The simple cost, alone, of drug abuse is so staggering, yet few people truly understand the severity of the problem and all of its complexities. In the year 2000, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) stated that its cost to society was $161 billion, annually. This covers lost productivity, health care costs, and other costs such as efforts to cut the source of illegally used drugs.
It is difficult to comprehend all of the effects that drugs can have on a person. There are not only the direct physiological effects, but there can also be lasting psychological/mental effects, as well. Substance abuse can affect an individual’s interpersonal life and relationships. It can interfere with work and life stability in general. Those who have experienced it personally or witnessed it firsthand can tell you that the effects are lasting and can be extremely damaging. However, a timely intervention and solid treatment program can be very effective in helping to reverse all of the damage that has been done.
The Scope of Drug Abuse
Drug abuse is not limited to illegal substances like marijuana, cocaine, or heroin. An individual falls into this pattern when he or she takes drugs, even prescription medications, excessively and compulsively. The purpose is no longer for treatment or healing. The discovery of habit-forming drugs has altered behavior patterns and is causing physiological and psychological damage that can be irreversible if left untreated.
Drug abuse is most often a result of addiction. The chemicals found in drugs altar brain functioning, subtly manipulating emotional responses initially, then later affecting more complex functions, including self control. Addiction is a psychological disorder. This is a state when an individual is so dependent on their chosen substance that one can no longer function adequately. The addict feels that they can not consciously function without use of the drug.
Hiding Substance Abuse
Effects of Drug Abuse to the Brain
The brain is an intricate communication system. It controls how people think, react, feel, and behave. Drugs target neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers of the brain, disrupting its normal functions that include sending, receiving, and processing information. Addiction programs explain to clients during treatment how drugs fool neurotransmitters into thinking it is functioning properly, when in fact, the chemical from these substances have actually taken over resulting in abnormal thinking.
Two ways drug abuse and addiction damage the brain’s nerve cells:
First is when certain drugs like marijuana imitate neurotransmitters even as it performs abnormally.
The second alters the brain’s “reward” circuit by releasing excessive quantities of natural neurotransmitters, specifically dopamine, found in regions of the brain that control our own movement, our different emotions, our personal motivations, and most importantly, feelings of pleasure.
The brain, however, compensates for such changes and makes adjustments which, in fact, reduce its real capacity to function properly. When an individual no longer feels good even with regular drug use, one is compelled to increase dosage and/or frequency to achieve a level that will restore the euphoric feeling. This is one main cause of drug abuse.
The Difference Between Drug Use and Drug Abuse
There is a very fine line between drug use and abuse. Some people assume that frequency solely determines addiction or abuse. But frequency is not always an accurate gauge to qualify as substance abuse. Addiction is not necessarily a result of frequent use. There are several factors that contribute to make an individual vulnerable to substance abuse. Aberrations in patterns of behavior, thought, speech, and actions are the strongest indicators of drug abuse.
Long-term Effects of Drug Abuse
What many drug abusers do not consider are the long-term effects these substances will have on their health. It must also be emphasized that certain illegal drugs, specifically heroin and lysergic acid diethylamide have never been known to have therapeutic value for humans. In other words, are simply harmful to the human body. Without intervention, death can even result after long-term drug abuse. Clients will eventually learn what the drugs have done to harm their system and what needs to be done to attempt to reverse these effects. Sometimes, it takes years to recover any health issues stemming from drug abuse
Prescription Drug Abuse – In The News
Prescription drug deaths biggest man-made epidemic doctor says – Catholic Online – Dr. Sanjay Gupta associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital and CNN’s chief medical correspondent recalls hearing horror stories of prescription drug abuse in the U. S. It’s the biggest man-made epidemic in the United States. That’s and more.…
Kentucky Receives Drug Abuse Prevention Grants – On the Web
The News.Org reports that Governor Steve Beshear announced Wednesday that Kentucky has received three federal grants totaling $6.25 million to enhance substance abuse prevention and treatment efforts over the next three years. The funding will support programs aimed at adolescents with mental health and substance use disorders and help fight underage drinking and prescription drug abuse among Kentuckians 12-25 years old. Click here to read more…
The Way Out of Drug Abuse
Excessive drug use can be detected. Relationships and the usual areas of responsibility (at work, school, or home) bear the brunt of drug abuse. When the former is disrupted and the latter neglected, an individual may be suffering from substance abuse. Therapy and treatment will help clients evaluate the areas that were grossly affected by drug abuse and introduce steps to restore normalcy to their disrupted life.
Not everyone is prone to drug abuse. Genetics, environment, and an individual’s development all have a bearing on how susceptible an individual is to suffering from substance abuse/addiction. Studies have indicated that people suffering from depression and certain other psychological disorders have a predisposition to use and abuse substances. Family and social support is very important when recovering from drug abuse and addiction. Often time, an inpatient treatment facility is the best option for detoxing and getting the proper treatment to return to normal life drug free and happy.
If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please call Hawaii Island Recovery at 866-906-6911 for help or more information.