Illegal and Prescription Drug Abuse - Information on Drug Abuse

Drug Abuse Information

Emergency room medical staff had to respond to more than 670,000 drug abuse episodes in 2002 – a number up more than 30% from seven years earlier, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

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How Does Drug Abuse Affect Individuals & Our Society?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the total dollars-and-cents cost of drug abuse in America – including health and crime-related costs as well as losses in productivity – exceeds half a trillion dollars each year. 

As jaw-dropping as those figures are, they fail to provide the whole picture when assessing how damaging drug abuse can be. In addition to monetary costs, there are a host of social problems either directly caused or exacerbated by drug abuse, such as domestic violence, child abuse, and students underperforming in school. Many people who struggle with drug abuse also have co-occurring mental health problems, which makes them additionally vulnerable.

When addiction experts talk about the decision to enter drug rehab being a matter of life or death, they’re not exaggerating. Years of drug abuse – including alcohol abuse, because alcohol is also a drug – can damage the brain, heart, liver and other vital organs. 

Sometimes, there’s nothing doctors can do. Each year, there are too many lives cut abruptly short, and sometimes before the person even reaches their twenties, by a drug overdose or drunk-driving accident.

What Is the Influence of Drugs on the Brain?

Nearly all drugs, either directly or indirectly, target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that controls movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure.

Drug abuse information compiled by the U.S. government as well as scientific researchers shows that, over time, drug abuse disturbs the brain’s dopamine production. The brain will no longer produce enough dopamine to give the drug user that awesome “high” that they first experienced. This newfound tolerance forces the person to take greater and greater doses in order to feel good.

The reduced dopamine levels of the brain also mean that they feel less pleasure from the normal, everyday good things in life, like a well-cooked meal or a lap through the swimming pool. At this stage of addiction, the user’s craving for the drug can be intense – because now drugs are the only thing that truly make the person happy anymore.

What Are Some Common Drugs and their side effects?

Organizations such as the federal government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse can be a godsend for those seeking more information on what drugs are truly doing to you or your loved one. Our Treatment Consultants are highly-trained experts when it comes to addiction, treatment and recovery, and are available 24/7 to answer any and all questions. We are your one-stop drug information resource.

In addition to information on the physical, psychological, and emotional consequences of drug abuse, we can also offer you a wide array of treatment options if you’re ready to combat the addiction in your life. Some of our own staff are in recovery from their own past addictions, so you can rest assured that we treat every client with the compassion and understanding that comes from having been there ourselves.

  1. Opiates and narcotics: Powerful painkillers that can cause drowsiness as well as feelings of euphoria. These include heroin, opium, codeine, and Oxycontin®. Health consequences include constipation, unconsciousness, and a staggering gait (heroin users).  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin use also carries the serious risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and hepatitis through the sharing of needles.
  2. Central nervous system stimulants: This includes drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and Ritalin. These drugs have a stimulating effect on the body, and the person quickly builds up a tolerance – requiring higher and higher doses to achieve the same effect. The health effects can be life-threatening, and include heart failure and strokes. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly thereafter, according to the NIDA.
  3. Central nervous system depressants: These drugs produce a soothing, sedative effect in users. Examples include Valium, Xanax, and – the most commonly used – alcohol. These drugs can lead to depression as well as impaired memory and/or reflexes and coordination. Alcoholics who are resistant to seeking treatment will often try “controlled drinking” but a Harvard Medical School study found controlled drinking rarely stays controlled for very long.
  4. Hallucinogens: Drugs such as LSD and mescaline that cause people to see things that aren’t there. These drugs can lead to psychological dependence. According to NIDA, the psychological effects of LSD are “unpredictable” and, with large enough doses, users experience delusions and visual hallucinations.
  5. Marijuana/Hashish: Drugs often used for their relaxing effect, but that ultimately lead to paranoia and anxiety. Numerous studies have shown marijuana to contain carcinogens and to be an irritant to the lungs, according to NIDA. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke. Habitual marijuana smokers typically experience many of the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers, such as daily cough and phlegm production.

Where Can I Find More Information on Drug Abuse?

Our Treatment Consultants are highly-trained experts when it comes to addiction, treatment and recovery, and are available 24/7 to answer any and all questions. We are your one-stop drug information resource. 

In addition to information on the physical, psychological, and emotional consequences of drug abuse, we can also offer you a wide array of treatment options if you’re ready to combat the addiction in your life. Some of our own staff are in recovery from their own past addictions, so you can rest assured that we treat every client with the compassion and understanding that comes from having been there ourselves.

Unsure where to start? Take Our Substance Abuse Self-Assessment

Take our free, 5-minute substance abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. This evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are designed to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. Please be aware that this evaluation is not a substitute for advice from a medical doctor.