The news is full of stories about the consequences of drug abuse in America. Certain drugs, once considered no longer relevant, have returned with a vengeance. These include heroin, LSD and others. There are newer drugs — synthetic ones such as flakka and bath salts — that have come on the scene and resulted in users experiencing violent and bizarre behavior, suffering overheating, delusions, paranoia and other life-threatening effects.
Studies conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and other respected organizations have shown that children are experimenting with drugs early, at age 12 or 13, and some beginning even earlier. Adolescents and teens often begin by using alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, inhalants and prescription drugs they find in their parents’ house, which includes sedatives and anti-anxiety medication. If the drug use continues into later adolescence, teens often dive deeper into marijuana use and progress to using other drugs. Numerous studies have found that early drug use leads to greater drug involvement later.
The drug abuse problem has reached epidemic proportions, especially in the area of prescription drug use and heroin. Recent statistics include:
- According to the 2013 NSDUH, the estimated number of people aged 12 or older with heroin abuse and dependence who received treatment increased from 277,000 in 2002 to 526,000 in 2013.
- For non-medical use of prescription pain relievers, this number rose from 360,000 in 2002 to 746,000 in 2013.
- In 2013, an estimated 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older) were current or past-month users of illicit drugs.
- Marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug in 2013, with 19.8 million current, past-month users.
- Approximately 4.2 million people are dependent upon or abuse marijuana.
- More than 1.8 million people abuse or are dependent upon pain relievers.
- 855,000 people are dependent upon or abuse cocaine.
- 577,000 people abuse or are dependent on heroin.
Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse
The signs and symptoms of drug abuse aren’t always evident. This is especially true if the user is clever or successful enough at hiding them. There are common warning signs that a person is using drugs to be aware of, however, as a number of them at once could indicate a growing or serious problem of drug abuse. These include:
- Tolerance— requiring more of the drugs in order to achieve the desired effect or high
- Diluted pupils, glazed or bloodshot eyes
- Unexpected weight loss
- Increased aggression
- Sudden changes in friends (such as hanging out with drug users or avoiding previous friends)
- Drop in performance at work or school
- Missing appointments or not taking care of responsibilities due to drug use
- Irresponsible spending to buy drugs
- Criminal activity, such as stealing to support a growing drug habit
- Engaging in risky behavior while under the influence of drugs, such as driving, having unprotected sex or operating machinery
Specific drugs have their own set of unique signs and symptoms, which can range from the mild to moderate to severe to life-threatening. Drugs of abuse include:
- Opiates (including heroin)
- Synthetic (or “designer”) drugs
Risk Factors for Drug Abuse
Who will develop a dependence on certain drugs or chronically engage in drug abuse? Risk factors can increase the likelihood of drug abuse, especially in adolescents and teens, who may experiment with drugs and later go on to become dependent on them. Risk factors for drug abuse include:
- Early aggressive behavior
- Lack of parental supervision
- Substance abuse among peers
- Easy availability of drugs
Help Is Available
Whether it’s a member of your family, your spouse or child or yourself who’s experiencing the turmoil and devastation of drug abuse, help is available. At The Right Step treatment center, we will help you put your life back together, beginning with detoxification to clear the body of toxic substances, then progressing to an individually prepared, comprehensive and fully integrated treatment program that takes into account your personal wants and needs.
There’s no need to suffer with drug abuse any longer. We can help and be your partner on a journey to healing. Contact us today: 844-877-1781. We can help.