Young Adults and Drugs

| July 30, 2013

Drugs: Myth vs. Fact

Myth: People with substance problems stay intoxicated all the time and cannot control their substance use

Myth: Being wealthy, successful, and well-educated makes a person immune to addiction

Myth:Marijuana is safer for your lungs than cigarettes

Fact: Prescription drugs are the most commonly abused drugs

Myth: Addiction is a will-power problem

Did you know?

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

  • That marijuana is addictive. The chances of becoming addicted to marijuana or any drug are different for each person. For marijuana, around 1 in 11 people who use it become addicted.
  • That most people who start smoking in their teens become regular smokers before they’re 18.
  • That smokeless tobacco (such as chewing tobacco or snuff) increases the risk of cancer, especially oral cancer
  • That about 440,000 Americans die from diseases associated with tobacco use each year.
  • That out of the most popular songs in 2005, 1 in 3 songs mentioned drug, alcohol, or tobacco use. 3 in 4 rap songs mentioned drug, alcohol, or tobacco use.
  • That out of the top 90 movies over the last two decades, almost 7 in 10 movies showed characters smoking and 1 in 3 showed people getting drunk.
  • In 2006, prescription pain medications were involved in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined
  • Mixing pills with other drugs or alcohol really increases your risk of death from accidental overdose.
  • Prescription drug abuse is a form of drug abuse. It is only safe to use prescription medications when they are prescribed for you by a doctor for a current problem and are taken as directed.
  • Repeated drug use can reset the brain’s pleasure meter, so that without the drug, you feel hopeless and sad. Eventually, everyday fun stuff like spending time with friends or playing with your dog doesn’t make you happy anymore.
  • Drugs alter your brain’s wiring and signals because their size and shape are similar to natural brain chemicals neurotransmitters.
  • Treatment may not always work the first time, but it works. A person who is addicted to drugs can be helped with treatment.

Anyone can become addicted

What is addiction?

Addiction is both a biological and physiological condition whereby a person exhibits compulsive behavior to satisfy a craving even where there are no negative consequences

Addiction has three key characteristics, the 3 C’s:
1. Loss of Control
2. Craving or compulsions
3. Continued behavior

Signs and symptoms of addiction:

  1. Personality strain/change – This could be caused by mental illness, physical aliment, or substance abuse.
  2. Legal issues
    Addiction is likely to create a lot of legal issues that are going to make it hard to ignore that something is going on.
  3. Job issues
    When addiction takes hold, some issues are going to creep in at work or at school. Over time, addicts become less capable of hiding performance flaws. If a normally responsible person is missing deadlines or not following through on commitments, this could be an indicator that something’s up.
  4. Family strain
    Relationships with family are often jeopardized when people develop an affinity for drugs or alcohol. Communications become strained and the addict stops showing up for family engagements or maybe even dinner
  5. Physical change
    Physical changes are a strong indicator of addiction. Maybe they’re getting scraggly and smelly because they’ve stopped grooming or showering. A noticeable weight loss or gain could be a symptom, and the same goes for a change in eating and sleeping habits.
  6. Behavior change
    As people’s addictions get bigger their lives get smaller, and the things that they value the most begin to fall away. Depression sets in, and suddenly they stop doing activities or hobbies that they once loved, or maybe their mood has become erratic.
  7. Change in friends
    This isn’t always the easiest thing to notice, because it’s a fact of life that friendships fade and new people come into our lives. But when normally social people stop hanging around with their usual group of friends with no explanation, it’s important to take notice. Or, maybe there’s a new person in their life that just doesn’t seem be someone they would normally be friends with. This can be a telltale sign that something funky is going on.

Do I have a Problem? Addictive Disorders Screen (by Unmasking Addiction)

1. Thinking back to when I first began the behavior,
a. I now need an increased amount or intensity of the behavior in order to achieve the same desired effect
b. I am experiencing a diminished effect of the behavior, which has continued at the same level of intensity

2. Is one or both of the following true for you?
a. When I discontinue the behavior, I experience some kind of discomfort (e.g.: anxiety, depression, headache, not feeling like myself, flulike symptoms)
b. I do the behavior in order to relieve or avoid uncomfortable feelings that would occur if I stopped the behavior

3. Do you engage in a behavior over a longer period of time, in greater quantity, or at a higher level of intensity than intended?
4. Have you had a desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control the behavior?
5. Do you spend a great deal of time in activities necessary to prepare for the behavior, to engage in the behavior, or to recover from its effects?
6. How important social, occupational, or recreational activities been given up or reduced because of this behavior?
7. Do you continue this behavior despite having persistent or recurrent physical and psychological problems that are caused or exacerbated by the behavior?
8. Do you experience some element of craving or compulsion to do the behavior?

Scoring: For questions 1 and 2, score 1point if either A or B is a yes. For questions 3 to 8 score one point for each yes. A total of 3 or more is indicative of an addictive disorder at the problematic or fully developed level.

Questions to Think About

  1. What are the effects you hope to get from ‘using’? be more sociable, to be liked and ‘fit in’ with your friends, to relax, to forget about painful experiences, feelings or thoughts, to be more creative, express what is on your mind, etc.
  2. Are you ‘using ‘ by yourself?
  3. Has your pattern of substance use changed since you first started?
  4. Has your tolerance changed? e.g., does it take more alcohol now to feel a buzz?
  5. Do you have trouble with your memory?
  6. Do you use on a regular basis? (during every party/social gathering? every weekend? several times a week? daily?)
  7. If you are using alcohol, is it difficult to stop after two or three drinks?
  8. When you attend a social gathering, is it the availability of alcohol and/or drugs that “makes the party”?
  9. Did you use to have personal and or academic goals that are now hard to get motivated for?.
  10. When under the influence, do have great plans to write, compose or do something special, but somehow never follow through?
  11. Have your leisure activities become more limited? e.g. you no longer play tennis, hike as much, read for leisure, etc……
  12. Have you changed your circle of friends based on their ‘using ‘habits?
  13. Do you feel annoyed when others remark on your ‘using’ habits?
  14. Do you put yourself at ease by thinking your substance use is no different from that of your friends; that using is part of partying which is part of being a student….etc….
  15. Do you at times think about ‘cutting’ back, but never get around to it.
  16. Did you previously enjoy your studies and now have trouble attending your classes?
  17. Do you try to find external reasons for why you are no longer doing as well academically? e.g. the classes are not interesting, the professor is boring, etc….
  18. Do you participate in risk-taking behaviors, at times even after experiencing negative consequences? e.g. having unprotected sex, driving under the influence etc…
  19. Do you have financial difficulties as a result of your substance use?
  20. Do you ever feel guilty/ ashamed about your behavior when under the influence?
  21. Do you have alcoholism or addiction in your family history?

If any of your responses to the questions raise concerns, further exploration of your substance use would be helpful. Your concerns deserve your attention regardless of what the final assessment might be. Indeed, you might use a substance or substances in ways that are harmful.

You don’t have to be an alcoholic or addict to experience negative effects from the use of alcohol and/or drugs. You might have developed an abusive pattern as a way of adjusting to the pressures of life, and/or you may actually experience a physiological as well as psychological addiction to the substance(s) of your choice. As a result, you might need to learn to use in a controlled, more responsible manner or you might benefit from becoming completely abstinent.

Click here for info on getting help.

Category: Other Drugs, Young Adults - Other Drugs

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