Drugs, both legal and illicit come in a variety of shapes and forms. Some are socially acceptable, whereas others are shrouded in stigma. Some are deadly while others are considered harmless, medicinal and natural. When it comes to drugs, the reality is any of them can be misused and can have detrimental effects on a person’s health and well-being.
Over the years, drug use has followed trends. Society, culture, the economy and the introduction of new types of drugs can all influence drug use trends. And, at the same time, certain drugs, such as alcohol, are always consistent.
By far the most used and abused mind-altering substance, alcohol is legal and socially acceptable in almost every country in the world. Drinking is ingrained into our culture and turning the legal drinking age is considered a rite of passage. Alcohol is used to celebrate special occasions, to help cope with bad days, to have fun and socialize, to bond and as a reward for a job well done.
Alcohol slows down the nervous system impairs motor skills, skews thinking and lowers inhibitions. People who drink and drive put themselves and innocent people at risk, and DUI’s cost millions of dollars in spending and lost productivity. Alcohol abuse contributes to domestic violence, risky sexual behavior which frequently results in sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy.
Many people are in denial about the fact that alcohol is a drug, but the reality is that alcohol is believed to be more dangerous than cocaine and even heroin. People who become dependent on alcohol can struggle to quit, and lose everything they hold dear to them in the process. For those who develop a physical dependency, quitting alcohol can cause severe and sometimes even dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
Marijuana is a popular topic these days, and its use, both recreationally and medicinally is a common issue to debate. Because many states have legalized it, more people are open about using it. There is a distinct “pot culture” among those who use it, and people seem to either be take the position that it is a harmful drug not to be used under any circumstances, or that it is some kind of natural “cure all” with no downsides.
Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that causes altered vision, mood, and behavior. It also slows cognitive processes, impairs motor skills and reaction time, and can lower inhibitions. Because of the slowed reaction time, impaired motor skills and altered vision and perception, people who drive while under the influence of marijuana present a risk to themselves as well as others.
People who begin using marijuana in their teens regularly put themselves at risk for cognitive impairment and loss of IQ points. This damage does not go away when marijuana use stops. While marijuana certainly has medicinal qualities and should continue to be researched for those purposes, it is not a cure-all, and people who use it regularly may experience chronic depression, difficulty making decisions, short-term memory loss, lack of interest in normal activities, insomnia and anxiety.
3. Prescription Pain Medication
When it comes to current trends in drug use, opiate medications could easily top the list. Yes, alcohol and marijuana may garner the larger group of users, but prescription opiates are a problem that has reached epidemic proportions. Why is this?
Pharmaceutical companies are a big part of the problem. They helped to create a huge demand for their products by encouraging doctors and pharmacists to dispense addictive medications to people who were experiencing any kind of discomfort. For years, getting prescriptions filled for drugs like Codeine, Vicodin, Norco and Oxycontin has been as easy as a quick visit to the emergency room, urgent care or doctor’s office.
Back pain, headaches, toothaches, and other types of chronic pain could keep you in pills for months, more than long enough to become physically and psychologically dependent on them.
Tougher restrictions have been put in place when it comes to prescription pain meds, and abuse-resistant versions of Oxycontin have been introduced, but it seems to be too little, too late. Not only that but with pills harder to get, more and more people are turning to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to get.
Opiates cause drowsiness, slurred speech, slowed respiration and heart rate, impaired movement and reaction, confusion and changes in mood. The euphoric high that is felt can turn into depression, anxiety and agitation. Physical dependence means that stopping the drug will cause withdrawal symptoms that are unpleasant.
The risk of overdose is high. Recent reports state that Fentanyl, which is far more powerful than Heroin, is causing a rash of deaths due to overdose.
Overdose risk is increased when prescription meds are mixed with alcohol or other drugs. Today, the opiate epidemic shows no signs of slowing down. It is the current topic of political debates and campaigns, documentary films and countless news stories and articles. The problem continues to worsen, with alarming consequences.
4. Prescription Benzodiazepines
Like prescription painkillers, prescription benzodiazepines, or “benzos” are freely prescribed and their use is often under supervised. Benzos include drugs like Xanax, Ativan and Valium. They are most often prescribed to treat anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia.
Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants and cause a sense of relaxation, well-being, and euphoria. They also cause drowsiness, slurred speech, blurred vision, confusion and lack of coordination. Overdose can be fatal, especially when combined with other drugs like alcohol.
Benzodiazepines are addictive, and you can quickly develop a physical dependence on them, just like you can with opiates. This means that when you stop taking them, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. With benzos, withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous, even deadly. If you are addicted to benzos, it’s important that you seek medical care to help you wean off the drug safely.
Methamphetamines are a synthetic stimulant drug that is highly addictive. It produces powerful, euphoric high that can last for hours. It suppresses appetite and gives a sense of elevated mood, energy, alertness and confidence. The feeling of alertness and energy can allow the user to remain awake, sometimes for days. When the drug wears off, it can leave you feeling exhausted, depressed and irritable. This “come down” is often coupled with an intense craving for more of the drug. Users are quickly hooked into a cycle of using to avoid this come down.
Meth is often created in makeshift labs using highly toxic substances. The drug can be devastating to both physical and mental health. It causes extreme weight loss, and can lead to hair loss, tooth decay, severe skin problems, anxiety, depression, paranoia and psychosis.
Once a person realizes that the drug is having negative effects, it is often too late.
Meth depletes the body and mind, causing severe weight loss, rotting teeth, scarred skin and impaired cognitive function. Meth-induced psychosis often results in hospitalization or jail, and sexually transmitted disease from needle use and unprotected sex are common.
Heroin is an opiate drug that is always present, but rises and falls in popularity. It was widely used in the 60’s and 70’s, and right now heroin use is on the upswing. It is believed that heroin is becoming more widely used because of the opiate painkiller epidemic. When people who are addicted to drugs like oxycontin, etc. but can no longer obtain or afford them, they may turn to heroin, which is cheaper.
Heroin users risk overdose and death each time they use. People who are addicted to heroin will go to any lengths to continue using, and quitting is extremely difficult. People who want to quit using must first detox from the drug and go through withdrawals in order to do so. Many people are unable to get through this first phase of quitting. Fortunately, there are options for treatment. A medically supervised detox can help you detox more comfortably, and inpatient drug rehab can give you the support you need to overcome this powerful and destructive addiction.
Immediate effects of heroin use include a feeling of euphoria, drowsiness, “nodding out”, nausea and confusion. Tolerance develops quickly, and so does addiction.
Steroids are used by both men and women alike to enhance physique and athletic performance. They are often injected and carry a wide range of side effects. Steroids are an addictive drug. People who use steroids will experience both physical and psychological side effects from their use, including acne, breast development in males, deepened voice and excess body hair in women, hair loss in men, liver and heart disease, aggression and paranoia.
Steroids, like any other mind-altering substance, can result in addiction when abused. If you are using steroids and have become addicted, you can get help through a drug treatment program. Steroid use can cause physical damage that is irreversible, and can result in dangerous health complications and even death.
Cocaine is a highly addictive narcotic that produces a powerful feeling of euphoria. It is quickly metabolized in the body, and the high that it produces is short-lived. The euphoric feeling subsides quickly, and leaves the user feeling depressed, lethargic, irritable and wanting more. Tolerance develops quickly, meaning that the user requires more of the drug to get the desired effect. People who become addicted to the drug will find that their need for the drug increases, and that it becomes more difficult to keep up with their habit.
Cocaine can be snorted, ingested, administered intravenously and smoked. It is an expensive, destructive addiction that can result in overdose and death.
9. OTC Medications And Prescription Cough Syrups
Cough syrup and other over the counter medications are widely abused, particularly among younger people. Cough syrup is often consumed at parties and known sometimes as “sizzurp.” Drinking cough syrup or taking other over the counter medications such as cold and allergy capsules in high doses produces feelings of euphoria and can result in addiction, overdose and other health problems.
10. Prescription Stimulants
Prescription stimulants are used to treat conditions like ADHD and narcolepsy. These are pharmaceutical drugs that produce increased alertness, focus and can also boost mood, metabolism and productivity. While they can be useful medications in the treatment of certain conditions, they also carry the potential of abuse and addiction.
In recent years, there has been a trend of stimulant abuse, particularly among students. This is often a because high school and college age students take them to help them study, stay awake and produce more work. Common medications include Ritalin and Adderall. People who are prescribed these drugs may give or sell them to friends, and people often “fake” symptoms to get a prescription.
The problem with these drugs is that the user may develop a tolerance and an addiction to them. While they may temporarily increase the ability to focus and be productive, the end result is fatigue, depression, anxiety and nervousness, irritability, paranoia and other side effects.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, Broadway Treatment Center can help. Call 714-443-8218 today for more information.