Addiction is a disease, and those who suffer from this deadly disease use a variety of different substances. People generally separate these into drugs and alcohol, which we’ve already discussed and which is the most common and accessible drug. What follows is information on different drug types that can help identify what substance may be in use.
In addition to the long-term effects listed below, each of these drugs is addictive and an addict will show signs of use and possible dependence on the substance. These include major life changes, such as job loss and a shift in social circles, rearranging one’s life to gain more frequent access to the substance(s), and a diminished interest in hygiene and appearance.
If you believe a loved one is addicted to or abusing any of the following substances, Right Step strongly urges you to seek help, support, and guidance. You did not cause the addiction, you cannot cure the addiction and you cannot control the addiction. If you choose to contact us, we can help begin the healing process for you and your loved one. Addiction affects the one who is using and those around him or her.
The amphetamine family of drugs includes prescription medications like Adderall™ and Ritalin™, as well as street drugs such as methamphetamines and Ecstasy. In the short term, these drugs can cause decreased appetite, increased energy, involuntary bodily movements, rapid talking, nystagmus, paranoia, and hallucinations. Long-term effects include damage to brain cells, symptoms that mimic schizophrenia, malnutrition, reduced concentration and performance, and increased aggression.
Doctors prescribe benzodiazepines (or “benzos”) such as Xanax™ and Valium™ to treat anxiety and panic disorders, insomnia, seizures, and other conditions— even alcohol withdrawal. However, addiction to prescription medication is on the rise, and eventually an addict will exceed the doctor’s indicated usage. The short-term effects of benzodiazepine use include drowsiness, decreased concentration, blurred vision, confusion, and lack of coordination. In the long-term, benzodiazepine abuse can lead to diminished cognitive function, such as a lack of attention span, and significant memory loss. Abrupt discontinuation can lead to seizures— it is important to seek professional assistance.
Cocaine / Crack
One of the most addictive drugs on the planet, cocaine, is available in a wide variety of forms and its victims often desperately seek to achieve the same “high” they felt during their first use. A cocaine user will have an increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. In the long term, the victim may suffer malnutrition, irritability, anxiety, and paranoia.
Inhalants can cause a wide variety of reactions depending on the substance inhaled, but this addiction is particularly insidious since it can come from otherwise innocuous household items, such as a whipped cream bottle or cleaning fluids. When abusing inhalants, the user may experience headaches, nausea, slurred speech, loss of coordination, and wheezing. A long-term victim may display a rash around the nose or mouth, as well as smelling like the substance they are abusing. Physical health risks of inhalant abuse include damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys.
Ketamine, a drug derived from PCP, offers a number of medicinal uses, such as anesthesia, but like many prescription drugs it has found its abusers. Its effects are short-term, strong, and hallucinatory. The user is found in a dissociative state, feeling detached from his/her body. Long-term use can result in anorexia, tachychardia, hypertension, insomnia, and gastric disorders, as well as exhaustion, violence, and severe depression.