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Some Facts and Figures Related to Drug Addiction:

Drug addiction is a more serious problem than it seems to be. According to a survey on drug use and health, conducted by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), around 23.5 million Americans, aged 12 and older, suffered from a drug addiction or alcohol abuse problem but out of these, only 2.6 million received it in a specially designed facility. SAMHSA also stated that in 2008, there were around 1.8 million people admitted in specialized facilities for the treatment of drug and alcohol abuse. These figures highlight the fact that drug addiction has become a serious problem now.

  • Around 41% of all the people admitted in a drug addiction treatment facility suffered from alcohol abuse. The 2nd largest figure was assigned to heroin to opiate addiction with around 20% addicts admitted and the 3rd largest figure (17%) belonged to marijuana addicts.
  • The data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that heroin abuse have greatly increased over the past few years. 
  • According to National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) conducted by SAMHSA, around 22 million Americans suffered from a drug addiction in 2014.
  • Marijuana is one of the most widely abused drugs in United States its use has increased even further since 2007. The figure was increased from 14.5 million users to 19.8 million users in 2013.
  • According to NSDUH, more than 7 million Americans battled a drug abuse disorder in 2004.
  • According to a study published by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2014, around 8 million Americans battled a mental health disorder and a substance abuse disorder simultaneously.
  • Prescription drugs are also widely abused in United States. Every year, more people embrace death because of an overdose of opioid pain relievers than all other illicit drugs combined. The legal access to opioid pain relievers combined with their addictive properties is responsible for this situation. In 2012, around 33 thousand people died of an intentional prescription drug overdose.
  • A large percentage of addicts start taking drugs from a very small age. It results into irreversible changes such as impaired cognitive abilities and brain damage. The reports by NSDUH showed that around 5% American teens are battling a drug abuse disorder. It means that 1 in every 12 teens is a drug addict.
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reported that 700,000 American teens suffered from alcohol abuse disorder in 2013.
  • Drug addictions are not only costing the addicts but every American. According to reports by Office on National Drug Control Policy, $200 billion are spent every year in terms of healthcare, criminal justice and legal procedures.
  • NSDUH reports that 95% of all the drug addicts that needed specialized treatment for recovery did not receive it or did not opt for it. Drug addicts tend to deny the need for treatment in most cases.
  • A number of treatment options are available for the addicts. According to reports by National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are more than 14,500 specially designed treatment programs available for the addicts.
  • Relapse is highly common among recovered people and according to National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40-60 % of all the addicts experience relapse.
  • Despite all these facts, addiction is a completely treatable condition and recovery is possible in every case. New York State Office on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services states that about 10% Americans have claimed to have recovered from drug or alcohol abuse they battled at some stage in their life.

The First Step towards Recovery:

The first step towards recovery is recognizing signs and symptoms in a loved one and getting them help. Drug dependence takes its toll on the body, mind and personality of an addict; completely changing them as a person. Look for these signs and symptoms in your loved ones:

Physical Signs and Symptoms:

Drug addiction interferes with all the bodily processes of an addict and ends up damaging most of the body organs. Visible physical changes can be noticed in a drug addict such as:

  • Sudden weight loss, the person gets reduced to a skeleton at time
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Deteriorated health, weakened immune system, decreased ability to resist diseases
  • Not feeling hungry
  • Marks on the skin, especially on venous sites for IV drug users
  • Unusually rapid or slow heartbeat
  • Skin problems, acne
  • Fever that stays for long periods of times
  • Decreased motor abilities, involuntary tremors, shaking hands
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Looking pale and malnourished
  • Frequent nasal bleeding
  • Red eyes
  • Skin rashes, stretch marks, lesions
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Overactivity or underactivity
  • Slow and slurred speech
  • Dilated pupils
  • Unusual body odors

Behavioral Signs and Symptoms:

Drug addictions change the addicts to an extent that they barely remain recognizable. The only thing they are concerned about is obtaining the drugs no matter what the cost is. The following behavioral changes can be noticed:

  • Overall changed personality
  • Loss of interest in the activities addict previously enjoyed
  • Problem maintaining normal relationships
  • Carelessness towards responsibilities
  • Poor performance in office or school
  • Stealing money and other stuff
  • Increased aggressive behavior
  • Irritability
  • Anhedonia
  • Change in the social circle
  • Suspicious and secretive behavior
  • No motivation to do everyday tasks
  • Lowered self esteem
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Disoriented behavior

Mental Signs and Symptoms:

Continued use of drugs changes the structure of the brain. When started at an early age, the brain suffers permanent damage that results into:

  • Declined cognitive abilities
  • Inability to concentrate and pay attention
  • Forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to learn new things
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

The existence of these symptoms in your loved ones can be an alarming situation. Make sure to help them without any further delay.

Substances People Get Addicted to:

Signs and symptoms may vary depending upon the drug being used. There are a number of addictive drugs available and the term ‘drug addiction’ covers them all including alcohol addiction. The most commonly abused drugs are prescription pain killers, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, meth and ecstasy.

Prescription Drugs:

Abuse of prescription drugs has become a major problem over the past few years in United States. Especially opiates, prescribed as painkillers, have killed more people than all other nonmedical drugs combined. Because of their psychoactive properties, they are widely used by the addicts without any legitimate medical prescription. The most commonly abused prescription drugs are:

  • Opioid pain relievers such as Vicodin and Oxycontin
  • Drugs used for treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) such as Adderal, Concerta and Ritalin
  • Anti anxiety drugs such as Valium and Xanax
  • Among others, cough and cold medications containing a compound dextromethorphan are most commonly abused

According to statistics issued by National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 2 million Americans are battling substance abuse disorder related to opioid pain relievers. Opioid pain relievers cause depressed respiration that eventually results into permanent brain damage or even coma because body fails to supply enough oxygen to the brain.

Marijuana:

As stated previously, marijuana is most commonly abused substance in United States after alcohol. Its legalization in certain states has further increased the rate especially among young people. Marijuana is smoked in the form of hand rolled cigarettes called joints or in pipes called bongs. Empty cigars are also used to be filled with marijuana.

According to a report by CNN, marijuana use has doubled over the past 10 years. The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) estimated that in 2011, there were around 456,000 emergency cases admitted in United States hospitals because of marijuana abuse. Among these, 13% patients were aged 12 to 17 years.  There is a general misconception regarding side effects of marijuana and it is not considered an excessively harmful drug but in reality, it has several side effects such as:

  • Altered/enhanced senses
  • Mood swings
  • Changed sense of time
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Decline in IQ level
  • Respiratory problems
  • Hallucinations

Heroin:

Heroine is 2nd most widely abused drug after marijuana. National Institute on Drug Abuse states that as per National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2012, over 669,000 Americans confessed having used heroin in the past year and a large number out of this consisted of young adults aged from 18 to 25. The number of people trying heroin for the first time became double in 2012 of what is was in 2006. Heroine abuse issue falls under the most important drug abuse issues United States is dealing with. Most of the addicts use intravenous injection that does not only pose several health risks such as contraction of blood borne diseases but also increases the risk for overdoes. Heroin addiction causes many short term and long term changes in the addict including:

  • Drowsiness and sedation
  • Slow heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Lowered respiratory rate

Irreversible damage is caused to the body with the prolonged use of heroine. Severe withdrawal symptoms are also associated with heroin.

Cocaine:

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health lists cocaine as one of the top three addicting drugs of United States. Cocaine is party drug widely used in nightclubs. It can be snorted in powered form or can be injected in blood stream after diluting with water. Regularly snorting cocaine can result into loss of sense of smell, frequent nose bleeds and problems with swallowing. Crack, the more intense form of cocaine, can be also be smoked. The effects produced by crack are stronger and intensely pleasurable. Cocaine and crack are central nervous system stimulants that accelerate the brain activities as well as heart rate. When the drug is withdrawn, it results into severe displeasure and sad mood. The short term and long term side effects of cocaine abuse include:

  • Contracted blood vessels
  • Paranoia and anxiety
  • Panic attcks and psychosis
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Liver, kidney and heart damage
  • Infertility
  • Mood swings
  • Psychosis
  • Severe depression

Cocaine has immediate effects that appear right after snorting and can last for minutes to hours forcing the user to snort over and over again.

Methamphetamine:

Meth is a stimulatory drug available in the form of white powder or pills. It produces euphoric effects similar to that of cocaine but it is cheaper and more easily available. It is also called ice or crystal because if it glassy white or bluish fragments. Chemically, it is similar to amphetamine which is a drug used to cure Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse stated that in 2012, around 1.2 million Americans reported using meth in the last year and around 440,000 Americans reported using it in the past month. These figures are alarmingly high. Meth produces several long term and short term side effects including:

  • Euphoria
  • Decreased appetite
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Forgetfulness
  • Mood swings and agitation

Meth comes in multiple forms and can be injected, snorted or smoked.

Ecstasy:

Ecstasy or MDMA, is a stimulant as well as an hallucinogen. Its use produces feelings of warmth, happiness, elevated energy levels and distorted perception of time. A number of American teens and adults use MDMA but it is often used in combination with other drugs so extracting exact data is a little hard.

For years, ecstasy was considered to be a non-addictive drug but recent studies elaborate its addictive properties. It produces a number of side effects such as:

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Lack of appetite
  • Disinterest in sexual relationships
  • Dehydration
  • Blurred vision

and even more. Several withdrawal symptoms are also experienced by the users like fatigue, depression etc. it was particularly popular among American teens using it as a nightclub drug or weekend party drug. It has spread past parties ever since and have become a popular street drug.

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