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Millions and millions of Americans abuse illegal drugs each year. And although overall rates are down somewhat from levels found in the 1980’s and 1990’s, drug abuse remains a serious problem that impacts almost every sector of our society.

Understanding the world of drug abuse is important for every man, woman and child in the United States. Simply put, if abuse and drug addiction have not yet had an impact on you or family, statistics show at some point it will.

The following information is designed to help those who are suffering from a drug abuse problem better understand their condition. It will also help the loved ones of an addicted individual find the most effective ways to turn that person’s life around.

What is Drug Abuse?

Drug abuse is a condition in which the individual continues to use drugs despite a clear understanding of the harm it is causing them and their families. Drug abuse is not drug addiction, which is typified by such things as developing a tolerance for drugs or experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using drugs.

Different Types of Drug Abuse

Currently, there are more drugs available to abuse than ever before in our history. Drug treatment centers and emergency rooms report a steady stream of cases involving the abuse of (and addiction to) the following drugs:

Each of these drugs carries with them different dangers and health hazards. They also provide different “highs” and “lows” for the user. But one thing that they all share in common is that they possess the ability to take otherwise happy, healthy individuals and tear their lives apart.

The Dangers of Drug Abuse

Although many people will tell you that they can “handle” their drugs, make no mistake about the dangers of drug abuse. There are a number of potential ill effects from drug abuse, including:

  • Long-term health problems – including heart disease, kidney disease and other serious issues.
  • Psychological problems – many drug addicts report experiencing depression, anxiety or even dementia as a result of long-term drug use.
  • Loss of relationships – many people engaged in a drug abuse problem will make everything in their lives secondary to the drugs – including close personal and family relationships.
  • Criminal behavior – drugs are against the law in many aspects, including buying or selling drugs. Also, many individuals will resort to theft or other criminal behavior in order to support their drug abuse problem.

Getting Professional Drug Abuse Help

Although having a drug abuse problem makes many people feel alone and isolated, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. The United States is home to thousands of outstanding drug abuse treatment facilities – all of which are staffed by caring individuals who are ready to reach out help the individual change their behavior.

Seeking help for a substance abuse problem can be as easy as asking your physician or psychiatrist about where to find treatment. Many individuals also opt to call a drug abuse helpline where they speak confidentially with someone over the phone about their treatment options.

Once an individual has reached out for help, they have to primary rehab options: residential treatment and outpatient treatment.

  • Residential drug abuse rehab. These programs have recovering addict move into the facility for an extended period of time so that they may focus on overcoming their addiction without the distractions of the outside world.
  • Outpatient drug abuse rehab. In outpatient rehab, the individual attends treatment programs during the day, but returns home in the evening to be with family and friends.

Residential drug rehab is the better choice for those individuals who need a safe place to get away from it all and achieve recovery. It suits men and women who live in a destructive environment or who have become a danger to themselves and others in the “outside world”. Not everyone, however, can drop everything in their lives to attend rehab. For these individuals, outpatient rehab gives them the ability to continue on with treatment while still maintaining a presence at work or in the home.

Drug Abuse and Teens

Perhaps no group of people has more to lose as a result of drug abuse than teenagers. The teen years are a natural time of experimentation and pushing the boundaries. But drug abuse is too serious to chalk up to youthful indiscretion. There are a number of serious reasons why teen turn to drugs, including:

  • Peer pressure
  • Problems in the home environment
  • Past sexual or physical abuse
  • Self-image issues
  • Academic pressure

Parents are urged to talk to their kids about drugs at an early age (by the time they reach their late teens years may be too late). And if, unfortunately, an adolescent has developed a drug abuse problem, they should be enrolled in a teen drug rehab program that addresses many of the core issues listed above.

Women and Drug Abuse Problems

Like young people, there are drug abuse issues specific to women, including:

  • Co-dependency (being involved in a co-dependent relationship)
  • Self-image or appearance issues
  • Eating disorders
  • Coping with past sexual abuse

Recently, there has been a rise in the number of gender-specific treatment programs for women. These facilities provide a safer environment than “coed” treatment centers and create an atmosphere where women enhance the recovery process by supporting one another throughout treatment.

The Current State of Drug Abuse in the United States

Although overall drug abuse rates are down from highs experienced in the 1980’s and 1990’s, there is still a serious societal problem with drugs in this country. Some areas have actually seen a recent rise in drug abuse rates, including prescription drug abuse among teens and the elderly. Drug types come in and out of fashion, but the need for professional drug treatment centers remains crucial to helping men and women overcome this problem before it turns into a full-blown addiction.

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