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Drug Abuse Information and How Substance Abuse Starts

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Substance Abuse: An Introduction

From prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications to street drugs and alcohol, virtually any drug can be abused. While illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine are abused any time they are used, prescription drugs are abused whenever they are used in a manner other than as intended, or by someone other than to whom they were prescribed. In 2013, approximately 2.8 million people tried an illicit drug for the first time, per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), illustrating that more and more people are entering into drug abuse every day.

If you or a friend or family member is suffering from drug abuse or addiction, you are not alone. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration reports that in 2009, more than 2 million Americans over the age of 12 sought some type of treatment for drug use.

The most important thing to remember is that no matter how hopeless the situation seems, it is never too late to turn things around. Our treatment admissions advisors are standing by to help you through this difficult time.

Recovery happens every day. It’s never too late to take your first step.
Call today and begin your journey.

How Substance Abuse Starts

For many people, risky behaviors that lead to drug abuse addiction start during early adolescence. Most of these children do not progress in their drug use, but the ones who do are often associated with one or more risk factors for drug abuse, including:

  • Aggressive behavior.
  • Inadequate parental supervision.
  • Easy access to drugs.
  • Living at or below the poverty level.

If a child is exposed to several of these risk factors, there is a greater likelihood that he will abuse drugs later in life.

Some people begin abusing drugs during adulthood despite the lack of risk factors. In many cases, the abuse starts with a simple prescription by a physician for a legitimate medical purpose. There are quite a few drugs, especially prescription pain relievers, that your body builds up a tolerance to. You then require more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect, which can lead to abuse as well as physical and psychological addiction.

Video: What Is Addiction?

Credit: Maudsley NHS

Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse

When someone is abusing drugs, there are often telltale signs and symptoms that are both physical and behavioral, including:

  • Sudden mood swings.
  • Changes in normal behavior.
  • Lack of hygiene and grooming.
  • Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Loss of interest in normal social activities and hobbies.
  • Changes in sleeping patterns.
  • Bloodshot or glassy eyes.
  • Constant sniffles or runny nose.

Each drug will have its own set of specific symptoms, but these are usually found in most drug abusers. For example:

  • People who abuse methamphetamines may seem high strung or wired.
  • Cocaine abusers usually exhibit a loss of appetite.
  • Those who abuse tranquilizers or barbiturates may be lethargic and disoriented.

To get more information about a particular drug, you can search for drug articles online or reach out to your physician or counselor for more drug info and assistance. If you think you recognize any drug abuse symptoms in a friend or loved one, however, it may be time to intervene. Treatment does not have to be voluntary to be effective. Our treatment counselors can give you the information you need to get started. Contact us today at .

Associated Risks of Drug Abuse

Drug abuse carries with it a bevy of potential side effects, depending on the specific drug being used:

  • Those abusing stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines may experience fatigue, depression, and lethargy as they come down from their highs.
  • Individuals who abuse opiate drugs, such as heroin or prescription painkillers, may experience intestinal issues, muscle aches, and nervousness, per WebMD.

Perhaps the most serious risk of drug abuse is the potential to overdose.

In 2009, there were 4.6 million emergency room visits related to drug use, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse. While some of these visits were due to unfavorable reactions to drugs, roughly 45% of the visits involved drug abuse. The majority of the visits were due to the nonmedical use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including stimulants, opiates, and dietary supplements. Of illegal drugs that led to emergency room visits, cocaine was the most commonly abused, followed by heroin and stimulants.

If you suspect that someone has overdosed, call 911 immediately. Prompt medical attention can often save a life and limit the serious damage done; however, the best way to prevent an overdose is to get help. If drug abuse is an issue, it’s only a matter of time before addiction takes hold. It’s important to get help before an overdose or substantial long-term damage occurs. Learn more at our article, Taking Action: How to Intervene During an Overdose.

Treatment Program Options

There is no magic wand when it comes to treating drug abuse and addiction. This complex disease requires a multifaceted approach to treatment for it to be effective. Most treatment programs include:

  • A thorough mental and physical assessment.
  • Detoxification.
  • Individual or group therapy.
  • Participation in support groups.
  • A comprehensive aftercare program.

The best treatment program is one that is tailored to your specific needs. You and your counselors will need to determine the right type and length of treatment program is best for your situation, how much and what type of therapy you will need and what components should be included in your aftercare program. Our treatment support specialists can give you all of the information you need to start making these decisions. Contact them today at .

Types of Treatment Programs

The first decision you will have to make is whether you want to participate in a residential or outpatient treatment program. If your drug abuse has turned into an acute drug addiction, your best bet might be to enter a program on an inpatient basis, where you can get intensive therapy and counseling.

If you have a strong support network of friends and family at home, an outpatient facility might be right for you. You will still receive all of the therapy and counseling that you need during the day, but you will be able to stay in your own home at night.

Length of Treatment

Experts agree that the minimum length of any drug treatment program should be roughly one month, as it will take a few weeks just to get the drugs out of your system.

Once the physical detoxification is complete, behavioral therapy can begin. Depending on your individual situation and the degree of your abuse or addiction, you may want to consider a program that runs for 60 or 90 days.

Video: Faces of Prescription Drug Abuse: Michael Donta

Credit: KY Office of the Attorney General


All reputable treatment programs put together a comprehensive aftercare program for you to follow when your treatment program is complete. A good aftercare program will include:

  • Ongoing counseling.
  • Participation in one or more support groups.
  • Follow-up medical care, if necessary.

It will also address any professional, financial or legal issues that may have arisen due to the drug abuse.

The Time is Now

If you are abusing or addicted to drugs or know someone who is, today is the day to start on the road to recovery.

Everyone deserves to live a clean and sober life, and there is plenty of help and support out there to get you started. Contact our compassionate treatment advisors today at to get started on your own recovery.

Additional Resources on Health Insurance Providers and Coverage Levels

Visit the links below to find out more about your health insurance coverage levels, how to get your insurance company to pay for drug and alcohol rehab and also how to pay if you don’t have insurance.

Additional Resources on Drug and Alcohol Rehab

Whether you’re looking for a specific type of rehab treatment, substance related info or additional guides, below are some our popular and recommended.

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