The Consequences of Drug Abuse
Drug abuse is not a new problem that is faced by society.
It has affected the world for hundreds of years.
Even so, it seems to have exploded to new levels in America in the past few decades.
It seems that now no one is left untouched.
The poor may lie dying of addiction-related disease in city alleyways.
The affluent are coping with alcoholism, painkiller addiction, and other $300-a-day habits behind closed doors.
An estimated 16-38 million people around the world are considered ‘problem drug users’, and more than 10% of American adults are in addiction recovery.
There is no denying that the war on drugs has been lost.
The casualties have been many.
There needs to be more education and awareness of drug use and abuse.
Here, we look at the consequences of drug abuse that are symptoms of the disease, which many battle with all their lives.
What Alcohol Does to Your System
Alcohol is one of the most accepted substances, yet it contributes to more than 200 diseases and injury-related conditions.
Alcohol-related deaths are the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. and its misuse costs the country almost $250 billion a year.
Abuse of alcohol doesn’t usually start overnight…
Alcohol abuse is something that can creep up over time, and heavy drinking causes problems with most major organs.
Heavy drinking generally is having more than four drinks a day or about 14 in a week for men.
Many heavy drinkers develop cirrhosis of the liver later in life as the liver is responsible for metabolizing alcohol into a digestible product for the body.
The problem is that the liver can only do this a little at a time, so continuous drinking causes the organ strain.
If you abuse alcohol for years, this can lead to cancer, pancreatitis and stomach problems.
Alcohol also has several negative effects on the brain.
The Opioid epidemic is one of our current biggest crises.
With over 70,000 death attributable to opioids in 2017, it’s easy to understand why.
Tolerance to opioids grows quite quickly.
More than 40 percent of addicts started using opioids, such as Oxycontin, as a prescription drug for pain.
Long-term users will experience stomach pain and constipation.
Eventually, brain damage is very likely, with people who have been clean for over three years still showing damage on an MRI scan.
Itching and drowsiness are also common with people who have been using for a long time.
However, the most dangerous and significant effect that long-term opioid abuse has is on the respiratory system.
If a person is a long-time user of a drug such as heroin, they can lose their natural urge to keep breathing and die in their sleep.
Prescription stimulants include Adderall and Ritalin, while street ones include crack cocaine and crystal meth.
Anyone who has seen Breaking Bad will know that no good can come from these drugs.
Stimulants create a need to chase the euphoric feeling they provide.
Slowly, serious users will begin to experience muscle deterioration, loss of sex drive and weight, headaches, and heart problems.
The psychological effects are also hard to handle, with long-term users enduring persistent anxiety, delusions, hallucinations, and depression.
Benzodiazepines are used to relieve anxiety and stress.
Drug names that you may be familiar with are Xanax, Ativan, and Valium.
In the short term, they can be quite helpful but tolerance to them can build quite quickly, partially caused by the euphoric effect.
This is why it’s highly recommended that they only be used short-term – if used at all in the treatment of anxiety.
Abusing benzos over a period of years can lead to impaired coordination, memory loss, and mood swings.
Some users may develop nausea, double vision and begin slurring their speech.
Long-term use is also associated with suicidal-ideation and seizures.
It can be complicated to treat benzodiazepine withdrawal due to the risks involved.
It is always advisable to taper down as much as possible instead of quitting cold turkey.
A Way Forward
With an estimated 21 million Americans coping with addiction, a solution needs to be found.
Although it may seem a challenge, quitting is the only path to a healthy existence.
Depending on what drug you are using, you will need a specific plan to detox safely.
What works for one person may not work for another.
Give us a call today to see what route would be right to take for your loved one if they are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Sources Ten Percent of American Adults Report Being in Recovery from Substance Abuse or Addiction. (2016, December 10). Retrieved from https://drugfree.org/newsroom/news-item/survey-ten-percent-of-american-adults-report-being-in-recovery-from-substance-abuse-or-addiction/