The Signs, Causes & Treatment Options of Drug Abuse

drug abuse

Why do people turn to mind-altering substances? There are many reasons. Substance misuse can be a way to self-medicate a mental illness like anxiety or depression, it can be a way to escape from emotional pain or it can begin as an attempt to have fun in a social setting and quickly turn into a destructive habit. Whatever the motivation behind substance abuse, it’s important to remember that it can lead to addiction, organ damage and broken relationships.

What is Drug Abuse?

Substance abuse begins when someone takes a substance to change the way they feel currently. Everyone knows what kind of damage illegal substances like heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine can do, but prescription drugs can also be abused when people use them for non-medical reasons or outside of the amount they are prescribed.

Although drug addiction and drug abuse are closely linked, there is a difference between the two conditions. For instance, if someone doesn’t only abuses drugs three or four times a year, they may show signs of drug abuse but not addiction. However, if someone regularly abuses a substance and makes their entire life about using and obtaining the substance, that person shows signs of addiction.

Even when a prescription drug is prescribed for a medical reason, sometimes patients can become chemically dependent on the drug – especially opiates or benzodiazepines. While there is a difference between a drug dependence and a drug addiction, these two conditions often go together as well.

What Are the Most Popular Abused Substances?

There are many categories of drugs. Each substance affects the user differently. However, they all have one thing in common in that they are addictive. Here is more information about some of the most popular substances that people abuse.

Cannabis or marijuana is the most commonly used drug in America. Although it is now legal in some states, it still retains the same risks. When abused, cannabis is likely to cause:
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Lowered sperm count in men
  • Emotional addiction
  • Lowered immunity
Alcohol is considered a depressant because it slows the central nervous system. There are also prescription depressants like benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, etc.). While these medications can have a positive effect when used to treat anxiety, they are often abused. Depressants when abused can cause:
  • Impaired memory
  • Confusion
  • Increased risk of death when used together
  • Poor concentration
  • Addiction
The most popular illegal stimulants are drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. There are also prescription stimulants like Adderall and Vyvanse. While these prescription drugs can be positive when taken as directed for attention-related disorders, when used outside of the prescription, they can produce the same negative effects as illegal stimulants. When abused, stimulants can cause:
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Addictions
There are both illegal opioids (like heroin) and opioids that are legal when prescribed (like morphine and oxycodone). Prescription opioids are the most commonly abused prescription medications. When abused, opioids can cause:
  • Coma
  • Arrested breathing
  • Addiction
  • Death
Dissociatives like PCP and ketamine affect one’s sense of reality. When taken, it may cause a user to believe they are living outside of their body. This can lead to unusually risky behavior. When abused, dissociatives can cause:
  • Memory loss
  • Social withdrawal
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Accidents due to risky behavior
  • Addiction
Hallucinogens like psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”) or LSD cause the user to see and experience things that aren’t actually there in reality. For example, a hallucinogen may cause someone to see spiders crawling in front of them when there actually aren’t any spiders. When abused, hallucinogens can cause:
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Addiction

Do You Need Drug Rehab?

If you currently suffer from substance use disorder, you are certainly not alone. Here at The Recovery Village at Ridgefield, we treat many patients for drug and alcohol addiction – helping them to find healing and find their way back to recovery. Our beautiful campus – convenient to Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington – provides a serene backdrop for patients to really focus on their health and wellness.

No matter what your story is, it’s never too late for you to ask for help. Call us today, and speak to one of our compassionate and understanding addiction specialists about the best treatment option for you.

Every recovery begins with a call.

Contact The Recovery Village today.