Results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) conducted by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) are staggering.
The last survey reported illicit drug use by nearly 24 million Americans. This number represents 9.2 percent of the country’s population over the age of 12. Marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and hallucinogens are the most common illicit drugs used in the United States. However, the NSDUH statistics include inhalants and prescription drugs that are taken for non-medical, recreational reasons.
Prescription drug abuse is a national crisis. Federal and state agencies have made very little progress in curtailing the problem. The availability of prescription stimulants, barbiturates, benzodiazepines and opioid painkillers has led to an incredible, exponential growth of drug users and abusers.
Abuse and Addiction
Drugs work by stimulating different parts of the body, including the brain, to react in different ways. They can cause a variety of short-term effects such as rapid heartbeats, high blood pressure, dizziness, tremors, memory problems and mood changes. High doses increase the potential for heart attack, stroke and other serious medical conditions.
Long-term drug use can, and often does, lead to dependence or addiction. Paranoia, psychosis, immune deficiencies and organ damage are some of the mental and physical effects of drug abuse.
Most people who use drugs start in a casual or social way, as a means of recreation. Prescription drug use usually starts as medical treatment. In time, more of a drug is needed to produce the desired effects. The compulsion for more of a drug, at a higher dose, becomes too great to control.
Drug abuse is harmful in many ways. Not only does it damage physical and mental health, but it also hurts relationships with family, friends and colleagues. The constant need for drugs overcomes rational thinking, causing major havoc in the lives of addicts and their loved ones.
Drug Abuse Treatment
The decision to seek a sober lifestyle is an important first step in the recovery process. Until addicts are ready to change the direction of their lives, they cannot reap the full benefits of drug abuse treatment. Because of the widespread nature of addiction, there are many treatment options available when they are finally ready to seek help.
A doctor, counselor or addiction specialist can help drug addicts find the best treatment option for their individual needs. While some people thrive in outpatient programs, most addicts benefit from residential, inpatient treatment. Inpatient therapy is more intensive that other treatments, and it can help recovering addicts cope in real-world situations after treatment.
Residential treatment programs offer various types of therapy for addiction. Self-help, individual counseling and support group sessions are the most common options. Drug treatment centers also provide relapse prevention and other aftercare services.
Recovery and Support
Drug addiction is a personal struggle that can be hard to explain. Addicts often feel alone in their struggle. For this reason, support groups that are led by certified counselors are an important part of addiction recovery. Treatment outcomes are usually better for those who can find comfort and support in their recovery process. Addicts do not suffer alone, because their choices and behaviors affect their loved ones as well. Relapse prevention treatment encourages family participation as a way to provide hope and healing for the entire family.