DRUG ABUSE & ADDICTION
A Leading Killer of Americans
The US population is more vulnerable than ever to drug abuse and addiction. Despite strong efforts to curb this epidemic, illicit drugs continue to kill thousands of Americans each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half a million Americans have died from drug overdose from 2000 to 2014, 47,055 of which died in 2014 alone. This represents a seven percent increase from the previous year. The agency also reports that in 2014, deaths from opioids increased a record 14 percent from 2013 and that these drugs are involved in more than 60 percent of all fatal drug overdoses. The American drug abuse and addiction picture has only gotten worse, as heroin and prescription painkillers continue to drive the increase in deaths.
The Difference between Drug Abuse and Addiction
Addiction develops through continued and unaddressed substance abuse. Users start abusing drugs for many reasons, including personal trauma, family history, and underlying mental illness. Drug abuse becomes addiction when the brain’s chemistry changes as a result of continued drug use and the user starts to experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Once drug abuse transforms into addiction, users require comprehensive care to help them reverse the course of chemical dependency and restore normal function to the brain.
Each drug yields different withdrawal symptoms; however, some of the more common symptoms include:
- Joint and Muscle Pain
- Mild to Severe Restlessness or Irritability
- Intestinal Distress
- Flu-like Symptoms
The Escalation of Drug Abuse and Addiction
The CDC reports that those who abuse prescription painkillers are 40 times more likely to start using heroin. Although certain states may be more vulnerable to drug abuse and addiction than others, this disease knows no stereotype, and can affect anyone, regardless of age, culture or economic background.
The Most Commonly Abused Illicit Drugs
Marijuana continues to be the most commonly used illegal drug in the country; however, prescription painkillers and heroin are the deadliest. The CDC reports that 10,574 Americans died from heroin while 18,893 died from prescription opioids (painkillers) in 2014. Cocaine continues to be prevalent throughout the country, killing over 5,000 Americans in 2014, while methamphetamine continues to be the leading cause of overdose in many areas of the Southwestern United States. In the meantime, overdose from fentanyl (a prescription opioid that’s 40 to 50 times stronger than heroin) rose 80 percent, and different designer drugs like K2, spice, flakka, “bath salts” and others continue to gain popularity throughout the country.