Drug Abuse

Drug Abuse

It’s believed that approximately 21 million people in the United States have at least one addiction, with a mere 10% of them seeking treatment. Drug abuse can cause serious damage to the life of the person suffering from the condition and has a detrimental impact on their loved ones, too. If left untreated, drug addiction can lead to physical and mental illness, and in extreme cases, it can be fatal.

The first step towards recovery is recognizing that there is a problem. By researching exactly what drug abuse is and being honest with yourself about your own situation, you’re moving in the right direction. No matter how mild or severe your condition is, there is always hope.

sign leading the way out of drug addiction

Is Drug Addiction a Disease?

Doctors classify addiction as a medical disorder that alters the brain’s memory, reward and impulse pathways. Addictive substances hijack vital neurotransmitters and, over time, the sufferer becomes less able to control their intake. Someone with a severe substance use disorder compulsively continues to use drugs in spite of negative dangerous and undesirable consequences.

Getting better is not a simple case of choosing not to take the substance anymore; it takes therapy, education and lifestyle changes. Like any disease, relapse is a possibility, but knowledgeable, caring treatment and the aid of an understanding support network significantly decrease the risk.

Is Drug Addiction Genetic?

Multiple factors result in the onset of a substance use disorder, and what causes one person to develop an addiction may not do the same to someone else. Genetics is thought to play a significant role, with upwards of 50 genes identified as being potentially involved with the disease. Examples of these inherited traits are an impulsive personality, a propensity towards sensation-seeking and a high tolerance for substances.

Environment, and particularly how your family raises you, is also a key factor. If you grew up in a home where drug use was normalized or you spent lengthy periods unsupervised, you’re more likely to go on to develop an addiction. That doesn’t mean everyone with parents who did drugs goes on to do so themselves; often, it takes further influences such as peer pressure, media influence, repeat exposure, stress, trauma and abuse.

Signs of Drug Abuse

Cocaine

  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating
  • Fidgeting
  • Excessive talking
  • Jaw clenching
  • Paranoia
  • Periods of excitability followed by periods of irritability
  • Frequent trips to the toilet
  • Extreme hangovers
  • Running nose/sniffling
  • Financial problems
  • Wraps, drug bags, straws, rolled-up bank notes and razor blades

Benzodiazepines

  • Blurry vision
  • Using medication in ways other than as prescribed by a doctor
  • Drowsiness
  • Clumsiness
  • Fluctuations in mood
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Seeking out benzos or sleeping pills from friends and family
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Weakness
  • Poor judgment
  • Use of online drug retailers
  • Withdrawal symptoms when benzos can’t be obtained
  • Becoming disproportionately drunk when using alcohol

Prescription Opiates

  • Using medication in ways other than as prescribed by a doctor
  • Changes in sleeping pattern
  • Decreased appetite
  • Seeking the same prescription from multiple doctors
  • Using online pharmacies
  • Using opioids when not in pain
  • Borrowing medication from friends and family
  • Spaced out
  • Changes in mood from euphoria to extreme irritability
  • Poor judgment
  • Secretive behavior
  • Hidden blister packs or excessive amounts of pills

Heroin

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Poor judgment
  • Itchiness
  • Wearing long-sleeved tops, even in warm weather
  • Track marks
  • Sleep problems
  • Gastrointestinal troubles
  • Constant flu-like symptoms
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Financial problems
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Loss of job
  • Criminal activity
  • Dental problems
  • Disregard for personal hygiene
  • Syringes, drug bags, rolled-up banknotes

Methamphetamine

  • Hyperactivity
  • Weight loss
  • Dental problems
  • Twitching
  • Itching
  • Job loss
  • Changes in friendship groups
  • Dilated pupils
  • Paranoia
  • Financial problems
  • Criminal activity
  • Insomnia
  • Extreme agitation
  • Frightening mood swings
  • Burns on lips and fingers
  • Glass pipes, drug bags, rolled-up banknotes

What Are the Symptoms of Drug Abuse?

Drug abuse affects each individual differently, with some people becoming highly proficient at hiding it. Drugs also have varying impacts, but some symptoms of addiction are almost universal. Even if someone is well-practiced at concealing their condition, anyone who has taken the time to educate themselves on how to spot the symptoms can identify specific patterns of behavioral and physical signifiers associated with drug abuse. Some of the most prominent symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Aches and pains
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Exaggerated movement
  • Lack of focus
  • Lethargy
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Incoherence
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Impaired decision-making
  • Delusions
  • Depression
  • Engaging in risky behavior
  • Sleep disturbances

What Are the Effects of Drug Abuse?

Short Term

Addiction is a progressive illness, so as you continue to use drugs over an extended period of time, the health repercussions become gradually worse. Often, the first few times people who become addicted use drugs, they feel hardly any adverse effects. This positive reinforcement can be a foundation for drug abuse. A hangover may seem like a small price to pay for the confidence, relaxation, escape or euphoria experienced while high.

As drug-taking becomes compulsive, someone with a substance use disorder diminishes the harmful effects the drug is having on their body and mind. Changes in appetite, insomnia, increased blood pressure, itching, puffy eyes, paranoia and an upset stomach are some effects that start to appear in the short term.

Long Term

Using drugs over a prolonged amount of time damages the brain and body. Even those who feel they are resilient or have a high tolerance are frequently ingesting toxic, mind-altering chemicals. Some of the long-term health effects of using drugs include heart and lung disease, stroke, cancer, mental illness, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and psychosis. By seeking treatment and changing your lifestyle, you drastically decrease your chances of developing a serious illness as a result of drug use.

If you or someone close to you needs drug addiction treatment in Egg Harbor Township New Jersey contact Greenbranch Recovery at 833-272-6246.