Nearly 21 million Americans are addicted to at least one drug. As common as addiction is, only 10% of addicts receive treatment. Addiction is a disease that can impact anyone, regardless of your family history, upbringing, or career path. There are plenty of people that seem like they have everything together, but behind the mask, they are hiding their battle with addiction.
Addiction can happen to anyone with little warning. What can start as just trying something new with a friend or as a prescription from a doctor can quickly turn into an addiction.
The most often abused drugs in the United States are alcohol, opiates, stimulants such as methamphetamines and cocaine, and benzodiazepines. The effects vary from drug to drug, each with its own dangers, effects, and withdrawal symptoms.
Dependence on a substance can happen quickly leading the user down a dangerous path of addiction where the user is unable to function normally without it. For some users, withdrawals can be so severe, they have deadly consequences.
Risks Associated With Being High on Drugs
There are an incredible number of different health risks that are taken on when someone starts getting high on drugs. Depending on the types of substances they are using to get high, the risks and effects can be relatively mild, or they can be potentially devastating, and deadly. Here are some risks of different drugs:
-Alcohol: Alcohol can cause serious problems in the short-term and the long term. In the short term, the risks of alcohol abuse include slurred speech, loss of coordination, inability to function in a socially acceptable way, loss of bladder and bowel control. There is also a marked difficulty in the alcoholic’s brain to make and retain memories.
In the long-term, alcohol abuse can cause a number of various cancers, particularly in those that are high-functioning and maintain a heavy drinking habit for many years. Cases like these are also known for presenting with liver conditions and diseases.
Wet Brain is a very high-risk condition for alcohol abusers. Wet Brain is where the brain sustains memory loss and eventually suffers irreversible brain damage due to years of consistent abuse.
-Opiates: Opiates are a very large class of drugs that are all derived from the opium poppy, or synthetic variants. Opiates are central nervous system depressants as well as respiratory depressants. This means they slow down the user’s body and mind. Depending on how they are taken, opiates can have a number of different risks.
When snorted, there is a high risk of overdose, since the drug enters the system extremely quickly, and if the user is not used to it their body may not be able to handle it. Another risk of snorting opiates is the risk of chronic infections to the nasal and sinus tissues, which can lead to a large-scale breakdown of the tissue itself in necrosis.
Injecting is another popular method for taking opiates and comes with its own risks. Most notable are the risks from the actual injection, such as infection and vein damage. This is another method most at risk for an overdose since the drug is being put directly into the bloodstream. Other risks of injection include the possibility of blood-borne pathogens obtained from sharing used needles.
-Stimulants: Stimulants like amphetamines are often prescribed to those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, to help mitigate the symptoms of the illness and achieve focus and concentration. However, they are also very frequently abused by those with prescriptions, and by those without.
The most significant risks from taking stimulants come from the alteration in the user’s brain chemistry, leading to chemical dependence. Since most stimulants act on neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, using them for long periods then stopping can lead to serious health problems.
These problems can include heartbeat irregularities, impotence, weight loss, blood pressure increases, difficulty reaching orgasm, nausea and vomiting, muscle tremors, agitation, anxiety, headache, and many more symptoms.
Additionally, since the dopamine receptors can become burnt out, those who abuse stimulants may discover that when they stop using them, they have a difficult time finding pleasure in things they once loved. This is due to the chemical dependency they develop, and the devastating effect it has on the overall health of the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.
-Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs often used to manage anxiety and panic disorders. One of the most common benzodiazepines is alprazolam, which goes by the brand name Xanax.
The side effects of this type of drug can be terrible. It can cause serious behavioral changes as well as changes in the sex drive. Benzos can often give a strong feeling of euphoria, but they can just as easily cause dramatic mood swings and irritability.
Also impacted are the cognitive functions like memory, attention, and inhibition. The physical risks include dizziness, dry mouth, trouble maintaining an erection, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, slurred speech, and even seizures.
Behavioral Signs That Someone is Addicted to Being High on Drugs
If you suspect that a friend or loved one is addicted to drugs, there are some warning signs you can watch out for to help confirm your suspicions:
- Changes in behavior such as increased amounts of alone time
- Difficulties in school, disinterest in activities
- Changes in physical appearance including being dirty or wearing unwashed clothes
- Changes in relationships
- Poor skin tone, bloodshot eyes, and looking more tired and run down than normal
- Differences in spending habits
- Asking friends or family to borrow money
- Decreased appetite and weight loss
- Spending more money than usual
- Neglecting financial responsibilities
Treatment Options if You are Addicted to Being High on Drugs
If someone that you are close to may be addicted to being high on drugs, the best thing you can do for them is to reach out to them and let them know that they don’t have to do it alone. By working with a professional and experienced treatment center, they can benefit from customized treatment plans that promote life-long recovery.
If you or a loved one is addicted to drugs, the time to get help is now, before it’s too late. Reach out to a friendly enrollment advisor today to get any questions you may have about treatment options answered and be on your way to a better, more fulfilling tomorrow right away.