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Illicit Drugs Addiction and Abuse

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Cocaine Addiction and Abuse

Cocaine is a narcotic drug that increases the availability of dopamine in the brain - the chemical associated with creating euphoric feelings. Cocaine can be an enticing drug because of the pleasant feelings it can create, the excess energy and motivation it can provide. However, cocaine also carries with it the heavy risk of dependency, psychiatric damage, and even death.

Signs of Cocaine Addiction

Some of the more obvious signs of cocaine addiction are increased agitation, hyperactivity, involuntary movements (like nervous tics), changes in concentration or focus, and lack of inhibition. Non-behavioral side effects of cocaine can be as small as a nosebleed, or as serious as permanent heart damage, and cardiac arrhythmia. Cocaine has also been linked to kidney disease.

Prolonged used of cocaine has been associated with long-term mental changes in addicts, ranging from erratic behavior to new-onset Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in adults. Psychotic behaviors are also common, as well as irrational anger the drug begins to leave their system.


How Ecstasy Addiction Begins

Ecstasy, or most commonly named MDMA among younger crowds, usually starts at a party scene. Because of his hallucinogenic and stimulatory effects, ecstasy is taken to heighten an experience like a concert or large gathering. The trouble with ecstasy is that people might go to these parties to hang out with friends, but they leave wanting just more drugs. That's exactly why ecstasy is so popular at parties; it's passed around freely and large groups are left enjoying a drug that they should very well know its potency. However, peer pressure and party culture can lead one to ecstasy addiction.

The Signs of Ecstasy Addiction

As someone becomes a habitable user, their body will try to regulate the drugs to achieve homeostasis. This is where withdrawal symptoms happen. When the body finally reaches a sort of normalcy, and then lose the ecstasy drug, new symptoms crop up. Some withdrawal symptoms most common in ecstasy abusers are:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Trouble concentrating

The level of abuse can cause withdrawal to be even riskier, some even lethal. That's why it's so important to see professional help when dealing with such a strong drug and its effects even in withdrawal.

Dangers of Ecstasy Addiction

So many dangers arise from pure ecstasy, but even more, crop up when you are dealing with mixtures. Drug mixtures of ecstasy with bath salts and PCP can cause much more severe symptoms and even death when taken. Younger adults taking unregulated pills made in basements are subject to different qualities and unknown substances, leading to unforeseen consequences. Some of the most common symptoms when using ecstasy include:

  • Irritability
  • Impulsiveness and aggression
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety
  • Memory and attention problems
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased interest in and pleasure from sex

Many of these symptoms over a long period of time can require hospitalization and further drug treatments. If you manage to get past all of these symptoms, ecstasy has been known to cause a spike increase in body temperature. Usually, the damage to the brain and organs is too great to recover the patient.

Finding Treatment

There is no drug or other hospital care standard for ecstasy users. However, the most effective treatment ecstasy users have turned to is behavioral therapy and support groups.


How Does Hallucinogen Addiction Begin?

Hallucinogens are drugs that are meant to distort people's perceptions. They affect brain chemicals, serotonin, and acetylcholine, which are responsible for perception and behavior. Hallucinogens, in general, cannot be termed as addictive. However, some people grow to be dependent on them, in what is known as hallucinogen psychological addiction. Based on statistics, people who abuse hallucinogens are mostly between the ages of 18 and 25 years. People who abuse hallucinogens, commonly start abusing it as a means of having fun. With time, the addiction kicks in, and, these people feel that they cannot do without the drug.

Symptoms of Hallucinogen Addiction

Hallucinogen addiction manifests itself both physically and in behavior. People who abuse hallucinogens will normally exude rash behavior, feel suicidal, cause accidents and indulge in unprotected sex. These people might also notice vomiting and nausea, dilated pupils, mood swings, lack the ability to differentiate between reality and fantasy, memory loss and fluctuating temperature.

Like other drugs that are commonly abused, with the continued abuse, one's tolerance towards hallucinogens increases. This means that with time, one will usually require a larger dosage to have equal fun.

Dangers of Hallucinogen Addiction

Hallucinogens have adverse effects when abused. This is psychological, physically and in terms of behavior. Some of the side effects will be noticed within a short while of abusing hallucinogens, while others will take a longer time before the effects can be noticed.

The physical effects of hallucinogen abuse include coma, memory loss, blurred vision, rapid breathing, seizures, hypothermia and hyperthermia, speech impairment and even death. On the other hand, amnesia, anxiety, irritability, depression, mood swings, violence, euphoria, psychosis, hallucinations, and paranoia are some of the psychological side effects of hallucinogen addiction. And, when it comes to personal life, you may find that relationships between the person and other people become strained, financial constraints and failure in career.

Finding Treatment

There are no pharmacological treatments for hallucinogen addiction. However, this doesn't mean that the dependency is not treatable. Treatment for such persons involves helping them feel calm and telling them that they can have fun without the need of using hallucinogens. There are various treatments for this dependency including behavioral therapy and support programs.

Heroin Addiction and Abuse

How Heroin Addiction Begins

Heroin is an opioid drug synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance derived from the seed pod of opium. Morphine and other opioid medications are often prescribed after surgery or conditions causing chronic pain and are greatly effective. They work by impacting specific receptors in the brain causing the release of anti-anxiety and pain relieving chemicals and other hormones. The physical effects of these medications are both psychological and physiological. The body develops tolerance very quickly, requiring more of the same medication to reach the same level of effect. Heroin abuse often begins after a course of legally prescribed opioid medication is no longer obtainable, although it can be obtained and used strictly recreationally by people who have never been prescribed opioids.

Signs of Heroin Use

Since Heroin is usually smoked, snorted, or injected, it may be possible to tell that your loved one is using based on finding either remnants of the drug or paraphernalia. You might find syringes, pipes, belts or rubber tubing or off-white to dark brown powdery substances nearby.

Physical symptoms include a dry mouth or flushed skin with constricted pupils. Heroin users may nod off suddenly and breathing may slow down significantly. They will exhibit unclear thinking, memory loss, impairment in decision making or thought processing. Other physical symptoms include itching, nausea, vomiting, or constipation causing the user to seek laxatives.

You may also notice lifestyle changes in your loved one. Instability in relationships, job instability, and uncharacteristic secretive behavior may replace other behaviors. Further, heroin addicts may result to stealing in order to continue feeding their habits. If you begin to notice missing items or if their behavior doesn't match the stories they are telling you, you might want to look further.

Dangers of Heroin Use

In addition to severe addiction, heroin users run the risk of incredibly destructive problems, up to and including death. Depending on the method of induction, heroin use can create respiratory issues. Since heroin is often mixed with other substances, these things can also greatly negatively impact health. Further, shared needles can lead to diseases such as Hepatitis, HIV, and other diseases. The injection can also collapse veins causing infection in the heart or abscesses. Lastly, since an addict is only focused on their next fix, they may neglect their health or diet, creating further disease. Overdoses on heroin are often the result of drugs mixed with heroin. When heroin alone is suspected, it kills by shutting down the body's respiratory system.

Finding Treatment

With heroin use at epidemic levels in the United States, treatment is available. Heroin is incredibly addictive and very powerful, so treatment must be sought in a professional medical setting. Self-treatment is virtually non-effective in combating severe withdrawal symptoms. Heroin patients should seek professional medical care and therapy while attempting to break the addiction cycle.


Inhalant Addiction

The abuse of any inhalant is extremely dangerous, and these chemicals are highly addictive. When this type of abuse is not addressed, many people permanently damage brain cells as they fall deeper into their addictions. While inhalants are not quite as common as other types of drugs, they can be just as deadly.

Inhalant abuse tends to take place within communities that are relatively isolated and do not have access to other dangerous substances. One of the reasons why they are so dangerous is because they are highly addictive. Within a short period of time, those who abuse these substances can develop a physical and psychological dependency.

Why Have Inhalants Become Popular?

After they have developed a tolerance to the inhalants, addicts might feel as if they cannot stop abusing them no matter what they try to do. These substances are also incredibly easy to acquire in most towns. Unlike illicit drugs and prescription medication, inhalants can often be purchased in home improvement stores or found in an individual's garage.

A Closer Look at Inhalants

Inhalants are generally volatile and flammable materials that become an indistinct vapor when they are released into the air. Even though the effects only last for a short period of time, many people equate the experience to drinking alcohol. The chemicals alter the user's state of mind and impact how they perceive the world around. Inhalants are also called laughing gas, huff, hippie crack, and whippets. Some medications such as nitrites are abused as inhalants because they relax the muscles.

Common inhalants include:

  • Paint thinner
  • Freon
  • Gasoline
  • Spray paint
  • Lighter fluid
  • Nitrous oxide ("laughing gas")
  • Butane
  • Computer duster spray
  • Glue
  • Nail polish and nail polish remover
  • Chloroform
  • Ether
  • The Side Effects of Inhalant Abuse

"Huffing" is the most common way to abuse inhalants. This is generally accomplished by soaking a piece of cloth in the inhalant, covering one's mouth, and then breathing the fumes. Others inhale the substances directly from the bottle or can. Most users experience an altered state of mind, and many even hallucinate.

Some of the side effects include:

  • Excitability
  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of self-control
  • Lightheaded
  • Dizziness
  • Limited reflexes

As of 2012, the vast majority of people who abuse inhalants are around the age of 17. Unlike many other drugs, the use of any inhalants is seen as abuse because these substances severely damage an individual's brain. Fatal overdoses are very common, and mixing inhalants with any other chemicals can result in labored breathing, unconsciousness, and asphyxiation.


Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine is a drug belonging to the hallucinogenic category and is commonly used by teens and young adults at clubs or raves. It also can work as a tranquilizer for both animals and humans. As with many drugs in this category, ketamine is very addictive and hard to stop using by oneself. Users of ketamine undergo chemical changes in their brains that make quitting extremely difficult without professional help. Once a person is addicted to ketamine, obtaining and using the drug takes over their life. They are also likely to experience cognitive impairment such as memory and speech problems.

Signs of a ketamine addiction include the following:

  • the increasing use of the drug
  • obsession with obtaining and using
  • increasing tolerance and needing more to get high
  • neglecting relationships and work or school
  • spending increasing amounts of money on ketamine

The key to overcoming ketamine addiction is obtaining professional help. Professional treatment can allow users to safely withdraw from the drug and get medical and psychological treatment for the drug's devastating effects.

Ketamine has a variety of nicknames including Special K, Vitamin K, Dorothy, and Kit Kat among others. It has medical use as a tranquilizer and is for sale under the brand name of Ketalar. It is considered a Schedule III controlled substance along with drugs like codeine and anabolic steroids. Drugs in this category don't always result in physical dependence, but they are high risk for psychological dependence. The high from ketamine is short-lived and so users have to keep taking more, which leads to a quick build-up of tolerance.

Ketamine is not legal without a valid prescription. The drug can come in various forms, including a liquid for injection, a white powder or a pill. It is one of the drugs in the "date rape" category as it can easily be added to a beverage due to its lack of color and odor. Users of ketamine report a numb, blissful state while on the drug, but to others, the person is rendered completely helpless and even unable to stand.

Sometimes ketamine users combine the drug with other drugs, which can exacerbate the effects. This is especially true when the combined drug is a depressant like alcohol or marijuana. Other commonly combined drugs include LSD, MDMA, and DMT.

Marijuana Addiction and Abuse

With the advent of legalization, attention to marijuana addiction has been greatly reduced but make no mistake it is very real and can lead to serious problems such as short-term memory loss, anxiety, and the inability to function effectively.

It is important to distinguish dependence from addiction.

Dependence indicates a tolerance for the drug resulting in the need to increase the amount used to achieve the same results. This is not necessarily an indication addiction if the user can stop at will without ill effects. Addiction is the inability to function effectively without the drug. The difference being a person who is dependent can stop voluntarily but a person who is addicted is incapable of resisting usage and is compulsive in obtaining the effect of the drug.

It is estimated that as many as 4.2 million American are marijuana dependence according to the latest information from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Of those users, approximately one third may become addicted and have difficulty functioning effectively in their daily occupational and social sphere without the drug.

Recognizing Marijuana Addiction

Some indication that you are addicted is reflected in your behavior in relation to the drug, If you are choosing your friends and associates based on the fact that they smoke, or if you are choosing to smoke even though you know that it will result in problems later or if you are bypassing your life responsibilities in favor of getting high you may have a problem. If you attempt to cut back on your usage, fail and you experience the symptoms listed below then you are likely addicted and it is imperative that you seek help.

Addiction to marijuana is indicated if the following symptoms are experienced when withdrawal is attempted.

  • Sleeplessness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Craving for the drug

Marijuana Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Recovery is available and the decision to become drug-free is it close as your keyboard, your phone, or your health counselor. There are numerous support groups both online and in person to assist you in creating coping mechanisms for the symptoms that caused you to seek relief in the drug at the onset. Essential to becoming drug-free is knowledge of brain function and psychological triggers and support in coping with those triggers. Many of these online support groups are 24/7 so whenever you need help there is a forum of recovered and informed counselors and individuals to help you sort the nuances of treatment and recovery. It is rewarding to be in full control of your emotional and physical health.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to illicit drugs, treatment necessary to recovery. Learn more about all treatment options from one of our professional addiction treatment advisers. We are compassionate, confidential and available 24/7. Don't delay, we are here to help.


Methamphetamine is also known as meth and is a stimulant that has been found to be very addictive. Studies have shown that meth causes the brain to release three times more dopamine than cocaine does, which often leads to people becoming addicted after just one use. For this reason, many people need professional help to free themselves of a methamphetamine addiction.

People who use methamphetamine experience feelings such as:

  • Euphoria
  • Enhanced Attention Span
  • Reduced Fatigue
  • Talkativeness
  • Increased Activity Level
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Increased Perspiration
  • Lack Of Appetite

Many people experiment with meth in an attempt to get high or to lose weight because it suppresses appetite. However, the majority of people who try meth go on to develop a habit that cannot control.

Methamphetamine is known by a variety of street names. Some of the most common names for this drug are:

  • Crank
  • Ice
  • Glass
  • Crystal
  • Redneck Cocaine

Meth comes in a white powder that can be injected, taken by mouth or snorted through the nose. Crystal meth consists of blue colored crystals that are smoked. Just how long the high lasts depends primarily on the mode it was taken. When injected, meth produces the strongest high but it often wears off more quickly than when it is smoked or snorted.

People of all ages and social classes become addicted to meth. It is inexpensive and easily accessible, making it a huge problem in every state in the U.S. If you or someone you love is battling an addiction to meth, there is help available. Contact us today to learn how we can help guide you through the detoxification and rehabilitation process so you can go on with your life.

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