|Federation of Drug & Alcohol Professionals|
Care Quality Commission - Care standards for social care standards, including Drug and Alcohol rehabilitation
How much do you really know about drugs? How much about what you know about drugs is actually fact and how much is just a myth? Some people are able to use recreational or prescription drugs without ever experiencing negative consequences or addiction. For many others, substance use can cause problems at work, home, school, and in relationships, leaving you feeling isolated, helpless, or ashamed.
If you’re worried about your own or a friend or family member’s drug use, telephone us today and we can talk you through the help available. Learning about the nature of drug abuse and addiction, how it develops, what it looks like, and why it can have such a powerful hold, will give you a better understanding of the problem and how to best deal with it.
Understanding drug addiction
People experiment with drugs for many different reasons. Many first try drugs out of curiosity, to have a good time, because friends are doing it, or in an effort to improve athletic performance or ease another problem, such as stress, anxiety, or depression. Use doesn’t automatically lead to abuse, and there is no specific level at which drug use moves from casual to problematic. It varies by individual. Drug abuse and addiction is less about the amount of substance consumed or the frequency, and more to do with the consequences of drug use. No matter how often or how little you’re consuming, if your drug use is causing problems in your life at work, school, home, or in your relationships, you likely have a drug abuse or addiction problem.
How drug use and addiction develop
People who experiment with drugs continue to use them because the substance either makes them feel good, or stops them from feeling bad. In many cases, however, there is a fine line between regular use and drug abuse and addiction. Very few addicts are able to recognize when they have crossed that line. While frequency or the amount of drugs consumed don’t in themselves constitute drug abuse or addiction, they can often be indicators of drug-related problems.
§ Problems can sometimes sneak up on you, as your drug use gradually increases over time. Smoking a joint with friends at the weekend, or taking ecstasy at a rave, or cocaine at an occasional party, for example, can change to using drugs a couple of days a week, then every day. Gradually, getting and using the drug becomes more and more important to you.
§ If the drug fulfills a valuable need, you may find yourself increasingly relying on it. For example, you may take drugs to calm you if you feel anxious or stressed, energize you if you feel depressed, or make you more confident in social situations if you normally feel shy. Or you may have started using prescription drugs to cope with panic attacks or relieve chronic pain, for example. Until you find alternative, healthier methods for overcoming these problems, your drug use will likely continue.
§ Similarly, if you use drugs to fill a void in your life, you’re more at risk of crossing the line from casual use to drug abuse and addiction. To maintain healthy balance in your life, you need to have other positive experiences, to feel good in your life aside from any drug use.
§ As drug abuse takes hold, you may miss or frequently be late for work or school, your job performance may progressively deteriorate, and you start to neglect social or family obligations. Your ability to stop using is eventually compromised. What began as a voluntary choice has turned into a physical and psychological need.
The good news is that with the right treatment and support, you can counteract the disruptive effects of drug use and regain control of your life. The first obstacle is to recognize and admit you have a problem, or listen to loved ones who are often better able to see the negative effects drug use is having on your life.
Signs and symptoms of drug abuse and drug addiction
Although different drugs have different physical effects, the symptoms of addiction are similar. See if you recognise yourself in the following signs and symptoms of substance abuse and addiction. If so, consider talking to someone about your drug use.
Common signs and symptoms of drug abuse
§ You’re neglecting your responsibilities at school, work, or home (e.g. flunking classes, skipping work, neglecting your children) because of your drug use.
§ You’re using drugs under dangerous conditions or taking risks while high, such as driving while on drugs, using dirty needles, or having unprotected sex.
§ Your drug use is getting you into legal trouble, such as arrests for disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, or stealing to support a drug habit.
§ Your drug use is causing problems in your relationships, such as fights with your partner or family members, an unhappy boss, or the loss of old friends.
Common signs and symptoms of drug addiction
§ You’ve built up a drug tolerance. You need to use more of the drug to experience the same effects you used to attain with smaller amounts.
§ You take drugs to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms. If you go too long without drugs, you experience symptoms such as nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking, and anxiety.
§ You’ve lost control over your drug use. You often do drugs or use more than you planned, even though you told yourself you wouldn’t. You may want to stop using, but you feel powerless.
§ Your life revolves around drug use. You spend a lot of time using and thinking about drugs, figuring out how to get them, and recovering from the drug’s effects.
§ You’ve abandoned activities you used to enjoy, such as hobbies, sports, and socialising, because of your drug use.
§ You continue to use drugs, despite knowing it’s hurting you. It’s causing major problems in your life along with blackouts, infections, mood swings, depression, paranoia, but you continue to use anyway.
Drug abusers often try to conceal their symptoms and downplay their problem. If you’re worried that a friend or family member might be abusing drugs, look for the following warning signs:
Physical warning signs of drug abuse
§ Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual.
§ Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
§ Deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habits.
§ Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
§ Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination.
Behavioural signs of drug abuse
§ Drop in attendance and performance at work or school.
§ Unexplained need for money or financial problems. May borrow or steal to get it.
§ Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviours.
§ Sudden change in friends, favourite hangouts, and hobbies.
§ Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities).
Psychological warning signs of drug abuse
§ Unexplained change in personality or attitude.
§ Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts.
§ Periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness.
§ Lack of motivation; appears lethargic or “spaced out.”
§ Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid, with no reason.
Support is essential to addiction recovery
Don’t try to go it alone; it’s all too easy to get discouraged and rationalise your behaviour and its impact on people. Telephone us today and we can help you and offer advice, support and quick access to addiction treatment and residential rehab
- In England, the Misuse of Drugs Act is the main law that covers illegal drugs. Under the terms of the Misuse of Drugs Act, drugs are classified as A, B or C, with class A being the most dangerous and class C being the least dangerous (although class C drugs can still pose a serious risk to your health).
- Stress is a major factor in drug use and abuse.
- People take drugs in order NOT to feel.
- Sadly, nearly two-thirds of people in drug abuse treatment report that they were physically or sexually abused as children. Child abuse is a major contributing factor to drug addiction.
- Drug use and addiction is linked to at least half of the major crimes in this country, as at least half of the suspects arrested for violent crimes, such as homicide and assault, were under the influence of drugs when they were arrested.
- If you or a loved one has a drug problem, there's a lot of support and help available.
- Drug abuse can exacerbate an underlying mental health problem
- 80% of people with mental health problems self medicate with drugs or alcohol
- In 2007, 10.5 per cent of adults had used one or more illicit drug in the last year.
- 6.3 per cent of adult had used an illicit drug in the last month.
- The use of any Class A drug in the last year has increased, from 2.7p er cent in 1998 to 3.4 per cent in 2005/06, mainly due to a rise in the use of cocaine powder.
- Men are more likely to take illicit drugs than women, 13.7 per cent of men compared with 7.4 per cent of women took drugs in the last year.
- People living within the South West Government Office Region reported higher levels of any illicit drug use, compared to the total for England and Wales. For Class A drugs, the highest levels were found among those living in London.
- For 15 year olds, 52 per cent reported ever being offered cannabis with 18 per cent having ever been offered cocaine and ecstasy in the last year.
- The total number of deaths related to drug misuse in England and Wales increased from 829 in 1993 to 1805 in 2001 and was 1608 in 2005, an increase from 1495 in 2004.
- 206,889 individuals aged 18 and over were recorded as in contact with structured drug treatment services in England in 2009/10. During 2005/06 181,390 people were in contact with structured drug treatment services. This is a 13 per cent increase on figures during 2004/05, where the number was 160,453 and more than twice the number in 1998/99.
- Overall, heroin was the main drug for which people received treatment (64 per cent of all treatments), whilst for clients aged under 18, it was cannabis (67 per cent).
- Only 1.2% of problem drug users in contact with the statutory drug-treatment systems under the NTA enter rehab. In 2008/9, it was 4,711 out of 202,000 users, or 2.3%. In 2009/10 numbers fell to 3,914 out of 320,000 users. Source Addiction Today 14th March 2011) if you want treatment go privately.
- The use of illicit or licit, psychoactive drugs incur harm which continue throughout families and generations.
- Methadone is used as a prescription medication for heroin. However, it is more addictive and harder to withdraw from, and is the second-greatest drug killer in the country
- What is the worst drug?
- Poppers (Amyl Nitrate)
- Crystal Meth
- Amphetamines (Speed)
- Magic Mushrooms
- Ecstasy (E’s)
- Binge Drinking
- Gambling Addiction
- Club Drugs
- Ivory Wave 2-DPMP
- Anabolic Steroids