Understanding Drug and Substance Abuse

Drug and substance abuse happens when someone is using in an amount – and at a frequency – that may be harmful to themselves or to the people around them.

Drug addiction is a chronic – often relapsing – brain disease. Drug addiction causes obsessive drug seeking and consumption, regardless of the consequences. Over time, drug addiction usually gets worse, not better.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse?

Common Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse:

  • Neglect: drug abusers often ignore responsibilities like school, work, and family
  • Risk taking: with lowered inhibition from drug use, abusers are likelier to engage in risky behavior, like driving under the influence, unprotected sex, associating with people and situations that place the person at risk for physical or emotional harm.
  • Legal problems: as drug use increases, so does the likelihood of arrests for driving under influence, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, and theft.
  • Relationship Issues: drug abusers often have tension and fights with family, loved ones, and friends.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction:

In drug addiction, symptoms become more severe and physical dependence upon the drug develops. Several common signs and symptoms include:

  • Tolerance: Larger and larger amounts of the drug may be needed to reach the same level of intoxication that the user could reach with smaller amounts when drug use began.
  • Loss of Control: people struggling with drug addiction often find themselves using more drugs than they planned, or promised.
  • Cravings: people with drug addiction will find themselves obsessively thinking about drugs, and may feel a strong sense of urgency or “need” to get drugs.
  • Dangerous/Harmful behavior: drug use continues even though it  creates problems with mental and physical health (like blackouts, mood swings, and paranoia).
  • Withdrawal: Withdrawal may occur when drugs are denied or unavailable. Signs of withdrawal syndrome can include anxiety, shaking, trembling, sweating, nausea, insomnia, depression, fatigue, loss of appetite, and even seizures. Anyone showing signs of withdrawal should consider seeking immediate medical assistance.

How Does Substance Abuse Affect The User’s Health?

There are many factors that influence how drug abuse and addiction will impact the health of the user, including:

  • How much and how often a person uses
  • The age drug use began
  • The length of time the person has been using
  • Family history of drug abuse addiction
  • Pre-natal exposure

Drug abuse can impact the health of the user and result in:

  • Memory impairment
  • Blackouts
  • Depression
  • Mania
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Panic disorders
  • Liver disease
  • Brain damage
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Emotional impairment
  • Problems with gait and balance
  • Brain damage
  • Stroke
  • Organ damage and cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Overdose, coma or death

As drug abuse drugs continues, the degree of impairment may become more severe and may become permanent.

What are the Effects of Particular Drugs?

High doses of many drugs can cause immediate life-threatening health problems such as heart attack, respiratory failure, and coma. The addition of impurities in most street drugs only increases the risk to the user. Combining drugs with alcohol (a drug in its own right) is especially dangerous.

Here is a list of certain drugs and their effects:

  • Barbiturates and tranquilizers: hangover-like symptoms, nausea, seizures, and coma. Overdose or mixing with alcohol can be fatal.  Withdrawal symptoms from tranquilizers can be deadly.
  • Cocaine: tremors, seizures, psychosis, and heart or respiratory failure.
  • LSD: nausea, rapid heart rate, depression, disorientation, paranoia, and psychosis.
  • Marijuana: rapid heart rate, memory impairment, cognitive problems, paranoia, infertility, weakened immune system, and possible lung damage.
  • Heroin/Narcotics: respiratory and circulatory depression, dizziness, impotence, constipation, and withdrawal sickness. Overdose often leads to coma and death.
  • PCP: unpredictable and violent behavior, cause dizziness, numbness, high heart rate and blood pressure, convulsions, and heart and lung failure.
  • Stimulants: high heart rate and blood pressure, headache, blurred vision, dizziness, impotence, skin disorders, tremors, seizures, and psychosis.

What Can You Do?

Please call our substance abuse treatment center in CA today to find out what therapy programs may be available for you or your loved one. Call us 24 hours a day at 866-441-3700, or contact us here.