The state of drug dependence or addiction arises from repeated administration of a drug on a periodic or continual basis. Drugs are substances which have a debilitating effect on the mind, central nervous system and general health. Addiction undermines the physical, mental and spiritual competence of individuals. The addictive process usually begins with what is considered to be normal or accepted within society. To take alcohol or chemicals to alleviate strain and stress has a long and almost universal pedigree. It is in the nature of addictive substances that an increasing dosage is required which activates the desire to take the next dose. This is the accumulative effect of drug taking.
Drug dependence has become a world-wide problem, but it seems what was a problem among the lost generation of drop-out youth in the West has turned East, presenting Asia with a vast home-grown problem. In Malaysia, for example, the government has declared the heroin problem the 'No 1 enemy'. Sixty percent of the world's heroin output is now consumed in Asia, and despite increasingly punitive laws against its use, heroin addiction is still increasing at an alarming rate among Asia's teenagers and young adults. In 1984, in Malaysia there were known to be 9,000 addicts, though the actual figure is reckoned to be nearer 500,000; in Pakistan the number has grown to 100,000 in only three years; in Thailand, of 33,000 addicts in treatment centres, nearly 30,000 are heroin cases. In 1990 it was estimated that about 5.5 million people in the USA required treatment for drug dependency, namely over 2% of the population. It was further estimated that the costs to the USA of drug-related crimes was $5 billion in tangible losses to victims of 9 million drug-related crimes, and a further $30 billion in other annual costs relating to such crimes.