Drug Abuse Problems
- Table of ContentsPrint
- The Devastating Effects of Drug Abuse and Addiction
- Drug Abuse and Health Problems
- Legal Problems and Drug Abuse
- Overcoming Drug Abuse Problems
The Devastating Effects of Drug Abuse and Addiction
Drug abuse problems - the myriad repercussions to substance addiction - are typically not high on the list of considerations when someone begins using drugs. Some people become addicted to drugs only after they begin a period of experimentation - they might start using because they want to experience the thrill of something new, or because they want to fit in with friends who are also using.
Others find themselves faced with drug abuse problems after legitimately needing prescription pain medication and developing a dependence on the very medication intended to help them.
The types of drug abuse problems are diverse, but can include:
- Detrimental effects to one's work or employment.
- Family and social issues.
- Serious legal troubles.
- Short- and long-term health issues.
- Mental and behavioral issues associated with drug use.
The problems associated with drug abuse extend beyond immediate personal impact. To be sure, the effects are pervasive and carry huge costs to society as a whole.
Video: Why Are Drugs So Hard to Quit?
Credit: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH)
Drug Abuse and Health Problems
As a group, people addicted to drugs frequently engage in unhealthy behaviors. This neglect of health can add up, increasing the risk for other illnesses. Clinicians refer to the host of issues that can arise or be worsened by an addiction as co-morbid medical conditions - and the list is quite extensive. We'll list a few of the more frequently seen health problems below:
Problems associated with injection drug use:
- Thrombophlebitis, or inflammation of veins that, over time, can lead to scarring and cardiovascular collapse.
- Additionally, the risk of introducing infections to the body (e.g. viruses such as hepatitis, HIV, etc.) runs high.
- Non-sterile syringes can lead to local bacterial infections that can progress to painful cellulitis and/or abscesses.
- Injected bacteria can deposit in the heart and brain leading to conditions such as endocarditis and brain abscess.
- Vasoconstriction and cardiovascular overstimulation.
- These conditions can result in dangerously elevated blood pressure, heart rhythm irregularities and decrease the supply of blood to vital organs.
- The likelihood of stroke and/or heart attacks is markedly increased.
Problems associated with depressant drugs (opiates / benzodiazepines / barbiturates):
- Excessive intake of these drugs can lead to dangerously slowed respiratory and cardiovascular rates and, eventually, death.
This list, while not exhaustive, only refers to drug use specifically. Frequently, alcohol abuse accompanies drug addiction, and this leads to a whole other range of health issues and can worsen many of the conditions listed above. The immediacy and potentially serious nature of many of these health effects underscore how important it is to get help for yourself or someone close to you who is struggling with substance abuse and addiction.
Legal Problems and Drug Abuse
It would be impossible to list all of the legal repercussions associated with drug use and abuse. However, like health problems, few things convey the severity of drug abuse problems like the possibility of jail time.
At a fundamental level, many of the abused substances are illegal to purchase. Merely obtaining these drugs for yourself has you in conflict with the law at the outset. Furthermore, the impaired levels of consciousness and lowered decision-making abilities that many drugs cause puts people at serious risk for accidents, automobile related or otherwise.
The bodily harm and death that may result from these accidents aren't always exclusive to the drug user themselves and, obviously, hurting others can result in legal penalties, not to mention the emotional anguish/guilt associated with hurting another person. Lastly, addicted people frequently value obtaining their drugs above all else. Because obtaining drugs is the highest priority to an addict, financial troubles are inevitable, and many people eventually resort to stealing and other criminal activity to obtain resources to purchase drugs.
Overcoming Drug Abuse Problems
When drugs take over our lives, we lose control of who we are, how we behave, and what we feel. Many people who have drug abuse problems believe - through sheer force of determination or willpower - that they can overcome the problem themselves. This is almost never the case. Addressing drug abuse problems and overcoming substance abuse without professional assistance is quite difficult. Many people need treatment to stop.
As mentioned, drug abuse effects can be physical, mental and emotional. Substance abuse rehab or treatment can help put a stop to the harm that drugs exact on the user. For drug or alcohol abuse problems it is recommended that a clinical evaluation be made to determine the best form of treatment. Treatment may take place in an inpatient rehab or in an outpatient setting. Addiction treatment services include but are not limited to:
- Initial clinical evaluation and intake.
- Medically supervised detoxification (especially important for drugs with life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines).
- Medically-assisted treatment.
- Therapy (individual or group).
- Recovery skills training and relapse prevention.
- Aftercare services.
- Dual diagnosis treatment.
When someone you care about has drug abuse problems, it can be frustrating and difficult - a situation full of hopelessness and despair. The best advice is to arm yourself with knowledge before there is even a potential problem and to be able to recognize the signs of potential drug abuse problems both in yourself and in others.