5 Things Addicts Have in Common

5 Things Addicts Have in Common

It doesn't matter what substance a person finds themselves addicted to, when addiction sets in an addicts ability to think clearly and handle stress is significantly impaired. Addicts also experience drug cravings which are often intense and become obsessed with obtaining more of their drug of choice. No matter how bad their lives have gotten because of their drug use, addicts are also unable to stop in spite of the devastating consequences.

Even though addicts share similarities treatment for their addiction requires an individualized approach. Treating addiction is very difficult and just because addicts share some things in common treatment for the disease has to be an individualized process, no two people are completely alike nor is their addiction or recovery process. The type of drug and extent of abuse has a lot to do with the level of treatment a person needs and chronic use of any drug can lead to serious health problems. So even though addicts share some similarities, their treatment and recovery process can be quite different.

Today there are many different types of drugs abused but they all have a different effect on the body and the health risks involved vary depending on the substance abused. The commonly abused drugs that are used today can lead to addiction and fatal overdose is also a serious risk factor. Alcohol, cannabinoids, opioids, and stimulants are all substances that are widely abused today and even though they can lead to addiction, the serious health risks vary and treatments do too.

Alcohol is the most widely used substance in the world and continues to remain the most commonly abused substance among youth and adults. The use of alcohol can lead to dependence but also disrupts and changes brain function which can lead to depression and other impairments. Heavy use of alcohol can affect a person's memory and cause problems with thinking and problem solving skills. Heavy drinking over an extended period of time can damage the heart, liver, pancreas, can cause neurologic problems and increase a person's chance of developing some types of cancer. Alcoholics seeking treatment often have health problems that may make detoxification more serious. Because heavy drinking takes such a toll on a person's health, an alcoholic may require hospitalization due to severe withdrawal symptoms or other health issues during treatment.

Marijuana: Out of all the illegal drugs used in this country, the use of marijuana surpasses them all. Marijuana is not only the most commonly used illegal drug among youth throughout the United States but it's also the most prevalent substance used among adults. We know that all forms of marijuana are psychoactive which means they alter the way the brain functions. Marijuana affects people differently which may be due to the fact that potency varies, some people may experience nothing or feel high and relaxed. Others though have experienced paranoid thoughts and anxiety when smoking marijuana and may be less likely continuing use.

Marijuana is addictive and can cause problems with memory and impair a person's ability to learn. With regular use of marijuana depression, anxiety, panic attacks and psychosis have been associated with the drug's use. Marijuana also affects a person's lungs when smoked regularly and can lead to coughs, upper respiratory illnesses, pneumonia and other lung infections. Chronic marijuana users seeking treatment may also need medical attention for respiratory problems during their recovery process.

Opioid Abuse

Heroin users are putting themselves at high risk for addiction but they're also risking hepatitis, HIV and other infectious diseases with intravenous use. Heroin is so highly addictive that around 23% of the people that use the drug become dependent on it. Addiction to heroin isn't the only enormous risk users are taking though. Fatal overdose is a dangerous outcome that heroin users risk every time they use the illegal drug.

Long term use of heroin can lead to very serious health problems which include scarring of the veins, collapsed veins, heart valve infections and blood vessel infections, abscesses, liver disease, kidney disease, lung diseases and clogged blood vessels that lead to major organs. Chronic heroin addicts often require hospitalization depending on their health status when treatment is sought. Fortunately today there is a wide range of treatments available that are effective for treating heroin addiction which includes medications like Methadone, Buprenorphine and Naltrexone.

Opioid Prescription Medications are used to relieve pain but today they're also commonly abused for non-medical reasons recreationally which is serious because narcotic painkillers are addictive. Many different types of opioid pain medications are abused today such as hydrocodone, hydromorphone, methadone, oxycodone, and morphine and painkillers aren't just misused by adults, their among the most common drugs abused by teens today too.

There are various ways opioid painkillers are administered when abused. Painkillers are injected, swallowed, chewed, snorted and besides the risk of addiction, there are many potential health risks to worry about. Depending on how much a person takes, the abuse of opioid painkillers can affect their breathing, lead to coma and even death.

Today there are several effective treatment options for treating prescription opioid addiction. Medications such as naltrexone, methadone and buprenorphine combined with behavioral therapies are very beneficial in treating addiction to opiate painkillers.

Stimulant Abuse

Cocaine has a strong potential for abuse because the stimulant drug produces intense euphoria. Cocaine is not only a powerful drug but, it's also addictive and many people have formed a strong addiction to the illegal substance. It doesn't matter whether cocaine is smoked, snorted or injected the stimulant is extremely dangerous and addicts often suffer from serious health problems after long-term abuse.

Cocaine addicts are often underweight and malnourished. Addicts that inject cocaine may have been exposed to HIV/AIDS or hepatitis from sharing needles. Cocaine use causes blood pressure to rise and makes the heart beat faster which can damage the heart. Other serious effects associated with chronic use of cocaine include irritability, anxiety, paranoia, panic, aggressiveness and psychosis. The extent of addiction and state of emotional and physical health has a lot to do with the level of treatment needed to overcome cocaine addiction.

Meth is a highly addictive and extremely dangerous toxic stimulant that's abused by many young people and some adults today. Meth affects the central nervous system and use of the illegal drug can lead to psychotic and paranoid behavior, extreme aggression, delusions and hallucinations.

The use of meth alters brain function and causes cognitive problems as well as problems with memory and emotion. Meth use leads to severe dental problems and sadly chronic users are often underweight and malnourished. Treating chronic meth addiction can be difficult and often medical attention and intensive treatment is required for addicts to overcome their debilitating addiction.

Prescription Stimulants Drugs like Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta are commonly abused today even though their effective medications that are meant to be medically used in treating Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Stimulant medications are often abused today by kids in high school and commonly abused by college students as study aids to enhance academic performance. Stimulant medications are addictive and lead to many of the same problems other stimulants cause. Stimulant use can lead to anxiety, irregular heartbeat, seizures, paranoia and extremely dangerous high body temperature. Intensity of treatment for Adderall or other stimulant prescription drug addictions is determined by level of dependency and overall health of the person seeking recovery.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Ntional Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institutes of Health

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