While other diseases like cancer and heart problems often make the news, one disease that is a silent killer is addiction. According to recent studies, the annual cost of drug use in Canada is $22.8 billion, which amounts to an average of $725 per Canadian annually.
That is no small number! Millions of Canadians and Americans are struggling with their addiction to drugs and alcohol, and wish they could change their lives around forever.
Many addictions start with “gateway drugs”, such as marijuana, that get someone accustomed to the “good feelings” that drugs can bring. There often comes a point where the gateway drug does not bring the same level of euphoria and the user starts to try other substances.
This often means harder, more damaging drugs, such as heroin and cocaine. Once the user has become addicted to these types of drugs, it is very difficult to stop using them without professional help in a drug addiction treatment program.
Although all drugs bring with them warnings and health issues, there are five drugs that are considered to be highly addictive. If you or someone you know are abusing any of these five drugs, it is time to consider entering a drug rehab program:
After methamphetamines, cocaine creates the great psychological dependence of all the drugs. It is fairly easy to obtain, easy to use, and is said to be nearly instantaneously addictive from the first time it is used. One of the problems with cocaine is that the user always tries to achieve the same high that was reached during the first few times of trying cocaine, but it is very difficult to achieve. Therefore, they are using cocaine more frequently, as well as in greater doses, putting their lives at risk each time.
Cocaine users often graduate to mixing the drug with other drugs such as marijuana, heroin and meth. Depending on the users’ budget, he or she may not understand exactly what they are purchasing. In many cases, cocaine is “watered down” with other drugs or substances that are highly damaging to the human body. These mixed cocaine substances can be as harmful as, or even more so, than just the cocaine itself.
Cocaine can be taken multiple ways, with the two most popular methods being syringe injections and snorting up the nose. These are both highly damaging in different ways. Any drugs that utilize syringes increase the chance of getting blood-born diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. In many cases the user cannot afford to purchase new needles, or may simply not care about sharing needles, which increases their odds of complicating their health further. Drug rehabs routinely face increasing difficulty when a syringe was the method of choice.
Unlike cocaine which can create a false sense of energy, heroin users enjoy the deep sleepiness feeling that it produces. As an opium derivative, heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid that triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, leaving the user very relaxed. When heroin users shoot up with a syringe, they call it “going on the nod” or “nodding off”.
Although heroin itself is fairly new to the drug scene, it’s cousin opium certainly is not. Opium has been around for centuries and has brought feelings of intense euphoria to its users. However, while the user may feel fantastic, the damage that is being done to the body is toxic. Heroin users are at a higher risk of developing blood-borne diseases from sharing needles, are frequently ill, find themselves unable to think clearly, and lead to life-long chemical imbalances in the brain.
Once someone is addicted to heroin, it is very difficult to stop using it. Those who are most successful have entered inpatient drug addiction treatment to not only help them with the psychological dependence on heroin, but to help with the physical withdrawal symptoms which include vomiting, nausea, chills and diarrhea.
One of the easiest drugs to obtain and most widely used, alcohol addiction is a silent but deadly dependence. Once an individual has reached the age of 19 in Canada, he or she has unlimited access to alcohol. In bars, at restaurants, even at gas stations, you can purchase alcohol all day long without any restrictions. Since it is enjoyed recreationally with friends, family and coworkers, an addiction to alcohol may go unnoticed or diagnosed for a long time.
Since the majority of adults enjoy an alcoholic beverage from time to time, it can be easy to justify one’s own drinking habits. Medical professionals widely agree that there are common identifying markers that all alcoholics share. If someone is drinking alone, hides their drinking habits, frequently blacks out and is having trouble maintaining their social, personal and work lives, he may be an alcoholic.
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canadians drink 50% more alcohol, on average, than other countries around the world. Since alcohol is so widely available and may be part of the local culture, some may not even realize that they have a dependence to alcohol if everyone else around them is consuming large quantities as well on a regular basis.
A newer and growing concern among those who work in drug rehab facilities is an increasing addiction to prescription painkillers. Although not as easy to obtain as alcohol, a dependence on painkillers may start off innocently enough and turn into a complete addiction.
In many cases, someone is prescribed a painkiller by their doctor, most commonly after a surgical procedure. However, as the pain starts to go away naturally as the body heals itself, the user has become accustomed to the good feelings that painkillers can bring and may continue using them. Hydrocodone is a commonly prescribed painkiller for everything from migraines to post-surgery treatments, and has become a go-to drug for those who are dependent on painkillers.
It is not uncommon for users addicted to painkillers to find themselves taking dozens of pills per day to achieve the same euphoric or relaxing feelings. One study showed that 8% of high school seniors had used hydrocodone (or other painkillers) for purposes other than relieving pain, which is a disturbing trend that could lead to prescription drug addiction.
Just like alcohol, a nicotine addiction it easy to form and very difficult to stop due to its affordability and easy access. What starts as a few puffs while drinking can turn into a full-blown dependence with the user requiring multiple packs of cigarettes per day to feel good again.
The primary addictive ingredient in cigarettes is nicotine. This substance is absorbed into your bloodstream; just 10 seconds after nicotine enters your body, it reaches the brain and starts to produce adrenaline. The user almost immediately feels pleasurable effects, as well as a feeling of energy. However, the “buzz” created by the nicotine is short-lived and can leave the user feeling a bit down, tired, even depressed. This causes the user to reach for another cigarette, and the cycle can be endless.
Although not everyone who wants to quit tobacco enters a drug rehab facility, it is certainly an option. Quitting cigarettes is highly difficult to do without additional help, whether it is counseling, patches or gum, and a treatment center can provide that much-needed support to quit the dependence once and for all.