Legal Drugs Are Just as Bad as Illegal Ones

Legal Drugs Are Bad Too

Drugs are drugs, and some of the most dangerous drugs are legal – and are partially as dangerous as they are because they’re legal. While drugs like cocaine and heroin can quickly lead to serious neurological side-effects, hygiene issues, and heart problems, cigarettes and alcohol are two of the world’s leading causes of cancer, while the current opioid crisis was fueled and arguably started through prescription opioids, and alcohol-related deaths continue to out-perform almost every other drug in terms of fatality. Which drug kills even more people than alcohol does? Tobacco.

An estimated 88,000 people die every year from alcohol-related deaths, and an estimated 480,000 people die annually due to tobacco, including over 41,000 deaths through second-hand smoke. For every death, another 30 people are left alive struggling with smoking-related illnesses, including smoking-induced cancer, heart disease, lung disease, obstructive pulmonary disease, and more.

In comparison, the great opioid crisis that has gripped the country’s attention and has been claiming headlines throughout 2018 has killed roughly 33,000 people in 2015, while steadily increasing since the 90s.

Indeed, drugs are drugs. To understand the full impact that drug use and addiction have on humans, we need to explicitly eliminate misleading double standards and see beyond the veil to realize that all drugs have the potential for dangerous misuse and fatal consequence, and that all addicts ultimately need medical help and the attention of professionals to get through this part of their life.

 

Why Legal Drugs Are Legal, and Illegal Drugs Aren’t

Tobacco is ostensibly legal due to the fact that cigarette lobbies are incredibly powerful, and cigarette companies are some of the most powerful in the world. There is no other explanation. Or is there? Indeed, while cigarette companies do hold a vast amount of power, they are probably not the reason why many governments have not reinforced a serious plan to completely curb or even eliminate cigarette smoking – there are millions and millions of smokers in the US. Outlawing tobacco would likely lead to an epic backlash and civil unrest.

Nevertheless, banned it should be. Cigarettes offer no health benefits, nicotine is a highly addictive drug that has often been cited as being one of the hardest habits to kick, and tobacco kills more people than fast food and alcohol.

Cigarettes should be, by all means, completely illegal – and in some shape or form they are, as not all tobacco products are totally kosher in various parts of the world, and in certain countries, harsher measures have been taken to prohibit the proliferation of cigarettes, such as by banning outdoor public smoking.

Alcohol is equally useless for one’s health, but at least we have some precedent that explains why outlawing that a bad idea is as well. In theory, both cigarettes and alcohol shouldn’t be allowed. In practice, banning these drugs would only make matters worse, creating entire criminal enterprises, illegal importation, and inviting the dangers of several varieties of illegally produced and potentially fatal alcohol making their way onto the black market.

The only exception by which legal drugs are potentially helpful is the category of the prescription drug. As much flak as prescription painkillers have received in the last few years – with good reason – opioids are still useful for the treatment of massive acute pain and terminal pain. It still makes you feel numb and happy like nothing else, which certainly helps after a physically traumatic event rips through your insides.

Other addictive prescription drugs include anti-anxiety medication and ADHD medication, or depressants and stimulants respectively. Depressants help calm down someone with anxiety, helping them catch a well-deserved breather and lowering their inhibition, so they’re less likely to worry about any given number of things. Stimulants, on the other hand, are very different a drive up a person’s heart rate, making them feel focused and motivated, much like an extremely powerful cup of coffee.

These drugs are typically not prescribed at quantities that allow for addiction and wholesale distribution, but due to teens stealing pills from their family or buying them illegally to study/party, they’ve become popular as an illegally-acquired albeit technically legal high, separate from the usual drugs found at parties, such as MDMA (ecstasy) and cannabis.

 

A Depressant is A Depressant

Drugs like alcohol and Xanax are extremely similar, which is why they should never mix. Taking these two together is potentially fatal, if not very potent, because they both do a similar thing in the brain thus leading to an additive effect.

This is why alcohol is most people’s drug of choice when they’re worried, because it can help you forget about your fears and inhibitions and instead do whatever first comes to mind. Both alcohol and Xanax are similar but weaker in comparison to older, stronger depressives, include tranquilizers and illegal barbiturates.

 

A Stimulant is a Stimulant

Cocaine, methamphetamine, and amphetamine work in a similar fashion as well, although cocaine is sourced from the coca plant, while amphetamine and methamphetamine are entirely synthetic, produced both in high-tech super labs as well as in an addict’s kitchen somewhere, albeit with highly varying levels of quality.

Stimulants pose great risk to the heart and brain, increasing the risk of a heart attack and stroke. Adderall, as addictive as it is, is also a major issue especially in academic circles as a way to compete for better grades by staying up and focusing.

 

An Addiction Is an Addiction

At the end of the day, an addiction is an addiction is an addiction – regardless of whether it is an opioid dependence or an alcohol use disorder, a physical dependence to a dopaminergic substance is a very dangerous thing that is very hard to treat, and often takes years to overcome.

Addictions take lives, and they don’t discriminate, killing people from all walks of life, leading them to their deaths in any age group, skin color, or socioeconomic class.

But addictions are also treatable. By getting help and getting into a sober living home or residential treatment facility, you’re securing a better future for yourself.

 

Why Do Cities Seem to Have Larger Drug Problems?

City Drug Use

Drug use is prevalent throughout the world, in all populations, but most research is focused on urban drug use. And in a way, cities do have larger drug problems. Why? The answer is actually quite simple, but the question itself reveals a lot about addiction as a societal issue and can bring to light a number of other issues that should be discussed.

To put it as simply as possible, drug use is common in cities because cities tend to have larger populations than rural areas. There are more people within an urban city than there are within a rural town – but even more importantly, living together in such close proximity often causes other problems that increase the risk of drug use, not the least of which is that a greater population simply means a larger group of potential drug users.

This, in turn, reveals other problems. Urban communities share unique struggles, especially with crime and poverty, both of which often involve drugs either by way of culture, trauma, or otherwise. However, in addition to poverty being more prevalent in rural areas, addiction is not exclusive to the poor. Far from it, drug use is prevalent across the country, across all demographics, but at different rates. Exploring these issues says a lot about how risk factors determine a person’s likelihood of using and potentially abusing drugs, but also reveal how drug use and addiction is pervasive in all levels of society, like many other mental health issues, and why.

 

More People, More Drug Use

More people mean more drug users, as any given population on average is bound to have people who struggle with addiction, if drugs are at all available. However, a greater concentration of people often means more potential drug use because of other factors that commonly go hand-in-hand with a large concentration of people in a small patch of land.

High-density urban areas tend to be communities and neighborhoods with low incomes, where families live under harsher conditions in land they can afford. Poverty is inexplicably linked with higher rates of addiction because of the stress and desperation that comes from lacking any form of financial security, and a positive outlook for a hopeful future.

This desperation can also be linked to crime. Crime and drugs are linked for obvious reasons, as the illegal trade of drugs is one of the more lucrative ways to make fast cash despite high stakes, the kind of stress that might promote and perpetuate a culture within gangs that lack any assurance for their members that they would survive past the inebriated short term.

Poverty, drugs, and crime are linked by a long history of poor social mobility in low income neighborhoods, especially in cities where gentrification is pushing families out of their homes and boxing them further into smaller and smaller areas. Drug use is also more prevalent among people who are scared of their neighborhoods. Without the money to leave, they’re forced to stay and seek out any possible opportunities to find work, or at least manage to live while unemployed and in the company of family and friends. Of course, this applies to rural areas as well.

 

Rural Areas Are Just as Susceptible

Urban areas have more people per square mile, but rural areas are just as likely to struggle with drug use. While traditionally, the city and country dichotomy might have implied a large difference in the rates at which people use drugs in both environments, the numbers say that people in rural areas are just as likely to use drugs – but they use different drugs.

Those in rural areas are more likely to abuse alcohol and prescription medication, while cocaine and heroin are more common in cities than out in the country. While addicts seeking treatment in cities are usually ethnically diverse, most addicts entering in treatment in rural locations are white, as well as younger, although this also has to do with the fact that urban areas tend to be more ethnically diverse and the fact that rural addicts tend to start drug use earlier than people in the city. Education and employment rates among addicts were also higher in rural areas than in urban ones.

 

Drug Use in Affluence

While poverty is linked with addiction, so is affluence. Stress is stress, and severe stress is severe stress. Someone who grew up being poor is often quite capable of coping with the reality of poverty but will also face greater struggles than someone with better opportunities and easier circumstances.

But teens in affluent families grow up facing different kinds of struggles, usually revolving around the pressure to succeed, live up to a certain legacy, or simply engage in risky behavior as way to act out or experience something new – all of which leads to higher drug use than is the norm. Having deep pockets also helps finance a greater volume of drug use, only compounding the issue.

 

Everybody Can Recover

It can be difficult to find hope and strength when faced with some of the facts on addiction in America. But there is a bright side – more than one, in fact.

The numbers show that only a fraction of people who start using illicit drugs ever develop a problem – about one in five, by some estimates. Of these, many simply stop using after a certain number of years without professional intervention, although professional help would have probably saved the lives of those who pass away before they quit. Others who do keep struggling decades after use can still get clean and stay clean through a myriad of different addiction treatment programs, or through sober living homes and rehab centers.

Maybe the most reassuring fact is that most people with drug dependence issues can recover. Even if they struggle to do so at first, and even after many “failures” in the form of relapses, they still have the potential to quit for good. All it takes is time and support. However, many lack the support. Not everyone has a healthy coping or support system, and others lack the healthcare coverage to get the treatment they need.

Addiction needs to be fought like a disease, rather than a crime. By focusing on funding treatments and programs to help encourage people to get help rather than perpetuating their addiction through criminal punishment, a lot of progress could be made in lowering the rate at which people use and get hooked on drugs. Of course, it’s important to limit usage as well – but criminalizing drug use rather than treating it has not been doing much to stop the problem.

Your Addiction Can Threaten Your Job

Addiction threatens your job

We see it on the news all the time – addiction can be life-threatening, leading thousands of people down a desperate path and eventually culminating in a tragic fate. But while thousands of Americans lose their lives to addiction overdoses and accidents every year, over 24 million Americans currently struggle with a substance abuse problem.

For the overwhelming majority of them, addiction is not an immediately life-threatening situation, but a day-to-day. Some, often early on in their addiction, believe that they can control their habit and manage to keep things “normal” while relying on a daily supply of substances. But the reality is vastly different.

No matter how strong-willed you may think you are, a substance use disorder – a compulsive need to take drugs, coupled with the inability to stop – will eat into your life and deal damage to your day-to-day long before things become lethal.

Your addiction will threaten your job. And it’s not a matter of keeping your tracks covered well enough – rather, it’s simply a matter of time. To keep your life’s work (and your life) safe, you’ll need to learn to give up your addiction, or even recognize that you’re struggling with one to begin with.

 

Why Addiction Strips Your Reputation

The primary feature of an addiction is that it often renders an individual unaccountable and incapable of making rational decisions outside of the context of serving their brain’s new supreme priority – getting more drugs. Drug use becomes compulsive and dangerous when both your body and mind decide in unison that they need drugs in order to function. It’s the that addiction or dependence kicks in, and you’re finding yourself falling into a downward spiral wherein your choices are dictated by the need to find access to your next high, lest the emotional and physical pain of withdrawal and sobriety kicks into full gear.

It’s not you – at least, mostly. Yes, all addictions begin with bad choices, but every human being makes mistakes and bad choices. Some have worse consequences than others, and when we’re emotionally blinded, those consequences are not immediately obvious. In cases of stress and trauma, or coercion, drug use becomes the only easy way out, or perhaps even the only way out. While we forgive most people for the mistakes they make, many can’t help but not forgive those who made the mistake of becoming addicted, because what looks like willful misdirection and elaborate lies is a disease in the brain, that cannot be seen on the surface level.

It starts with a few highs, but eventually it becomes a habit, and one you can’t function without. Even if your company doesn’t test for drugs, eventually you will begin to lose track of time, struggle to concentrate and perform your duties, and you’ll let your responsibilities slip. Promises will be broken, trust will be destroyed, and your reputation as a once-accountable person slips away under the haze of drug use.

You promise to change, and you really want to, but you can’t on your own. The drugs keep pulling you back, and every time they do, others around you look on in disappointment thinking you’ve betrayed them and their trust once again. You sink further and further into despair, and it becomes harder and harder to look at the prospect of tomorrow with even a shred of hope.

 

How Addiction Affects Your Thinking

To understand how addiction can strip you of your career – and many other things – it’s important to understand how and why drug use affects your thinking drastically.

Firstly: chemical and emotional dependence. When addictive drugs enter the body and make their way to the brain, they take effect by binding to the brain’s cells and manipulating the way the brain processes dopamine, either by producing more, or by heavily blocking dopamine’s reuptake, causing a massive surge.

Other pharmacological drugs do similar things – antidepressants, for example, block the reuptake of serotonin – but dopamine is so intrinsically tied to our reward system that researchers believe it’s specifically the interaction between drugs and dopamine that causes the brain to begin getting addicted.

After the initial high, the aftermath often causes the brain to want a little more. This feeling goes away with time and is easily inhibited. This is how millions and millions of Americans experiment with drugs without ever getting hooked on them.

However, if a person decides to use drugs more and more, the brain starts to get used to the presence of drugs in the brain. Two things happen.

The brain develops a chemical dependence. The constant stream of highs causes the brain to adapt to its new dopamine-filled environment, and it begins to struggle to function properly when not high. Even when high, “functioning” is a strong word. Dependence is signified by the presence of harsh withdrawal symptoms that occur upon sobriety – from headaches and nausea to extreme cravings and seizures, depending on the drug.

The other thing that often occurs is tolerance. As the brain gets used to drugs, it begins to metabolize the foreign substance much faster, causing the effects of a certain dosage to diminish. This leads to people using more and more drugs, further increasing their risk of overdose – because while the high may slowly wear off and grow weaker, a drug’s lethality or toxicity doesn’t change as drastically.

Through these two mechanisms, addictive drugs enslave a person. It’s not completely known why they do this, but there are no naturally-occurring drugs that are anywhere near as addictive as synthesized or isolated substances, meaning that addictive drugs on the scale of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine are entirely man-made in design and effectiveness. Perhaps it’s sheer coincidence that these chemicals happen to interact with the portion of the mind dedicated to rewards and habit-forming.

 

Getting Back on Track

Getting professional help for your addiction as soon as possible is the most important part of recovery – the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll function again.

Drug recovery treatment involves keeping a person mentally and physically healthy until they’re ready to stay sober on their own, utilizing various different therapeutic methods to help them adjust to a sober lifestyle, work against their inner cravings and temptations, and resist the urge to use again. Time is the primary element in a good recovery plan, and it takes a long time to feel comfortable with sobriety after a stint of addiction. But by persevering and working hard to focus on what matters most to you, you can keep yourself clean against all odds.

Getting Help for Cocaine

Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a powerful drug made from the leaves of the coca plant, native to the mountainous regions of South America. Traditionally used both medicinally and recreationally by the native people of South America, the psychoactive ingredient of the coca plant was isolated in the mid-19th century, and it was sold mostly as an analgesic, although it was touted for many other things, from teeth whitening to curing flatulence. It’s come a long way since then, having been recognized as a dangerous narcotic after decades of widespread abuse and addiction.

While it retains marginal medical usefulness as a form of topical anesthesia, cocaine is generally known to be harmful and addictive, and remains illegal. However, that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most popular illegal drugs in the United States. While recent headlines are focused more on the damage done through heroin and meth, cocaine remains a drug of choice for many, and breaking the habit is far from easy. Thankfully, it’s possible to get real help for cocaine addiction nowadays.

The key is to ask for help. Drug addiction treatments today are safe and effective and can bring patients the path to lasting sobriety that they need. But it all starts with a willingness to commit to the program and accept help.

 

The Power of Cocaine

Although not as addictive as methamphetamine or heroin, cocaine is still a dangerously addictive drug, capable of leading to a substance dependence despite limited exposure. In fact, brain analysis shows that an individual’s first hit primes them for the next.

As with other drugs, the rate at which addiction occurs depends on individual factors, including gender, genetics, and mental/emotional state. Someone in a delicate and stressful situation is more likely to cling to the drug, and a person with a family history of addition has a greater chance of developing a dependence.

The reason we’re susceptible to cocaine, of all things, is because its chemical structure is adept at triggering the release of dopamine in mammalian brains. Like other drugs, cocaine starts in the bloodstream and makes its way to the brain. There, it interacts with our brain’s cells, increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain by turning off our natural dopamine recycling/reuptake, thus leading to an overabundance of the neurotransmitter in our brains.

This leads to an incredible feeling of euphoria. But it also leads to a depressive crash, and due to the unnatural amounts of dopamine in the brain, the brain’s first reaction is to mount its defenses and adapt to the sensation.

This adaptation occurs differently for everyone, but whoever adapts faster typically develops dependence faster. This is because as the brain gets used to the effects of cocaine, it becomes better at metabolizing the drug, causing us to take more of it to counteract the tolerance. Eventually, quitting altogether leads to withdrawal symptoms due to the sudden lack of “regular” dopamine levels.

The symptoms of prolonged cocaine use include:

  • Respiratory issues
  • Bowel decay (from oral use)
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Tremors and twitches
  • Reduced cognitive abilities (risk assessment and rationality)
  • Increased risk of infections in the lung
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Increased risk of stroke

The most significant thing about cocaine is that the brain remembers the effects of the drug, even years after quitting. While stopping cocaine use does a lot to reverse the damage cocaine can do to the brain – from destroying brain cells to reconfiguring our sense of pleasure and happiness – a relapse can land you right back in the middle of it all with just a few bumps.

Maintaining long-term sobriety is the only way to avoid the negative effects of cocaine. Thankfully, that’s what treatment is for.

 

What Cocaine Addiction Treatment Looks Like

Like other addiction treatments, cocaine addiction treatment centers on the use of behavioral therapy and community-based programs. The key is to help individuals find other ways to cope with their problems and live a fulfilling and meaningful life without reasons to crave cocaine, while helping them find their place in society.

 

Psychotherapy

The two more popular forms of talk therapy currently used to treat addiction are cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. Both address the relationship between thoughts, emotions, and actions, helping people identify useful and harmful thoughts, correct themselves, and apply their better thinking in their behavior. It’s complex and takes time but has proven to be very effective.

Other forms of therapy that might help include hypnotherapy and activity-based therapies, like sports therapy and music therapy.

 

Medication

Nothing currently available has been approved for the treatment of a cocaine addiction, but there is research currently ongoing testing the efficacy of existing drugs in the treatment of addiction. Buprenorphine, for example, known for blocking the effects of opioids, may have a similar effect for cocaine, helping someone quit and kick into withdrawal. Other drugs, like modafinil and disulfiram would show promise too.

 

After Treatment

Like other addiction treatment programs, a program designed around cocaine addiction will do its best to help prepare people for the challenges they’ll face while sober. There’s a stark contrast between sobriety and life while addicted, and it can be very difficult to get used to.

A good option for many coming from residential and outpatient programs is to try out a sober living home. For those who started their treatment at sober living communities, it’s not a bad plan to stay there for longer or to return if needed. While treatment is meant to help deal with early recovery, sober living homes are designed to help tenants learn how to live a normal life without drugs. Tenants at sober living communities must abide by a curfew, participate in group events, take on chores to help the community, and make a commitment to either school or work. The lives at sober living homes are built on responsibility, accountability to one another, and a sense of social cohesion by working together towards a better life.

All of this is done in a completely drug-free environment, and tenants are encouraged to continue that practice once they leave to live their own lives. Without commitments, responsibilities, hobbies and a support network of fellow former addicts, many struggle to continue staying clean after their first treatment period. Relapses are common, because no one is perfectly prepared for life after rehab. But a sober living community gives you the chance to further build up your life while avoiding the temptations you know could be all around you.

Your chances at staying clean are up to you, ultimately. After rehab, your life is in your own hands and what you do is your responsibility. But it’s important to remember that it’s normal to make mistakes, and hiccups are to be expected sometimes. Don’t let these mistakes end your recovery – keep going.

 

Getting Help for Methamphetamine

Meth Addiction Help

Methamphetamine, more commonly known as meth – in all its many forms – is a very potent stimulant used both medically and illegally for recreational purposes. At the pharmacist’s, methamphetamine is known as Desoxyn, a rare prescription for severe cases of ADHD where amphetamine (Adderall) is not effective enough. Methamphetamine is known as a dangerous drug, ravaging the lives of men and women throughout the Midwest and in cities from coast-to-coast – yet it can potentially save lives.

Like other drugs found both in illegal labs and in the pill boxes of honest and law-abiding Americans, methamphetamine is neither evil nor virtuous. It’s a substance that can be highly addictive, with a few limited medical uses, and a long history of abuse and overdose – much like opioids, cocaine, and sedatives.

Most cases of methamphetamine addiction do not begin with prescription drugs, though. They begin with meth off the street, sold either in crystal or powder form, and often with uncertain purity. To understand why this substance – which many cook from home – can do so much harm, it’s important to know why meth is dangerous.

 

Why Meth is Dangerous

Despite its positive effects – including improved mood and focus – methamphetamine is incredibly addictive and can lead to substantial amounts of brain damage.

Taken recreationally or in larger doses, methamphetamine is an aphrodisiac and a neurotoxin, leading to damaged serotonin neurons and a reduction in the brain’s grey matter. Methamphetamine also heavily affects the release of dopamine into the system, as well as epinephrine – two chemicals that are linked to euphoria, happiness, and addiction. Unnatural levels of dopamine – such as those released during a “high” – can lead to drug tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, and physical dependence.

Overuse of methamphetamine can lead to psychosis (hearing and seeing things that aren’t real), anxiety, muscle spasms, cerebral bleeding, violent behavior, and wild mood swings.

Long-term methamphetamine users often suffer self-inflicted skin lacerations and struggle with bad hygiene due to overuse of the drug. Dental problems are also often associated with methamphetamine use, due to nervous bruxism (teeth grinding), xerostomia (dry mouth), and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Used recreationally for sex, methamphetamine can increase the risk of sexually-transmitted diseases due to open sores in both the mouth and genital area.

While generally taken to improve academic or athletic performance, too much can lead to several psychological issues including extreme anxiety, severe depression, suicidal thinking, suicide, and psychosis. In some individuals, meth use can lead to violent behavior.

 

Going into Recovery

The recovery process for methamphetamine is like other drugs, albeit with certain unique risks. Methamphetamine poses a higher risk of post-acute withdrawal symptoms, which means that after the initial withdrawal period, it is possible to experience a reoccurrence of cravings, shivers, nausea, and more.

Because meth is a highly addictive substance with a high risk of relapse (and high availability in many parts of the country), it’s generally recommended to seek out residential treatment at a rehabilitation clinic or a sober living facility. Both are helpful for facilitating recovery, as they provide drug-free environments and access to several different programs and amenities to improve the recovery process.

Therapy is a big part of recovery, whether one-on-one, in groups, or both. While the first phase of recovery is meant to help people break free from their addiction and regain a clearer sense of reality, the rest of the recovery process is spent tackling cravings and stress, finding ways to stay clean despite life’s challenges and temptations.

It all starts with getting help. Doctors and therapists can refer you to special clinics and facilities in your area, and there are many organizations who specialize in addiction treatment and sober living.

 

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine has two uses: a medical use and a recreational use. Medically, prescribed methamphetamine taken in very low doses can elevate mood, improve alertness and concentration, and reduce appetite (and induce weight loss). It is sometimes prescribed for severe narcolepsy, a dangerous disorder that causes people to fall asleep at random, even while standing (usually leading to falls, and possible head trauma).

For decades, highly competitive school environments have also led to some students utilizing methamphetamine and amphetamine, to improve studying and lose weight. Historically, combat pilots used meth and amphetamine to stay awake and stay sharp, as late as the Persian Gulf War.

The production of methamphetamine is incredibly hazardous. Each pound of pure meth produces about six pounds of toxic waste – if produced in the outdoors, methamphetamine production kills off nearby vegetation and contaminates ground water. Most meth on the streets is produced in specialized “super labs”, smuggled in through Mexico or China, created in controlled environments that regularly test for purity.

However, a lot of meth is produced in poorly ventilated run-down buildings, suburban houses, cars, trailer homes, and a variety of other areas, often leading to health issues in meth “cooks”. Meth is rarely sold in its pure form, and most meth on the street is mixed with filler to maximize profits.

Unlike a few other common illicit substances, methamphetamine is entirely synthetic and requires no plant matter. Genuine marijuana, heroin, and cocaine all require a source for the base product: cannabis, poppy, and coca. Methamphetamine, on the other hand, is derived from precursors – select over-the-counter medicines, as well as chemicals that are often shipped internationally for research and/or industrial use. Because it requires very little material to produce – much of which is legally available – homemade meth is common in America, leading to fires and worse.

 

Methamphetamine and Amphetamine

Despite being chemically similar, methamphetamine and amphetamine are quite different. Methamphetamine is much more potent, and far more hazardous to the brain, although the effects are similar. Due to its increased potency, methamphetamine is also much more addictive. While amphetamines are usually used illicitly in their prescription drug form, most meth is illegally produced and sold in powder form, usually mixed with inert or potentially dangerous filler.

Neither drug is meant for recreational use – but many people walk down the road to a meth addiction without fully understanding all the risks, or what it can do to them. There are many treatment facilities that specialize in drug addiction, and a methamphetamine addiction can be treated through detox, recovery, therapy, and a long-term treatment plan to avoid relapses.

The road to long-term sobriety is different for everyone, both in length and nature. But with the right treatment, you can get clean and stay clean.

 

Getting Help for Heroin Addiction

Help for Heroin Addiction

In terms of addictiveness, societal damage, and personal harm, heroin is one of the most dangerous drugs in America. Heroin has a long history and a much longer death toll, owing to its addictiveness and its dangers. While not toxic in the conventional sense, heroin is a more powerful derivative of morphine, derived from the ancient opium, the sap of the poppy plant. First isolated by a German chemist over a century ago by accident, heroin has since become a global menace in terms of availability and damage.

Like other opioids, heroin is an incredibly potent painkiller, or analgesic. It was also used as a form of anesthesia before the use of nitrous oxide and local anesthetics, and other opioid derivatives of morphine – including codeine and synthetic opioids like hydrocodone – are still in use medically to fight acute and chronic pain. However, unlike most of these drugs, heroin is much more potent and more addictive.

 

It’s Important to Get Help Soon

Bar certain synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil, heroin is among the most powerful opioids available. Not only does this make the drug very addictive, but it makes it very dangerous. Most heroin is street heroin, sourced through unsanitary conditions and cut with dangerous chemicals to drive down the price.

Sometimes, heroin is laced with fentanyl to improve potency, and these batches can often be mixed improperly leading to dangerous and fatal overdoses. Long-term heroin abuse leads to malnutrition and severe deficiencies, infectious diseases transmitted through needles or other paraphernalia, brain damage, and death by respiratory arrest. Opioids like heroin cause the heart and breathing to slow down to a standstill, until an overdose causes the brain to die from oxygen deprivation or can lead to paralysis if an overdose is survived.

This makes it important to seek help soon. Not only can you spare yourself or your loved one from a tragic death, but the sooner a heroin addiction is treated, the better your chances of going through recovery at a faster pace. Some people can overcome their addiction in a matter of months, but others take years to fully recover from the addiction.

 

Treatment Takes Time

There are several approaches to a heroin addiction, but no single best approach. Every individual case is different, and therapists and treatment centers alike work hard to build a treatment plan around every person’s needs, circumstances, and weaknesses. Some have an easier time parting from heroin but need the medical help to do so safely, while others have a lot of emotional and psychological healing to go through before they can find the strength to resist the cravings and live life free from addiction.

In any case, treatment does take time. Time is what makes the cravings slowly go away, and it’s what makes the brain heal. Time is critical for recovery, and it’s important to be patient with yourself and with the treatment.

Recovery is not about quitting a drug – it’s about learning to live without it. This takes time for a lot of people. First comes the adjustment to life while sober, then comes the arduous work put into learning how to stay sober, cope with life, deal with stress, and enjoy living without touching another needle or using another drug.

 

Why Heroin is So Powerful

When heroin was first created, it was derived from morphine in an attempt to create codeine. By way of a simple mistake, what was supposed to be the creation of a less potent, less addictive drug (codeine) became the synthesis of a more powerful version of morphine, named heroin because of its potency (in reference to heroic strength). It was then sold as a main ingredient in over-the-counter cough medicine.

At the time, morphine was quickly becoming a common recreational drug, and Bayer – the same pharmaceutical company that still exists today – discovered heroin and marketed it as a more potent, less addictive alternative. In reality, heroin was extremely addictive. By the time it was medically available in the United States, it took roughly another ten years to ban the drug completely.

It was too little too late. Heroin addiction was common among artists as well as common folk, and the popularity of the drug prevailed to today. Known medically as diamorphine, or diacetylmorphine, heroin’s potency comes from its chemical structure – it is, quite simply, a more powerful form of morphine, and one of the most powerful natural opioids in the world. All opioids are addictive because they target the brain’s release of dopamine, causing a massive jolt in happiness and euphoria, while simultaneously forcing the brain to cope with this unnatural influx of neurotransmitters. As a result, repeated use of heroin causes the brain to get used to it – and crave it when it goes away.

 

Treating Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction is treated through medication and therapy. Quitting the drug entirely is difficult – however, medication has been developed to make the process a little safer and/or easier, by helping patients wean off opioids, or by blocking their effects entirely, making it impossible to get high off heroin.

Pure heroin is not toxic but kills because of how it affects the brain and the respiratory system. Therefore, drugs like naloxone can save lives even during an overdose, simply by blocking heroin’s effect on the brain’s cells. However, most street heroin is cut with various contaminants and products, from acetaminophen (paracetamol) to sugar, caffeine, baby formula, and flour. This can sometimes mean cases of heroin overdose require more than naloxone to save a person’s life. Outside of emergency situations, medication used to treat heroin addiction includes:

  • Methadone
  • Naloxone
  • Buprenorphine

Behavioral therapy also plays a major role in treating heroin addiction. While medication helps a person taper off the drug and safely go through withdrawal symptoms, behavioral therapy is required to “kick the habit”. Addiction is not something easily turned off or managed through sheer will, but therapy can help people cope with thoughts of relapse and cravings, especially during residential or outpatient treatment.

For a drug like heroin, it’s recommended people go through rehab or sober living homes to completely remove themselves from environments where the drug might be available, so the healing process can be complete, and they can deal with their cravings without caving in.

Since its nationwide ban in 1924, heroin has become a street drug of choice for many people across the globe, and especially in the United States. With heroin being produced locally and coming in from abroad, the opioid crisis first started by an overabundance of prescription opioids and since turned primarily into a problem surrounding heroin. Critical to the current opioid crisis and at fault for thousands of overdose deaths per year, it’s more important now than ever to fully understand what this drug is capable of, and why it’s a priority to get help for a heroin addiction.

 

Drug Spotlight: Xanax

Xanax Addiction

Xanax is the brand name of alprazolam, a popular anti-anxiety drug and belongs to a family of prescription drugs referred to as benzodiazepines. These drugs act as depressants or sedatives, relaxing the mind in the same way alcohol does by boosting the GABA neurotransmitter.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that the brain uses to communicate from cell to cell, sending impulses from one cell to the next, allowing the brain to regulate things like sweating, breathing, heart beat and other autonomous activities, as well as things like thinking, movement, and mood. Everything we do consciously and subconsciously relies on neurotransmitters – which is why psychiatric medication tries to affect these neurotransmitters to relieve the symptoms of conditions like anxiety and depression.

 

What Does Xanax Do?

As a benzodiazepine, Xanax enters the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine and makes its way towards the brain. Once in the brain, benzodiazepines enhance the effects of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (known as GABA), which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. That means it slows things down, in every fashion. In high dosages, benzodiazepines are used as sleeping pills and tranquilizers. In moderate or low dosages, benzodiazepines like Xanax help combat panic attacks and reduce feelings of anxiety.

Alcohol works in a similar albeit different fashion, which is why anti-anxiety medication and alcohol have similar withdrawal symptoms and addictive risks, however, they work different on a therapeutic level. While alcohol mimics GABA and boosts the presence of dopamine in the bloodstream, Xanax (and other benzodiazepines) increases the action of GABA. Taking both is disastrous.

GABA’s function is to slow the mind down, leading to relaxation, slowed movement, a lower heartrate and slower breathing. In controlled dosages, Xanax can effectively treat panic attacks and help in the treatment of anxiety, reducing its severity enough for other treatments to take effect. However, Xanax is also the most prescribed drug in the country and its abundance means it’s also at risk for being one of the most commonly abused drugs in the country, taken recreationally rather than therapeutically.

Most adults with Xanax prescriptions are 40-years-old or older, and predominantly female. However, Xanax abuse is an issue among all ages. Teens sometimes steal excess meds from family members, to experiment with the drug or to self-medicate in times of stress. Xanax and its fellow benzos are not as dangerous or addictive as barbiturates but are still deadly when combined with sedatives and analgesics such as alcohol and opioids.

 

How Addictive is Xanax?

Despite functioning differently from alcohol, Xanax is also an addictive drug. Its status as prescription medication doubles as a warning to all people, both those who are and are not diagnosed with anxiety or insomnia. According to experts in law enforcement, psychiatry, and medicine, benzodiazepine is less addictive than alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, and opioids, but more addictive than cannabis, hallucinogens, amphetamines, and ketamine.

A person’s chances of getting addicted to Xanax are highly variable, however. While generalized charts help understand the dangers that each drug poses, the truth is that addiction is a very individual matter, with unique risk factors being the most reliable way to tell if a drug is dangerous or not. A family history of alcoholism and addiction to sedatives, sleeping pills or tranquilizers points towards a greater risk of developing an addiction to Xanax. Taking the drug without a prescription or without a diagnosis for anxiety or taking more than is prescribed and going against a doctor or therapist’s orders is also a sign of addiction, or drug misuse.

Aside from genetics, other risk factors include stress levels and indicators of stress. Any environmental factors that contribute to a stressful environment – a dysfunctional family, trouble at work, tough time at school, bullying, problems in close relationships and poverty – make an individual more susceptible to developing an emotional dependence on a drug.

No one is immune to addiction – but there’s also no way of knowing for sure if you’re going to develop an addiction until it’s too late. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and treat the use of addictive medication – including Xanax – with great care.

Long-term misuse of Xanax can lead to physical health issues because of progressive overdosing. Some symptoms of taking too much of the drug include:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Slurred speech
  • Slowed breathing
  • Constant drowsiness

Taken alone, Xanax doesn’t usually cause an overdose. It can, but it’s difficult to achieve a high enough dosage. However, when coupled with an opioid, another benzodiazepine drug, or alcohol, the risk of overdose more than doubles, making it a very dangerous drug to take with other drugs.

 

The Dangers of Xanax Withdrawal

Like other addictive drugs, quitting Xanax use after developing a dependence to the drug leads to withdrawal symptoms. Unlike the relatively mild withdrawal symptoms of opioids and stimulants, sedatives and depressants like alcohol and Xanax possess much more dangerous withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Seizures
  • Delirium (cognitive distortions, confusion)
  • Restlessness
  • Depressed and anxious thoughts
  • Muscle pain
  • Tremors and spasms
  • Memory loss
  • Agitation

Withdrawal symptoms occur when a drug has been used long enough to develop a dependence. Typically, this occurs alongside tolerance. If you need to take higher doses of the drug to achieve an effect like what you used to feel, your brain has already begun adapting to the substance, triggering the beginning stages of physical dependence. As drug use persists, dependence causes stronger and stronger cravings.

Eventually, long-term drug users often struggle with PAWS after going sober due to physical dependence. PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal symptom, causes withdrawal symptoms to reoccur or occur later after being sober for a certain amount of time. These symptoms are often coupled with a strong craving for the drug, partially because of the dependence, and partially out of a desire to alleviate the symptoms of the withdrawal.

 

Recovering from Xanax Addiction

Like other drugs, recovery begins with sobriety, and continues onward into abstinence. It takes time for the drug to wash out of the system, and it takes even longer for cravings and withdrawal symptoms to completely subside. Residential treatment is usually the best place to go to treat a severe addiction, however lesser addictions or for relapses, sober living homes make for a perfect alternative.

These facilities focus on creating a normal community, with a unique set of rules prohibiting the use or distribution of drugs, utilizing random tests and strict curfews to keep tenants safe from the temptation of a relapse. Sober living communities and treatment clinics alike recommend and utilize the services of doctors and therapists to provide treatment, from talk therapy to regular group meetings.

It will take time for cravings to subside, and they may return in times of stress, particularly when the mind is under a lot of pressure and remembers how much easier things were while under the influence. Taking on big lifestyle changes – such as new hobbies, new friendships, or a new job – can take the mind off the addiction and can give you a shot to use your sobriety to reshape your life.

How to Get Help for Illegal Drug Addictions

Help For Illegal Drug Addiction

Illegal drugs are some of the most dangerous substances in the country, not only because they can wreak havoc on your body, but because being in possession of these drugs can land you in jail.

Drugs are not inherently evil or twisted. There are many completely legal lifestyle choices that can cause just as much or more harm than an addiction to illegal drugs. But unlike many of these choices, illegal drugs will put you and everyone you love in harm’s way. That being said, addiction is not something you can fight against with guns and morals.

But you can treat it. With medicine, and a better understanding of the disease. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, then getting help immediately is your biggest priority. The sooner you tackle an addiction, the better your chances of coming out the other end completely clean and ready to stay sober for good. But the path to that point is not easy or straightforward.

 

Find a Doctor

There are many physicians in the US that specialize in treating patients struggling with addiction. Finding one near you should be your first step. A physician can take a close look at you to determine the best course of action – sometimes, addiction can leave a person sick and malnourished, or struggling with painful physical symptoms, including lesions from habitual scratching or damaged kidneys and liver.

No matter what you were addicted to, there is no law that states that people who are addicted must go to jail. As long as you are not high in public – where you might endanger others – drug use in and of itself is not illegal. The law prohibits the distribution or possession of certain narcotics, or illegal drugs, but if you go to a doctor admitting your addiction with no drugs on your person, you will not be charged with a crime.

Instead, you will be taken care of, and the physician responsible for your care will direct you to effective local resources to help you get on your feet, get completely clean, and stay sober for the long-term.

 

Visit a Treatment Center

Treatment centers or rehab centers specialize in addiction treatment, and they often help people go through the detoxification and withdrawal period of recovery. This is the early stage of recovery, often accompanied by discomfort and emotional turmoil. In a way, addiction lets you bottle up your feelings by feeding your habit whenever pain rears its head – during recovery, all that pressure is released, and it can be very difficult to deal with.

Most treatment centers give patients the option of choosing either inpatient or outpatient treatment, where inpatient treatment involves staying at the facility for a time, while outpatient treatment involves coming back regularly on scheduled dates and times while continuing a normal life.

 

Check into Sober Living

Sober living homes are different from treatment centers. While they also treat addiction, they do so primarily by creating a community for sober people to come together and live in. Sobriety is the main rule of a sober community, and so drugs are not allowed and strictly checked for. This removes all temptation from sober living homes.

Otherwise, they are often regular communities, except for a few rules meant to promote interaction between tenants and create a sense of community, social responsibility, and structure. Curfews and schedules are created, chores are handed out and responsibilities are divided, ensuring everyone has something to do, and time to spend as they please. Other onsite amenities are meant to promote the exploration of various hobbies, from sports to arts and anything else.

 

Visit Local Support Groups

Regardless of what kind of treatment you find most effective, all treatments eventually come to an end, and you’re back in the normal world, living a normal life – however, for many, the temptations always linger in the back of their minds, and the addiction is never completely gone, because the memories remain.

Local support groups are the perfect place to talk about those memories and remind each other regularly why addiction is not something you ever want to give into ever again.

 

Read Up on Addiction

Knowledge is power, and this is especially true in the conflict against addiction – the more you know about what addiction is and why it happens, the more you can use that information to dig deep within and figure out what you’re confronting. You can figure out how it all started, what it goes back to, and what you must change to make sure it all never happens again. You start to find ways to look ahead and see where you must go, rather than stumbling step by step, only ever seeing the next step.

There are two conflicting messages in a lot of content surrounding addiction recovery. One message is that you ultimately need to help yourself. The other is that you need help.

The two, however, are not mutually exclusive. There is a difference between helping yourself and asking others for help, but it is not one that makes the two diametrically oppose each other – rather, you need to incorporate both tasks into your life. Helping yourself means finding within that one great reason to stay sober. It does not have to be just one but starting with one is a good start.

On the other hand, leaving behind thoughts of pride and shame and simply recognizing that addiction is a disease that needs treating opens the way for professional help to have a serious impact in your life. After that, it becomes about learning to trust others and opening to them – whether they’re family or friends – to forge new bonds and create meaningful relationships that further feed the need to stay lean.

It’s a long journey, but it’s worth it. Addiction will rob you of everything you have and everything you are, if it is not stopped. There is no such thing as an addiction that did not eventually lead to tragedy, or recovery. Choose recovery, for your own sake and for those around you – and you will likely find yourself pleasantly surprised at what life still has in store for you.

Drug Spotlight: Oxycodone Addiction

Oxycodone Addiction

Painkillers come in all shapes and sizes, but few are as immediately and markedly effective as those in the opioid family. As an analgesic, opioids – anything drug derived from the poppy plant and its extract, opium – are about as old as humanity itself. Cultivated in the earliest days of civilization, the use of opium grew alongside science, producing more refined, potent, and dangerous forms of the drug. Today, opioids dominate the prescription drug market – and the US dominates the world’s opioid consumption.

Among the many drugs on the market, oxycodone is one of the most popular. Prescribed and sold under brand names like Percocet and Oxycontin, it is among the five most commonly prescribed opioids.

In the middle of this nationwide opioid crisis, it is important to understand and recognize what these drugs are, how they work, and why their medical potential and potential for abuse are both valid and important to consider in the coming years.

Not everyone who uses prescription medication is addicted, but most people with access to prescription drugs – especially opiates – run the risk of forming a life-long habit of prescription drug addiction. By understanding the risks and recognizing the symptoms of misuse, patients can get the help they need to find alternative pain management techniques and seek out addiction recovery, if necessary.

 

What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a prescription drug, prescribed for pain relief. It is available in pill form or as an intravenous/intramuscular injection, and often sold in conjunction with other pain medication, including over-the-counter painkillers such as NSAIDs, ibuprofen and acetaminophen (paracetamol).

Oxycodone is not directly made from opium, but is derived from thebaine, one of several alkaloids in the poppy plant that act as an opioid. In this sense, opioids refer to substances that bind to the brain’s opioid receptors.

All opioids function in a similar way, albeit with unique characteristics. Oxycodone was developed as a way to improve upon existing opioids, changing the potency of a dosage. The drug is more potent than Vicodin (hydrocodone), but less potent than heroin or morphine.

Once taken orally or through the veins/muscles, oxycodone travels through the blood-brain barrier to bind to the brain’s opioid receptors, blocking out pain signals and bringing about feelings of joy and euphoria. These can be so intense that the brain gets hooked on them. If a patient abuses their medication and uses more than is prescribed, especially to cope with non-physical pain, it can lead to a devastating addiction.

More often than that, however, oxycodone is abused illegally, either by taking from a willing friend or family member with a prescription, or by stealing from them. At other times, oxycodone is sold and distributed illegally, originally through the selling of excess pain medication.

 

Breaking an Oxycodone Addiction

Like other opioids, it is difficult to break away from an oxycodone addiction. One way to soothe an opioid addiction is using methadone in a controlled environment, like a rehab center. Another form of rehab through medication is with naloxone, which is often used in an overdose to save someone from dying due to its immediate anti-opioid effects. Naloxone completely blocks the effects of opioids, even those currently in the bloodstream, kicking them off the brain’s opioid receptors and taking their place.

However, while medication can help a patient wean off the drug, a lot of the progress is made mentally and through time. It takes time for the brain to heal from an addiction, especially from an opioid. Even long after most recovery treatments are over, former addicts may still experience a craving after a particularly stressful situation or after some form of pain, both physical and emotional.

Addiction introduces many mental and behavioral issues, including self-esteem issues, anxiety, and depression. These are temporary and can be overcome through therapy, although in some cases an addiction may cause someone to go through a major depression, going so far as to require medication to prevent suicidal thoughts.

Addiction must be treated alongside any other existing mental health issues, rather than separately. Only a holistic approach works, because treating addiction involves helping people get to a stable and healthy mental status in order to combat thoughts of relapse.

 

A Nationwide Struggle

Oxycodone is one of the most heavily prescribed drugs in the country, alongside many other commonly abused prescription drugs, alongside Ritalin, Adderall, Vicodin, Demerol, Codeine, Ambien, Xanax, and more. Yet while prescription drugs played a major part in the growing opioid crisis, most opioid deaths today are caused by heroin.

However, drugs like oxycodone and a lobby of companies and doctors that spend years overprescribing them built up the base for heroin demand to grow and fester – and when the government stepped in to combat the excessive prescription of pain medication in America, thousands of people formerly addicted to prescription medication made the jump to illegal heroin, a much more dangerous drug due to a lack of safe or consistent production.

With a growing demand comes a growing supply, both from foreign and domestic sources, leading to heroin overtaking prescription painkillers. Meanwhile, a tough-on-crime and tough-on-drugs stance in government policy, accompanied by a lack of affordable rehab options and proper healthcare support means the continuation of a crisis that, as of now, has no foreseeable end.

There are many other factors contributing to the growing drug problem in the country, including economic factors, rapidly growing income inequality, a disappearing middle class and lack of stable jobs with proper benefits, while the stressful and volatile gig economy grows. But not all hope is lost. Many Americans who struggle with drug use do not seek treatment even when they can afford it, partially because of a powerful stigma against recognizing and accepting addiction as a problem, and partially because of the prevalent misconception that rehab does not work.

When applied properly, drug recovery is possible, and addiction treatment works. Families have to cooperate and work with professionals to help their loved ones get clean and stay clean, and sober living homes help those who struggle heavily with avoiding relapses remain in a temptation-free sober living environment to work on their recovery.

Overview of Illegal Drug Abuse

Illegal Drug Abuse

Drugs like heroin, cocaine, and marijuana are classified as schedule I and II drugs – drugs that may or may not have a valid medical use, but are in either case extremely dangerous, and very addictive. These drugs are criminalized because of their potential for abuse, and the damage they can wreak on the human body.

Yet despite the inherent risks associated with drug use – from the damage it causes to the brain and organs, to the damage it can wreak on relationships and reputations, to the risk of jailtime – millions of Americans today use and are addicted to illicit drugs. Why? Because addiction is not something we can control as individuals. We can, however, treat it.

 

Why People Turn to Illegal Drugs

Addiction is not simply thrill-seeking – there are dozens of completely legal and very dangerous ways to cope with pain or get a high, but people do not just become addicted because they want the most economic or rational way out of the pain. If rationality or thinking had any part in the equation, most people would choose to work through the pain or stay sober to get a better grip on life.

Addiction is often the result of unfortunate circumstances, coupled with the right moments to create that slippery slope from the first high to a seemingly endless drug habit. Every case is unique, with its own set of reasons and factors, but no one in their right mind chooses addiction.

The operative terms being “right mind”. All it takes is a few mistakes – a lapse in faith, the pain of a major emotional loss, or simple teenage misguidedness – to turn a one-time thing into a serious problem. The reason teens are particularly at risk for developing an addiction is because in addition to an immortality complex, many teens do not have the brain development to completely think things through and realize the risks. Teens are also wired to perceive the internal reward system as more rewarding – meaning they are more inclined to go for something that makes them feel good.

For adults, there are many other reasons to turn to drugs. In recent years, the most obvious reasons are usually economic. While booze is the most typical and usually the cheapest way to deal with that kind of pain, others turn to more powerful and less legal methods of forgetting their problems. What might start as a single moment of weakness can evolve into a life-threatening issue.

Regardless of why people turn to illegal drugs, the dangers of these drugs are indiscriminate and far-reaching. Opiates and barbiturates can stop your breathing, cocaine, and methamphetamine can stop your heart, and long-term use of any illegal substance will usually scar and deteriorate the organs and cause much pain and damage. Yet, despite all that, breaking away from an addiction to illegal drugs is neither easy nor pleasant. But with today’s addiction treatment methods, almost any case has hope for long-term recovery.

 

Addiction is Treatable

Treating addiction starts with combatting the withdrawal and detox symptoms of the drug or drugs a person uses. Like any substance, it takes some time for the human body to completely metabolize a given drug. As an addictive drug passes through the body of someone who is addicted to it, they will often experience painful withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, these symptoms are like a bad flu, causing nausea and fevers. In other cases, they can be life-threatening.

As the withdrawal tapers off, the body begins to get used to living without the drug – but the mind continues to crave it. Addictive drugs manipulate the brain into wanting the drug more than almost anything else. While the body metabolizes a drug dose quickly – a few hours to a few days – cravings can last weeks, months, and years. They do get weaker over time, allowing for therapy and sheer willpower to eventually overcome the addiction.

Treatment options exist in many different varieties, all with the goal of helping a patient work through the physical symptoms of addiction withdrawal, and then walking them through the steps of recovering mentally as well. This can involve copious lifestyle changes, group therapy, and more, depending on what patients respond to.

 

More Than Just the Brain

Illegal drugs have many risks associated with them, including the risk of jailtime and serious health problems. However, drug use can have a serious effect on a person’s relationships, capabilities, and future as well. Many struggle to recovery from addiction out of fear that their life will never completely recover. While technically an illness, addiction is still treated as a moral and individual problem, heavily stigmatizing those unfortunate enough to spend time as a drug user.

However, while drug use can wreak havoc on relationships and end careers, it’s never too late to make amends and heal the wounds of prior mistakes. Through recovery, it’s possible – and often even necessary – to reconcile with old friends and family members and find a way through the pain of addiction rather than around or away from it.

The damage an addiction wreaks on a person’s life need never be permanent. It will take time and perseverance to undo years of hardship, but with a proper treatment program, a specialized clinic or sober living home, and the help of a professional therapist, it’s possible for any case to find its way to normalcy and enjoy a qualitative life long after addiction.

 

Symptoms of a Greater Problem

Addiction affects people on an individual level, and it affects people on a family level. But more than that, it causes over $120 billion in productivity losses per year, over 72,000 annual overdose deaths, and an innumerable amount of emotional damage throughout the country. More than any war or disease, the addiction to alcohol, prescription medication, and illegal drugs especially tears a massive gash through this country.

However, the answer is not to respond with violence or aimless prosecution. While drug production is an issue that must be combatted, there are other things families and communities can do to improve on the situation and reduce the impact drugs have across the country. Only roughly 11 percent of people with an alcohol or drug addiction seek treatment. While certain accessibility problems exist, that problem can be lobbied against.

Ultimately, treatment is the only way to get better. The war on drugs can’t fight the demand for them or help those currently living and struggling with addiction – but treatment plans and sober living homes can. If you or someone you know is struggle with addiction, get help.