Education free essay: Teens’ Drugs and Happiness
Happiness is universal, implying that all human beings, including the teens, pursue for it. In fact, happiness is one of the most pressing innate needs of human beings. When the teens lack the feeling of happiness, they feel as if there is something they are missing in their lives. However, they might not be able to identify exactly what they are missing, until they try taking drugs. Drugs alter the minds of the teens in a way that makes them feel fulfilled and happy (Berghella, 2014). Some scholars have suggested that drugs do not provide real happiness; they just divert the minds of the drug users from thinking about the reality (Berghella, 2014). Evidence derived from the previous studies, however, has shown that drugs facilitate the release of body hormones that facilitate happiness. The questions that emerge are; Do drugs provide real and long-lasting happiness among the teens? Can exposing the teens to alternative approaches of pursuing happiness be effective in reducing the rate of drug abuse among the teens? As explained in this paper, making the teens understand the meaning of happiness and the short- and long-term impacts drug use and alternative sources of happiness can contribute significantly to the reduction in teens’ involvement in drugs.
Prior to exploring the connection between happiness and drug use among the teens, it is vital to examine the meaning of, or the definition of, happiness. “Happiness,” as Gotthelf and Salmieri (2016) explained, happiness does not have a specific or clear-cut definition. This is due to the fact that people experience happiness differently and from different sources. However, scholars have strived to suggest working definitions of happiness. Sonja Lyubomirsky defined happiness as the experience of positive well being, contentment or joy, combined with an individual’s sense that life is worthwhile, meaningful and good. Ayn Rand defined happiness as, “a state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values” (Gotthelf & Salmieri, 2016, p. 80). Mahatma Gandhi explained that happiness is achieved when what you do, what you say and what you think are in harmony. Psychological researchers focus on three components of subjective well-being of human beings when defining happiness, namely life evaluation, eudaimonia and affect. Life evaluation entails an individual’s reflection of his or her life and specific aspects of it. Eudamonia refers to an individual’s sense of good psychological functioning, or purpose and meaning in life. “Affect” refers to an individual’s emotional states or feelings within a given point in time (Gotthelf & Salmieri, 2016). Despite the fact that different definitions of happiness have been proposed, scholars agree that every person has his or her own way of perceiving happiness and defining it.
Although there is lack of a formal clear-cut definition of happiness, the previous studies have shown that there are certain needs that are supposed to be satisfied in order to achieve happiness. Diener and Biswas-Diener (2011) suggested that in order to understand the clear meaning of happiness, we must learn to distinguish it from the short moments of joy that we experience concessionary. As Diener and Biswas-Diener (2011) suggested that in order to realize real happiness, we should focus on pursuing long-time happiness. From his analysis of the previous studies, Martin Seligman noted that one of the factors that contribute to the long-term happiness of individuals is the feeling of pleasure. Pleasure, according to Seligman, emerges from anything that pleases one or more of the five senses of human beings. Examples of sources of pleasure are sleeping in a warm bed and eating delicious food. The second source of happiness is engaging in an enjoyable activity (Diener & Biswas-Diener, 2011). Human beings, according to Seligman, also derive happiness from functional relationships such as social ties. The relationship that provides happiness must be good, such as relationships with family members, friends, classmates and peers. Seligman noted that human beings also derive happiness from finding the meaning of their lives or existence. Also, human beings derive happiness from achievements. Every time when an individual achieves set goals, he/she feels happy. Seligman argued that it is essential to distinguish between the actual feelings of happiness from the feeling life satisfaction. Life satisfaction entails the feelings and thoughts about the life as a whole (Diener & Biswas-Diener, 2011).
Although some scholars have suggested that drugs to not provide happiness to the users, evidence from the previous studies indicate that drugs, indeed, help the users realize happiness. As Mathews and Izquierdo (2009) noted, drugs alter the mental state of the users in a way that they shift focus away from the reality. Consequently, individuals give less focus to the problems, challenges and issues that prevent them from realizing happiness. Most importantly, using some drugs facilitate the release of body hormones that are essential for individuals to become happy. The chemical components of the brain that stimulate happiness when they are released into the body include adrenaline, serotonin, endorphin, oxytocin, dopamine and Endocannabinoids. Each of the hormones mentioned above has a specific function or functions. For instance, serotonin plays the role of boosting a person’s confidence, enhancing sense of worthiness, enhancing the feeling of self-esteem and increasing the sense of belonging (Mathews & Izquierdo, 2009). Oxytocin enhances the feeling of developing trust and loyalty and the feeling of bonding. As such, oxytocin influences people to engage in loving and romantic relationships. Dopamine enhances the feeling of pleasure and the need to seek for more pleasure. Also, dopamine enhances an individual’s reward-giving behavior. Endocannabinoids alters the mental state of individuals in a way that makes them focus on sources of please and reduce focus on the sources of problems and challenges that limit the ability to pursue happiness (Mathews & Izquierdo, 2009). The release of the different types of hormones mentioned above enables individuals to realize happiness. This explains that when the teens consume drugs, they, indeed realize real fulfillment and happiness.
The main problem with the teens’ use of drugs is that the state of the mind is altered to realize the happiness and fulfillment temporarily. The teens feel the happiness only during the duration when the drugs have an effect of “highness” on the brain. When that effect is over, the teens return to the original state (Compton & Hoffman, 2012). In the original state, they find that they are unable to realize happiness from other sources, or they realize that they need to put significant effort and be patient in order to realize happiness without the use of drugs. If a teen has access to the drug that had made him or her realize happiness before, he/she is likely to prefer using it to adopting other alternative approaches in order to realize happiness. Eventually, the teens become used to adopting the short-cut to the extent that they can hardly realize happiness without using drugs. At that point, a teen is said to be addicted to drugs (Compton & Hoffman, 2012).
A teen can use the drugs to realize the happiness occasionally as long as they are available. However, the problem is that in the long-run, the abuse of drugs has a negative impact on the teen’s ability to realize happiness due to the adverse effects of the drugs. The problem with drugs is that they have negative effects on the physiological, social, emotional and psychological functioning of the teens. For instance, the abuse of drugs weakens the immune systems, hence reducing the ability of the body to fight infections. Second, drug abuse causes cardiovascular problems such as heart attack. Further, drug abuse can cause damage to the liver (Edelfield & Moosa, 2011). Further, drug abuse alters the normal functioning of the brain in realizing hormones that facilitate relaxation and happiness. For instance, the brains of people that are addicted to drugs can hardly release dopamine without consuming the drugs (Brick, 2012). As such, drug abuse reduces the ability to realize pressure when a teen is sober. For instance, cocaine interferes with brain functioning or the way the brain releases chemicals that stimulate pleasure and happiness. In order to function normally, a teen that consumes cocaine feels the need to consume more and more of it. Failure to consume the drug leads to feelings of anxiety and depression (Brick, 2012). Drug abuse affects the psychological statuses of the teens in a way that alters their behaviors. For instance, the drug abuse among the teens leads to behavioral problems such as loss of self-control, impulsiveness, impaired judgment, addiction, hallucinations, aggressiveness and paranoia. Teens that consume drugs tend to engage in risky behaviors that expose them to injuries, medical problems and accidents (Brick, 2012).
As Brick (2012) explained, brain development and a lot of learning occur at teenage. Drug abuse by the teen inhibits effective development of the brain. For instance, the development of perceptual abilities is inhibited by drug abuse. Drug abuse reduces the ability of teens to concentrate on their studies and other sources of knowledge (Brick, 2012). As such, drug abuse limits the ability of teens to learn at a point where they should be focused on learning. Evidence derived from the previous studies has shown that drug abuse has a negative impact on the memory. The drugs damages the connection interferes with neurotransmitters within the brain. The cost of some drugs such as cocaine and heroin is very high (Kaminer, 2010). The addicted teens struggle to raise the money to purchase such drugs. In order to raise the money, the teens sometimes engage in risky acts such as robbing and stealing. Inability to get money to purchase the drugs leads the teens to be uncomfortable and stressed. Importantly, drug abuse affects the social life of the teens. When parents, teachers and other members of the society find out that a teen is engaging in drug abuse, they disapprove and rebuke them. Sometimes, the teen are punished because of engaging in drug abuse (Kaminer, 2010). Inability to form good relationships or bonds with family members, teachers, classmates and friends and all the other problems that emerge from the use of drugs ultimately reduce the ability of the teens to realize happiness. At some point, the teens that are addicted to drugs realize that they have made a mistake and thus, they wish to stop taking the drugs. However, they struggle to fight against the addiction, which makes them feel happy. This implies that drug abuse among the teens enables them to realize happiness temporarily, but in the long-run, the consumption of the drugs has a negative impact on the ability to realize happiness.
Since the ultimate goal of the teens is to make them realize happiness, it is essential to that the teens are taught as early as possible about the alternative ways of pursuing happiness in live and the effects of the different alternatives (Diener & Biswas-Diener, 2011). Precisely, the teens should be made to understand that the happiness that is derived from the consumption of drugs is short-lived and on top of that, it is associated with a major cost. Teachers, parents and other member of the community should work together to inform the teens about the long-term impacts of consuming drugs as a ways of pursuing happiness (Diener & Biswas-Diener, 2011). They should emphasize on the importance of pursuing long term happiness and describe the strategies they ought to adopt. For instance, Diener and Biswas-Dienerm (2011) suggested, the teens should be informed about the importance of working hard in studies as way of pursuing happiness later in life. They should be taught that there are alternative ways of stimulating the release of hormones that lead to happiness, which are more effective in the long-run than the use of drugs. Diener and Biswas-Dienerm (2011) suggests that the teens should be assisted to explore their talents and gifts and be challenged to work towards meeting specific goals. Some children engage in drug abuse due to problems such as domestic violence, poverty and other sources of stress and depression. The government and community members should work together to establish alternative sources of happiness for such children, such as providing them with the basic needs and establishing recreation facilities that would allow effective interaction with other children.
Realizing happiness, as explained in the above discussion, is the goal of every person. There are many ways of realizing happiness, and the consumption of drugs is one of them. Most of the available ways of pursuing happiness, such as working hard to achieve goals, require effort and patience. However, such approaches enable individuals to realize long-term and real happiness. Consumption of drugs by the teens acts as a shortcut to the realization of happiness. Drugs alter the state of the mind in a way that makes the teens feel ‘high.’ In that state, the teens shift their focus away from challenges of life and concentrate on inner source of happiness. However, the consumption of drugs provides happiness only temporarily and after some time, an individual returns to the initial state. In the long-run, drug abuse has a negative impact on the ability of teens to realize pleasure and happiness. The consumption of drugs has numerous negative impacts on the psychological, social, emotional and physiological function of the teens, which limit their ability to realize happiness in the long-run. Teaching the teens about the concept of happiness, the sources of happiness and the short- and long-time impacts of pursuing different sources of happiness can make them focus on the long-term sources of happiness rather than the short-term approaches such as the abuse of drugs.
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