Without a doubt, one of the toughest problems we face in the country today is the continuing existence of rampant drug abuse. It is possible that society is contributing to the problem by downplaying the damaging effects of certain recreational drugs, leading people into underestimating their threat. Each year, drug abuse is responsible for around 40 million serious illnesses or injuries among people in the United States. The big picture of drug abuse can be seen everywhere in a variety of social settings, especially with the country’s youth. Prescription drug abuse is also a concern because patients run the risk of addiction without even knowing it while attempting to relieve another health issue. No matter how the abuse starts, it is critical for the person to seek help immediately to avoid potential consequences like drugged driving, violence, child abuse, stress, homelessness, crime, job loss, and the destruction of a family. A wide range of treatments are available for drug abuse with varying levels of effectiveness; however, the most effective treatment is prevention.
Commonly Abused Drugs
Various narcotics carry addictive substances and according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, some commonly abused drugs are tobacco (nicotine), alcohol, marijuana, opium, heroin, stimulants (cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines), hallucinogens (LSD, mescaline, psilocybin), club drugs (MDMA- methylene-dioxy-methamphetamine, GHB- gamma-hydroxybutyrate, flunitrazepam), PCP, salvia divinorum, and ketamine. Unlike prescriptions, most of these drugs rarely, if ever, have a legitimate use, and are illegal (though some states have actually legalized marijuana despite the damage it is known to cause). Other commonly abused drugs that might have medical reasons for use, such as dextromethorphan (DXM) in cough or cold remedies, also include anabolic steroids and inhalants.
The abuse of prescription drugs has been a growing problem, and 20 percent of United States citizens use these drugs for non-medical reasons while they become more accessible. In fact, many of them are purchased through online pharmacies or given out by friends or relatives. Another reason for the increase in prescription drug abuse could lie in the fact that more doctors then ever are prescribing them. Prescription drugs are separated into three categories: narcotic painkillers (like Vicotin or OxyContin), stimulants (like Adderall, Concerta or Ritalin), and sedatives/tranquilizers (like Valium or Xanax). None of these should be used without consent from a doctor, and the specific instructions for each need to be followed very carefully. The general uses for these three categories of prescription drugs are:
- Narcotic painkillers: Used as pain relievers
- Stimulants: Used for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Central nervous system (CNS) depressants: Used for relieving anxiety
Causes of Drug Abuse
Before we can even think about preventing, reducing, or stopping the widespread epidemic of drug abuse that is currently sweeping across the country, we first need to look at why it is happening. Volumes of written or unwritten prescriptions and other types of drugs are a lot more readily available now than they were decades ago. Several companies have manufactured unprecedented numbers of new formulas of medications to solve all kinds of health problems. None of the current laws we have in place are enforced nearly enough to begin fighting street drugs, and the war has been raging for over 30 years with rapidly growing accessibility and usage by adults as well as teens who can get them easily. However, there is a more worrisome underlying issue and far too many are unwilling to address it. Look at the culture we live in today and you will notice that drug use and its damaging effects are minimized so much that many children think using an illegal substance presents no serious threat and has no consequences. Whether it’s Hollywood actors or a host of musicians, the idea of using marijuana is rarely criticized, and it is encouraged as an example of inclusiveness that kids try to follow. Keep in mind that marijuana use is illegal in most states and even still, it is portrayed as something used regularly by popular culture representatives. Until we finally face what is wrong with the poor examples that are being set and actively take steps to combat against them, drug abuse will continue to increase and many people will keep getting hurt unnecessarily without any way to prevent it.
Drug Abuse Facts
These startling facts and statistics reveal just how out of control our nation’s drug abuse problem is and why prevention, education, awareness and treatment are vital.
- Over half of new illicit drug users begin their drug use with marijuana.
- Following alcohol, marijuana has the highest rate of dependence or abuse of all drugs.
- Non-medical use of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication among teens rose to 14.8 percent of high school seniors according to a study in 2012
- Binge drinking is more prevalent in men than women; about 30 percent of men drank heavily in 2011, as opposed to 13.9 percent of women
- Drug use is highest among people in their late teens or 20s, though it is now increasing with people who are in their 50s
- There has been a recent increase in marijuana use among teens as of 2012. There was an increase of about 6.5 percent of 8th graders, 17 percent of 10th graders, and 22.9 percent of 12th graders, representing increases from 2007 of 14.2 percent of 10th graders and 18.8 percent of 12 graders; also 6.5 percent of 12th graders reported using marijuana every day as compared to only 5.1 percent in 2007.
- Approximately 22.5 million Americans ages 12 and up reported illicit drug use in 2011 (8 percent of the population), representing an increase of 8.3 percent from 2002.
- Use of marijuana in 2011 was 18.1 million users, a 5.5-percent increase from 14.4 million in 2007.
- About 21.6 million Americans (8.4 percent) required treatment for drug abuse in 2011, and only 2.3 million (less than 1 percent) received it from a specialty faculty, illustrating a huge gap in the number of people who need help and those who actually seek it.
- There is over $60 billion per year in total costs of drug abuse in the US for health, productivity and numerous crime costs that include approximately $193 billion for illicit drugs, $235 billion for alcohol, and $193 billion for tobacco.
- A positive sign of improvement is that drunk driving has declined slightly by 3.1 percent as of 2011, and the numbers of teenagers who use alcohol, inhalants, cocaine, Ecstasy, and tobacco have all decreased over the past several years.
The Right Kind of Treatment
Research shows that drug abuse and addiction is essentially a brain disease that has many treatment options. Each type of drug has different methods of treatment and in some cases, multiple treatment techniques are necessary. Full recovery is the main goal for any successful program and the treatment for drug abuse can incorporate detoxification, medication, and professional counseling. At Futures of Palm Beach, we offer a combination of the most effective strategies, both medical and psychological, in order to stop drug abuse and ensure a safe, quality recovery. If you or someone you know has a drug abuse problem, we are here to help with a wide range of therapies and aftercare support for individuals and their families. Call now for more information, and we can start the healing process together. Remember that you are not alone.