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Drug Addiction

Although the initial use of drugs is voluntary for most people, once someone continuously uses a substance, there are marked changes in the brain. It is unknown why some become addicts and some do not. There is no single factor that can predict or forecast one’s risk for addiction. However, the more risk factors an individual has, usually the greater the possibility that trying drugs may lead to addiction. Risk factors can be biological, environmental, or developmental. For example, a person’s environment can influence their behavior and choices. From parenting to peer groups, the environment is one risk factor. On the contrary, if these elements are positive, such as nurturing parents or a healthy peer group, it could serve as a protective factor.

Regardless of these risk and protective factors, addiction can affect anyone. It is important for someone with a drug addiction to get professional help as soon as possible.

Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit substance in America.

The recreational use of marijuana is becoming legal in more states. Marijuana, also known as pot, weed, ganja, Mary Jane and a slew of other nicknames, is smoked, brewed, or mixed in with food.

Marijuana is primarily smoked, during which the main active chemical, THC, passes from the lungs straight into the bloodstream, and then to the brain. THC impairs memory, sensory, coordination and concentration. Regular marijuana use can diminish intellectual capacity and immune function, and long-term effects can be detrimental to the brain.

Marijuana abuse causes:

  • Memory loss
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Distorted perceptions
  • Disrupted learning
  • Impaired coordination
  • Lack of motivation

Heroin is a drug that has been abused for decades, and continues to be a problem among illicit drug abusers.

One of the most highly addictive drugs of all, heroin is derived from the poppy plant, and causes an intense feeling of euphoria when injected. Its powerful addictive properties require those addicted to regularly use the drug in order to avoid intensely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. As users become more and more tolerant and dependent, heroin and other forms of opiates take complete control over their lives and the risk of fatal overdose is staggering. Some effects of heroin addiction are:

  • Drug seeking behavior
  • Heart, lung, and brain damage
  • Infection at IV site
  • Transmission of HIV or Hepatitis C from dirty needles
  • Chronic vein collapse from overuse

Stimulants are drugs that specifically excite the brain and central nervous system.

Stimulates induce alertness, rapid speech, elevated mood, and they decrease appetite. Illicit stimulants like cocaine and prescription stimulants like Adderall are commonly abused to keep the user awake and energized. They may also give the user a false sense of confidence and power. These drugs can be extremely addictive, and over time, users may crave increased amounts of them and not be able to stop.

Methamphetamine is another commonly abused stimulant that can cause severe physiological and psychological dependence. Meth resembles ice or glass, and is odorless and colorless. It is primarily smoked but can also be injected.

Methamphetamine produces a high that is similar to cocaine, but users feel the effects longer. Methamphetamine, in addition to all other stimulants, is commonly abused to lose weight rapidly, which is extremely dangerous and can be fatal.

Stimulants can cause many side effects, including:

  • Heart attack
  • Delusions
  • Sleeplessness
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Strokes
  • Anxiety
  • Violent behavior

Prescription drugs are the second most commonly abused category of drugs.

Prescription drugs such as Oxycodone, Vicodin, and other painkillers are often prescribed for valid medical reasons, but sadly, many become dependent on them and begin to abuse them. In addition, prescription drugs are sold, stolen, and illegally prescribed in cities across the country. When abused, prescription drugs can be very dangerous and cause serious addiction and fatal overdose.

Prescription drugs now cause more deaths than any other type of drugs combined. Many individuals who experience legitimate pain or illness are prescribed medications by their doctors, only to gradually fall prey to the power of the prescription drug. Others buy painkillers, such as OxyContin or Percocet, from peers or drug dealers, in the effort to get high and feel the euphoric effects. Stimulants, or uppers (such as Adderall) are appealing to some, because they increase focus and in turn, can improve academic or work performance. Others abuse depressants, or downers (such as Valium).

The risks of prescription drug abuse are endless, and can include:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Seizures
  • Muscle spasms
  • Constipation
  • Anxiety
  • Abdominal cramps

Hallucinogens are a category of drugs that includes LSD and ecstasy. They are usually taken in pill form and cause intense feelings of euphoria. These drugs also can cause serious hallucinations, flashbacks, and erratic or violent behavior. Hallucinogens are often taken in social settings, and can lead to lack of judgment, long-term altered mental state, and even death.

Drug addiction can quickly control and devastate a person’s life. In order to fully recover from a drug addiction, professional therapy and treatment are necessary. Because there are so many different types of drug addiction, and many different reasons behind substance abuse, it is important for an individual to enroll in a program that will identify and address their specific needs.

Just as each substance carries with it its own set of side effects and risks, not all people are the same. That’s why VRC takes an individualized approach to therapy in order to help clients overcome their specific situation. Individual and group therapy sessions help those in recovery learn how to live without their substance, and how to incorporate healthy practices in their lives after treatment. Our program also includes spirituality programming, detailed assessments, nutritional services, comprehensive aftercare, relapse prevention planning and much more. We treat the entire person, leading them to a lifestyle change.

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