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Know the Facts on Drug Abuse
Drug abuse is a condition that can destroy lives if left untreated. It is a serious state that not only affects the individual who is taking the drugs, but it also impacts his or her closest loved ones. It is often these people, friends and family, who attempt to help drug abusers overcome their problem before it can progress any further. To aid someone in getting the help that they need, or to prevent the drug abuse from happening in the first place, it is important for people to fully understand what it means to abuse drugs. In order to do that, people need to know the facts and avoid the misconceptions.
One of the first things to understand is the definition of drug abuse. It is defined as a condition in which a person using drugs exhibits a certain behavior over a period of twelve months. This behavior is associated with the usage of the drug and the person abusing the drug may be reckless behavior, continuous use of drugs despite the negative impact on personal relationships, legal or financial problems, or decreased work and/or school performance. In order to be classified as drug abuse, a person only needs to exhibit one of these behaviors during the twelve month span. If left alone without proper intervention, drug abuse can escalate to drug addiction; however, not everyone who abuses drugs becomes addicted. There are certain factors that make an individual more susceptible to drug addiction, including using drugs early in life, depression or other mental disorders, a family history of addiction, and trauma in early childhood such as physical or mental abuse, for example.
Another fact that people dealing with drug abuse should know is how drugs work. When a person uses a drug it stimulates parts of the brain and body. Where and how the stimulation occurs depends on the specific type and classification of drug that is being used. The brain stimulation causes changes that affect the abuser’s emotions, his or her judgment, memory, and self-control. Depending on the type of drug that is being used, a person will display paranoia, anxiety, euphoria or behavior that is uncontrollable. Drug abuse puts people at an elevated risk of contracting HIV/AIDS due to a loss of inhibitions and elevated participation in behaviors that are considered risky, such as having unprotected sex. It also puts them at a higher risk of other sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy. This risk is also higher when the individual injects drugs. Common types of drugs include prescription drugs, hallucinogens, stimulants, cannabinoids such as marijuana, dissociative drugs, opioids, steroids and “club drugs.” Alcohol, which is often categorized separately, is a type of drug and is the most used drug in the U.S. Following alcohol, marijuana is the most abused drug in the nation.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. states that drug abuse costs in excess of $190 billion. They also estimate that in a 30 day period, 8% of the population in the U.S. 12 years and older have used illegal drugs. According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s fact sheet on prescription drugs, 29% of the people within that same age category who began using illicit drugs had used prescription drugs first. Prescription drug abuse is highly prevalent in the U.S. among kids between the ages of 12 and 17. The Foundation for a Drug-Free World notes that every day 2500 kids within this range use prescription pain medication per day.
Concern for a loved one who is suffering with drug abuse is a valid emotion. A person’s actions while taking drugs can lead them down a very difficult path that for some leads to addiction or even death. Even when people who abuse drugs but do not become addicted, the consequences can be devastating. Sharing the facts on drugs and drug abuse with children and family members can have a two-fold affect as it may help prevent some people from using drugs, while motivating others to stop.