The Drug Abuse Problem

When a loved one is struggling with addiction, families and other loved ones need fast, reliable information on how they can help, what signs to look for, as well as the consequences of substance abuse. Addiction is a complicated subject, and there are many opinions as to how it develops and progresses. However, for the millions of individuals who have suffered from an addiction, it has become a way of life.

Below you will find some of the most common questions and answers we often hear from families and individuals seeking help:

Q: What Are Some of the Common Signs of Drug Abuse?

The signs that an individual may be using drugs become more apparent as time progresses. Some important signs to be on the lookout for include:

  • Changes in personality or behavior
  • Bloodshot eyes or other unexplained physical changes
  • Changes in friends or routines
  • Disregard for personal hygiene
  • Slurred speech, trembles or shakes
  • Unusual spending habits or requests for money

The effects of drug addiction on an individual may vary but generally worsen over time. It’s easy to ignore the signs at first but as addiction progresses they become obvious. Learning how to spot the signs may one day save a loved one’s life.

One important aspect of addiction to remember when confronting someone you may believe to be using drugs is to remember that they may become hostile when confronted about their use. You should never approach them in anger no matter how bad the addiction has become.

When Does Drug Abuse Turn into Addiction?

Addiction is a condition characterized by repeated, compulsive seeking and use of drugs, alcohol or other similar substances despite adverse social, mental and physical consequences. It is usually accompanied by psychological and physical dependence on the abused substance and the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when the addictive substance is rapidly decreased or terminated. When addiction exists, the drug use controls the individual rather than the individual controlling the usage. When a person loses the ability to make a rational choice about whether or not to use a drug or alcohol, he or she is addicted.

How Quickly Can a Person Become Addicted to a Drug?

With some drugs, addiction can occur very quickly. What that means is that after just one, two or three uses, a person can have such strong cravings for the drug that they are driven to use it again even though they might know better. Because no two individuals are the same, some may experience addiction much more quickly than others. Also, some drugs have a much more powerful effect and can result in the desire to use again almost immediately. Methamphetamine and Crack Cocaine are two examples.

How Does Drug Addiction and Abuse Effect Society as a whole?

Communities with high levels of drug abuse usually also have increased levels of crime and violence, accompanied by higher levels of domestic and child abuse and neglect. The prevalence of “drugged” driving in which the driver of a vehicle has taken a mind-altering substance has risen significantly. Similar to the problem of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugged driving is harder to detect at a traffic stop. Drug abuse also had a financial effect. Millions of dollars are spent every year by governments and individuals dealing with the consequences of use. Hospitals stays, outbreaks of disease and increased homelessness all have a significant financial impact.

What Happens if a Pregnant Woman Abuses Drugs?

Many drugs pass through the placenta to affect the fetus. Crack cocaine, prescription opioids including methadone, hydrocodone, and oxycodone, heroin or methamphetamine use can cause a baby to be born addicted to those drugs. Alcohol use can result in lowered birth weight and physical deformities as well as developmental and intellectual problems. Cocaine use can result in congenital disabilities. Hallucinogens such as LSD, ketamine, and MDMA may cause miscarriage or premature delivery.

How Can I Help a Person Who Is Abusing Drugs?

No matter what excuses a person makes, abusing addictive drugs or other substance such as inhalants is dangerous and damaging to themselves and other people around them. Many addicts fail to see the damage they are creating around them, and eventually, the problem grows until they are unable or unwilling to find a solution for themselves. At this point, finding a support group and a drug rehabilitation center may be the only solution.

What Does Drug Abuse Cost?

The current estimate of how much America is paying for drug and alcohol abuse is $416 billion each year. This amount is the equivalent of billing every man, woman, and child in America $1,300 every year. In Europe, the 16 member countries of the European Union spent an estimated 2.25 billion Euros on the drug abuse problem in 2008. In Russia in 2008, it was estimated that the problem cost the country $54 billion.

The financial consequences of drug addiction represent a clear and present danger for any country dealing with them.