Medicine is also called drugs and is designed for the betterment of mankind, however the wrong use of something as good as even medicine can be dangerous and devastating for people. When all is said and done the main purpose of any medicine is to provide the sick with relief, whether from physical pain or mental stress or even chronic illnesses such as diabetes. But again, at the end of the day drugs are merely chemicals that have different chemical structures that can affect the human body in different ways. It is known that there are drugs that can change or derange the mind and body of humans even after they have stopped taking them. While drugs where designed to provide relief from illness, as with all things, it was in human nature to abuse this gift. Today there are millions of people around the world that are addicted to drugs for various reasons. The most common of these reasons include stress and anxiety and through drugs can temporarily make the psychological pain absent; it has long lasting effects that can potentially ruin lives. Most drugs that are abused directly or indirectly have an effect on the brain’s reward system by giving its circuits a boost with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. When this enters the brain, it can change how a person works and this leads to compulsive drug use.
Health Problems from Drugs
Here are only a handful of things that drugs can do to a person.
• Weaken the immune system, increasing susceptibility to infections.
• Cause cardiovascular conditions ranging from abnormal heart rate to heart attacks. Injected drugs can also lead to collapsed veins and infections of the blood vessels and heart valves.
• Cause nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
• Cause the liver to have to work harder, possibly causing significant damage or liver failure.
• All drugs of abuse – nicotine, cocaine, marijuana, and others – effect the brain’s “reward” circuit, which is part of the limbic system.
• Drugs hijack this “reward” system, causing unusually large amounts of dopamine to flood the system.
• This flood of dopamine is what causes the “high” or euphoria associated with drug abuse.
• Paranoia, Aggressiveness, Hallucinations, Addiction, Impaired Judgment, Impulsiveness, Lose of Self-Control
Islamic Virtue of Moderation
One of the basic teachings of the Islamic doctrine is based on a moderate and balanced outlook on life and its challenges. Islam is well aware that humans have desires that are both good and evil. Humans strive to fulfill these desires and whereas Islam provides ways for mankind to fulfill their good desires, it also prohibits mankind from excessiveness and indulging into what has been prohibited.
Allah (SWT) says in Surah Al-Araf in verse 31; “O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.”
The soul commanding to evil grips the individual in a state of forgetfulness. Addiction, and indeed, all human infractions stem from such a state, where the human being is heedless of the purpose of life, heedless of the Creator, and of the Day when all human beings will be held accountable for their actions. It is this state of forgetfulness that the individual must strive to overcome, and work progressively towards a state of awareness.
Allah (SWT) says in Surah Al-Hashr in verse 19; “And be not like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient.”
Islam’s Prohibitions – A Great Blessing
Altaf Husain, a social worker in the US, writes in an article on ways to overcome addiction:
“No one becomes addicted intentionally; it is not a goal one sets out to accomplish. Addiction is ultimately the triumph of the soul commanding to evil over the self-reproaching soul. What begins as just one quick glance at a pornographic Web site, one sip of alcohol, one ‘snort’ of cocaine, one injection of heroin, or even one session of aggressive overeating does not affect every individual the same way. For those who have a weak relationship with Allah, are on the margins of daily worship, are keeping company with similarly heedless individuals, the one glance, the one sip leads them, ultimately, down a slippery slope from which they will have, potentially, a lifelong struggle recovering.”
“Islam recognizes the perils of such self-destructive behavior. While prescribing permissible ways of fulfilling certain legitimate desires, Islam clearly draws the line around certain types of behavior and strikes them at the root. Consequently, alcohol, drug consumption and gambling are strictly prohibited, even in small quantities.”
Prayer and Fasting – Strengthening the Soul with Patience
While every pillar of Islam serves to strengthen the soul, the five daily prayers and the fasting during the holy month of Ramadan are especially beneficial in disciplining the soul.
The Holy Quran says;
“Recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do.”
(Quran Surah Al-Ankabut Ayah 29:45)
Fasting is universally recognized as a means of gaining self-control, and in Islam, also a means of gaining closeness to God.
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint,”
(Quran Surah Al-Baqarah Ayah 2:183)
Prayer and fasting are therefore like the shields of the human soul, by which it can protect itself from the onslaughts of modern temptations, and lead a healthy, balanced and productive life.