People from all walks of life do engage in substance Abuse. These substances include legal drugs, illegal drugs, and alcohol. Some of these people use these substances out of curiosity, or because their friends are doing it, or to ease problems such as anxiety, stress, and depression, or to have a good time. However, people struggling with these problems need support in their journey to recovery.
WHAT IS DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE
Drug and alcohol abuse is the use of drugs (legal, illegal or prescription drugs) and alcohol in a wrong way that causes harm to an individual’s well-being. It is taking these substances in a way that is not intended or recommended or prescribed for use.
Substance abuse differs from addiction. People with the problem of substance abuse can quit or change unhealthy behavior. However, addiction is very difficult to quit even when there is obvious harm to the individual.
Drug abuse is leading to more deaths in Nevada. According to a study, Nevada is the fourth highest state for drug overdose deaths. On average there are 21.6 deaths for every 100,000 people as a result of drug abuse.
Drug addiction, along with alcoholism, is a major life-threatening problem in Las Vegas. According to a Las Vegas Sun article by Anna Ley, “Besides gambling, no pastime better defines Las Vegas culture than drinking.” That is a fact.
WHEN DOES DRUG OR ALCOHOL USE BECOME A PROBLEM?
There is nothing wrong with taking drugs or alcohol. Of Course, drug and alcohol use does not automatically lead to abuse. Some people can use these substances without experiencing a negative effect. On the other hand, some people who use these substances find that at some point it takes a toll on their health.
There is a thin line between regular drug use and drug abuse and addiction. The same can be said for alcohol as well. Only very few substance abusers can know when they have crossed the line.
Health officials consider substance use as crossing the line into substance abuse if that repeated use causes significant impairment to the health, mind, cognitive abilities and social responsibilities of an individual.
However, if you drink enough to get hangovers or use enough drugs that you miss work or school or smoke enough marijuana that you have lost friends, or drink or use more than you intended to use, your substance use is probably at the abuse level.
“The mentality and behavior of drug addicts and alcoholics are wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction and unless they have structured help, they have no hope.” – Russell Brand
SOME COMMONLY ABUSED DRUGS
Legal and illegal substances have chemicals that can alter how the mind and bodywork. They can give you pleasure, make you feel ‘high’, or help you relieve stress and anxiety.
In the United States, the most commonly abused illegal drugs, in order, are:
- Ecstasy or Molly
Other substances include; Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, Alcohol, Inhalants, Caffeine and Tobacco.
PRESCRIPTION AND OVER-THE-COUNTER (OTC) DRUGS
This can be as dangerous as taking illegal drugs when abused. You can be abusing these drugs when you take an overdose or use it for any other purpose other than its intended use.
Types of prescription drugs that are most often abused include:
- Opioid pain relievers
- Medicine used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Anxiety medicine
The most commonly abused OTC drugs are cough and cold medicine that have dextromethorphan, which in high doses can make you feel drunk or intoxicated.
Alcohol is legal for adults over the age of 21 in the United States, and there is nothing “wrong” with having a couple of drinks with friends. But, it doesn’t take much alcohol to reach a harmful level of drinking, and that is when alcohol use can turn into alcohol abuse.
If you’re a man and you drink more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 in a week, you’re drinking too much. For women, heavy drinking means more than three drinks in one day or more than seven drinks a week. This is considered binge drinking which can be harmful to your mental and physical health.
Marijuana can make you feel silly and laugh for no reason or you may feel sleepy and forget things that just happened. Heavy marijuana use can leave some people “burned out” and not think or care about much. Some argue that marijuana is not addictive and has many beneficial qualities, unlike the “harder” drugs.
But recent research has shown that even marijuana may have more harmful physical, mental, and psychomotor effects than first believed. Each year, new scientific studies find more ways that long-term marijuana use is harmful to your health.
Moreover, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that marijuana users can become psychologically dependent, and therefore addicted. NIDA estimates that one in every seven users of marijuana becomes dependent.
When you use cocaine, you may talk, move, or think very fast. You may feel happy and full of energy. But your mood may then shift to anger. You may feel like someone is out to get you. It can cause you to do things that don’t make sense.
Caffeine, present in coffee is the most commonly used mood-altering drug in the world. Too much caffeine can be harmful to your health. It has been linked to significantly increased risks of cancer, heart disease, and reproduction abnormalities including delayed conception and lower birth weight.
CAUSES OF DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE
The cause of drug and alcohol abuse is not clear but some part has been attributed to some genetic and environmental factors. They include;
- Unstable home environment, often due to drug abuse or mental illness of the parent
- A poor relationship with parents
- Use of drugs by friends/peers
- Permissive attitude towards their own drug use and the drug use of the adolescent
- Behavioral problems combined with poor parenting
- Poor achievement in school
- Apparent ambivalence or approval of drug use in the school, peer group or community
- Availability of drugs from friends
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE
Although different drugs have different physical effects, the symptoms of addiction are similar. They include:
- Neglecting responsibilities at school, work, or home (e.g. flunking classes, skipping work, neglecting your children).
- Using drugs under dangerous conditions or taking risks while high, such as driving while on drugs, or having unprotected sex.
- Experiencing legal trouble, such as arrests for disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, or stealing to support a drug habit.
- Problems in your relationships, such as fights with your partner or family members, or the loss of friends.
- Declining academic or professional performance.
GETTING HELP FOR DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE
“We honor ourselves when we speak out for recovery. We show the world that recovery matters because it brings hope and peace into the lives of individuals and their loved ones.” – Beth Wilson
There is hope for men and women looking for help for drug and alcohol abuse or any other substance abuse.
If you suspect that a friend or a family member has a drug problem, here are a few things you can do:
- Speak up. Talk to the person about your concerns, and offer your help and support without being judgmental. The earlier abuse is treated, the better. Don’t wait for him or her to get to rock bottom.
- Take care of yourself. Stay safe. Don’t put yourself in dangerous situations. Don’t get so caught up in someone else’s drug problem that you neglect your own needs. Make sure you have people you can talk to and lean on for support.
- Avoid self-blame game. You can support a person with a substance abuse problem and encourage treatment, but you can’t force an addict to change. You can’t control your loved one’s decisions. Letting the person accept responsibility for their actions is an essential step along the way to recovery.
- Seek professional help. Overcoming addiction requires reaching out for support and making changes to the way you live, deal with problems, and relate to others.
Recovery is within your reach but don’t try to go it alone; it’s very easy to get discouraged and rationalize. Whether you choose to go to rehab, rely on self-help programs, get therapy, or take a self-directed treatment approach, support is essential.
At Mentor Mental Mind, we want you to become better members of society and live a fulfilling life. Hence, we provide clients with therapy groups as well as one-on-one counseling with experienced health professionals that are committed to helping you combat the issue of drug and alcohol abuse and help you live your best life.