Table of Contents
Why People Use Drugs 4
Prescription Drugs 20
Identifying Your Drug Problem 26
Signs in Others 31
How Addiction Works 34
Rehab Centers 37
Safe Detoxing 40
Working the 12 Steps 43
Building Your Self-Esteem 46
Involving the Family 49
Staying Sober 54
Calming the Soul 56
Teens and Drugs 58
Life can be crazy. Life can be stressful. Life can be hard to take. These are all truths that are just simple facts. Because life can be difficult, people look for different ways to cope with the stress that life brings.
Regrettably, drugs have become the most prominent coping mechanism that people use to deal with life’s problems. There are many reasons why people begin using drugs. They are looking for a way out – an escape – a way to forget life for just a little while.
Methamphetamine use has grown to alarming rates in the United States with over 25 percent of the population addicted to this drug. Twenty-three percent of high school seniors use marijuana on a regular basis. Forty-three percent of adults report having a problem with alcohol.
The statistics also reveal that drug use, including alcohol and cigarettes, is beginning earlier in life. Children are experimenting with drugs as young as 10 years old, and many middle schoolers have already had their first taste of alcohol by seventh grade.
What are even more disturbing are the health effects that drug use and abuse causes. Last year alone, there were over 20,000 alcohol-induced deaths not including car accidents, and deaths due to heroin overdoses have increased by two percent in just the course of one year.
Drug addiction doesn’t discriminate either. Many famous celebrities have struggled with addiction as has the common man. You can be a regular housewife or the head of a company and find yourself struggling with drug dependence.
What can you do? The answer is – a lot. If you find yourself with a problem, the time to take action is now. You could check yourself into a rehabilitation facility, but you can also try some self-help steps first.
This book is intended for both the person who is addicted and for those who have a loved one with addiction. We’ll look at the signs of a problem and address the various drugs that are most likely to cause dependence. Then, with the help of experts, we’ll give you some strategies that you can try to get you back on the road to a drug-free life.
You can overcome your dependence on drugs. It won’t be easy, but you can do it. But you have to start now. Don’t be addicted anymore. Start your journey today!
WHY PEOPLE USE DRUGS
The reasons people use drugs are varied. Essentially, though, drugs give us a desired effect producing a feeling of euphoria that makes us feel better – at least temporarily. There are hundreds of ways that drugs help people cope with life and each person has their own reason why they choose a certain drug.
Drugs can help calm you down, give you energy, overcome shyness, and avoid feelings of loneliness. They may you feel bolder and want to take risks you wouldn’t normally take. They are used to perhaps fit into social situation and get into a “party” mood and even to celebrate happy occasions.
Medically, drugs are used to alleviate pain, help you to sleep, suppress anger, combat anxiety, and avoid depression. They can be used to cope with stress, stimulate your desire for sex, and lose weight.
Many people report that they began using drugs as a response to peer pressure. Those around them would use drugs, so to fit in, they began using as well.
The ways drugs affect us are countless—for everyone. So much so that often it seems that drugs can cure all our ills and help us overcome whatever bothers us. If that’s all there were to it, we might consider each drug to be some kind of “wonder drug.”
This is where the thought process gets a little skewed. People begin to crave the feeling of euphoria that they get when they use drugs and that’s when it becomes a problem. It can be a vicious cycle. You feel you can’t live without the feelings that drugs give you and that you just won’t be able to cope with life without those drugs. That’s what breeds addiction.
Let’s look at various drugs of choice that people often use and what those specific drugs can do.
Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant that is closely related to amphetamine, but has longer lasting and more toxic effects on the central nervous system. It has a high potential for abuse and addiction.
Methamphetamine use is on the rise around the country. It has reached epidemic proportions mainly because it is easy to make using common household items.
Meth is often referred to as speed, chalk, ice, crystal, and glass.
The drug increases wakefulness and physical activity and decreases appetite. Chronic, long-term use can lead to psychotic behavior, hallucinations, and stroke. People who use meth often don’t sleep – sometimes for days on end. They lose weight quickly because the drug suppresses appetite.
Meth addicts often have lost some of their teeth, look gaunt, and will have sores on their body from nervous energy they are trying to get rid of.
National health statistics report that over 12 million Americans have tried methamphetamine with many of them quickly becoming addicted to the drug.
Methamphetamine is taken orally, intranasally (snorting the powder), by needle injection, or by smoking. Abusers may become addicted quickly, needing higher doses and more often.
Methamphetamine increases the release of very high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which stimulates brain cells, enhancing mood and body movement. Chronic methamphetamine abuse significantly changes how the brain functions.
Animal research going back more than 30 years shows that high doses of methamphetamine damage neuron cell endings. Dopamine- and serotonin-containing neurons do not die after methamphetamine use, but their nerve endings (“terminals”) are cut back, and re-growth appears to be limited.
Human brain imaging studies have shown alterations in the activity of the dopamine system. These alterations are associated with reduced motor speed and impaired verbal learning.
Recent studies in chronic methamphetamine abusers have also revealed severe structural and functional changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion and memory, which may account for many of the emotional and cognitive problems observed in chronic methamphetamine abusers.
Taking even small amounts of methamphetamine can result in increased respiration, rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and hyperthermia. Other effects of methamphetamine abuse may include irritability, anxiety, insomnia, confusion, tremors, convulsions, and cardiovascular collapse and death.
As we’ve already indicated, long-term effects may include paranoia, aggressiveness, extreme anorexia, memory loss, visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions, and severe dental problems.
Also, transmission of HIV and hepatitis B and C can be a consequence of methamphetamine abuse. Among abusers who inject the drug, infection with HIV and other infectious diseases is spread mainly through the re-use of contaminated syringes, needles, and other injection equipment by more than one person.
The intoxicating effects of methamphetamine, however, whether it is injected or taken other ways, can alter judgment and inhibition and lead people to engage in unsafe behaviors. Methamphetamine abuse actually may worsen the progression of HIV and its consequences; studies with methamphetamine abusers who have HIV indicate that the HIV causes greater neuronal injury and cognitive impairment compared with HIV-positive people who do not use drugs.
Meth is a scary drug with horrible health implications.
Heroin is an addictive drug that is processed from morphine and usually appears as a white or brown powder. Its street names include smack, H, ska, junk, and many others. Heroin use is on the rise and it has become a serious problem in America.
Heroin abuse is associated with serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, spontaneous abortion, collapsed veins, and, particularly in users who inject the drug, infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
The short-term effects of heroin abuse appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours. After an injection of heroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria (“rush”) accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities.
Following this initial euphoria, the user goes “on the nod,” an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system.
Long-term effects of heroin appear after repeated use for some period of time. Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, cellulitis, and liver disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health condition of the abuser, as well as from heroin’s depressing effects on respiration.
Heroin abuse during pregnancy and its many associated environmental factors (e.g., lack of prenatal care) have been associated with adverse consequences including low birth weight, an important risk factor for later developmental delay.
In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin may have additives that do not readily dissolve and result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain. This can cause infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs.
The Drug Abuse Warning Network reports that eight percent of drug-related emergency department (ED) visits in the third and fourth quarters of 2003 involved heroin abuse. Unspecified opiates, which could include heroin, were involved in an additional 4 percent of drug-related visits.
With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the abuser must use more to achieve the same intensity of effect. As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped.
Withdrawal, which in regular abusers may occur as early as a few hours after the last administration, produces drug craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”), kicking movements (“kicking the habit”), and other symptoms.
Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose and subside after about a week. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health is occasionally fatal, although heroin withdrawal is considered less dangerous than alcohol or barbiturate withdrawal.
There are a lot of people who are of the opinion that marijuana is not a harmful drug and that it should be as legal to buy and use as alcohol. Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. Besides alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly used drug by young people.
Marijuana is a dry, shredded green/brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa, it usually is smoked as a cigarette (joint, nail), or in a pipe (bong). It also is smoked in blunts, which are cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with marijuana, often in combination with another drug. It might also be mixed in food or brewed as a tea.