Illicit and Illegal Drug Addiction and Rehabilitation

It is naïve to think you cannot become addicted to an illegal drug because you have strong willpower. Drug addiction is not a testament to someone’s weakness. Rather, drugs such as heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine (meth) change the brain’s chemistry, forming an addiction.

The changes that drugs make to the brain are long-lasting and damaging, overtaking everything else in the user’s life. Eventually, it becomes difficult to stop using illicit drugs without professional help. Here is what you need to know about illicit drug addiction.

Drugs’ Effects on the Brain and Body

When a person takes an illicit drug, the chemical floods the brain’s reward circuit with dopamine. The reward circuit controls feelings of pleasure that naturally come from life-sustaining habits such as eating and sleeping. Drugs create a high that mimics these feelings, leading to users taking more and more of the same or similar substance.

Eventually, the brain becomes tolerant to the drug and needs larger quantities of the substance to achieve the same high. The user is then unable to experience feelings of pleasure in anything except the drug, creating addiction. Short- and long-term effects of illicit drugs on the body and brain include:

  • Organ damage
  • Gastrointestinal disease
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Memory loss
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Using cocaine, heroin or meth can lead to severe, long-lasting health consequences. It is possible to stop and even reverse these effects with proper treatment and detoxification of the body. The first step toward recovering from drug addiction is recognizing the signs of a problem.

    Signs of Illicit Drug Addiction

    Illicit drug addiction occurs when a person voluntarily begins to take a drug, eventually becoming physically and mentally dependent on the substance. Addiction is a disease characterized by compulsive or uncontrollable drug use. Despite harmful physical, mental, emotional, financial and social consequences, users will continue to ingest the illicit drug.

    Signs of illicit drug addiction vary depending on the type of drug, but there are a few common ways to recognize a problem:

    • Sudden and unexplained behavioral changes
    • Mood swings
    • Withdrawal from friends and family members
    • Disinterest in favorite hobbies and activities
    • Lack of personal grooming
    • Irregular sleeping pattern
    • Red/glassy eyes
    • Sniffles or runny nose
    • Violent outbursts

    If you suspect someone you love is suffering from drug addiction, seek professional help before it’s too late. Professional treatment and rehabilitation are critical to the recovery and long-term well-being of a drug user.

    Non-Health Consequences of Drug Addiction

    The consequences of drug addiction aren’t only physical and mental. Drugs affect virtually every aspect of a user’s life. Typically, drug addicts suffer myriad legal, financial and social consequences. These may include the loss of close relationships with friends, family members and significant others. An drug user often isolates himself or herself from loved ones, breaking ties and losing close bonds.

    A habitual drug user may also get into significant financial trouble while trying to fund a drug addiction. This can lead to legal problems if the person turns to robbery or fraud to get the money to continue using. Furthermore, an addict can lose a job from failing to show up, arriving late all the time, or falling asleep or performing poorly at work. Drug addiction can systematically ruin a person’s life, regardless of income, gender or age.

    Most Common Illegal Drugs in the United States

    The list of commonly used drugs is long. Different drugs have fallen in and out of popularity over the years. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit substance in the United States, with 49 percent of all Americans admitting to trying the drug at least once. Also, the 2013-14 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health showed that more than 34 million Americans had used marijuana within the previous year.

    Marijuana impairs memory, ability to focus, coordination and learning. Although it is impossible to overdose from marijuana and it’s legal in some state, cannabis use can cause other health risks. Other common illegal drugs in the U.S. include:

  • Flunitrazepam (roofies)
  • PCP
  • K2 (Spice)
  • LSD
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Inhalants
  • In 2014, roughly 27 million people 12 years and older admitted to using an illegal drug within the previous 30 days – equaling about 10.2 percent of all Americans. This percentage is higher than every year from 2002 to 2013. Marijuana and nonmedical use of prescription drugs were the primary reasons for this increase.

    The Importance of Professional Treatment

    A person struggling with illicit/illegal drug addiction cannot recover alone. Addiction recovery is a group effort, fueled by a strong support system and professional care. Drug users need reliable information, individual treatment plans and professional help through withdrawal and rehabilitation. No matter where you live in the U.S., professional treatment is always available at The Treatment Center of the Palm Beaches in Florida.

    Now Is the Time to Help Yourself or Your Loved One! Take Control and Contact The Treatment Center Now to Speak to One of Our Experts.

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