Commonly Abused Drugs & Their Massive Implications

Drugs have harmed the human psyche for centuries, serving as a quick fix to a great deal of psychological & societal issues such as depression, PTSD, anxiety, failing marriages, loneliness, and even boredom. The physical and mental implications of drug abuse are debilitating, often leading to death in serious cases, yet, statistics show that drugs are still commonly abused. Even celebrities who are known to have clinched great success in their fields have fallen victim to the temptations of drug abuse.

Drug abuse remains an unpredictable phenomenon that may involve the ones who are least suspected, yet there are some drugs that are abused more than others, due to their easy availability and affordability, which makes them the most prevalent in society.

Alcoholism

Alcohol tops the list as being one of the most abused substances in modern society. The effect of alcohol varies vastly among individuals as this involves a wide range of factors, including age, ethnicity, liver function and drinking frequency.

Moderate levels of alcohol are acceptable and popular among social settings but abuse may lead to liver failure (due to high toxicity levels) and long-term psychological damage. Common symptoms of alcohol intolerance (when the body rejects excess alcohol) may include vomiting, elevated blood pressure, mood swings and a lack of inhibition (which may lead to a false sense of invincibility and crime).

British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse was an unfortunate casualty of alcohol abuse.  She passed away at the young age of 27 in 2011. The singer was found dead in her flat in Camden, London from alcohol poisoning after a longtime struggle against alcoholism. Winehouse’s 2006 hit single, Rehab, was in reference to her experience in rehabilitation treatment for her abuse.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (NIAA), an estimated 88,000 people die from AUD (alcohol use disorder) annually, making it the third most preventable cause of death in the USA.

Alcoholism is also known to divide families, often due to domestic violence while under the influence. Unemployment is another societal concern that afflicts alcohol abusers. Sufferers are usually released from their jobs due to gradual loss of concentration on tasks, along with failing attendance rates and overall poor performance at the workplace.

Other studies show that drinking problems may be caused by unemployment, as individuals seek temporary comfort from financial debts and social responsibilities through the dulling effects of alcohol.

Treatment

Alcoholism treatment options include in-patient and out-patient programs.

Patients at a treatment center are assessed through a preliminary physical examination (including blood tests and body response tests) to determine the treatment method that best suits the severity of their condition.

For out-patient programs, medical practitioners will prescribe a course of medication that will help in the detoxification process of the body. The client is then discharged to complete the course of their recovery. Out-patient programs are suitable for individuals who are confident in managing their symptoms at home. Additionally, their home environments should be free from any stimulus that might encourage or trigger the drinking habit (i.e.beer stashes, neighboring drinking companion, wine cellar, etc.) . It is also essential to have a dependable caregiver present during the course of in-patient treatment as sufferers may experience dizziness or vertigo, making them susceptible to falls.

In-patient programs require patients to check in at the facility, where they will be offered round-the-clock care by trained medical professionals for the duration of their recovery process. The progression of recovery will be carefully monitored by treatment specialists while medical amenities are readily accessible for prompt treatment if necessary.  Some patients may prefer out-of-state facilities as this takes them away from familiar territory that might encourage drinking habits.

Detoxification is the most crucial and toughest part of the recovery process. Detoxification involves the elimination of alcohol within the bodily system. This can lead to a wide variety of debilitating side effects, also known as withdrawal symptoms, which include nausea, delirium, vomiting, heart palpitations, and more. Withdrawal symptoms occur as alcohol is known to affect the Central Nervous System in our bodies and affect the neurochemicals in the brain. Always opt to receive medically-assisted detox programs. A gradual approach is necessary as sudden quitting of alcohol may overwork the body and may even lead to death.

Relapse is another point of concern for recovering alcohol abusers. AA and Sober Living Houses are two ways that can help stave off the temptations of alcohol.

AA (alcoholics anonymous) is a self-help group involving fellow recovering alcohol abusers. The group operates based on 12 crucial steps aimed at liberating the sufferer from dependence on the bottle. For each meeting, members share the details of their progress (usually anonymously) to inspire and foster a sense of solidarity.

Sober Living Houses, involve recovering alcohol abusers living together within a community during a given period. The alcohol-free zone in sober living houses are an effective follow-up to treatment centers. Here, residents are encouraged to pursue healthy distractions from alcohol in the form of outdoor activities and hobbies that will support their path toward recovery.

With a wide availability of support and treatment options, alcoholic abusers can successfully regain the confidence and control in their lives.

Opioids

Opioids remain a growing crisis within the country. The opioid problem has been widely known as a uniquely American problem. The most worrying aspect is that most opioid addictions stem from the abuse of prescribed medication, which are easily acquired through legal channels.

The word “Opioids” is an umbrella term that includes any narcotic drug that is derived from the poppy plant. These are usually introduced to the body as a form of pain relief. The poppy plant is also a source of other drugs such as heroin and opium. Opioid chemicals function by binding with the receptors in the human brain and spinal cord that are responsible for regulating pain and emotions.

Opioid drugs come in a large variety that includes Methadone, Fentanyl, Morphine, and Hydrocodone. Drug abusers may experience adverse reactions such as drowsiness, nausea or the inability to concentrate. It is necessary to contact 911 immediately if someone is seen exhibiting more serious symptoms like the inability to speak or when their body goes limp – as these are signs of a potentially fatal overdose.

Although over-the-counter opioids may provide relief for mild headaches and minor pains, these may be ineffective against more serious conditions. As such, some patients may request stronger prescribed opioid medication as a means of coping with chronic pain.

Unfortunately, with constant use, the body gradually becomes desensitized to its effects- known as tolerance, which causes users to seek higher and more dangerous dosages.

Statistics show that an estimated 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2016, with opiate-related cases accounting for nearly 42,000 of them. In recent years, the American government has taken drastic measures to reduce the toll of the largest drug crisis in the nation.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that an estimated 2 million Americans abuse opioids while 90 people die from opioid overdose every day.

Although opiate abuse remains a national concern, there have been many inspirational stories of individuals who have successfully recovered from their addiction, which include some notable celebrities.

Actor Gerard Butler was hooked on painkillers after suffering an injury from a movie role. Butler eventually checked himself into a treatment center where he made a complete recovery and has gone on to speak openly about overcoming his addiction.

Similarly, Robert Downey Jr, known for portraying Tony Stark/Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes, had faced opiate problems since he was first introduced to the drug by his father at the age of 6. In a Vanity Fair article, Downey Jr. stated, “Job one is to get out of that cave. A lot of people do get out but don’t change. So the thing is to get out and recognize the significance of that aggressive denial of your fate, come through the crucible forged into a stronger metal”

Treatment

Prescription opiate should always be seen as a last resort. According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, it is always important to consult your pain medicine specialist or anesthesiologist for safer opiate use, or consider healthier alternatives in pain relief treatment.

The best treatment option for opioid abuse involves a combination of counselling and medicine-assisted therapies. For the most effective results, sufferers should consider a  rehabilitation program where medical specialists are able to provide medical support during the course of hospitalization.

Through comprehensive MATs (medicine-assisted therapies that provide the holistic patient experience), health professionals can help treat the underlying physical conditions that led to opioid abuse while correcting addictive behaviors to achieve full recovery.

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is commonly used as a recreational drug that stimulates the nervous system. The drug is also known as meth, ice, speed or crystal, either as a reference to its physical appearance or its effect on the mind. Meth may be taken orally, intravenously or by snorting it.

The drug provides a temporary boost of energy that gives abusers a sense of power and satisfaction, which makes it popular in parties, concerts and events with high energy levels. The substance works by overworking the major receptors in the brain that pump dopamine, a neurotransmitter that affects pleasure levels.

Unfortunately, this invigorating effect is short-lived and the side-effects of meth are internally and externally devastating. Meth aftereffects are known to take a severe toll on the physical and psychological well-being of the abuser, possibly resulting in cardiovascular collapse and even death.

Long-term Meth abusers tend to display sunken cheeks and eye sockets, which appears to speed up the aging process. While within the body, organs such as the kidneys, lungs and livers are damaged. Additionally, meth have complex effects on the brain, which have been likened to the pathogenic pathway of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Singer-songwriter Fergie has publicly spoken about her past experiences with crystal meth. Fergie shared with Women’s Health Magazine, “ I was hallucinating on a daily basis. It took a year after getting off that drug for the chemicals in my brain to settle so that I stopped seeing things. I’d just be sitting there, seeing a random bee or bunny.”

Treatment

Similar to alcoholics, meth users undergo a series of detoxification that removes the substance from the body. This procedure retrains the body to function at a natural level without the influence of meth. Gradually, patients are rehabilitated to embrace life without depending on the drug.

Depending on the severity of the addiction, patients are treated through an in-patient or outpatient program. Naltrexone is often prescribed in the process as a drug that boosts the recovery process for meth and alcohol abuse, making the process more tolerable for patients.

With the right help and support, meth addicts can stay drug-free to live happily and healthily.

Freedom Now

At Freedom Now, we will guide you through your path of recovery, meeting you where you’re at in life. We offer customized treatment plans are catered to your specific needs on your time.

Regardless of the complexities in drug abuse, or mental conditions, we will create the ideal program that will restore your life to its fullest quality.