Drug addiction doesn’t discriminate amongst its victims. In fact, addiction to drugs affects people of all ages, genders, socioeconomic levels and classes. It’s easy to make assumptions about those who struggle with addiction; the most popular assumption to make is that they are lacking willpower and mental fortitude. This just isn’t the case. Addiction is a life-threatening disease that literally alters brain chemistry.
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is a widespread problem that is characterized by compulsive use of drugs, even when the user is aware of the damage of doing so. Across the United States, people from all demographics struggle with drug addiction. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, also known as SAMHSA, found that more than 24 million residents, ages 12 and older, are currently struggling with drug addiction in the US. While this number is surprisingly large, even more surprising is the fact that only 10 percent of these people get professional help for their addiction issues.
Drug addiction is also an issue that is only getting worse over time. SAMHSA also found that in the past two decades, instances of drug-addicted residents have increased by over 500 percent. See related: Drug Abuse.
The Costs of Drug Addiction
Addiction always comes at a price – and oftentimes that price is quite steep. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, also known as NIDA, found that drug addiction costs the country over $600 billion yearly. This massive price tag is spread over the costs of healthcare, law enforcement personnel, government-funded treatment, damages and prevention efforts, all related to drug use, abuse and addiction.
Aside from financial costs, drug addiction also costs addicts and their loved ones greatly on a personal level. These costs include:
- Damage to personal relationships. Family members and romantic partners of addicts are often unable to trust the addict, due to the lying and deception that accompany addiction. As a result, many relationships are deeply damaged due to drug addiction.
- Loss of income and career advancement. When someone is suffering from drug addiction, it’s incredibly difficult for him to perform on the job. He may show up late or miss work altogether. When he does meet his basic work obligations, his performance is often poor.
- Health issues. Continued drug use carries with it a bevy of health issues that vary according to the drug of choice. Drug addiction can lead to long-term health issues and ultimately shorten one’s lifespan.
- Legal troubles. When one is caught in the web of addiction, she may do things she would not normally do in an effort to obtain drugs or money to buy drugs. While doing drug is illegal in and of itself, this compulsive desire to obtain the drug often leads to further illegal activity. As a result, drug addicts often end up arrested and incarcerated.
Common Drugs That Lead to Addiction
While any drug can eventually lead to addiction, either on a physical or psychological level, certain drugs are more likely to cause addiction than others. According to NIDA, these drugs are:
Alcohol: Though alcohol is legal for those 21 years old and older, it is in fact a drug because it changes brain chemistry. While moderate drinking is fine, according to most health care professionals, chronic alcohol abuse can lead to a variety of negative health effects, such as liver disease, reduced neurological abilities, poor decision-making skills, depression and even death.
: Heroin, Vicodin and OxyContin are all examples of opiate drugs that can lead to serious addiction issues. These drugs attach to the brain’s pleasure receptors, making the user feel a sense of euphoria. Long-term use of opiates can cause respiratory issues, heart problems and ultimately death. Read More at Addictiveness of Morphine
and Prescription Drugs
: The most common club drugs in the US are Ecstasy (also known as MDMA) and GHB. Called “club drugs” because they are often taken to enhance the club experience of music, dancing and socializing, chronic use of these drugs can lead to memory impairment, depression, brain damage and death.
: Drugs like cocaine, crystal meth and amphetamines are known for their ability to boost users’ energy levels. Users often feel so good on stimulants that they quickly become addicted, chasing their last high. Risks of stimulant use include insomnia, seizures, nasal damage (for snorted drugs) and death. Read More at Crystal Meth Abuse
Hallucinogenic Drugs: Acid, LSD and mushrooms are the most commonly used hallucinogenic drugs. They cause the user to hallucinate, often seeing and hearing things that aren’t actually present. Regular use of hallucinogens can lead to rampant mood swings, nausea and long-term mental health issues.
: Marijuana is the most popular cannabinoid, though relatively new drugs in this category like bath salts and salvia
are being increasingly used. While there is some dispute regarding the addictive quality of marijuana, experts agree that it is psychologically addictive and can lead to long-term health and personal issues. Risks of regular use include reduced motivation, paranoia and mental health problems. Read More at Marijuana Addiction
Risk Factors for Addiction
While anyone can become addicted to drugs, there are certain risk factors that make a person more likely to become an addict. These factors are not concrete indicators of addiction. Some of the most serious drug addicts may not have any of the risk factors while there are plenty of people that possess most of the risk factors and do not become addicts. These factors only increase the chances that someone will become addicted. According to Mayo Clinic, these factors are:
- Gender. Males are two times more likely to use and abuse drugs than their female counterparts.
- Addicts in the family. It is believed that there is a genetic component to drug addiction. If someone in your family is an addict, it increases the likelihood that you will struggle with addiction.
- Depression. Those who suffer from depression and anxiety are more likely to turn to drugs in an effort to alleviate their issues.
- Lack of support. Those who lack close familial, particularly parental, support are more likely to abuse drugs.
- Psychological issues. If you suffer from a psychological issue, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or an eating disorder, you are more likely to become addicted to drugs.
Help for Drug Addiction
Thankfully, drug addiction doesn’t have to define an addict’s life long term. There are plenty of places where addicts can turn for help. When you are in the depth of addiction, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel; however, rest assured that there is a way out. You just have to take the first step in that direction.
There is a plethora of drug treatment options available to anyone suffering from addiction. It’s important to choose a treatment plan that appeals to you on a personal level. Options include:
Residential treatment: This type of treatment requires that the addict live at the treatment facility full time. Recovering addicts are provided with 24/7 supervision, removing the possibility of relapse. Most residential facilities have medical care on site so the addict can get assistance with the withdrawal process, should difficulties arise.
Outpatient addiction treatment
Outpatient addiction treatment
. For those with life responsibilities, such as work or family, that they can’t put on hold, and for those with less severe addictions, outpatient treatment is oftentimes the best option. Recovering addicts attend treatment
during the day but then return to their homes at night. Patients in outpatient care are generally given drug tests to ensure they aren’t relapsing when they return home in the evenings.
. Many addiction treatment facilities
employ an all-natural approach. This means that medication is not used during the detox process to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. It also means that the facility likely employs a variety of natural treatment methods, such as meditation, yoga, exercise, art therapy or nutrition-focused care.
Religious programs. Some individuals may feel more comfortable in a program that centers around their religious beliefs. Faith-based therapy is at the core of these programs.
Dual diagnosis treatment
Dual diagnosis treatment
: If you suffer from a dual diagnosis, the existence of another disorder or psychological issue along with addiction, you will most benefit from a dual diagnosis program that addresses both issues simultaneously.
Gender-specific treatment: Some recovering addicts may prefer to get treatment that is gender-specific so they are not distracted by members of the opposite sex. There are plenty of men-only and women-only addiction treatment facilities available across the US.
Get Help Today
Here at Axis, we offer cutting-edge addiction treatment programs for those suffering from drug addiction. Know that there is hope for you. Call us today for more information on effective treatment programs and learn how to take the first step on your journey to long-term sobriety.