Why Do People Become Addicted to Drugs?

It’s very common for someone not to understand how or why other individuals get addicted to drugs. They could incorrectly believe that those struggling with drug addiction have no moral principles or desire to quit by simply stopping consumption. In actuality, drug addiction is a serious and incredibly complex disease, and quitting drug use often requires more than a wish to stop. Drugs alter the physiology of the brain that makes stopping consumption extremely difficult, even to people who truly want to. However, with today’s research, we have a greater idea about how drugs influence the brain and have discovered treatment methods can aid those recovering from drug addiction to lead a more healthier and productive life.

What is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction is a complex disease that is primarily characterized by the intense compulsion to use a drug, inability to control dosage, and continuous use even after psychological, physical or social damage has occurred. Typically, the first time someone uses a drug, they make a voluntary decision, but continuous drug misuse and/or abuse can result in physiological brain alterations that cripple the addicted individual’s self-control and weakens their ability to resist intense cravings to consume a drug. Drug addiction is considered a relapsing disease due to the persistence of these brain alterations. Those in recovery from substance use disorders are at a greater risk for returning to drug use, despite years of sobriety than the general population.

It’s not uncommon for recovering users to relapse, but relapse does not mean that their treatment isn’t effective or that they can never be cured. Just like other chronic health disorders, treatments need to be continuous and altered based on the response from the patient. Treatment plans need to be evaluated frequently and adjusted pertinent to the patient.

What happens to the brain when a person takes drugs?

Practically all behavioral addictions function in the same pathways in the brain; by infiltrating the brain’s “reward circuit” and releasing an overwhelming amount of the chemical neurotransmitter, dopamine. The brain’s reward center is responsible for monitoring the body’s ability to experience pleasure and motivates a person to repeat behaviors that release a lot of dopamine such as eating, sex, and relationships. Drugs release an extreme amount of dopamine in the reward circuit which creates an intensely pleasurable experience known as a “high” which leads people to consume the drug again to create that feeling again.  

As a person continues to take drugs, the brain adjusts to the increased dopamine release by producing less and/or lowering the response from the cells in the reward circuit. This lowers the high at a dose that a person took previously and felt an intense high, creating an effect called tolerance. This forces the person to increase the dose of the drug if they want to experience the intense high again. Constantly over stimulating the reward circuit practically fries your brain with dopamine. As a result, tasks that people used to enjoy such as social interaction, hobbies, and passions, and everyday activities become obsolete because they simply do not produce enough dopamine for the brain to consider them worth completing.

Long-term use also causes alterations in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well, affecting functions that include:

  • learning
  • judgment
  • decision-making
  • stress
  • memory
  • behavior

Despite being aware of these harmful outcomes, many people who use drugs continue to take them, which is a key characterization used to determine addiction. If you are wanting to end your addiction to drugs and are not sure where to start, contact a drug abuse center in your area. Here are few rehab centers in various cities:

 

 

 

10 Substance Use Disorders

Substance Use Disorders

In the medical field, substance use disorders are characterized by the class of a certain drug. This creates 10 different substance use disorders. Each of the disorders involves the primary components of addiction; they work and immensely activate reward and reinforcement systems of the brain and create a compulsive need to use a substance despite adverse consequences to their body and mind. While not the same, they may share common symptoms. Withdrawal experiences vary greatly among them but note that withdrawal does not happen to certain classes of drugs such as hallucinogens and inhalants.

  • Alcohol Use Disorder: Alcohol is a CNS depressant and alcoholism is prevalent, with 12.4% of men and 4.9% with women, but alcoholism is increasing among women. It influences men and women varyingly; women appear to be more susceptible to certain detrimental effects, studies reveal. The disorder develops commonly before the age of 40.

  • Caffeine Intoxication: The adverse effects of extremely high doses of caffeine include restlessness, nervousness, insomnia, flushed face, gastrointestinal complications, muscle twitching, slurred speech and thoughts, cardiac arrhythmia, times of inexhaustibility and psychomotor agitation.

  • Cannabis Use Disorder: Cannabis use disorder is primarily in individuals aged 18 to 29 affecting 4.8% of people with prevalence decreasing with age.

  • Phencyclidine and Other Dissociate Use Disorder: These substances alter perception. Phencyclidine is commonly called “angel dust” or PCP and produces feelings of separation of mind from body.

  • Inhalant Use Disorder: Inhalant substances are volatile hydrocarbons, toxic gases that are released from glues, fuels, paints and other volatile compounds and have psychoactive effects. The disorder occurs primarily among those ages 12 to 17.

  • Opioid Use Disorder: Opioids include heroin and prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl, codeine. The American Society of Addiction Medicine determined 2 million people suffered from substance use disorders for prescribed painkillers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder with heroin. Opioid involved overdoses are now the leading cause of death in Americans under age 50. Prescribed opioids are the leading initial source of addiction to heroin.

  • Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic Use Disorder: Addiction to anti-anxiety pills and sleeping meds are characterized by this substance use disorder. Similar to alcohol, these medications are CNS depressants. Prevalence of these disorders is most common in those aged 18 to 29.

  • Stimulant Use Disorder: Stimulant drugs include amphetamines; methylphenidate or prescription ADHD medication Ritalin; and cocaine. Stimulants are typically prescribed for the treatment of the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. In the U.S., stimulant abuse is most common in those aged 18 to 25.

  • Tobacco Use Disorder: The drug nicotine, commonly found in tobacco, is classified as a central nervous stimulant. Researchers discovered that 58% of adult smokers wish to quit, and 50% of smokers have tried to quit.

  • Other (or Unknown) Substance Use Disorder: Substances such as antihistamines, betel nut, and cortisol to steroids could also affect the central nervous system that results in a compulsive need to use, creating addictive complications.

Alcohol Abuse Statistics for 2018

Alcohol use disorders can develop in individuals from every demographic. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) estimates more than 80,000 Americans die from alcohol-involved deaths every year. Also, alcohol remains one of the United States’ most preventable causes of death, behind tobacco and a combination of an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle.

Alcohol has a significant effect on the entire body, particularly the brain, heart, pancreas, mouth, liver and immune system. Despite its adverse effects, Americans are consuming alcohol continuously more than ever seen before.

Being aware of the severe dangers of alcohol abuse and its grip on society can assist you and your loved ones when deciding on a healthier lifestyle. If you are serious about ending your alcohol abuse, feel free to visit the following links:

GENERAL ALCOHOL STATISTICS

  • Alcohol poisoning kills six people each day. Of those, 76% are adults ages 35-64, and three of every four people killed by alcohol poisoning are men.
  • The group with the most alcohol poisoning deaths per million people is American Indians/Alaska Natives (49.1 per 1 million).
  • Alcohol-impaired driving accounts for more than 30 percent of all driving fatalities each year.
  • More than 15 million people struggle with an alcohol use disorder in the United States, but less than eight percent of those receive treatment.
  • More than 65 million Americans report binge drinking in the past month, which is more than 40 percent of the total of current alcohol users.
  • Teen alcohol use kills 4,700 people each year. That’s more than all illegal drugs combined.
  • Drunk driving costs the United States $199 billion every year.
  • Kids who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident.

ALCOHOL AND WOMEN

  • More than 45% of adult women report drinking alcohol in the last month, and 12% of these report binge drinking.
  • About two-and-a-half percent of women who drink meet the criteria for alcohol dependence.
  • Approximately one in two women of childbearing age drink, and 18% of women in this group binge drink (five drinks per binge, on average).
  • Excessive drinking can interrupt the menstrual cycle and lead to infertility.
  • Women who binge drink are more likely to have unprotected sex, increasing the risk of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Women who drink while pregnant increase the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause mental and physical congenital disabilities.
  • Binge drinking dramatically increases the risk of sexual assault on women, especially those living in a college setting.

ALCOHOL AND MEN

  • Nearly 60% of adult men report drinking in the last month; 23% of these report binge drinking five times per month (eight drinks per binge, on average).
  • Men are twice as likely to binge drink as women.
  • Approximately four-and-a-half percent of men met the criteria for alcohol dependence in the last year.
  • Men are nearly twice as likely as women to have been intoxicated behind the wheel or involved in fatal motor vehicle traffic accidents.
  • Excessive drinking in men increases aggression, raising the risk of physical assault on another person.
  • Men are more likely than women to commit suicide while under the influence of alcohol.
  • Excessive alcohol use is a common factor in sexual assault. It also increases a man’s risk of engaging in unprotected sex and sex with multiple partners, which increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.8
  • Alcohol use increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon in men.

SIGNS OF ALCOHOL ABUSE

Knowing the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse is an essential part of getting help. If you suspect someone you love is struggling with an alcohol use disorder, WebMD recommends looking for the following warning signs:

  • Problems at work or school because of drinking
  • Engaging in dangerous activities, such as driving, while drinking
  • Blacking out and not being able to remember what happened while you were drinking
  • Legal problems, such as being arrested or harming someone else while drunk
  • Continuing to drink in spite of health problems that are made worse by alcohol (e.g., liver disease, heart disease, diabetes)
  • Friends and family members who are worried about your drinking

Sources:

  1. Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, June 2017.
  2. Domonoske, Camila. “Drinking on the Rise in the US, Especially for Women, Minorities, Older Adults.” NPR, August 10, 2017.
  3. Bernstein, Larry. “Six people die each day of alcohol poisoning, and most are middle-aged white men, CDC reports.” The Washington Post, January 6, 2015.
  4. Vital Signs: Alcohol Poisoning Deaths — United States, 2010–2012.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, January 9, 2015.
  5. Ahrnsbrak, Rebecca, et al. Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, September 2017.
  6. Statistics.” MADD, Accessed December 31, 2017.
  7. Fact Sheets – Excessive Alcohol Use and Risks to Women’s Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 7, 2016.
  8. Fact Sheets – Excessive Alcohol Use and Risks to Men’s Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 7, 2016.
  9. Substance Abuse and Addiction – Symptoms.” WebMD, Accessed January 9, 2018.

 

Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics in 2018

One of the largest growing issues in the United States is the serious misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. In 2016, the National Study on Drug Use and Health estimated that 28.6 million Americans age 12 and up used illicit drugs in the month before the study was conducted. This is equivalent to about 1 in 10 people succumbing to substance use, which includes prescription drugs.1

When someone uses a prescription drug with the absence of a medical purpose, it typically leads to addiction and a requirement for drug treatment. 25% of those who misused prescription drugs by age 13 experienced an addiction later in their life.2

Let’s take a closer look at the current prescription drug epidemic in the United States

  • In the US alone, an estimated 54 million people over the age of 12 have used prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes in their lifetime.3

  • Most abused prescription drugs fall under four drug classes, based on the number of people who misuse the drug:
    • Opioids – 3.3 million users
    • Tranquilizers – 2 million users
    • Stimulants – 1.7 million users
    • Sedatives – 0.5 million users1

  • More people reported using controlled prescription drugs than cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined. That puts prescription drugs second behind marijuana when it comes to illicit drug use.4

  • Between 2006 and 2011, nonmedical use of Adderall and emergency room visits involving the drug increased significantly, while treatment visits stayed the same. Adderall misuse rose 67%, and ER visits went up 156%, with family and friends serving as the primary source. Young adults (age 18-25) made up 60 percent of those using Adderall for nonmedical reasons.

  • Drug Rehab in Detroit
  • Drug Rehab in Portland OR
  • Drug Rehab in Oklahoma OK
  • Drug Rehab in Las Vegas
  • Drug Rehab in Baltimore

  • The number of adults filling a benzodiazepine prescription increased 67 percent (from 8.1 million to 13.5 million) between 1996 and 2013, while the total quantity filled more than tripled. During this same time period, the overdose death rate for benzodiazepines more than quadrupled.

  • All 50 states have prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) that actively track in-state prescriptions.4

PRESCRIPTION PAINKILLERS AND THE OPIOID CRISIS

The US makes up 5% of the world’s population and consumes approximately 80% of the world’s prescription opioid drugs. Prescription opioid drugs contribute to 40%of all US opioid overdose deaths.

  • In 2016, more than 46 people died each day from overdoses involving prescription opioids.

  • Prescription opioid overdose rates are highest among people ages 25 to 54 years.

  • Overdose rates were higher among non-Hispanic whites and American Indians or Alaska Natives.

  • Men are more likely to die from a prescription opioid overdose, but the gap between men and women is decreasing.

  • Because of its cheaper price, heroin has become the drug of choice for many who are addicted to opioid painkillers. Approximately three out of four new heroin users misused prescription opioids prior to using heroin.

  • More than half (53%) of prescription opioid users got their last painkillers from a friend or relative, with 40.4 percent paying nothing for the pills.

 

Sources:

  1. Ahrnsbrak, Rebecca, et al. Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, September 2017.
  2. Prescription Drug Abuse: Young People at Risk.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, June 7, 2012.
  3. What is the scope of prescription drug misuse?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, August 2016.
  4. 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment. US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, October 2017.