drug-use-in-america

Drug Use in America: 10 of America’s Most Frequent Drug Addictions

Drug addiction is becoming an epidemic, with over 70,000 people in the US dying from drug addiction each year.

Its effects are devastating. Drug addiction affects the workings of the brain and body making the user feel numb and eventually losing self-control.

Drug addiction and its harmful effects on the body can sometimes prove fatal. Initially, you may take a drug because you like it and you feel good.

With time you begin to lose control and succumb to its frequent use.

Drug use in America has led to many problems and deaths due to gang crime and overdoses.

Is Drug Abuse Treatable?

Drug abuse is defined as when you use legal or illegal substances in unnecessary amounts. Mostly, people use drugs to avoid reality or to live in denial.

It changes your mental and physical health throwing you in a dark pit. However, with strong will power and medical treatment, you can overcome the addiction.

This article will provide a list of common addictions and their symptoms that can help you recognize drug abuse easily.

Symptoms of Drug Abuse

Understanding the epidemic is important otherwise drug overuse death would continue to increase. In the U.S it has increased to an alarming level.

It is essential to know about the symptoms and behavioral patterns.

Following are some of the symptoms and behavioral patterns of drug addiction:

  • The need to use drugs daily or several times a day.
  • Having a strong urge to use the drug.
  • Taking large amounts of drugs.
  • Spending a large sum of money on drugs even though you are facing financial issues.
  • Unable to socialize or perform better at a job due to drug addiction.
  • Continuing the use of drugs despite the fact that it harms your body.
  • Making unsuccessful attempts to stop using it.
  • Having a neglected appearance is also one of the symptoms.
  • Seclusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Tremors
  • Muscle cramping
  • Sweating

These are some of the symptoms that a frequent drug user shows. Intervention can be helpful in some cases.

However, you need to know about 8 elements of a successful intervention before you can hold one.

10 of America’s Most Frequent Drug Addictions

Drug use in America has increased in the past years. There are many popular drugs in America that have resulted in the unnecessary deaths of individuals.

The situation is worrying and each day the number of people falling prey to drug addiction is alarming.

Here are the most frequent drug addictions.

1. Nicotine

Having easy access to this drug has become the reason for its frequent use. Many people despite the knowledge of harmful effects continue smoking.

The use of tobacco is harmful to health as it affects the lungs leading to the development of fatal diseases. Over 40 million people in America are addicted to nicotine.

2. Alcohol

It is sometimes hard to find a person who is addicted to alcohol. It has become more of a social ritual and has engulfed the U.S. There are many negative effects of this abuse.

Apart from affecting mental and physical health, many people drive under the influence that results in death or injury.

3. Cocaine

A powerful stimulant drug, Cocaine increases the levels of dopamine in the brain that leads to various health effects like extreme mental alertness, increased levels of happiness and energy, paranoia and irritability.

Intake of large amounts of cocaine can lead to violent behavior. Its frequent and binge use can damage the heart, nervous, digestive and respiratory systems severely.

4. Marijuana

A highly potent drug and its legalization in some states have led to its frequent use. It has become one of the most popular drugs in the U.S.

5. Painkillers

Painkiller addiction is another rising epidemic that can be lethal in some extreme cases. Drugs like Oxycontin, Codeine, and Vicodin are considered common painkillers.

They are often prescribed but this does not mean that they are not addictive. Patients who become addicted to such painkillers do not realize how much they have become dependent on it.

6. Heroin

Known for its euphoric effects, this drug is used for recreation purpose. In the United States, the drug is becoming popular among women.

It is also spreading diseases like HIV and AIDS. Its treatment is not easy and users often have to undergo a twelve step program along with some medication.

7. Hallucinogens

This type of drug causes hallucinations and is often used for religious rituals. Its effects vary from person to person due to different levels of chemicals found in the body.

8. Benzodiazepines

This drug group is known to regulate moods and help in managing stress and anxiety. Many people who use this drug are unaware of this addiction until they have to function without using it.

Forced withdrawal is dangerous, it can lead to death.

9. Ketamine

This type of drug causes hallucinations or disassociation. Other effects include sedation, pain relief, memory loss, trouble thinking, agitation, increase in blood pressure and heart and depression.

Its overdose can be dangerous.

10. 4-MTA AKA “Ecstasy”

It is sold as tablets and makes users feel peaceful. In some cases, it can lead to insomnia. Some negative effects are sweating, confusion, dizziness, intoxication and memory loss.

These are some of the popular drugs in America. The impact of drug addiction to mental health is severe and should be treated immediately.

Drug Use in America: An Epidemic

Drug use in America has become an epidemic and drastic measures should be taken in order to treat the addiction.

There are many rehabilitation centers built to help people recover. You need to know the symptoms in order to discover the drug addiction. Learn about the various levels of addiction treatment and help your loved ones today.

A little effort and concern can help you in saving a precious life.

Contact us today for more help or information on drug addiction recovery.

References

What Causes Painkiller Addiction

Prescription Drug Abuse: What Causes Painkiller Addiction

130 people each day. That’s the rate of death stemming from the opioid crisis.

That translates to a little over 5 people every hour, or one death every twenty minutes. So in the time, it takes to watch the newest episode of your favorite Netflix show, another person dies from an opioid overdose.

It’s a grim reality, and one the United States is only just coming to grips with. After all, it was only in 2017 that the federal government declared Opiates a public health emergency. But the opiate crisis has been ongoing since the 1990’s.

But how could this happen? In a country that calls itself the greatest in the world, how is it possible that so many are dying from a preventable addiction?

It’s a complicated answer, and the history is long. But to understand how painkiller addiction happens, it’s necessary to first understand how opiates work, why they are so addictive, and how we got here in the first place.

Only then will you be able to recognize the signs of prescription drug abuse. Keep reading to learn more.

The Beginning of a Crisis

In the 1990’s, pharmaceutical companies wanted to cash in on the miracle of opioid painkillers.

After all, here was this miraculous solution to pain management. They could make the pain simply go away, making it a medical marvel.

And it meant huge dollar signs for pharmaceutical companies, who began aggressive marketing campaigns to get the drugs in the hands of patients.

Prior to 1991, most opioid drugs were for pain management in cancer patients. There was no research suggesting benefits for non-cancer patients, but pharma companies saw a financial opening and a new market. So they started pushing, offering doctors huge perks and benefits for prescribing opioids to non-cancer patients.

The campaign was so successful that pharma companies saw opioid revenue grow from $48 million in 1996 to more than $1 billion four years later.

Worries About Addiction

Medical organizations and doctors raised concerns about the possible addictive properties of these new drugs. After all, they were modeled on opium, the main ingredient in heroin and morphine, both highly addictive.

But the pharma industry brushed aside these fears, assuring doctors that this was part of the miracle: powerful pain relief with no chance of addiction.

Proving them wrong didn’t take long. Deaths from opiate overdose began skyrocketing in the mid-90’s and only got higher as time went on. Pharma companies began producing newer drugs. As Fentanyl hit the market, it produced a new wave of addicts.

And as prescriptions ran out, some patients turned to heroin, which was cheaper and readily available.

But how do these drugs work? How have they ensnared so many?

Understanding Opiates

It’s important here to understand the verbiage. Opiates are a type of narcotic.

Now, narcotic has become an umbrella term for all drugs. But when we say narcotic in reference to opioids, it refers to drugs of a specific type.

Before it became an umbrella term, a narcotic was defined as a drug that “…dulls the senses, relieves pain and produces a profound sleep…”

The original opiates were morphine and heroin and were common during medical procedures. Originally, scientists developed morphine as an aid for those with heroin addiction, since when it was first isolated, no one bothered to test its own addictive properties.

So what do they do to the body?

Opiates are “downers”, meaning that they depress the functioning of the central nervous system. This relieves pain, but also can cause euphoria, as well as a whole slew of other side effects, from dry mouth to constipation.

Understanding Addiction

So with the side effects, why would anyone take opiates longer than they had to?

First, it’s important to understand how people get addicted.

Addiction is a disease, and it’s one that isn’t well understood, even within professional circles. Often, people who don’t understand addiction frame it as a lack of moral fortitude or willpower.

In other words, the perception is that only “bad people” or “weak people” become addicts. The reality, however, is far more complicated.

Addiction is a cyclical illness. A person takes a drug, which feeds the pleasure center of the brain by flooding it with dopamine.

Now, the brain produces dopamine anyway as a natural reaction to eating, drinking, or having sex. The brain rewards activities necessary to sustain life in order to make you keep doing them.

But when you introduce drugs, they flood the brain with high levels of dopamine, which throws the system out of alignment. Instead of rewarding healthy behaviors, the drugs force the bran to reward unhealthy behaviors.

The secondary effect here is that, as more dopamine enters the brain on a regular basis, the brain shuts down the cells used to receive it, in an attempt to regulate its functioning. This means that more and more levels of drug use are necessary to maintain the same high.

It’s also vital to understand that not every person who uses painkillers will get addicted. Millions of people every year use them without getting addicted. Whether or not a person becomes addicted depends on several factors, but none of them is ethics or moral fiber.

Genetic Factors

Because addiction is a psychiatric disease, it stands to reason that there is a genetic component, like any other psychiatric disease. The children of people with depression are more likely than the general public to suffer from depression. In the same way, the children of addicts are more likely to become addicts themselves.

Researchers at the National Institue of Drug Abuse have a theory for this.

The brain contains a finite number of dopamine receptors that help the brain regulate its pleasure center. Brain imaging suggests that individuals with fewer of these receptors are more likely to struggle with addiction. And, like with much else in the body, how many receptors are present is largely determined by genetics.

Studies on twins have also shown that identical twins, who share a genome that is 100% indistinguishable, are highly likely to share addictions. So much so that identical twins are often assumed to be concordant, or to either both be addicts or neither.

Genetics account for about half of a person likelihood for addiction. But what about external factors?

Environmental Factors

Genetics accounts for about half of individuals likely to become addicted. The other half is external, or environmental.

Keep in mind that opiates, in particular, offer easy relief from pain. There are other methods of pain management available, but they often take a great deal more effort.

Now, faced with that explanation, many explain it away. “Oh,” they say, “this is just proof that addicts are lazy and unwilling to try other things to reduce their pain!”

But the reality is that debilitating pain is just that: debilitating. Often, it becomes so all-consuming that sufferers just want it to go away so that they can function. The idea of trying anything else is so exhausting as to seem nearly impossible.

It can also be an issue of withdrawal. Even very limited use of painkillers can induce unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when the prescription runs out. And if there is still pain from the original problem, the withdrawal symptoms may prove to be too much, especially for those without adequate support systems.

The Process of Addiction

Let’s take a look at how addiction happens in a practical sense.

It starts, perhaps obviously, with pain. Let’s call our patient Claire. She is 19, and a gymnast at her university.

Claire requires surgery for a torn ACL. Surgery goes well, and her surgeon prescribes her a week’s worth of oxycontin for pain the week following surgery. She knows her uncle struggled with addiction years ago, but she doesn’t know him well and assumes his issues stemmed from elsewhere.

The meds keep her pain under control, but she is frustrated by her limited mobility. Her teammates are at a competition, and she is still in recovery. At the end of the week, her meds run out, and the pain returns. It isn’t as bad as it was in the beginning, but she’s had a week of perfectly controlled pain, and the return is unbearable.

She is also feeling sick as the effects of the medication wear off. The narcotics have made her digestion slow, and she is still struggling with her limitations.

She calls her doctor and asks for a refill. They give her five more days worth, at a lower dose.

She takes two at a time to combat the pain at the same levels and begins to test her boundaries at physical therapy. Taking the pills makes the pain go away, which lets her go further in her mobility.

She keeps pushing her injured leg too far, necessitating more rest.

The setbacks cause more frustration, more pain, and more pills. She “borrows” an old prescription from her mother when she is home for Thanksgiving.

She is now buying pills from a cook at her job at a local restaurant because even though her ACL is mostly healed, the euphoria goes away every time she comes down. Coping with the stress of finals is getting impossible.

Only until finals are over, she promises herself.

But the pills are expensive. Her friend at work mentions that heroin is cheaper, and is basically the same thing. In a moment of desperation at the end of finals, she gives in.

In a matter of months, she has gone from promising young gymnast to an addict who can only think of her next pill. And it happened without her ever realizing what was happening.

Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

The signs of prescription drug abuse come in four categories: behavioral, cognitive, physical, and psychosocial. Recognizing them in a loved one is crucial for recovery.

Addicts may hide behavioral signs, such a preoccupation with getting more pills or illegally acquiring more pills. Often, addicts are able to cover their tracks until things become too out of hand to hide.

Cognitive signs include disorientation, confusion, and an inability to focus.

Physical signs, which are among the easiest to spot. These can include itchiness, hypersomnia, constipation, irregular heartbeat, pinpointed pupils, and excessive sweating.

Psychosocial symptoms may manifest as mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and depression.  Addicts may begin stealing pills or money and withdrawing from personal relationships in order to avoid detection.

The Road out of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disorder. Someone who is an addict will remain an addict for the rest of their life. This does not mean, however, that they must remain in a harmful cycle of abusing pills forever.

Most recovery programs agree that the first step to recovery is simply the addict realizing that they have a problem. They then must realize that there is a way out. Often, addicts try and fail to quit and become discouraged, convinced they will be trapped in the cycle of addiction forever.

They must move past this mindset before recovery can begin.

Once they are ready, ongoing treatment and support are crucial. They will need an unwavering support system, ready to help in moments of crisis. An inpatient treatment program may be necessary, and meetings will a local Narcotics Anonymous can help connect them with others who can empathize with their struggle.

After ninety days of sobriety, their risk of relapse decreases, but vigilance will always be necessary, especially because prescription drugs are the first resource in the event of surgery or major injury.

Conclusion

There is hope for those affected by opiate addiction. And once you know how to recognize the signs of prescription drug abuse, you can help support loved ones as they navigate their way to freedom.

But you don’t have to navigate the waters of recovery alone. We are here to help, connecting your loved ones with the best resources and treatment options.

To help your loved one begin their journey, contact us today.

Drug and Alcohol Detox Treatment Programs

One of the major factors that impact addiction recovery is the severity of the patient’s biological and psychological dependency on the substance or substances they’ve been abusing. A biological or chemical dependency can be just as strenuous to combat as a psychological dependency, depending on the substances being abused and the duration of misuse, which can impact the types of treatment recommended and the duration of a patient’s treatment plan.

A substance dependence is the result of the body getting to used to the presence of a substance, such as alcohol or tobacco, that the user has to change their habits in order to continue getting the effects of the substance. These changes usually lead to disruptions to their daily life and relationships in some way as the problems caused by their substance abuse become more significant. Some signs of a drug or alcohol dependency include:

  • An increased tolerance for the substance, leading to increased amounts of the substance being used in order to receive the same “high”
  • The presence of withdrawal symptoms when you decrease your intake or attempt to stop using the drug that makes it difficult to combat the problem own
  • Significant amounts of your time are spent trying to get more drugs or alcohol, using them, and recovering from the effects
  • Cutting back on or avoiding social and recreational activities or hobbies
  • Continuing to abuse the substance despite awareness of the physical and mental health ramifications, strain the problem is putting on your social life and loved one, and other potential problems (such as financial strain)

 

What is Medically Assisted Detoxification?

Medically assisted detox is a common first step when attempting to overcome a physical addiction to drugs or alcohol. There are inpatient and outpatient detox programs, but a medically assisted program requires inpatient treatment so medical professionals can monitor the patient’s withdrawal symptoms and progress.

Since medications are administered to lessen and control withdrawal symptoms during medically assisted detox treatment, recovering addicts generally deal with less discomfort during their detox process. The medical professional or detox team overseeing treatment may alternate or switch out the medications used as needed to help the patient’s withdrawal symptoms.

After detox, the patient’s physical dependency is removed, meaning they can focus on therapy programs and behavioral changes to curb any remaining urges to use. The physical need for the substance, however, should be removed entirely after this process.

 

Withdrawal Syndrome

Withdrawal syndrome is a blanket term for the side effects a person suffers from when they try to stop using a substance their body has become dependent upon. The longer a person is using said substance and the larger their doses, the more likely they are to suffer from varying degrees of a withdrawal syndrome.

Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to lethal depending on the substance being abused, how that substance is abused, and the level of dependency or intensity of their addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can manifest physically and psychologically, which is why it’s highly discouraged for people to stop their substance abuse suddenly (or “cold turkey”) since their reaction could be highly adverse and dangerous in some way.

Depending on the substance and severity of the substance dependence, withdrawal symptoms can start manifesting in as little as a few hours after an individual’s last high, but usually it takes a day or two to fully set it.

Patients should also expect to have cravings during their detox phase as a byproduct of withdrawal syndrome. In the case of a severe addiction, medically assisted detox treatment is often the best option available to successfully detox from any substance.

 

Alcohol Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome typically involves symptoms pertaining to the central nervous system. Depending on the severity of the addiction, withdrawal symptoms can range from rather mild to extremely life-threatening, making alcohol one of the more dangerous substance to detox from without the aid of medical professionals.

In most cases, withdrawal symptoms begin 6 to 24 hours after the last alcoholic drink consumed and usually lasts for about a week. In extreme cases, symptoms can begin appearing as little as 2 hours after the individual has had an alcoholic beverage. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations (Auditory, Visual, or Tactile)
  • Tremors (“the shakes”)
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness, Nausea, and/or Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Mood Swings
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression/Agitation
  • Headaches/Migraines
  • High blood pressure
  • Cravings (usually for Alcohol)
  • Anhedonia
  • Delirium tremens (usually occurs 24-72 hours after intake cessation)

Of these symptoms, insomnia, seizures, delirium tremens, and mood swings are some of the most dangerous reactions and are more likely to promote relapse. Delirium tremens is especially dangerous and usually requires immediate medical attention if it manifests in a recovering addict.

 

Heroin, Opiate, and Opioid Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

Despite being a significantly difficult class of drugs to stop using, opiates and opioid detox typically takes 5-10 days. Withdrawal symptoms for these drugs can be tough, however, although medically assisted detox programs can help control the more extreme withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms can take as little as a few hours to show up, especially with drugs that get into and out of the bloodstream as quickly as opioids and opiates.

 

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Short term heroin withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Cold and Flu-like symptoms
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive secretion of tears
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Uncontrollable yawning
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle aches and spasms
  • Aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate

In some cases, patients will experience long-term withdrawal side effects as well, which can impact recovery severely if not treated properly. These side effects include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Paranoia
  • Hyperactivity
  • Drug cravings
  • Relapse

 

Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Opioid withdrawal symptoms that usually begin in the first 24 hours after cessation include:

  • Restlessness
  • Aches and pains
  • Anxiety
  • Lacrimation (eyes tearing up)
  • Runny nose/cold-like symptoms
  • Excessive yawning
  • Inability to sleep
  • Excessive sweating

 

Additional symptoms, which can be more intense and typically start after your first day, usually include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps and discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Goosebumps/Chills
  • Dilated pupils and blurry vision
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure

 

Cocaine and Crack Cocaine Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

Compared to other drugs, cocaine withdrawal tends to be milder and mostly psychological in nature. This doesn’t mean that cocaine detox isn’t a struggle, but it’s often less extreme than other detox processes. Since cocaine enters and leaves the bloodstream very quickly compared to other substances, symptoms can manifest in as little as 90 minutes and typically last for 7-10 days.

 

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Inability to experience sexual arousal
  • Reduced cognitive function (difficulty concentrating, thinking, etc)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Cold and Flu-like symptoms
  • Increased appetite
  • Chills/tremors
  • Muscle aches
  • Nerve pain
  • Restlessness
  • Vivid dreams or nightmares

Crack cocaine is more concentrated than regular cocaine, and the withdrawal symptoms are often more intense as a result. For most people, crack cocaine detox involves two stages:

Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Disturbing dreams or nightmares
  • Reduced cognitive function (difficulty concentrating, thinking, etc)
  • Exhaustion
  • Mood changes
  • Irritability

Post-acute Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)
  • Insomnia
  • Increased agitation
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Cravings
  • Tremors and shaking
  • Lack of motivation

Unfortunately for recovering crack addicts, the physical symptoms of crack cocaine withdrawal can last for months after discontinued use depending on the severity of their addiction and intensity of their usage habits prior to rehab treatment.

 

Methamphetamine Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

Methamphetamine (Meth, Crystal Meth, Speed, etc.) is an increasingly popular man-made stimulant that has something of a unique detox process. Unlike most substances, studies have shown that methamphetamine withdrawal has a relatively consistent and predictable timeline even for chronic meth abusers. This helps rehab centers and medical professionals know what to expect when helping recovering meth abusers.

Typically, withdrawal symptoms will begin to manifest roughly 10 hours after cessation, reaching its peak at 7 to 10 days, with the average overall duration covering around 14 to 20 days.

Most methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms are psychological and emotional, though there are several physical symptoms that are fairly common. Methamphetamine detox also tends to be less severe than alcohol of opioid detox processes.

 

Methamphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive sleepiness (common when dealing with stimulant detoxes)
  • Increased appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking
  • Jitteriness
  • Dry mouth
  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Extreme meth cravings (usually decline or fade away quickly compared to other symptoms)

Some psychotic symptoms can also occur, including paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations. Due to the potential risk of harming themselves and others, if these symptoms manifest in a methamphetamine detox patient, they need to be treated by medical professionals immediately.

 

Marijuana Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

Even though marijuana is generally considered a less severe drug to abuse, addiction is an equal-opportunity health concern. Anyone addicted to marijuana or with heavy usage habits will likely suffer some very uncomfortable withdrawal side effects if they don’t detox safely, preferably under the watch of a healthcare professional.

Marijuana detox can be painful, since there are physical symptoms as well as psychological effects caused by detoxing from the drug.

 

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Chills
  • Shakiness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Stomach pains
  • Other aches and pains

Nicotine and Tobacco Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

Over 38 million people in the United States successfully quit smoking each year, but overall there are still roughly 50 million Americans addicted to some kind of tobacco product. And despite public smoking laws cracking down on nicotine and tobacco exposure in the last decade or so, like alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco products tend to be intertwined with various social engagements which can make the difficult to avoid if you’re trying to overcome an addiction.

When going through nicotine detox or tobacco detox, symptoms will usually manifest a few hours after your last instance of tobacco use and intensify or peak about 3 days later. Unfortunately, withdrawal symptoms for tobacco products can be highly psychological, meaning they can increase, mimic, or worsen the symptoms of existing psychiatric ailments.

 

Tobacco and Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Intense cravings for nicotine/tobacco
  • Tingling sensations in the hands and feet
  • Cold and Flu-like symptoms
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Restlessness
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Gastrointestinal issues (constipation, gas, etc.)
  • Insomnia or fatigue
  • Lack of focus
  • Headache
  • Increased appetite
  • Irritability

 

Are You Ready to Take Your First Steps Towards Recovery?

Addiction Treatment Services can help you find the drug and alcohol detox program and addiction treatment you need ASAP. One of our helpful service representatives will conduct your complimentary insurance review and match you with a reputable rehab center that can provide the treatment you need. Our service specialists are available 24/7 for your convenience, so call us now to take the first step towards your addiction recovery.

addiction in the media

Study Finds Media Skews Depiction of Drug Problem

addiction in the mediaPeople in the addiction treatment and recovery community have long been fighting an uphill battle regarding the stigma surrounding addiction. Although it appears that progress is being made in educating more people about addiction, there is still a tendency to err on the side of criminalizing the behavior rather than supporting treatment and successful recovery programs.

One of the biggest offenders of this has been traditional mainstream media, and a recent study examined how prescription painkiller abuse was depicted by some of the largest media outlets over more than a decade.

According to the study, the number of stories having to do with prescription opioid abuse increased significantly since 1998. Of the sample of media outlets examined, the number of stories jumped from 13 that year up to 63 by 2012, which was an increase of 484%. Two-thirds of these stories depicted opioid abuse along with criminal activity, while only 3% of them offered readers or viewers treatment solutions.

“Results of a recent experimental study suggest that portrayals of successful treatment of opioid analgesic abuse can improve public attitudes toward and reduce willingness to discriminate against individuals experiencing the condition, but only slightly over one-third of news stories depicted an individual engaging in treatment,” explained the researchers.

While most treatment professionals would agree that more coverage of the substance abuse problem is needed to increase overall awareness, having a more balanced and responsible approach to the subject would be a much better service to the general public. The truth is that addiction does not discriminate and can affect anyone. It is also true that prevention, intervention, and treatment are effective and that long-term recovery is made possible every day.

Prescription Painkillers

The Problem with Pain Management and Addiction

Prescription PainkillersPain management is a tricky problem that many healthcare providers struggle with addressing on a daily basis. Measuring to what degree a patient is in pain is very subjective and oftentimes the most important factor in determining whether or not they should be prescribed narcotic painkillers.

Doctors and nurses are taught to take pain very seriously. The American Pain Society designated pain to be the fifth vital sign in 1995 and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) developed monitoring standards in which to measure pain in a patient. So, with the increased awareness of pain and the understanding that it is necessary to treat pain, doctors are put in a strange position. They are tasked with addressing and helping to alleviate a person’s pain, but they also need to make sure that they are not prescribing narcotic painkillers to someone who is lying or exaggerating about their symptoms in order to receive drugs.

The American College of Preventive Medicine reports that 5.3 million Americans abuse narcotic painkillers every month. Some of these people get their pills off the street and some of these people get them directly from a doctor. No matter where they are obtaining their drugs, one this is clear, the pills came after some diagnosis of pain somewhere. Dealers who have a chronic pain problem can acquire the pills and then sell them on the street for one dollar per milligram, or addicts can go into a hospital and complain of pain and hope that a doctor is willing to write them a prescription. It has become the general consensus that we have created the problem together – doctors, patients and drug companies.

There is an incredible amount of people who abuse pain management attempts by doctors, but there is also a large group that suffers from legitimate chronic pain and needs the aid of medication as part of their therapy. The Institute of Medicine came out with a report that stated that more than 100 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain. Recent reports of the ineffectiveness of opioid narcotics to treat chronic pain, along with their intensely high potential for abuse, have spurred leaders to develop and use non-narcotic treatments instead.

Homeless Women More Likely Abuse Heroin Other Drugs - Addiction Treatment Services

Homeless Women More Likely to Abuse Heroin, Other Drugs

Homeless Women More Likely Abuse Heroin Other Drugs - Addiction Treatment ServicesAlthough drug and alcohol abuse is on the rise nationally among several demographics, substance abuse among the homeless is still more prevalent than in the rest of the population.

Thirty-eight percent of homeless people were dependent on alcohol and 26 percent abused other drugs, according to estimates back in 2003 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

According to more recent data, only 10.1 percent of all Americans older than the age of 12 reported using illegal drugs within the previous month, the 2015 National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found.

Homelessness and Addiction Statistics

It’s well known that there is a strong correlation between addiction and homelessness. However, because homeless people often get ignored or overlooked by the health care system, actual stats are hard to find.

The most recent data available comes from Homeless Link, a U.K.-based charity that aims to provide help for the homeless. To determine what sort of help was needed, the group conducted a survey of 3,355 homeless people in 2015 to investigate the mental and physical health of this population.

The study found that:

  • 90 percent of all homeless people were suffering from some type of mental illness.
  • A total of 37 percent of those polled admitted to abusing alcohol within the last month.

Homeless Women at Even Greater Risk

Homeless Women And Men Abuse Heroin Statistic - Addiction Treatment ServicesThe study also found that homeless women are more likely than men to abuse heroin and crack cocaine.

  • 33 percent of women who were polled admitted to abusing heroin, while “only” 28 percent of the men did.
  • 31 percent of the women who were homeless stated that they abused crack cocaine in the last month, compared to 29 percent of the men.

The results from the study indicate that there is a severe lack of health care for people living on the streets, at least in the U.K. – although the United States would appear to be in a similar predicament.

The Homeless Link report recommends focusing on providing mental health and preventative care to the homeless to reduce the substance abuse problem.

“The details revealed by this research may be surprising, but they illustrate how useful a health-needs audit can be in accurately assessing the needs of those experiencing homelessness,” Jacqui McCluskey, director of policy and communications at Homeless Link, told a local CBS affiliate in D.C. “This evidence is vital for local areas to ensure the most effective responses to people’s needs are commissioned.”

Given that these statistics are already a few years old, the reality of the problem of addiction among the homeless may be even more severe than the stats indicate.

The Link Between Homelessness and Addiction

In some cases, drug or alcohol addiction is the cause of homelessness. In other cases, alcohol and drugs are abused after the participants became homeless, as a means of trying to cope with the situation.

The Mental Illness Factor

People who suffer from mental illness often have difficulty keeping employment and maintaining relationships. As a result, they may end up on the streets. They commonly turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with the stress and discomfort of living without adequate food or shelter, and as a way to self-medicate the symptoms of their mental illness.

Many non-homeless people with mental illness also use addictive substances to self-medicate, so those with mental health issues may already be addicted when they become homeless.

The Opioid Epidemic and Heroin

The number of people in the U.S. who are addicted to heroin, an opiate drug, has exploded in recent years. In 2014, an estimated 2.5 million Americans were addicted to either heroin or prescription opioid drugs, and in 2015, more than 30,000 deaths resulted from overdoses on those same drugs.

This alarming trend is due in large part to the widespread use of prescription painkillers. These legal opioid drugs are extremely addictive and should only be used for short-term, acute pain management. However, many people use them for too long and become addicted. Once their painkiller prescriptions run out, they turn to heroin as a cheaper and more readily available alternative.

When the chase for the next high leads to loss of job and home, many of these heroin addicts end up on the streets.

We Must Stop the Cycle of Addiction and Homelessness

One study found that overdose has surpassed HIV as the leading cause of death among the homeless population, with opioids alone being responsible for more than 80 percent of those deaths.

Since drug use often leads to homelessness, it’s likely that as the drug problems in this country continue to grow, the homeless problem will also continue to grow. This would further increase the addiction problem. And it’s why it’s critical to break the cycle by getting homeless people the help they need.

In addition to traditional forms of support for the homeless, like food and housing, our society needs to also make sure these individuals also have access to addiction treatment and resources for managing mental illness.

Learn More About Heroin Addiction and Treatment

Understand Heroin Addiction

More Doctors Prescribing Buprenorphine

sacovergDrug treatment programs have long been regarded as the best solution to help someone get clean from illegal drugs. While the country grapples with the increasing use of drugs like heroin and prescription painkillers, some wonder why more addicts are not seeking help from rehabilitation facilities.

Experts agree that the stigma attached to drug abuse prevents some people from feeling comfortable in enrolling in a treatment facility. In addition to the perceived shun from society, users often have a difficult time admitting that they need help and following through with their admittance into treatment. Many point out that the painful withdrawal symptoms from heroin or prescription painkillers cause addicts to give up their quest for sobriety in favor of preventing the painful, flulike symptoms. However, a recent study shows that the gap between addicts and at some forms of treatment might be getting smaller, due to more physicians ability to prescribe medication to help with the process.

Buprenorphine is a medication that, when taken, helps to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms that people feel when they stop using heroin or prescription painkillers. In order to obtain a prescription for buprenorphine, someone has to go to a doctor that is approved to prescribe, or they have to turn to a treatment program. In the past, many addicts have found it difficult to locate a doctor with this ability, but now more and more doctors are obtaining the certificate that allows them to treat addicts. In fact, it has been reported that 98.9% of physicians were not licensed to dispense buprenorphine prior to 2011. That number has since dropped to 46.8%. The dramatic increase of doctors who are willing and able to help treat opioid dependency has led to a 74% increase in the availability of this form of treatment.

It must be stated, though, that the administration of buprenorphine alone doesn’t cure an addiction to heroin or painkillers. Long-term maintenance programs don’t provide the full solutions either, as the end goal should be to get off any opioid if at all possible. This is evidenced by the fact that buprenorphine itself is a drug that is abused on the street, and why doctors who prescribe the medication typically refer people to a treatment facility to address the full issues related to the substance abuse problem. If you are looking for help to recover from an opiate addiction, contact us today we’ll help you locate a treatment program that works.

CDC Indicates Sharp Rise in Heroin and Opioid Overdoses in US

cdcodsOverdose deaths from heroin abuse and prescription pain medication abuse (opioids) increased through much of the United States in 2012. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reviewed the data from 28 states and found that twice as many people died from prescription opioid overdoses than died from heroin overdoses.

There are a couple of things that appear to be driving the increase of heroin overdoses. First, there is the widespread exposure to painkillers that can often find addicts winding up on heroin. Second, there seems to be an increase in heroin supply to meet this increasing demand. No all prescription opioid users become heroin users, but previous research showed that 3 out of 4 new heroin users abused painkillers before using heroin.

Heroin’s cheaper price and increasing availability have been contributing factors. Since heroin and prescription painkillers are in the same category of substance, users experience the similar effects from both drugs. Therefore, the relationship between the two drugs is not surprising.

CDC Director Tom Frienden, MD, MPH says that reducing inappropriate prescribing practices is an important part of the strategy targeting overdoses from both heroin and the medications. “Addressing prescription opioid abuse by changing prescribing is likely to prevent heroin use in the long term,” he said.

Researchers also believe it is important to help those who are addicted to heroin and painkillers with effective treatment services in conjunction with the preventative measures. While some may recommend opioid replacement therapy, we work with facilities that help people fully detox from heroin and other opiates, and incorporate long-term residential treatment.