Throughout life, many people experiment with drugs and alcohol despite knowing the dangers of drug addiction. However, substance abuse in itself is not necessarily equivalent to addiction. So, what constitutes addiction for some drug abusers, while others never become addicted? Do people truly understand the dangers of drug addiction? Let’s explore the facts.
Not everyone who abuses drugs or alcohol gets addicted and needs treatment. However, people who get addicted do so because of long-term drug abuse and other risk factors.
What Defines Drug Abuse?
Determining what qualifies as substance abuse is often decided by particular societies and how they view different substances like alcohol or drugs. For example, what is considered drug abuse in one society, sometimes is perfectly normal and acceptable in another. Someone who uses or misuses substances and does not experience withdrawal symptoms would qualify as a drug abuser. However, someone who experiences cravings for mind-altering substances and withdrawal symptoms is probably addicted. Recognizing the dangers of drug addiction is important.
Research shows that adverse consequences of drug abuse result in serious social and health issues like:
- Criminal charges like DUI, possession, and public intoxication.
- Damage to critical organs like the liver, kidneys, lungs, and heart.
- Inability to keep up with responsibilities like work, school, childcare, finances, and health maintenance.
- Psychological damage like memory loss, cognition issues, aggression, and paranoia.
- Development of mental disorders
What Defines Drug Addiction?
Drug addiction is distinguished by whether an addict is dependent on their drug(s) of choice. By definition, anyone addicted to drugs will experience some form of withdrawal when the drug(s) are absent from their system. All drugs of abuse are subject to the dangers of drug addiction and cause varying types of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. See the table below to learn about the withdrawal symptoms associated with some of the most common drug addictions. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
|Drug of Addiction||Physical Withdrawal Symptoms||Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms|
|Cocaine||Tiredness, Slowed movement, Restlessness, Increased appetite||Paranoia, Depression, Insomnia, Anxiety, Itching, Mood swings, Intense cravings|
|Methamphetamine||Tiredness||Anxiety, Irritability, Agitation, Excessive sleeping|
|Heroin and Painkillers|
(OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, Fentanyl, Morphine, Opana, Dilaudid, etc.)
|Nausea, Vomiting, Muscle spasms, and soreness, High fever, Cold sweats||Intense cravings, Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia|
|Alcohol||Sweating, Nausea, Vomiting, Shaking, Rapid heartbeat, High fever, Possible seizures (without a medically supervised detox)||Anxiety, Agitation, Intense cravings, Insomnia|
(Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, etc.)
|Sweating, fever, nausea, seizures, insomnia||Depression, anxiety, restlessness, paranoia|
Dangers of Drug Abuse and Addiction
Like substance abuse, drug addiction causes devastating consequences in every aspect of life. In addition, the motivations of an addict are entirely centered around the procurement and usage of drugs. Since addiction is a dependence on drugs, addicts will go to any length to get their drug(s) of choice for what they perceive to be a life-sustaining function. A person may lie to their family and friends, compulsively seek out illegal drugs, and participate in risky behaviors.
Furthermore, the consequences of not getting enough drugs to maintain their addiction are severe and come in the form of dreaded withdrawal symptoms. Without medically supervised detoxification, most addicts continue to use so they won’t have to go through withdrawal. Learning of the lengths to which an addict will go to get drugs is mortifying for anyone.
Some of the things an addict will do for drug money are more severe than others, and there is usually a progression in the riskiness of a user’s actions. Here are some warning signs that you or a loved one is addicted to drugs.
- Pawning or selling cherished possessions or family heirlooms
- Often times, addicts will sell personal possessions or family heirlooms in order to buy their drug of choice.
- Stealing possessions and cash from friends, employers, and family members
- When addicts run out of money, it is common for them to go to any lengths to obtain their substance of choice. This includes stealing from friends, employers, and family members.
- Stealing prescription pads from doctors
- In addition to the common practice of exaggerating pain, insomnia, and anxiety problems with doctors, many addicts will resort to stealing prescription pads from doctor’s offices or calling pharmacies for refills.
- Robbery or theft from strangers, stores, and businesses
- Crimes like shoplifting are common among drug abusers, as they search for anything to sell for drug money.
- Prostitution is common among people suffering from severe addictions. This creates not only criminal risks but severe risks to an addict’s safety and health.
Financial Burdens of Addiction
As addiction progresses, the actions of an addict become more desperate and risky. Therefore, those close to the addict, and society as a whole, suffer negative and severe consequences as a result of substance use disorders. In addition, everyone involved can experience financial implications.
- When anyone is arrested, there is an added burden on taxpayers for his or her incarceration. According to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, approximately 65% of all inmates meet the medical criteria for substance abuse addiction.
- Robbery and Theft
- Any time an item is stolen, there are significant financial consequences for the victim of the crime. In addition to the societal cost of incarceration, if an addict is caught, the economic toll of theft can be devastating for individuals and businesses. When robbery or theft takes place in a home or business, or with a vehicle, insurance companies are called to action for repairs and replacement of damaged and lost valuables. As a result of reporting insurance claims, the premium cost of ensuring valuables rises. If people are forced to spend more money on required insurance, they have fewer resources to put into their businesses. Theft from businesses also leads to higher price tags to recoup a financial loss.
- Just as dangerous as it is illegal, prostitution creates some financial problems in society. The legal consequences of prostitution and solicitation charges create a growing financial burden for taxpayers. Additionally, the safety and health risks from STD’s and assault often result in emergency room visits from many addicts who do not have health insurance, which adds to the financial burdens of taxpayers. Another overwhelming burden on society is the spread of harmful and life-threatening STDs, which carry a high price, even for those who do have health insurance.
Drug Addiction By Substance:
For more information on addiction to specific topics of illicit and prescription drugs, view the following resources.
- Club Drugs
- Prescription Drugs
Overcome the Dangers of Drug Addiction
Understanding the dangers of drug addiction, for both addicts and society as a whole, projects a dark picture. Indeed, addiction is a dark life, but there is hope. Thankfully, countless addicts have turned their lives around to become healthy, sober, and productive members of society. We achieve this through the help of effective addiction rehabilitation treatment.
Going through medical detox alone isn’t sufficient to maintain long term sobriety. The only way to overcome the destruction of addiction is to rehabilitate oneself, which includes the mind, body, and spirit. At A Forever Recovery, our individualized treatment approach gets to the underlying issues that exacerbate addictive and destructive behaviors. Our program is designed to help to empower patients, cultivate healing, grow self-awareness, and avoid the dangers of relapse.
In addition, our individualized treatment programs give each patient an environment that is comfortable and tailored to their personal preferences and belief systems. As a result, we provide the most personal and effective treatment for sustained sobriety and recovery from drug addiction.
Lastly, if you or a loved one is suffering from substance use disorder or experiencing the dangers of drug addiction, call us today at our toll-free number to speak with a trained counselor about our program. Our team of expert clinicians will get you or your loved one on the right path to avoid the dangers of drug addiction and learn how to stay sober. Call today to receive professional and compassionate addiction treatment!