drug abuse

Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse: How to Recognize a Substance Abuse Problem in a Loved One

Drug abuse, so often done in secret, can be mistaken for stress, depression or even teenage angst. Knowing the signs could very well save the life of a loved one.

According to Help Guide.org, drug abuse, also known as “substance abuse,” is defined as the continuous use of a chemical substance with the intention of achieving a certain effect. Drug abuse is not a weakness, but rather it is an illness that causes real changes in the brain, causing the user to crave more and more of the destructive substance. Both illegal narcotics and prescription medications can be abused, and are equally addictive, dangerous and havoc-wreaking on the lives of the abuser and of his family, friends and co-workers.

What are the Physical Symptoms of Drug Abuse?

Depending on the type of drug being abused, physical symptoms will vary, but are alike in that any kind of drug abuse negatively affects the body and brain. According to Help Guide.org and Mental Health.net, physical symptoms of drug abuse include sudden weight gain or loss, excessive sleeping, dental problems, puncture marks, skin infections, persistent coughing or bronchitis that may contain blood laced mucus, nose and throat problems, constricted pupils, bloodshot eyes, strange eye movements, confusion, disorientation, tremors, episodes of heightened energy, irritability and insomnia, and slowed speech, movements and reactions.

How Do Drug Abusers Behave?

According to Mental Help.net, drug abusers are typically very secretive about their drug use. However, they will display certain behaviors that will belie their facade. Typical behaviors include poor work performance, neglect of home, children or own appearance, repeated lateness or absence for work or social engagements, odd or unbelievable excuses for being late or absent, borrowing or stealing money, strange clothing changes (such as wearing long sleeves to conceal injection marks) and secretive behavior such as extended periods of isolation or keeping doors locked.

Are There Emotional Side Effects of Drug Abuse?

Because drugs are used to affect mood, naturally there will be noticeable changes in the user’s emotional demeanor, ranging from extreme highs to debilitating lows. According to Help Guide.org, drug abuse can also cause a myriad of mental and emotional disturbances including paranoia, irritability, anger, violent behavior, panic, depression, apathy, excess energy, euphoria, talkativeness, unusual calmness, appearing “spaced-out”, delusions, hallucinations and flashbacks.

What are the Physical Side Effects of Drug Abuse?

Medical symptoms of drug abuse can only be detected during an exam conducted by a medical professional. According to Mental Help.net and the Mayo Clinic, these signs can include enlarged red blood cells, high or low blood pressure, slowed breathing, fever, accelerated heart rate, elevated liver enzymes, impaired motor function and, of course, positive finding of drugs in the blood, urine or hair.

What Type of Trail Do Drug Abusers Leave?

Although drug abusers will attempt to keep their problem a secret, because of the effects of the drugs they may also get sloppy about hiding evidence, i.e. drug paraphernalia. Evidence of drug use includes pill bottles, vials, lighters, pipes, syringes, roach clips, straws, mirrors or small plastic bags.

So the Signs are There… Now What?

If a loved one is displaying signs of drug abuse, it’s vital that he or she gets into some type of treatment program. Look for a program that is accredited and licensed, has a verifiable success rate, employs qualified individuals and offers a fine aftercare program. A family physician or local hospital should be able to provide a reference and help with the first steps.

Help Guide: www.helpguide.org

Mental Help: www.mentalhealth.net

Mayo Clinic: www.mayoclinic.com

opiate addiction

From Heroin to Oxycontin – The Evolution of Opiate Addiction

For some time now, addiction clinics and local law enforcement throughout North America have been witness to a disturbing and rising trend involving the use of opioid narcotics. This family of drugs, which includes morphine and codeine, are made from the opium poppy and act upon the opioid receptors in the brain (the same sensors that natural endorphins bind to). It’s this rewriting of brain chemistry that makes them so dangerous. Years ago, the granddaddy these was heroin. It was, and still is, an insidious substance, primarily because of the feeling of well-being that accompanies the physical high.

It’s ironic that heroin was originally created as a non-addictive alternative to morphine, so named because of its “heroic” painkilling properties. However, doctors soon realized that—in terms of addiction and withdrawal—they had something far worse than morphine on their hands. As the decades wore on, heroin clearly established itself as the undeniable king of life-devastating substances. Famous individuals, both in recent years and in decades gone by, have succumbed to its empty charms; Jim Morrison, River Phoenix, Janis Joplin and John Belushi all had a reputation of “dancing with Mr. Brownstone”, and paid dearly for it. But as terrible as heroin was, its dirty reputation as a horrific life-destroyer was always there to protect would-be abusers. Many individuals who smoked pot or dropped acid admitted that they would not touch “Captain Jack” with a ten-foot pole.

A New Trend: Oxycontin and Other Prescription Narcotics

Recently, however, there has been an alarming shift in North America. Instead of turning to the hugely illegal charms of heroin, addicts are now spending much more money and effort acquiring prescription narcotics that do much the same thing for them. Medications like Percocet and Dilaudid are being used more and more as recreational pharmaceuticals, and are just as likely to be found on the street as they are behind the counter of your local Walgreens or Shoppers Drug Mart.

But the prescription narcotic most closely associated with addicts is the infamous Oxycontin. Originally designed to treat major forms of chronic pain—in terminal cancer patients, for instance—this harmless-looking pill is designed to release a steady dose of oxycodone (the same medication found in Percocet) over a 12-hour period. Addicts have learned to crush the pills so that they can get the full amount of active ingredients in one swift dose, either by swallowing it or injecting it. The resulting high is remarkably similar to heroin, and abuse of this drug can be deadly.

Why Users Prefer Pills

Many drug addicts feel Oxycontin is a much safer choice than heroin. Because it is a factory-made product, users can be certain of the exact amount of active oxycodone they are receiving in each dose. The strength of street drugs, on the other hand, can vary widely from dealer to dealer and location to location; this is one of the most common reasons for accidental overdose. In addition, individuals can be certain that Oxycontin has not been cut with another drug or some other dangerous substance, such as strychnine. What you see is what you get.

Signs and Symptoms of Abuse

For friends and family members of Oxycontin addicts, luckily there are many signs and symptoms that they can look out for. These include psychological and social symptoms (addicts are typically great liars, and may be making excuses to explain where they may have spent a large amount of money) as well as physical symptoms, such as sluggishness and apathy. Signs of withdrawal are even more obvious; a heavy Oxycontin user can get extremely ill if deprived of their drug for even a short period of time.

It’s unfortunate, but the sheer strength of these prescription narcotics has been one of the biggest problems of all. Many individuals who would never have become addicts in the first place have found themselves physically dependant on these pills after their doctor has over-prescribed them. Addicted patients resort to doctor-shopping, stealing the pills and passing fake prescriptions. Although many parts of the United States and Canada have taken action to fight Oxycontin addiction, there is still a very long way to go.

Addiction and its risk factors

Addiction – Effects and Risk Factors

Addiction may include but not be limited to the addiction to alcohol, drugs, food, sex, gambling, internet, shopping, smoking, and video gaming. Addiction can be psychological, physical, or both. Addicts grow tolerant of a behavior or substance which means they need more of it to produce a desired effect.

Effects of Addiction

Addiction can lead to overdose, impaired driving, arrest, loss of relationships, loss of jobs, or contracting a disease. It can have a range of adverse effects on brain, body, and health. Addicts sometimes experience withdrawal when they quit using substances. Withdrawal is a painful physical or emotional reaction an addict experiences when they discontinue using. The emotional and physical aspects of withdrawal can be extremely painful.

Some people struggle through relationships with addicts, which is extremely difficult and destructive. Most addicts are so deeply entrenched in their addiction, they are unable to recognize and accept help. Sometimes people who try to provide support for the addict end up becoming enablers and don’t even realize it. The ugly truth about enablers is that they are only harming their loved one by enabling them.

Risk Factors for Addiction

There are many reasons why some people seem more susceptible to addiction than others. Some people have “addictive personalities,” which is dangerous. These people may be addicted to smoking, drugs, alcohol, relationships, sex, gambling, etc… People with addictive personalities easily become addicted to almost anything. These people over-consume, use, and perform substances and actions that are harmful to their personal and professional lives.

Risk factors for addiction may include a family history of addiction, history of abuse, psychological disorders, etc… Research has proven that alcoholism runs in families, for example. Research has also shown that people who suffer abuse (sexual, mental, physical, or neglect) have a higher propensity for developing an addiction if they fail to receive intervention (counseling, etc…).

Tough Love

Tough love is always more difficult for the enabler than for the addict. Feeling sorry for addicts will not help them. You may need to “let the addict go” before they are able to recover. It is difficult not to fall back into the role of enabler once you have freed yourself, but you must be able to set appropriate boundaries and guidelines to be effective and allow the addict to improve.

Types of addiction

Addicted – Types of Addictions

Is everyone addicted to something? What types of addictions are there? Many individuals aren’t even aware that they have become an addict. Some individuals, who are in desperate need of help, don’t have any idea how to reach out and get the treatment they so desperately need. Then there are those people who are stuck in denial; lacking the strength and knowledge to face the truth.

What Does it Mean to Be an Addict?

An addict is someone with compulsive physiological behavior. This compulsive behavior consists of forming a habit in which a person feels physiologically dependent on. There are many types of addictions and some are more harmful than others, but they all have compulsive tendencies.

What Are the Most Common Addictions?

There are many various addiction types and not all of them have the same affects. However; they can all cause individuals to become physically and emotionally dependent on the habit or substance. Below is a list of the most common things people become dependent on.

Addiction to Prescription Pain Killers – Opioid pills are prescription drugs used to block specific receptors in the nervous system, helping individuals with the ability to tolerate certain pain levels. When these types of drugs are used continuously, a physical dependency will definitely begin to develop. This can lead to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop the medications. It can also cause individuals to gain a high tolerance for the medication, in which individuals often feel the need to increase the dosage and abuse the medicine, taking more than the amount prescribed. Many common side effects of being addicted to pain killers include constipation, respiratory depression and sedation.

Alcoholism – Alcohol abuse can be very dangerous. For those who don’t drink the substance daily, withdrawal symptoms are less likely to happen. However, this doesn’t take away the dangers of developing a tolerance, running into legal problems and much more. The side effects of being addicted to alcohol include developing a mental health disorder, heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver and much more.

Addicted to Sex – There are many types of sex addictions; the most common being a masturbating addict. Many people use intercourse or masturbation as a stress reliever and this can lead to it becoming a major coping mechanism. There are programs that help sex addicts, however; it can be a very embarrassing dependency to get treatment for. Many people who have this type of compulsive behavior are often stuck in denial. Without help, the effects of being a sex addict can lead to a down spiral in relationships and risky behavior.

Being Addicted to Strange Things

There are many uncommon compulsive behaviors and weird addictions, in which many people could never imagine. A show called “My Strange Addiction” that plays on TLC, tells the true stories of secret addicts with the most bazaar habits. Some of these people are addicted to eating toilet paper, chalk and comet (cleaners). Some individuals have a strange habit of sucking their thumb as an adult, running or tanning. The strangest dependencies are as weird as people could possibly imagine and many people keep it a secret for years.

Facing Reality

The first step to getting help is facing the truth head on and stepping out of denial. So many addicts are stuck in denial, refusing to see the truth. There are so many types of addictions; but the good news is that there are plenty of treatment centers and therapists who can help people find ways to receive the help that they need. Life is short and everyone deserves the chance to be set free of compulsive behaviors and dangerous dependencies. It’s never easy, but with a little dedication, the possibilities are endless.

Understanding The Basics of Drug Rehab

The fundamentals of idealistic recovery from drug addiction are real simple. Once intervention takes place, evaluation is addressed by a professional. One enters an addiction treatment center, one detoxifies from the drugs, and acknowledges that he’s an addict, ridding oneself of self-denial. Addiction is not a choice, but getting help for it is. Drug rehab is the best place for recovery from addiction. There are many questions that linger. Like “How Long is Detox“, and then what happens next? Well, rehab happens next. If you have the cash, you can opt for Rapid Detox. Which speeds up the time frame getting you to rehab quicker.
Recovery must commence with willingness to acquire help. One must get honest and surrender his way of attempting to run his life while enslaved to drugs. There are no means in which to graft a new idea into one’s closed mind. One must open up his mind to a new way of life, fresh process of thinking, because his best thinking is what got him into the dependency on drugs in the first place. One can get the help needed in a drug rehab.

In addition, there’s oftentimes controversy about addiction being a disease that one is powerless over. Just about all addiction treatment centers teach that addiction is a disease for which there is no known cure. Also, that using a drug is only one symptom of many with this disease. The only way it is treatable is via refraining from all mind- and mood-altering drugs and treating addiction with recovery tools such as drug rehab.

Furthermore, alcohol is a mind- and mood-altering drug. There’s controversy concerning this fact, but again, most rehabs teach that a drug is a drug, period. Addiction to alcohol is no different than dependency on other drugs. The body does not recognize any difference between using booze or other drugs to get high or taking it for medical conditions. Both do the same, which is intoxicate.

Ideally, getting into a rehab facility for full detox and weeks of treatment, if one can, is the most beneficial support one has to begin recovery from addiction. When one moves into rehab, one will discover that he’s in a safe environment where he can relinquish all the damaging matters that he has regarding his addiction to alcohol or other drugs. The education, finding others to relate to, the encouragement, and the entire experience are priceless.

In fact, rehab will cover the simple basics for remaining clean. The education is geared toward 12-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al Anon and Nar Anon for family members, and so on. Encouragement toward not using, no matter what, attending 90 meetings in 90 days, getting and using a sponsor, reading recovery material, writing in a journal, changing people, places, and things, and out patient therapy are what one will be set up for in rehab.

In brief, rehab affords one a foundation on which to expand his recovery from addiction. One must seek his recovery as enthusiastically as he did when acquiring and using drugs. No one will ever do it perfectly. Relapse can and does happen. One can use the tools he has been given to stay on the right path.

Drugs And Teens. Drug addiction rehab for teens in florida

Most Popular Drugs That Teenagers Use

Drug use among teens has always been an issue parents are concerned about. Some the the drugs that are out there today are much different than the drugs available decades ago. What are some of the drugs that teenagers tend to abuse?


Marijuana affects the senses through the chemical it contains, known as THC. The potency of marijuana has increased over the past few decades due to a rise in the amount of THC content.

Marijuana can be like most drugs can be addictive and cause issues with teens’ health, school work, and social life. Withdrawal from marijuana use can cause symptoms such as irritability, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, anxiety, and cravings for more of the drug. Because teens who use other drugs are likely to also use marijuana, seeking professional help may be necessary.


Prescription drug abuse is on the rise in teen populations. They are easily accessible through family and friends. Because they are prescribed by a doctor, many teens think they are safe to use.

Teens typically abuse opioids, depressants, and stimulants. Opioids include drugs that relieve pain like Vicodin, OxyContin, and codeine. Depressants relieve anxiety and include Valium and Xanax. Stimulants are used for patients who suffer from ADHD and include Adderall and Ritalin.

Prescription drugs affect the brain’s pleasure centers by increasing the levels of dopamine. They can be extremely addictive and dangerous to detox from. To detox from these types of drugs, a medical professional must be contacted.


Inhalants are drugs that are found in everyday household products. They are particularly dangerous because they are easily accessible to teens. Just one use can affect their brain permanently. Teens use inhalants by sniffing, snorting, or huffing them.

Inhalants prevent the brain from receiving necessary oxygen. This can result in brain damage or even death. Inhalants are not usually addictive and withdrawal may only be noted by a craving to inhale again.


MDMA, or a Ecstasy, is a drug created in labs. It has the properties of both a stimulant and psychedelic. It’s popular for teens who frequent night clubs. It typically comes in a pill or capsule form.

Ecstasy works by affecting different neurotransmitters in the brain to alter the user’s consciousness. It may contain other drugs like PCP, cocaine, and stimulants. Users can die from ecstasy because it affects the body’s ability to regulate temperature, giving users a high fever. This causes organ failure and can be fatal. Research is still undecided on whether ecstasy is addictive. Some users report having withdrawal symptoms including appetite loss, depression, loss of focus, and fatigue.


Steroids increase testosterone, the hormone responsible for sex drive, muscle mass, and growth. Users take steroids to increase muscle strength and growth, and to improve athletic performance. Steroids can be taken in pill form or injected into the muscle.

Steroids affect the limbic system. This system controls mood and often makes users aggressive, paranoid, and jealous. It can also create delusions and the feeling of invincibility in users. Apart from affecting mood, there are serious health consequences associated with steroid use. They affect the heart, liver, kidneys, and sex organs. In teens, steroids can stunt growth and affect height. Teens can get addicted to steroids. Typical withdrawal symptoms include severe depression and thoughts of suicide.

Knowing what kinds of drugs are available, even in your own home, for teens to abuse is the best defense in preventing addiction issues. Preventing drug abuse is often as simple as spending time with your teens. Make sure you are engaging with them on a consistent basis. Doing so can help them avoid drug abuse and the need to visit a detox center.

Famous People That Have Died From Drugs/Alcohol

No one forgets the tragic loss of any celebrity, more so, if it is related to drug or alcohol abuse. A lot of celebrities have died in the last decade but many deaths can be connected to drug or alcohol abuse. Who can forget the unfortunate circumstances under which the noticeable performance of Heath Ledger as the Joker in the movie “The Dark Knight” was awarded the Oscar? Well, as unfortunate as it may seem, there are rampant drug addicts among celebrities.

Let’s have a look at some of the famous celebrities that have died due to drug/alcohol abuse

  1. Heath Ledger: Primarily the victim of overdosing on a cocktail of medications like oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam and alprazolam, Heath Ledger was a beloved character that was a shining example of method acting. His noticeable work in various films like the dark might brought about a whole new dimension in how villains are portrayed in the films. His loss was tragic as well as shocking for the entire film fraternity, and led to a lot of actors publicly denouncing the use of drugs.
  2. Whitney Houston: Complications from the use of cocaine, as well as alcohol and a mixture of Benadryl and Xanax were to be the primary cause of death for Whitney Houston. However, the loss for the music industry was something that cannot be fathomed even today. The husky voice went on to sing a lot of songs, and people would pour their hearts out to the songs that would go on to create records that were unparalleled in the music industry. Dying at such a young age, this has again shone a light on the other the nature of drug use.
  3. Prince: Originally named Prince Rogers Nelson, Prince was an icon in the pop culture. His songs have revolutionized the entire industry, and all of his concerts were sold out even before the ticket counter remained open for 10 minutes. However, the singer and songwriter was the accident victim of fentanyl overdose, and hence had to leave us at the tender age of 57.
  4. Amy Winehouse: Popular as a wonderful songwriter, this English single was the victim of alcohol poisoning. Even when she was advised to get rid of alcohol from her entourage, she went on record to say that without alcohol, she was nothing. She succumbed at the tender age of 27.
  5. Kurt Cobain: A grunge pop icon in the nineties, Kurt Cobain is noticeably a popular figure even today. However, although it has been noted that he died due to a gunshot wound to the head, there was a decent amount of heroin and diazepam found in his bloodstream. The suicide went on to make headlines across the world, and at the age of 27, this musical genius left us.
  6. George Best: A dashing footballer, George Best epitomized what modern English football was. However, he was also a rampant alcohol abuser, which ultimately led to his demise at the age of 59.

How To Reduce Chances Of Drug Abuse For Kids?

In this world which is normally encompassed with music artists professing their love for drugs, how do parents help reduce the chances of drug abuse amongst their own kids? Well, kids look up to music artists, and instead of being role models, music artists tend to cloud their mind with such a rampant eloquence on drug abuse. This can have adverse effect on the child that would like to emulate their favorite role model at the earliest possible instance.

One of the most important methods that parents can use in order to prevent drug abuse is persuasion. If you visit any training seminar that deals with prevention of drug abuse, you would realize that the approach is basically persuasion. It has been supported through years of research, although it is not taken up by most of the guardians and families as a source of prevention.

You need to think about the effectiveness that persuasion brings into a family. You can persuade your child to look at a different product when they think of buying the overpriced gadget. You can persuade your family to go for a different trip rather than the costly one. So, why can’t you educate your child by persuading them to not go for drug or alcohol consumption? Well, the primary purpose of persuasion is to give them a fair bit of idea about drug use, and then tell them the side effects that are associated with the drugs.

Of course, there are also technologically inclined parents that make a presentation by which they detail out all the problems with the rampant drug use. Well, that approach has its own set of benefits and problems. For parents that are looking to educate their child, they have to understand that they need to reach down, and extract the emotions that can influence their child to heed their words. No amount of beating, crying, or even threatening to cut away all ties is going to influence your child after they have become addicted to drugs. Rather, you would be at the receiving end, constantly having to find your money missing in order to satisfy their cravings for those drugs.

Perhaps, with a fair bit of persuasion, parents could also go for techniques that relate to prevention. Teenagers have impressionable minds, and as parents, you have to make sure that they are always in good company. So, take an active interest in the friends of your children, and ensure that they are always within the confines of good people. Otherwise, you end up losing your child to “the latest fad” in town, which would otherwise be easy drugs. Little do they know that once they get addicted, there would be no free drugs, but rather hard cash is necessary to purchase them. They fall into the pit of seeking out money, and end up doing criminal activities so as to fulfill their drug cravings.

As parents, it is your duty to weed out all possibilities of your child becoming a drug addict. Now is the time for you to act.