Addiction to drugs or alcohol is a condition that occurs in all facets of society and impacts every demographic. A worldwide problem, addiction to classic drugs like cocaine and heroin remains high, and addicts today must also deal with the lure of new drugs like synthetic marijuana, methamphetamine, and prescription drugs. Each year it seems that a new drug has emerged as a new threat.
Commonly Abused Drugs
In recent years, high rates of cocaine addiction have been replaced by a rise of prescription drug abuse, and there are an incredible number of different prescription drugs that help people who are sick or are in pain, but which may also cause certain people to become addicted. Heavy use of drugs like prescription painkillers may lead to long-term health problems and may even cause premature death.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are four main types of prescription drugs in circulation today that a person may become addicted to and those drugs include:
- Pain relievers
Pain relievers are the most abused prescription drug with at least 5.1 million people abusing this type of drug as of 2010 (the latest year for which such statistics are available). Unfortunately, prescription drugs have become a drug of choice for many adolescents and statistics suggest that over-the-counter (OTC) medications were very popular with young addicts.
Other drugs also remain popular as sources for drug abuse with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggesting that almost 8.9 percent of Americans over the age of 12 had used an illicit drug in the past month in a survey conducted in 2010. Additionally, almost 7 percent of people over the age of 12 had used marijuana.
Incidence of Mental Illness and Substance Abuse
With almost 19 million adults suffering from a substance abuse addiction and over 41 million people experiencing a mental illness in 2011, almost 7 million of those sufferers had to deal with both at the same time. Recovering from a mental illness, while also dealing with a substance abuse problem, is incredibly difficult because of the way that the two issues feed off one another.
Effect of Abuse on the Body
The large pro-marijuana lobby has convinced millions of young people that there’s nothing wrong with smoking and that it’s a harmless activity. Unfortunately, this dangerous opinion about the effects of marijuana has spread to other drugs. People have started to try drugs like methamphetamines and prescription drugs, assuming that trying them isn’t dangerous and that only hard drugs like cocaine and heroin are harmful when abused.
Prescription drugs, when used properly, help relieve pain and are necessary to assist people with pain management and recovery from illness or injury, but when abused they can become life-threatening. Abuse of prescription drugs may lead to heart attacks and coma as well as nausea, seizures, and psychosis. Hard drugs like cocaine may cause tremors and respiratory failure while marijuana may cause memory loss, cognitive issues, and infertility.
One of the most notable areas of the body that is impacted by drug use is the brain, and prolonged addiction may alter how the brain functions and sends signals through its various passageways. One of the reasons why addicts choose to use drugs intravenously (through the vein) is because the drugs reach the brain so fast and offer the most intense drug experience. Unfortunately, this habit also impacts the brain’s neurotransmitters and may render an individual incapable of regulating emotion or feeling happy.
Inpatient Addiction Treatment and Options
Mental health professionals often recommend inpatient treatment for individuals who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Inpatient treatment is a focused environment where external distractions are kept to a minimum and a patient may work solely on entering into a state of recovery. However, there are different types of inpatient programs that vary in length and provide a different type of environment for patients.
Some programs provide inpatient treatment for a month or longer that is very focused and under the care of a group of mental health professionals. Other programs are shorter but may provide outpatient treatment in the weeks after the initial assessment. These outpatient programs may require a person to spend his days at a facility and sleep at home under the watchful eye of a family member or parent.
Each addict will have different needs and a different recovery timeline. This means it’s vital that anyone who comes to a point where he or she wants to recover from an addiction must make an appointment to speak with a facility about a recovery program. Recovering without professional help is an insurmountable challenge for most people, especially if they are deep into their addiction.
Sustaining Recovery After Release
Many former addicts who have been able to enter treatment and enter into a state of recovery feel that the recovery process is never truly complete and that recovery is a state that lasts forever. Incredibly, a survey suggests that at least 10 percent of adults have, at some time in their lives, been in recovery from an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
This means that over 23 million people in the United States have experienced problems with drinking too much alcohol or using drugs excessively but that those individuals were able to enter into treatment programs and lead healthy lives.