of the management plan would depend on the type of the stroke. Once a hemorrhage is ruled out antiplatelet drugs like Aspirin and Clopidogrel are recommended as blood thinners to prevent clotting. ‘Clot buster’ is an injection given to remove the offending blood clot by dissolving and it is only given within 4.5 hours from the onset of symptoms” the doctor said.The commencement of early physiotherapy, prevention of pneumonia, pressure sores and clot formation in the leg veins, swallowing assessment and speech therapy are also included in the care of a stroke patient. In simple terms, once the immediate threat to the patient is reversed, our next objective would be to take the patient back to his former lifestyle yet with an improved pattern of living and satisfactory quality of life.

Getting over negativities
Usually following stroke and paralysis, the mobility of a patient is affected adversely (inability to walk, move arms) with the weight of the paralyzed arm on the shoulder causing shoulder pain, immobility of the legs leading to clot formation within the leg veins and body weight on pressure points leading to pressure sores. Furthermore, difficulties in communication, problems in vision and speech, swallowing problems, and loss of bladder and bowel control can also present following stroke in addition to depression, family issues and sexual problems, social issues and economical issues which may arise as long-term consequences. This is why a multi-disciplinary approach is vital when it comes to this kind of pathologies which gives rise to a range of mal-functional aspects of life.

Recovery
“Many people we encounter during our clinical practice pose the question whether a patient can fully recover after a stroke? The answer is “yes”, if the patient reaches a treatment facility within the window period -which is within 4.5 hours- after the onset of symptoms and receives appropriate treatment. However the recovery rate can vary depending on the area of the brain involved, severity of the stroke and care received during the acute and post stroke period. Nevertheless the patient’s motivation and family support play a key role” underscores Dr. Thilakarathna.

Prevention
According to him, getting adhered to a healthy diet, low in saturated fats and sugar, regular exercise, limiting alcohol, abstaining from smoking, stress management and maintaining a healthy BMI (Body mass index) are vital in prevention of strokes. Controlling high blood pressure, cholesterol level and diabetes is also essential in spreading awareness regarding stroke symptoms and the importance of seeking immediate medical care. Even if symptoms settle, these procedures will definitely support in minimizing the complications.

Advances in treatment 
“Mechanical thrombectomy is the latest technique employed in the management of stroke, where a device is used to suck out or grab the offending clot from the target vessel. The patient can be treated up to 24 hours from the onset of the stroke using this modality. Catheter directed administration of the thrombolytic agent (“clot buster”) directly on to the clot is also a novel option” highlights Dr. Thilakarathna.

Mini-stroke or “Transient ischemic attack” (TIA) 
“This was earlier described as a sudden onset of focal neurological symptoms or signs lasting less than 24 hours. However, the latest definition of TIA is a transient neurological dysfunction without acute brain infarction (tissue injury) where there is no cell death and the patient recovers fully without a residual weakness. “Mini stroke” is a minor form of stroke which creates a slight numbness on one part of the body without any disabling neurological deficit like impaired vision, speech or paralysis of dominant hand. However, both forms are associated with increased risk of recurrent strokes” he said. Take home message
Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability, adversely affecting one’s physical, mental and economical well-being. Time is vital in the management of stroke, which is why knowledge of early symptoms is essential.Prompt initiation of treatment can result in minimal disabilities.Stroke can be prevented by adhering to a healthy lifestyle and optimizing co-morbidities.

You use, you lose’ Perceiving drug addiction as beatable

Most often the society fails to see why addiction, particularly to substances, is difficult to overcome. Moreover, drug users are labelled as lacking in moral principles and willpower. Such stereotypes, instead of discouraging the habit, only discourage victims from seeking help.

Within Sri Lanka, the ‘trend’ that is drugs has seeped into victimize almost all parts of society.

According to the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board, even children below the age of 14 have experienced their first introduction to a substance.

On account of this reality, creating crucial awareness and sharing the facts of the issue, Dr. Manoj Fernando, Senior Lecturer in Health Promotion at the Rajarata University of Sri Lanka and Member of the Expert Committee on drugs, SLMA spoke to the Health Capsule.

Understanding the addiction

“If an individual is to experience withdrawal symptoms due to the sustained use of a substance over a period of time, then it is safe to say that that person has fallen into addiction,” Dr. Fernando explained.

The issue of addiction encapsulates multiple phenomena and conditions, each of which he addressed.

Physical dependence

“Physical dependence is also known as chemical dependence. It is a dependency that is created because of the chemical constituents of a particular drug.  It usually takes time to develop, because the chemicals take time to generate the dependency within the individual,” Dr. Fernando expressed.

This physical dependence on substances is based on numerous factors which vary from person to person. These include: The duration of drug use,  The Quantity, The Frequency and Biological qualities of the user.

Furthermore, “physical dependence also varies according to the type of the drug.  The dependence is created sometimes by the drug itself, and on other times by the chemical ingredients of the drug. In Heroin, for example, the dependence producing substance is Diacetylmorphine (its active ingredient) which is mixed with various other compounds in a packet of heroin whereas in Alcohol, the Alcohol itself is addictive,” he continued.

Additionally, in Cannabis it is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) which  is the main chemical compound that causes physical dependency and in cigarettes where 4000 harmful chemicals constitute the tobacco smoke, it is the addictive ingredient named Nicotine.

Psychological dependency

“Psychological dependency takes into account the psychological situation of a person. For example, certain myths, beliefs, opinions and perceptions created about a drug can lead to this. Most often, people are influenced by the attitudes and perceptions of the industry,” Dr. Fernando expressed.

He explained that once you take drugs, the need to continue is often aroused by this psychological dependency and this can develop even in occasional drug users.

According to him, the inability to unwind and have fun without the aid of drugs is a clear example of being psychologically dependent. Feeling empty and incomplete without drugs in such situations are symptoms of psychological ‘withdrawal.’

This condition is not synonymous with craving. An urge to use drugs may be natural especially in a person who has quit substance after a long period of use. Psychological dependence however, is beyond this. It is the conviction that drugs are absolutely necessary to achieve a sense of purpose, relief and relaxation whether it is at a social gathering, a party etc, that makes this differentiation. The main reason for this is the expectations of the person to use drugs which was created by drug related attitudes, beliefs, opinions and wrong perceptions.

 Tolerance

“With time, the drug user increases the quantity of the drug to get the same effect due to the adaptation of the body to the dose the person was using for a long period. That is tolerance, “Dr. Fernando explained.

As the drug is used repeatedly, the body adapts to its continued presence, hence an individual who was once satisfied with a quarter of a bottle of alcohol, may with time need an entire bottle to experience that same effect. It is clear that while increasing the dosage may re-amplify its effects, it is also dangerously accelerating one’s tolerance.

Classifying drugs

Drugs may be classified in multiple ways; including illegal and legal. However this classification lacks any scientific basis.

“Some legal drugs are stronger than illegal ones. Tobacco for example kills 20,000 Sri Lankans and alcohol kills another 10,000 Sri Lankans annually,” Dr. Fernando said.

If we were to classify drugs based on their effect, we would find depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens to be the most relevant groups to Sri Lanka.

1.       Depressants- These drugs would inhibit the function of one’s central nervous system. This is the most common type of substance in Sri Lanka.

Alcohol and Heroin are examples.

2.       Stimulants – These stimulate the central nervous system, in an unsuspectingly harmful way. It will keep you awake and alert, but the danger occurs once the effect of the drug wears off. You may experience a downward trend where the brain cells are decreased by the release of neurotransmitters and the normal function of the brain is destroyed.

This will lead to various neurological and psychological complications.

Methamphetamines and amphetamines are examples.

3.       Hallucinogens – These act on the central nervous system differently. Unpleasant auditory and visual hallucinations will cause its users to fall into addiction.

LSD and Cannabis are  examples.

The Consequences

A few moments of exhilaration, escape and wrongly perceived ‘thrill’ may induce a greater cost than you imagined. Both in the short and long-terms, the body is made susceptible to a plethora of ill effects.

Short Term Effects are; the depressing effect of the substance, drowsiness, headache, imbalance, loss of control of the nervous system, gastric Irritation, vomiting and nausea and increased blood pressure and heart rate.

Long Term Effects are; cancers ( predominantly due to tobacco and alcohol), heart diseases, heart attacks, kidney failures, liver diseases like cirrhosis, lung diseases, sexual impotence in men, psychiatric diseases, blindness, gastritis, muscular disorders, harmful impact on growth of a foetus when pregnant mothers are exposed to substances
The link between alcohol dependency and suicide.

Withdrawal state

“One of the most important aspects of physical dependency is that when you try to stop taking a particular drug, there are certain physiological bodily responses called withdrawal symptoms. The duration and the intensity of the ‘withdrawal period’ varies based on the nature of the drug as well as the user,” Dr. Fernando stated.

Medication is particularly used in the management of withdrawal symptoms like tremors, body aches, diarrhoea and so on.

“Heroin withdrawal symptoms are mostly managed with psychotherapy techniques, but for alcohol dependency, medication is most likely needed,” he added.

And if a person is psychologically strong, motivated and more prepared for the recovery process, the withdrawal duration may be shorter.

For most drugs, the withdrawal period varies from 2 weeks to one month.

Treatment

The notion that once you have fallen victim to drugs, it is pointless to minimise or quit, is false. No matter when or how you push yourself to release your mind and body from the grip of addiction, you will make a difference.  This is why it is important that treatment is sought out.

“Most of the time, the substance users do not need medical products to recover, because most often using a substance is a habitual or behavioural problem, so they require behavioural adjustments, the guidance of a capable therapist etc,” Dr. Fernando said.

However in the case of psycho-therapeutic approaches being unsuitable for an individual, specific medications may be the option.

Further urging treatment, Dr. Fernando expressed that “if an individual has recovered and stopped the particular drug, the risk to that individual reduces. Irrespective of the age or the duration of usage, it is always beneficial to minimise the risk and cut down on your intake.”

Proving his statement, the WHO reveals that a person who quits smoking would experience a list of health benefits:

nWithin a mere 20 minutes: their heart rate and blood pressure drops.

nWithin 2-12 weeks: Their circulation improves and their lung function increases.

nWithin 1 year: Their risk of coronary heart disease is about half of that of a smoker’s.

Additionally, a quitter

 

  • Aged 30 would gain almost 10 years of life expectancy.
  • Aged 40 would gain 9 years of life expectancy.
  • Aged 50 would gain 6 years of life expectancy.

 

The way forward

The ideal scenario of course would be that drug consumers immediately terminate their relationship with these killer substances. However, even in the midst of hesitation or reluctance to do so, Dr. Fernando urges the consultation of a therapist or a doctor. For, being aware of the regularity and intensity of one’s habit is the first step toward controlling and minimizing it.
“Quitting is not that difficult. The industry and the people around make it seem difficult with their perceptions and opinions, “Dr. Fernando quipped.

As a society, instead of turning a blind eye to the issue or dropping labels, we too can aid their journey towards recovery. Families should support the victim and seek professional help together.And when it comes to the parents, their child’s entire world is in their hands.

According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (2015) 4 in 5 students saw anyone using tobacco on television, videos or movies. And 9 in 10 students noticed anti-tobacco messages in the media.This reveals to us that almost the entire young population of the country may be reached via media platforms.The decision to use this wide-scale tool to promote or discourage substance use however is in the hands of society as a whole.