Every day around the world, there are drugs that help people live longer, healthier and more productive lives. For the most part, these are NOT the drugs of abuse that destroy relationships, ruin finances and snuff out the lives of men and women of all races, religions and socio-economic groups.
Drugs of abuse cause individuals to become addicted – placing them in a mindset where everything in their lives come second to obtaining more and more of the substance.
What are the Most Commonly Abused Drugs?
The following represents a brief look at the most common drugs of abuse across the United States – including how they are used, the effect they have on the individual and the best ways to treat addiction to them.
- Heroin. One of the deadliest, most addictive drugs in the world, Heroin is an opiate that provides feelings of euphoria in the user. Heroin can be taken in a number of different ways, including injection, smoking or as an ingestible liquid. It is the IV use of heroin, however, that presents the most serious health-related risks, including contraction of HIV/AIDS or hepatitis. As heroin addiction grows, the individual will become tolerant to the drug, meaning it will take more and more of the substance in order to achieve the desired “high”.
- Cocaine. Although levels of cocaine use and cocaine addiction are much lower than they were in the 1970’s and 1980’s, this stimulant still presents a threat to the health and well being of men and women across the United States. Cocaine addiction is primarily a psychological one, meaning that there is more of an emphasis on counseling (as opposed to detox) during drug rehab.
- Marijuana. Although the debate rages on as to whether or not marijuana is technically an addictive drug, countless men and women see their lives thrown into chaos as a result of heavy THC use. Marijuana leads individuals into a life of poor performance at work or school – and the lack of motivation that accompanies addiction can cause the individual to slip into a negative cycle from which it is difficult to recover.
- Crystal meth. A highly addictive stimulant, crystal meth abuse and addiction have spread like wildfire across the United States due to the fact that the drug is cheap and easy to produce and buy. Individuals who become addicted to crystal meth experience a number of serious health problems including weight loss, heart conditions and degeneration of the teeth and gums.
- OxyContin. Sometimes called the “Hillbilly Heroin” because of its similarity to that addictive opiate, OxyContin is prescribed by doctors to individuals suffering from chronic pain, but is being abused by teens and elderly at alarming rates. OxyContin is a time-release drug that is often crushed and snorted by those who abuse it. For these individuals, overdose is a constant risk, as the system is not generally able to handle all of the active ingredients at once.
- Vicodin. The most commonly abused prescription painkiller, Vicodin has become a problem for addiction treatment professionals and emergency room workers alike. Vicodin is an opiate that causes a significant euphoria in the individual – making it highly addictive. The street cost of Vicodin is high, making the black market a dangerous place filled with placebos and expired medications. The Internet has fueled teen Vicodin addiction, where hundreds of illicit pharmacies peddle the drug to anyone with a credit card and a mailing address.
- Alcohol. The most abused drug in the United States can be purchased at almost every grocery store or convenience market in the country. Millions of people are living with alcoholism right now, and seeing their health and personal relationships suffer as a result. Alcohol abuse and addiction can lead to a number of serious health concerns, including liver disease, kidney failure, hear disease and a host of emotional and psychological problems.
Getting Help for Drug Abuse and Addiction
Overwhelmingly, men and women who are suffering from substance abuse or addiction will be unable to stop using on their own. Professional help is essential to helping individuals overcome these conditions, and the most effective way to achieve recovery is through a drug and alcohol rehab center.
Drug and alcohol rehab are comprehensive programs that address both the physical and psychological components of addiction through a multi-tiered approach that includes detox, counseling and aftercare.
These addiction treatment programs generally take one to three months to complete and come in two primary formats: outpatient and residential. Outpatient rehab has the individual attending treatment during the day and then returning home in the evening. Residential care allows recovering addicts to leave their destructive environment behind and live in a facility where they are loved and supported – and can focus solely on their recovery.
It is worth noting that of the 22 million people in the United States living with drug addiction, alcoholism or substance abuse, only a smaller percentage (experts believe 4-5%) will ever receive the professional treatment help they desperately need. It is therefore up to family and friends to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug abuse so that they can find help for their loved one before it is too late.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse and Drug Addiction?
There are a number of hallmark signs and symptoms of substance abuse and addiction. Concerned friends and family members should ask themselves the following questions about their loved one:
- Is she no longer interested in the activities that she once found fulfilling?
- Does she disappear for long stretches of time without explanation?
- Is she hanging around with a new, unfamiliar peer group?
- Are her eyes dilated or does she frequently seem disoriented?
- Is she asking to borrow money from friends and loved ones?
- Is she engaging in reckless behavior such as driving while intoxicated?
If you recognize any of the signs and symptoms below, it is important that you reach out and help your loved one. Talk to them about their condition, or call for an intervention that will help get them into an addiction treatment program immediately.