Insights into Drug Addiction – Facts, Stats and Treatments

Drug addiction is a serious problem. Most young people start off with substances that they find harmless [1]. Most teenagers will smoke a cigarette or two, move their way up to marijuana and maybe even start taking more prescription drugs than they needed. No one plans to be a drug addict. Something like this can really just sneak up on you and your family. If you, or a loved one is struggling with a serious drug addiction, it is best that you learn more about the problem so that you can find real solutions.

Drug Addiction: Real People, Real Stories

A lot of teenagers feel that they are alone in the world, and no one understands them. Although popular media jokes around about these feelings of depression, they are real. Most, if not all, of teenagers or young adults who develop a drug addiction started out because they felt lonely. Reading about other people, their struggles and how they got over their addiction can be helpful. It can help you feel that you are not alone, and there are others who are facing the same problems as you are.

  • “It started with the weed, then the pills (Ecstasy) and acid, making cocktails of all sorts of drugs, even overdosing to make the rushes last longer. I took copious amounts of these chemicals every day for as long as two years until I had a bad trip one night and went into toxic psychosis… I asked myself if this was rock-bottom, and I believe it was” – Ben [2]
  • “My goal in life wasn’t living…it was getting high. I was falling in a downward spiral towards a point of no return. Over the years, I turned to cocaine, marijuana and alcohol under a false belief it would allow me to escape my problems… yet I felt so empty inside.” – John [2]
  • “I can clearly remember my using [drugs] because of [emotional] pain, and because I didn’t know where to go with the pain or what to do with it. . . . I think sticking that spike in my arm was a violent act, maybe it was an act of just basically anesthetizing myself” – Louis [3]


What Is Drug Abuse?

Many people think that they can use recreational or prescription drugs without facing any consequences. However, sometimes taking illicit substances for recreational purposes can turn into an addiction. For a lot of people, substance abuse can bring about problems at work, at school, at home and cause a stir in relationships. When this happens, feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety can arise, causing a downward spiral, which may or may not lead to an increase in substance abuse.

drug abuse

Clinically, drug abuse is a disorder that is characterized by the destructive pattern of taking prescription and illicit drugs [4]. This can lead to a number of problems affecting the individual in all or most areas of his life. This problem is unfortunately very common. The number of young adults who are suffering from a drug addiction problem is increasing each year, as more prescription and illicit drugs are becoming easier to obtain.

As it is with any mental condition, there is no one way to determine if a person is addicted to a certain substance or not. There are patterns that you should look for in order to tell if someone is battling with substance abuse. Many people quickly assume that if someone is losing weight, looking unkempt or acting strange, that they are on drugs. However, there is more to it than that. Here are some of the signs and symptoms to look out for if you believe that a loved one has a drug addiction problem:

  1. Your loved one neglecting responsibilities because of drug use
  2. Drug use is getting your loved one into trouble (whether at home, at work, at school or anywhere in your neighborhood)
  3. They don’t care about consequences (ie. having unprotected sex, using dirty needles, driving while intoxicated)
  4. They have irrational mood swings, causing problems in relationships
  5. They have given up on activities that they used to enjoy


What Causes Drug Addiction?

Everyone is different, and no one has the same story. Although people have turned to drugs for different reasons, there are usually common factors which can be found in groups of people. Some people can actually develop a drug addiction problem faster than others. There are some risk factors that can increase an individual’s vulnerability [1]. These risks include:

  • Family risk of drug addiction
  • Abuse, neglect or other traumatic experiences
  • Disorders such as anxiety and depression
  • Early use of drugs (ie prescription drug abuse)
  • Friends or family members that use drugs

A drug abuse problem or an addiction problem can really sneak up on a person. As the frequency of the use increases, the person who uses does not notice that it is becoming a regular part of their day. An individual who used to smoke marijuana once a week, can increase the frequency of their use. Sooner or later, they might start experimenting with other drugs, until they reach a point where they feel that they need to take the substances that they once used as a recreational substance.

There are also those people who use drugs in order to fill a void that they have. This might be due to an emotional or psychological problem. Other times, it is because they feel alone and empty inside. Many recovering drug addicts say that they used drugs as a way to escape from reality. This was usually because they felt as if no one was there for them and they were unloved.


Are There Treatments For Drug Addiction?

Treatments for drug addiction varies depending on the personality of the patient and the severity of the condition among other things. There are therapies, group counseling and in-house treatment for those who want to sober-up. Here are some of the treatments available [6]:

Treatment programs: these include educational as well as therapy sessions. It focuses on getting sober and avoiding relapse. There are different ways to accomplish this, through individual sessions, group sessions and family sessions. These are available in various settings, depending on the program.

Counseling: individual or family counseling with a psychiatrist or psychologist can help someone who might be battling with addiction. If the drug problem stems from an underlying emotional or psychological cause, this kind of treatment might help prevent relapse and aid the individual in avoiding temptation as well as practicing self-control.

Self-help groups: a lot of these self-help programs follow the 12-step model which was first designed by Alcoholics Anonymous. These groups are available for those who are addicted to certain illicit drugs. The message that they aim to convey is that addiction is a chronic disorder, and that there are dangers in relapse. Ongoing maintenance is needed.


If you are looking for a drug addiction treatment center either for yourself or a loved one, here is a list of websites that you might want to visit:

  1. Smart Recovery – this is one of the nation’s leading self-empowerment recovery support group. They focus on helping individuals who are battling with an addiction problem learn how to help themselves recover using the latest scientific research and providing ample support.
  2. Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator – with this website, you can find out more about treatment facilities near your home. You can also contact them through these numbers:
    1-800-662-9832 (Español)
    1-800-228-0427 (TDD)
  3. The Bay Retreats – if you know someone who will benefit very little from an outpatient service, there are private rehab treatment centers which are available.

Mentor International is an international NGO which aims to reach to young children and teens about substance abuse. They have effective drug-prevention programs which can help share the knowledge about drug abuse and addiction.


Facts On Drug Addiction

Drugs red light

Drug addiction is a real problem which is growing every year. Unfortunately, not a lot of people understand why people get hooked on drugs or why they act the way they do. Instead of trying to help individuals who are suffering from this problem, they blame them for their own addiction. Here are a couple of facts about drug addiction and abuse [1]:

  • Almost any substance that can be ingested in high amounts can give a euphoric sensation
  • Inhalants, such as household cleaners are often abused by younger teenagers for fun
  • Although there is no one cause for drug abuse problems, there are biological and psychological causes that can increase an individual’s risk for drug addiction
  • The longer an individual abuses a certain drug, they develop a tolerance for it
  • Taking recreational drugs can create a surge in dopamine in the brain, this helps people feel pleasure or happiness. Many people who take drugs look for this feeling, and cannot find it in anything else
  • The changes in the brain caused by the substance abuse can interfere with rational thinking, school work, office or home responsibilities and other things
  • The urge to use drugs sometimes grow so strong that the individual who is suffering from the addiction problem uses reasons (which seem rational to them) so that they can use drugs
  • The feelings of pleasure and euphoria which are triggered by the substances become more important than anything else


Too many people have their own opinions about drug abuse and addiction. They think that it will be easy for someone who used to suffer from a drug addiction problem to get over their condition. Here are some of the common myths associated with drug addiction:

  1. It’s all a matter of will-power. Many people think that drug addicts can stop using if they really wanted to, and that they don’t really need drug addiction help. This is one of the most common misconceptions about addiction. The drugs change the brain in a way which makes it difficult for the individual to quit just by wanting to.
  2. You have to hit rock bottom before you get better. There are also other people who think that it is absolutely necessary for you to reach your lowest point before you can get over your addiction. That isn’t true because the longer your addiction is, and the deeper you are, the harder it is to treat.
  3. You can’t be forced into treatment, you have to want to help yourself. In many cases, this is not true. There are individuals who have been put entered into treatment because of friends, family or the legal system who were able to sober up.
  4. Treatment didn’t work before, there’s no point trying again. Relapse doesn’t mean that it isn’t working. There will be setbacks along the way. It’s just a matter of getting back on track.


Quick Drug Addiction Statistics

  • Prescription drug abuse affects most young adults
  • 39% Teens mix prescription with other substances, like marijuana or alcohol
  • Synthetic marijuana lands 14% of male and 8% of female high school students in the hospital
  • The daily use of marijuana among 12th graders has increased to 6.5% from last year
  • The age group which has the largest admission percentage to publicly funded treatment programs are adults aged 25 – 29
  • Positive trends include the decrease of ecstasy use among high school students in the last two years
  • Illicit drugs accounted for USD11 billion in healthcare funds just last year
  • Prescription drug addiction accounts for 17 treatment admissions and 66 emergency room visits for every death

All information is from National Institute on Drug Abuse [5].


I Need Drug Addiction Help For A Loved One

If you suspect that a friend, family member or a loved on has a drug problem. There are a couple of things that you should do. Here are some of them:

  • Speak up: talk to the person about it and offer your support. Let them know that you are not judging them, or punishing them for it. Don’t wait for them to hit rock bottom.
  • Take care of yourself: don’t let yourself be too caught up in someone else’s battle with drugs that you neglect your own needs. Although you have the best intentions for your loved one, you should find others to rely on, too.
  • Avoid self-blame: you should support your loved one with the substance abuse problem by offering them help. However, you cannot force them into changing their mindset about treatment. It’s not your fault if they are still resilient.
  • Get help: do some research and look for a help center or treatment facility near your home. You can contact these numbers in order to speak to someone who can help you locate a facility:

1-800-662-9832 (Español)
1-800-228-0427 (TDD)

When battling with a drug problem, the last thing that your friend or loved one needs is criticism. Let them know that you are there for them, but also be firm with them regarding relapse or temptation. For additional information about drug addiction, treatment and help, please refer to the websites listed below. Remember that it is never too late or early for drug addiction treatment.


Helpful Articles On Drug Addiction

  1. Help Guide.
  2. Drug Free World.
  3. Thirteen.
  4. Medicine Net.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  6. Mayo Clinic.