Drug abuse and drug addiction affect millions of people every year. The influence of drugs on the brain can lead to poor or risky decision making which can in turn lead to accident or injury. Drugged driving can slow your response time and awareness and put not only you in jeopardy, but others as well. Substance use disorders can also do harm to your body, increasing risk of illness and infection. Certain drugs can depress your immune system making you more susceptible to illness, and they can also suppress your respiratory system which can slow your breathing to dangerous levels.
Drug use can become a vicious cycle because even if you want to stop, changes in your brain can make it more difficult. The brain’s reward system is altered and dopamine production fluctuates which interferes with how you perceive pleasure and emotion. It can be difficult to overcome drug addiction on your own making an addiction treatment program even more essential for recovery.
Why Do People Use Drugs?
People use drugs for a variety of reasons. For some, drug use stems from the use of prescription drugs for legitimate reasons such as pain relief following serious injury or major surgery. However, because prescription painkillers can be highly addictive, people may continue taking them even after they are no longer needed. Other people begin using drugs voluntarily due to curiosity, experimentation or peer pressure. Those with mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression may turn to drugs as a way of trying to alleviate their symptoms or forget about their problems. However, drugs can actually end up making symptoms worse instead of better. Drug addiction evolves from a combination of genetic, environmental and psychological factors.
What are the Most Addictive Drugs?
A recent study found that the five most addictive drugs are heroin, alcohol, cocaine, barbiturates and nicotine. However, these are not the only addictive drugs. Others include opioids, methamphetamine, benzodiazepines and marijuana. Not every drug affects the body and brain in the same way. Some are stimulants or sedatives whiles others are pain relievers. What they all have in common is that they interfere with how the brain functions and processes information. The brain alters its receptors as well as the production of chemicals such as dopamine.
Opiate drugs are more commonly known as pain relievers. These include codeine, morphine, hydrocodone/dihydrocodeinone (Vicodin or Lortab), and Oxycodone (OxyContin or Percocet). While they do relieve pain, many people also misuse them for the euphoric high that they can produce. Overdosing is a major risk of opiate addiction as a tolerance can build requiring higher doses to achieve the same effect.
Heroin is also an opioid. Some people become addicted to heroin following prescription drug use. Once their prescription runs out, heroin can be a cheaper alternative that provides a greater sense of euphoria. Heroin can be injected, snorted, or smoked. This drug can be very dangerous because it can slow heart rate and breathing and be potentially fatal.
Other Addictive Drugs
Other addictive drugs include cocaine, hallucinogens such as LSD or PCP, inhalants, and steroids. They all have addictive properties and can cause changes in the brain. Many drugs can also cause damage to the liver or kidneys, lead to weight loss or gain, impair memory and concentration, and contribute to a variety of other health problems.
What are the General Signs of Drug Addiction?
Signs of drug addiction can vary based on the types of drug being used. It can be challenging to recognize signs sometimes because they can mask themselves as general moodiness, malaise, or responses to difficult situations. It can be easy for some people to downplay the effects of drug addiction and try to play it off as something else. However, family and friends often begin to take more notice as these symptoms persist and cause greater interference with the person’s life and well-being. It is important not to overlook the general signs of drug addiction. Early detection and intervention can get someone the help they need before their drug addiction becomes more serious. Some common signs and symptoms include:
- Using more of a drug, or having to use it more often, to feel the same effects as before.
- Unusual mood swings, irritability, or agitation, or becoming defensive when the topic of drug use is brought up.
- An increased focus on obtaining or using drugs while losing interest in other activities that used to be enjoyable.
- Physical or psychological changes such as red eyes, dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, hallucinations, changes in appetite, paranoia, confusion or poor coordination.
- Withdrawing and spending more time alone or becoming secretive about actions or behaviors.
- Asking for or borrowing money without a good reason, or stealing money or items to sell for money.
Drug Addiction Statistics in the United States
A 2015 report estimates that in 2014, there were around 7 million people aged 12 or older who struggled with drug addiction to illicit drugs. However, only around 1 million of these people sought treatment for their addiction. Almost 80 percent of those who did not receive treatment did not feel that they had a problem with drug addiction or needed treatment. This further emphasizes the continued need for increased awareness and access to addiction treatment services. Statistics also show that men are more likely than women to misuse prescription drugs, and women are more likely than men to seek treatment for barbiturate use.
- Approximately 21 percent of people who try cocaine will become dependent on it.
- The effects of drug addiction cost the United States more than $600 billion every year.
- More than 24 million Americans aged 12 or older used illicit drugs in 2013 within the month prior to being surveyed.
Get Yourself or a Loved One Help with Drug Addiction
Substance use disorders affect millions of people every year, but only a small fraction of these people receive the help they need to overcome their addiction. Getting yourself or a loved one help with drug addiction can be a life-changing – and life-saving – decision. Crossroads recognizes that men and women are affected differently by substance use and do not always face the same challenges. Through gender-responsive treatment, each client engages in treatment aligned with their individual needs.Ready to make a change regarding your drug addict? Contact Crossroads today for an in-depth evaluation and individualized treatment plan. Get a fresh start and make the most of all the future has to offer.