Drug abuse is on the rise in the United States but most people are unaware of the scale of this. We have now officially reached epidemic proportions! Why has drug abuse and drug addiction achieved epidemic levels in the USA? Let’s look at how people head down this path, see what the causes are, briefly review the substances, and see what can be done about this.
Every person that tries drugs for the first time never does this planning to become an addict. He or she takes this leap due to peer pressure at social events or see it as a route to escape from mental or physical pain, hurt and suffering.
The reason first timers are at risk of becoming addicts is due to the ‘wow I feel good’ factor attached to drugs. They immediately lead to a feeling of joy, happiness, even ecstasy. This calls for more experimentation, more experiences and in no time, what was a first timer can be dealing with abuse and possibly even addiction.
Understanding Drug Addiction
Drug addiction has a physical and a psychological side. On the physical side, drugs immediately affect your neurotransmitters. They stimulate certain hormones in the brain such as serotonin, dopamine and others that lead to a state of happiness. The more the release, the more a person feels happiness or what is often termed as ‘high’ among most drug users. Regular drug use means that the brain is unable to release these hormones on its own and the user has to turn to drugs to feel normal.
Over a period of time, users have to increase drug consumption as their body starts to develop tolerance towards these drugs. So if a certain amount of drugs would lead to certain amount of happiness, the user would need to increase the dose in the future to experience the same amount of effect. The moment the user stops taking drugs, he/she shows signs of withdrawal symptoms.
On the physiological front, after a certain point of time, users can’t think of life without drugs. They would leave no stone unturned to acquire drugs and in worst cases even take to criminal activities. While they are subconsciously aware of the effects of drugs on their body and mind, they can’t get over the craving. Such individuals often lead lonely lives, often disowned by their family and friends, and the only thing that remains important to them is ‘drugs’
How Widespread is Drug Abuse and Addiction?
The prevalence of drug abuse and addiction is much more serious than we think. There is a myth that most addicts come out of broken homes or are those who have failed to achieve in their lives. But the fact is this addiction knows no barriers and we see even successful business professionals become serious addicts to cope up with stress and challenges that come with success. According to research, around 9% of Americans or nearly 24 million people in the country have taken to drugs. It is sad to note that addiction starts early in many cases and many 12 and 13 year olds take to drugs for various reasons. Though there is a stigma attached to drug addiction, the addicts aren’t weak, selfish or have lack ambition to do well in life as is quite often perceived. The majority of drug users have the same upbringing and grow up in normal environment.
What Drugs Are Popular?
There are hundreds of drugs to choose from and these include everything from recreational drugs to prescription drugs. Here is a list of some of the popular ones in the United States:
- Marijuana – Even if you aren’t knowledgeable about drug usage and the kind of drugs available, you would be aware of Marijuana as it is the most popular banned substance in the world. A product of the cannabis plant, it is smoked or ingested and gives a sense of happiness and ‘high’ as users call it. Some people also inhale cannabis oil using a vaporizer. Long term use can lead to cancer, poor brain function and lung diseases.
- Cocaine – The second most popular illegal drug on the list is a powerful stimulant and offers a feeling of ‘high’. This powdery drug is snorted by some users, smoked by others, and injected by others. Prolonged abuse leads to high blood pressure and poor heart rhythms and in worst cases instant death resulting from cardiac attacks.
- Ecstasy – The most popular rave drug, it is popular in the party circuits among teens and college students and is very often their first experience with drugs. It stimulates the body and mind causing jitters, increased blood pressure and rapid heart rate. When combined with other drugs the effects can be lethal and lead to death.
- Methamphetamine – It can be produced from Cold and Allergy medications that were once readily available in pharmacies and food stores. It is termed as ‘man-made’ drug which is highly addictive and can also be fatal.
- Heroin – Like Cocaine, Heroin can be snorted, smoked and injected. The gel form, aka. black tar heroin, is also very popular as users believe that smoking it is not addictive (this is a false belief). Heroin use can lead to multiple health issues including cardiac problems, multiple organ failure and death.
- Inhalants – While most inhalants such a paint fumes, fossil fuels and aerosol don’t qualify as banned drugs, they are highly addictive and can lead users to a ‘high’. Though their effects don’t last as long as other drugs, they can lead to brain damage upon prolonged abuse.
- Hallucinogens – The last on the list are Hallucinogens that include LSD (aka. Acid), Mushrooms, Peyote and other man-made substances. These substances, even though rarely addictive, can causes major brain and psychological damage.
Getting Treatment for Drug Abuse and Addiction
It is unlikely that a drug user would notice any adverse signs until they start suffering from serious physical and psychological problems. Friends and family are often the first ones to notice signs of drug abuse and need to proactively act in these cases. The treatment plan can be three pronged and include medicinal, counseling and support from near and dear ones. It starts with detox to get rid of the drugs within the body followed by counseling at rehab centers. There are adverse effects of detox as withdrawal symptoms can be severe and lead to life threatening illnesses and death in rare cases. Counseling and family support plays an important role to help them deal with stress post-detox. Developing a strong will to stay away from drugs is also very important.
If you or one of your love ones is suffering from drug abuse and/or drug addiction, you must immediately seek professional help. Contact Addiction Angel at (646) 404-0637 and let us help.