Drug Abuse

Drug Abuse

Drug Abuse

Drug abuse is a serious social problem in the United States, which consumes about 60 percent of the world’s illegal drugs. The consequences of drug abuse affect individuals, families and society at large. In US prison populations, many inmates are habitual drug users but very few receive treatment for addiction while incarcerated. In addition to illegal drugs, prescription drugs are increasingly being abused by the US population. Fortunately, drug abuse of legal and illegal drugs can often be treated successfully with inpatient drug rehab programs. Below is a look at the forms that drug abuse can take, its signs and consequences and the benefits of treatment.

Forms of Drug Abuse

Drug abuse, which involves improper or illicit use of a psychoactive substance, may involve either street drugs or prescription medications prescribed by a physician. Many people also obtain prescription drugs on the street. Whether in pill or powder form, drugs have equally destructive effects.

Marijuana and opioids are among the most commonly abused street drugs in the US. Many drug abusers first encounter marijuana but may later graduate to opioids, such as heroin. Cocaine and amphetamines are common street stimulants preferred by drug abusers, who may snort, smoke or inject these substances.

Prescription drugs used by drug abusers include medications used to treat ADHD, such as methylphenidate and various forms of amphetamine, along with narcotic pain medications and sedatives, such as benzodiazepines. Many patients begin abusing these substances while using them under the supervision of a doctor. After addiction sets in, drug abusers may purchase these same pills on the street or visit multiple doctors to obtain a larger supply.

In many cases, drug abusers take more than one type of drug on a regular basis. For example, stimulant users commonly take sedatives or opioids to reduce the aftereffects of stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Although drug abusers may have different preferences in their drug habits, the effects on users and society are both damaging.

Signs of Drug Abuse

Drug abuse has a number of common signs and symptoms. Although many signs overlap between different drugs, some effects are unique to certain classes of substances. Drug abusers are likely to display the following major changes in behavior and functioning:

  •  Problems sleeping, inability to concentrate and impaired coordination.
  •  In extreme cases, there may be a marked deterioration in health noticeable to onlookers.
  •  Behavior often becomes erratic and unpredictable as drugs take effect and wear off later.
  •  Performance in school and work may be reduced.
  •  Dishonesty and criminal behavior is common as users need more money to buy drugs.
  •  Users who inject drugs may have visible needle marks on their limbs.

Costs of Drug Abuse

In addition to the toll drug abuse takes on users and their families and society also suffer serious consequences because of this behavior. Jealousy, conflicts and violence may occur within the family unit as the drug abuser’s thinking and emotions are increasingly affected by addiction. Conditions may follow a roller-coaster pattern as drug effects wear off and withdrawal sets in after acute drug use or during periods of abstinence.

Workplaces and schools are also affected by drug abuse. Students who abuse drugs are likely to perform worse and skip class to use drugs. Failure to adhere to educational standards may cause drug abusers to drop out or get expelled. Workplace drug abuse costs US employers an estimated $276 billion each year due to loss of productivity, tardiness, absence and increased claims filed for benefits and workers’ compensation.

Society suffers from drug abuse due to economic losses, criminal behavior and general reductions in productivity. Drug abusers are more likely to engage in illegal activity due to drug effects and withdrawal and to get more money for drugs. In addition, many children are neglected because of drug abuse by parents or guardians, costing society in the future and placing immediate strain on the child welfare system.

Benefits of Inpatient Treatment

Drug abusers benefit the most from treatment at inpatient drug rehab. Upon admission to these programs, drug abusers are assessed by doctors for psychiatric issues complicating their behavior. Supervision by doctors and nurses ensures the safety of patients as the drugs leave their system. Inpatient treatment usually consists of the following basic elements:

  • A controlled environment without drugs or related influences.
  • Counseling in one-on-one and group sessions facilitates recovery by reinforcing positive growth away from destructive behavioral patterns.
  •  Life skills training is offered to help patients learn to function with drugs once again.
  • At the end of treatment, patients receive post-treatment support temporarily or indefinitely according to the individual’s need for support in the future.

Drug abuse has damaging effects on individuals, families and society. With inpatient drug treatment, addicts can recover successfully and return to a better life without drugs. This boosts the addict’s future life satisfaction, supports a strong economy and fosters positive growth for the entire community.

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