Addiction

shutterstock_259444634Drug addiction can be as complex a problem to understand as it can be to resolve. When an individual is struggling with drug addiction they are also struggling from extensive physical, mental and emotional problems and often cannot even conceive of a way out. The sad fact is that the individual himself chose to participate in the initial drug use that eventually led to his addiction problems, and yet it is safe to say that if he had actually known the truth about drugs, he probably would never have even given them a second glance.

The Path From Drug Use Into Addiction

An individual normally turns to drug use in response to some problem they have encountered in their life. It may be that they feel pressured by their peers to use drugs. It may be that they want to feel more like they fit in with others around them and they think that drugs will help them do this. It may be that they are dealing with difficult emotions they don’t know how to handle. It may even be that they are experiencing chronic and severe physical pain. Whatever the problem, the individual is under the impression that drugs will be able to help them in some way.

One fact about drugs is that they cannot solve any of the problems for which they are taken, they can only suppress the symptoms of the problem. Consider the fact that painkillers will not heal a broken arm, stop the spread of cancer or repair an injured back – they simply suppress the body’s ability to communicate this pain. As another example, heroin and cocaine will not help the individual resolve their relationship problems, handle the source of their stress at work or put an end to their financial difficulties – they will only artificially disconnect the individual from an awareness of these problems.

Not only are drugs unable to solve the problems for which they are taken, their desirable effects are only temporary in nature. Imagine if you took your car to a mechanic because there was something wrong with the engine. If you paid the mechanic for parts and labor, you’d expect to have a car that was fully repaired – not just temporarily “patched up”. However, taking drugs are like getting a temporary patch job on your car – the problems are still there and will flare up again in the future.

Since drugs can allow the individual to temporarily escape from their problems and experience some desirable sensations, many individuals who try drugs decide that they are helpful or useful in some way. This drives them to continue using drugs in the future, even if only occasionally at first. Over time, the individual comes to realize that they have grown tolerant of these drug substances, and no longer experience the same desirable effects they once did. This drives the individual to consume larger amounts of drug substances more frequently, or perhaps even switch to more potent drug substances. It is normally somewhere in the process of experiencing tolerance that the individual’s drug use has turned from casual to more serious.

Regular, constant drug use can alter the normal functions of the human body so thoroughly that it will actually adapt itself to the presence of drug substances and depend upon them in order to continuing functioning. This is known as drug dependence, and is characterized by a strong need to continue using drug substances in order to just “make it by”. The individual may find that they are stuck in compulsive drug use despite the damaging effects drugs are having on their life, and even while they may desire to be free from these dangerous substances they are unable to bring about recovery on their own.

The Problem of Drug Addiction in the United States

Drug use, abuse and addiction are problems throughout the entire United States. In fact, according to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health:

  • Nearly thirty-one percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, nearly eighty-four percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and over eighty-seven percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used alcohol at least once in their lifetime.
  • Nearly sixteen percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, nearly fifty-eight percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and over eighty-six percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had smoked cigarettes at least once in their lifetime.
  • Six percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, over twenty-one percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and eighteen and a half percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used smokeless tobacco products at least once in their lifetime.
  • Over twenty-three percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, fifty-seven percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and over fifty percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used illicit drugs at least once in their lifetime.
  • Nearly one percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, nearly twelve percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and sixteen and a half percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used cocaine at least once in their lifetime.
  • One tenth percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, over one and a half percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and over four percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used crack cocaine at least once in their lifetime.
  • Nearly three percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, over seventeen and a half percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and over sixteen percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used hallucinogens at least once in their lifetime.
  • Nearly one percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, six and a half percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and eleven percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used LSD at least once in their lifetime.
  • One and a half percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, nearly thirteen percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and sixteen and nearly six and a half percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used MDMA at least once in their lifetime.
  • Two tenths percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, nearly two percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and two percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used heroin at least once in their lifetime.
  • Over five percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, seven and a half percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and nearly eight and a half percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used inhalants at least once in their lifetime.
  • Nearly sixteen and a half percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, nearly fifty-two percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and nearly forty-six percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used marijuana at least once in their lifetime.
  • Nearly half a percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, three percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and five and a half percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used methamphetamine at least once in their lifetime.
  • Two tenths percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, nearly one percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and three percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used PCP at least once in their lifetime.
  • Over two percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, twelve percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and over nine percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used tranquilizers at least once in their lifetime.
  • Nearly nine percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, nearly twenty-seven percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and over twenty percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used psychotherapeutics non-medically at least once in their lifetime.
  • Over seven percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, nearly twenty-one percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and thirteen percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used pain relievers at least once in their lifetime.
  • Half a percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, over one percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and nearly three and a half percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used sedatives at least once in their lifetime.
  • Nearly two percent of individuals between the ages of twelve and seventeen, nearly nine and a half percent of individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and nearly nine percent of individuals aged twenty-six and older admitted they had used stimulants at least once in their lifetime.

While there is no doubt that drug addiction can damage the user’s own health, relationships and life, the truth is that the damaging effects of drug use are far more widely spread. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the problems of drug abuse and addiction cost our nation of $600 billion each year in costs related to lost work productivity, healthcare and crime. This means that drug abuse and addiction are truly national problems that can affect everyone in our society, and are therefore important for everyone to know how to prevent and resolve.

Solving the Problem

Effective drug education is remarkably helpful in preventing the problems of drug abuse and addiction, because those individuals who truly understand what drug substances are and how they affect the human body are often more able to make the wise decision and abstain from drug use altogether. Unfortunately, drug education cannot always work to prevent all drug use from occurring, especially where individuals truly believe that drug use is safe, acceptable or helpful. Those individuals who fall into drug use or who are already suffering from drug abuse and addiction problems need help resolving these problems. This is where effective rehabilitation treatment comes in, because the truth is that no matter how thoroughly trapped in drug use an individual is, there is always hope that they can successfully restore a healthy, happy and productive future with the right tools, support and treatment.

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