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Drug abuse is a common problem in the United States. In 2017, 19.7 million American adults battled a substance use disorder (SUD).
Drug abuse impacts people from all walks of life. Many individuals who abuse drugs developed the habit after being prescribed prescription drugs to treat a medical ailment.
Many individuals who develop substance use disorders struggle with mental illness. About half of all individuals with mental illness will also experience a substance use disorder (or vice versa).
Regardless of the reason why a person starts taking drugs, tolerance, increased use patterns, physical dependence, and addiction can develop.
Some drugs carry a higher risk of dependence and addiction than others. It’s essential to identify the common signs of substance abuse early on, so intervention can occur before addiction takes hold.
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Drug use changes the brain and can cause behavioral changes. The most common behavioral signs of drug abuse include:
Drugs can change the user’s physical appearance. Some of the most common physical symptoms of drug use include:
When someone misuses drugs, they may experience changes in their feelings, affecting their behavior. Some common psychological signs include:
Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive opioid drug made from morphine, which comes from poppy plants. This drug looks like a white or brown powder or sometimes a black sticky substance. Heroin can be injected, sniffed, snorted, or smoked.
Heroin is a depressant that slows down certain brain and nervous system functions. It affects heart rate, sleeping, and breathing.
Heroin use causes the following side effects:
Heroin use can lead to dangerous consequences, including:
If someone is using heroin, the signs to look for include:
Methamphetamine (meth) is an illegal, highly addictive stimulant drug. Meth appears as a white, odorless powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol.
Meth has one of the highest global rates of misuse. Over 14 million people (5.4 percent of the population) have tried meth at least once.
Methamphetamine is very similar to amphetamines; prescription drugs used to treat medical conditions like ADHD. However, the side effects of taking meth last longer and are often more toxic.
Meth use can cause the following side effects:
Meth use can lead to dangerous consequences, including:
If someone is using meth, the common physical signs to look for include:
Cocaine is an illegal, highly addictive stimulant drug made from the coca plant. Cocaine appears as a fine, white powder. Cocaine can be snorted or rubbed into the gums. It may also be injected into the bloodstream.
Side effects of cocaine use include:
If someone is using cocaine, the signs to look for include:
If you suspect your loved one uses drugs, an early invention is essential to ensure the most robust chances of successful recovery. Friends and family members can choose to stage an intervention once signs of drug use are apparent. They may want to seek a professional interventionist’s advice who can guide them for the best results.
An intervention can be a way to show love and support while also setting boundaries around addictive behaviors. Repeatedly offering help in social support, information on drug treatment facilities or treatment programs, and other methods to get sober may prompt the person to accept help.
Many treatment options are available for drug addiction. Different types of treatment options include an inpatient program, outpatient program, or partial hospitalization. Some drug abuse treatment centers cater to specific types of drug addiction. The best drug treatment for an individual will depend on the severity of their addiction, the specific drug or drugs abused, their living situation, and their overall health. Treatment should include both medical detox and therapy to address the underlying issues related to substance abuse.
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