Drug abuse and addiction can prove to be a significant challenge to overcome. While alcohol and caffeine are the most common substances to become addicted to, both are legal and easily accessible. As we venture into the statistics of illicit drug use, the number of those who report usage may surprise you.
Uncovering Which Drugs See the Most Use
When you decide to start using drugs, you’re making a decision to alter how your mind and body function. The presence of chemicals found in various drugs will attach to different neurotransmitters in your brain when consumed. These centers for motor control, mood regulation and dopamine all begin operating differently due to outside interference.
With that in mind, it’s easy to understand how any substance that interacts with our bodies can create an addiction. Removing the substance means withdrawal symptoms full of pain and discomfort, leading to many individuals choosing to continue using drugs instead of quitting.
2021’s Drug Abuse Statistics report shows us that marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. What’s even more concerning are the numbers regarding first-time marijuana users. Over 3 million Americans try cannabis for the first time every year with legalization at the state level making it easier to obtain the substance.
A common misconception about marijuana is that since it’s natural, there’s no chance to become addicted. The truth is that while marijuana doesn’t develop the same physical dependencies other drugs do, the psychological impacts can be significant. Your brain’s ability to reward you starts being run solely by marijuana leaving you with depression and anxiety when it’s no longer available.
Less Common but More Dangerous Drugs
Even though marijuana isn’t a life-threatening drug, the addiction that can be formed around it can negatively impact multiple areas of your life. Unfortunately there are other drugs still being abused with much more severe side effects both during and after use.
Opioids and Opiates
Derived from the poppy plant, opioids are extremely effective pain relievers used by millions of Americans. The term opioid encompasses both natural and synthetic opioids whereas opiate refers only to natural opioids such as heroin and morphine.
Opioid abuse quickly became an epidemic when they entered the pharmaceutical market more heavily. Doctors were told by pharmaceutical companies that opioid painkillers were non-habit forming, a deception that has led to mass drug dependence. The pain relief and feelings of euphoria that opioids provide are why so many chase the “high” even after a legitimate prescription is provided.
Stimulants or “Uppers”
Typically you’ll find those with ADHD taking a prescription for stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall. These contain methylphenidate and amphetamines respectively, increasing focus and energy in the user. For those with ADHD, this can actually calm the mind and allow for more measured thought processes.
When abused, users are looking for a dopamine rush which increases feelings of pleasure. The side effects are increased blood pressure and heart rate, leading to heart attack or stroke when consumed in large quantities. Dangerous fevers, seizures and irregular heartbeat are all common signs of severe stimulant abuse and are often precursors to a potentially life-threatening overdose.
Central Nervous System Depressants
It’s important to understand that depressants aren’t used to treat depression but instead “depress” how active your central nervous system is. They tend to be used in treatment of anxiety, chronic panic and sleep disorders. Sedatives, tranquilizers and hypnotics all fall under the depressant umbrella and include drugs such as Ambien for sleep and Valium or Xanax for anxiety.
The ability of these drugs to allow a patient to sleep through the night or have a day without constant stress can’t be discounted. It’s when the situation surrounding use of these drugs changes into a negative experience. Misuse of depressants can lead to:
- Trouble focusing
- Loss of memory or trouble creating new memories
- Issues with basic movement
- Slurred speech
- Low blood pressure
- Shallow breathing
Breaking Away From Addiction
Drug addiction can happen to anyone and come from seemingly nowhere. If you or a loved one is in need of treatment for drug abuse or addiction, reach out to America’s Rehab Campus today. Our consultations are free and confidential so don’t hesitate to get started.