Common Drugs of Abuse

Post image for Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism cut across gender, race, and nationality. Nearly 14 million people in the United States alone abuse alcohol or are alcoholic. In general, more men than women are alcohol dependent or have alcohol problems. Alcohol problems are highest among young adults ages 18-29 and lowest among adults ages 65+. People who start drinking at an early age increase the chance that they will develop alcohol problems at some point in their lives. How do you know if you or a loved one has a drinking problem?

Ever have…

  • A drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?
  • A feeling you should cut down on your drinking?
  • An upset with people criticizing your drinking?
  • Bad or guilty feelings about your drinking?
  • A strong need, or urge, to drink?
  • An inability to stop drinking once you start?
  • Nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping drinking.
  • A need to drink larger and larger amounts of alcohol to get “high.”

If you think that you or someone you know might have an alcohol problem, it is important to get help now.

Post image for Prescription Drugs Abuse

There are generally three main categories of prescription drugs that are heavily abused. These prescription drug categories are narcotic painkillers, stimulants and sedatives.

Painkiller addiction is the most common type of prescription drug abuse. Brand names like Oxycontin, Vicodin, Lortab and Percocet fall in the general categories of oxycodone and hydrocodone. These narcotic painkillers are in the opiate family and have effects on the body similar to heroin or morphine, therefore withdrawal from these drugs is very difficult to go through. A note here is that more Rehabs have been trying to treat opiate addiction with more drugs, such as Methadone, LAAM and more recently Buprenorphine. While the latter appears to curb withdrawal symptoms if used in a very short period of time, none of them are viable long-term solutions, as the user only develops a dependency on a new drug.

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Post image for Marijuana

THC (Marijuana) changes the way in which sensory information gets into, and is acted on, by the hippocampus. This is a component of the brain that is crucial for learning, memory, and the integration of sensory experiences with emotions and motivations. THC suppresses neurons in the information-processing system of the hippocampus. Researchers have discovered that learned behaviors also deteriorate.

Marijuana smokers have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers have, such as a daily cough and phlegm, symptoms of chronic bronchitis, and more frequent chest colds. Continuing to smoke marijuana can lead to abnormal functioning of lung tissue injured or destroyed by marijuana smoke. Regardless of the THC content, the amount of tar inhaled by marijuana smokers and the level of carbon monoxide absorbed are three to five times greater than among tobacco smokers. This may be due to marijuana users inhaling more deeply and holding the smoke in the lungs.

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Post image for Heroin

Heroin addiction creates a bio-chemical imbalance. The body systems go through a kind of shock reaction when heroin is first used. Heroin addiction or even brief heroin use burns up the natural nutrient reserves in the body. The body adjusts to the heroin and demands heroin instead of processing its natural enzymes and hormones to activate the body’s survival centers. Important normal and natural systems are ‘bypassed’ and the body can become quickly dependant on heroin to feel good or function at all. That is bio-chemical addiction.

Heroin addiction occurs after the body adapts to the effects of heroin. Heroin addicts get a temporary pleasure called a ‘high’ or ‘rush’ when they use drugs. Feeling good is a natural reward for doing things which promote better survival for self and others. ‘Pleasure’ is a temporary state. ‘Happiness’ would be the long term condition of feeling good due to creating better survival for self and others. Heroin use creates a temporary artificial pleasure in the heroin addict that ‘rewards’ the addict by killing some of the pain he or she may be feeling. The heroin addict now compulsively or obsessively uses heroin to feel good again.

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Post image for Crystal Meth

Crystal Meth is a powerful and highly addictive synthetic stimulant which is man-made. Crystal methamphetamine resembles small fragments of glass or shiny blue-white “rocks” of various sizes. Like powdered methamphetamine (another form of d-methamphetamine), crystal methamphetamine is abused because of the long-lasting euphoric effects it produces. Crystal methamphetamine, however, typically has a higher purity level and may produce even longer-lasting and more intense physiological effects than the powdered form of the drug.

Typically Crystal Meth is smoked using glass pipes similar to those used to smoke crack cocaine. Crystal methamphetamine also may be injected. A user who smokes or injects the drug immediately experiences an intense sensation followed by a high that may last 12 hours or more.

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Post image for Cocaine and Crack

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant, abused by many people. Once having tried cocaine, an individual cannot predict or control the extent to which he or she will continue to use the drug. Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant that interferes with the re-absorption process of dopamine, a chemical messenger associated with pleasure and movement. Dopamine is released as part of the brain’s reward system and is involved in the high that characterizes cocaine consumption.

Physical effects of cocaine use include constricted peripheral blood vessels, dilated pupils, and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.

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Post image for Other Drugs/Combination

It has become more and more prevalent in our society today for drug users to abuse more than one substance. This combination of drugs can sometimes increase the risk of complicated reactions between substances.

The common attribute among drug users is that they will use every method possible to get money for drugs. This includes lie, cheat, steal and/or degrading their bodies. All, or any of which, if involved within the family begins the destruction of the family unit. Be careful that you are not enabling your loved one. Providing a way out of drug addiction is help. Providing access to drugs in any fashion is enabling.

Below are some of the symptoms of commonly used drugs.

Ecstasy: Confusion, depression, sleep problems, anxiety, and paranoia. Physical effects can include muscle tension, involuntary teeth-clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating.

Marijuana: Rapid, loud talking and bursts of laughter in early stages of intoxication, sleepy or stuporous in the later stages. Lack of concentration and coordination. Odor similar to burnt rope on clothing or breath. Forgetfulness in conversation. Inflammation in whites of eyes. Distorted sense of time passage. Craving for sweets. Increased appetite.

Crystal Meth:  Crystal Meth use is extremely dangerous. Often the user has a strong feeling of uncontrollable frustration that makes him/her unpredictable and dangerous. Looks out of the corner of his eyes, and the eyes jerk back and forth.

Paranoid and unpredictable.

During use, the abuser’s heartbeat races and metabolism, blood pressure, and pulse soar. The abuser often feels aggressively smarter and becomes argumentative, often interrupting other people and finishing their sentences. During the binge, the abuser becomes hyperactive both mentally and physically.

Crash – the crash means an incredible amount of sleep.

Withdrawal – the individual becomes depressed and loses the ability to experience pleasure. The individual becomes lethargic; he/she has no energy. Then the craving for more methamphetamine hits, and the abuser often becomes suicidal.