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Drug Abuse

Those who have witnessed their family members choosing drugs over them may wonder why they would do such a thing. Drugs are expensive, and if you are already struggling with finances, or if the loved one is in trouble with the law, their drug abuse may perplex and anger you even more. If you are a drug addict, you may be wondering why you are using drugs again, when you just swore you would never touch it again.

It is important to realize that individuals who abuse drugs are not the result of moral weakness or defective willpower. When one abuses drugs, it results in changes in the brain, creating stronger impulses to keep using. For this reason, individuals who abuse drugs often perpetuate broken homes and many end up dying from overdose. However, it is possible to recover from drug abuse. By learning how to identify the signs of symptoms of the abuse of drugs or addiction to them, you can be more efficient in spotting when the individual needs help. Additionally, with the proper amount of support and treatment, recovery can be permanently achieved.

Substance abuse is the repeated and excessive use of chemical substances to attain a specific effect. These chemical substances are usually “street” or “illicit” drugs, which are illegal because of their high propensity for addiction and abuse. Sometimes they are drugs obtained with a prescription, but instead of using them to help cure their ailment, users take them to get high.

Drug abuse comes in many forms, and different drugs have varying effects. For example, cocaine, or methamphetamine, often provide an intense “rush” and initial feelings of infinite energy, often to the point where the user feels superhuman. Drugs, such as heroin, benzodiazepines or the prescription OxyContin may cause extreme feelings of relaxation and calm. However, over-stimulation of the pleasure center of the brain is what most drugs have in common. Over time, the drug alters the brain’s chemistry to where not having the drug causes extreme discomfort and is even physically painful. This compelling urge to use the drug results in drug addiction; at this stage work, relationships, and health are often disrupted.

The abuse of prescription drugs is a growing societal problem; abusing them is just as dangerous as using street drugs. If prescription drugs are properly used, they can be beneficial in their medical and psychological treatment purpose. Opiates, such as Vicodin (hydrocodone) and OxyContin are often prescribed to treat severe pain or recovery from surgery. Benzodiazapines, such as Valium or Xanax, are typically prescribed to treat anxiety disorders. When these drugs are being for used non-medical reasons is when the problem arises. Furthermore, because prescription drugs are often obtained through a prescription, and are often placed inside the home (medicine cabinet), it provides easy access to other family members vulnerable to drug abuse.

Estimated arrests for drug abuse violations by age group, 1994-2006

1994

1,192,800

158,600

1995

1,285,700

190,400

1996

1,295,100

211,100

1997

1,370,400

213,200

1998

1,360,600

198,500

1999

1,365,100

192,000

2000

1,375,600

203,900

2001

1,384,400

202,500

2002

1,352,600

186,200

2003

1,476,800

201,400

2004

1,551,500

194,200

2005

1,654,600

191,800

2006

1,693,100

196,700

Source: Crime in the United States, annual, Uniform Crime Reports

To avoid becoming a statistic, visit SAMHSA’s website and contact a treatment facility near you.

Drug Enforcement Agnecy (DEA) – http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/index.htm
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) – http://www.samhsa.gov/
National Institue of Health (NIH) – http://www.nih.gov/

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