Why Are Drugs Especially Dangerous For Young People
Young people’s brains are growing and developing until they are their mid-20’s. This is especially true of the prefrontal cortex, which is used to make decisions. Taking drugs when young can interfere with developmental processes occurring in the brain. It can also affect their decision-making. They may be more likely to do risky things, such as unsafe sex and dangerous driving.
The earlier young people start using drugs, the greater their chances of continuing to use them and become addicted later in life.Taking drugs when you are young can contribute to the development of adult health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep disorders.
Drugs And Young People
Drug use, or misuse, includes
- Using illegal substances, such as
- Taking a medicine that was prescribed for someone else
- Taking a larger dose than you are supposed to
- Using the medicine in a different way than you are supposed to. For example, instead of swallowing your tablets, you might crush and then snort or inject them.
- Using the medicine for another purpose, such as getting high
People With Higher Iqs
Theres a common misconception that addiction is more likely to affect those who are less educated and who come from a poorer background, but many addicts are highly-paid and have successful careers. Many professionals, from bankers and doctors to lawyers and CEOs, have fallen victim to substance abuse and its thought that the stress, isolation and failed relationships that are so often associated with these occupations can play a significant part in this.
Some studies also believe that children who have higher IQs are more likely to use psychoactive drugs such as marijuana, heroin and cocaine in their later years. One theory for this is that smarter people can intellectualise their drug use which is different from rationalisation and denial. However, without definitive proof of causation this is a theory that remains based upon conjecture.
You May Like: How To Fight Opioid Addiction
The Controlled Substances Act
The Controlled Substances Act is a law that regulates legal and illegal drugs in the United States. Under the CSA, drugs are categorized into different schedules according to a drugs perceived danger and potential for dependence. For example, Heroin is classified as a Schedule I drug because of its illegal status and extremely addictive qualities. Legal medications on the other hand, such as over-the-counter Painkillers and cough Suppressants, are categorized as Schedule V because of their low chances for abuse.
The CSAs drug scheduling system exists for several reasons. In common cases, the system is used by judges to help them determine sentences for drug-related crimes. It is also helpful for medical professionals when writing prescriptions.
From Experimenting To Getting Hooked
As individuals continue with addictive habits or substances, the brain adapts. It tries to reestablish a balance between the dopamine surges and normal levels of the substance in the brain, Morikawa said. To do this, neurons begin to produce less dopamine or simply reduce the number of dopamine receptors. The result is that the individual needs to continue to use drugs, or practice a particular behavior, to bring dopamine levels back to “normal.” Individuals may also need to take greater amounts of drugs to achieve a high this is called tolerance.
Without dopamine creating feelings of pleasure in the brain, individuals also become more sensitive to negative emotions such as stress, anxiety or depression, Morikawa said. Sometimes, people with addiction may even feel physically ill, which often compels them to use drugs again to relieve these symptoms of withdrawal.
Eventually, the desire for the drug becomes more important than the actual pleasure it provides. And because dopamine plays a key role in learning and memory, it hardwires the need for the addictive substance or experience into the brain, along with any environmental cues associated with it people, places, things and situations associated with past use. These memories become so entwined that even walking into a bar years later, or talking to the same friends an individual had previously binged with, may then trigger an alcoholic’s cravings, Morikawa said.
Read Also: How Do You Convince An Addict To Get Help
What Makes Drugs Addictive
While some substances may be technically more addictive than others, any drug can become addictive. Nicotine in cigarettes, alcohol, prescription painkillers, and illegal drugs all can be addictive. However, the risk of addiction is based as much or more on individuals and their circumstances, not drugs themselves.
Anyone can become addicted to drugs or alcohol, including nurses, doctors, law enforcement agents or straight A students . It could happen the first time you try a drug, as can a fatal overdose.
Some of the things that make drugs addictive include:
New Insights Into A Common Problem
Nobody starts out intending to develop an addiction, but many people get caught in its snare. Consider the latest government statistics:
- Nearly 23 million Americansalmost one in 10are addicted to alcohol or other drugs.
- More than two-thirds of people with addiction abuse alcohol.
- The top three drugs causing addiction are marijuana, opioid pain relievers, and cocaine.
In the 1930s, when researchers first began to investigate what caused addictive behavior, they believed that people who developed addictions were somehow morally flawed or lacking in willpower. Overcoming addiction, they thought, involved punishing miscreants or, alternately, encouraging them to muster the will to break a habit.
The scientific consensus has changed since then. Today we recognize addiction as a chronic disease that changes both brain structure and function. Just as cardiovascular disease damages the heart and diabetes impairs the pancreas, addiction hijacks the brain. This happens as the brain goes through a series of changes, beginning with recognition of pleasure and ending with a drive toward compulsive behavior.
Read Also: Why Should Drug Addicts Be Helped
Why Do Some People Become Addicted To Drugs While Others Don’t
No one factor can predict if a person will become addicted to drugs. A combination of factors influences risk for addiction. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction. For example:
- Biology. The genes that people are born with account for about half of a person’s risk for addiction. Gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders may also influence risk for drug use and addiction.
- Environment. A persons environment includes many different influences, from family and friends to economic status and general quality of life. Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, early exposure to drugs, stress, and parental guidance can greatly affect a persons likelihood of drug use and addiction.
- Development. Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a persons life to affect addiction risk. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier that drug use begins, the more likely it will progress to addiction. This is particularly problematic for teens. Because areas in their brains that control decision-making, judgment, and self-control are still developing, teens may be especially prone to risky behaviors, including trying drugs.
Individualized Treatment Is Essential
The question of why some become addicted and others dont isnt easy to answer, because everyone develops an addiction differently. The most important thing to note is that professional help is essential for long-term recovery, and since no two individuals addictions are alike, no two individuals treatment plans should be the same.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration stresses that just as there is no single pathway to addiction, there is no single pathway to recovery. Regardless of why someone becomes addicted, an individualized treatment plan is essential for the best possible outcome of treatment.
What Happens To The Brain When Drugs Are Being Abused
Drugs are compounds that tap in the communication system of the brain and interrupt the process nerve cells that typically send, process and receive information. There are two ways that these substances are able to do this: imitating the natural compound messengers of the brain over stimulating the brains reward circuit.
Heroin, marijuana and other drugs have the same structure to chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters. These are commonly produced by the human brain. Due to this similarity, these drugs have the capacity to fool the receptors of the brain and initiate nerve cells for the purpose of sending abnormal messages.
Whereas, other drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine can lead the nerve cells into abnormal release of large quantities of natural neurotransmitters, or even prevent the normal reprocessing of the brain chemicals, which is necessary in shutting off the warning sign between neurons. This interruption generates a greatly enlarged message that ultimately interrupts normal patterns of communication.
How Addictive Are Opioids
It takes a couple of weeks to become physically dependent on an opioid, but that varies by individual. If you take an opioid for a day or two, it should not be a problem and, generally, you will not become addicted. However, some studies show even the first dose of an opioid can have physiological effects.
For some time in this country we believed patients werent at risk of addiction. No one knows for sure the percentage of those who are at risk. What we do know now through an annual survey of drug use in the U.S., when people were asked if they had used heroin, researchers found that 50 percent of those who had also had a longtime history of opioid use and 50 percent of those went on to have problematic heroin use.
We also know that the duration of opioid use can lead to physical dependence. If youre taking an opioid regularly for a period of time theres a chance that youll become physically dependent, and thats a risk factor for continued opioid use.
Read Also: How To Avoid Addiction To Drugs
Underlying Causes Of Addiction
Chronic stress. Many people use drugs or alcohol to reduce stress. People who suffer from chronic stress related to family dysfunction, financial problems, a demanding job, a medical illness, or another source may engage in heavy substance abuse, which can lead to addiction.
A history of trauma. Survivors of trauma, including physical and sexual abuse, are likely to use drugs or alcohol in an attempt to reduce fear and anxiety, suppress difficult memories, and cope with insomnia and nightmares that may follow a traumatic event. Post-traumatic stress disorder, which often occurs following a trauma, is a common risk factor for substance abuse and addiction.
Family dysfunction. Unhealthy relationships and a dysfunction household can lead to substance abuse and addiction, especially in cases of abusive relationships. Family dysfunction and the chronic stress that comes with it are another important risk factor for substance abuse.
Legal Drugs Vs Illegal Drugs
People can become addicted to illegal drugs, legal drugs, and prescription medications used in an unhealthy way, such as:
Nicotine, including cigarettes and vaping
Misusing prescription medicines like opioids, or over-the-counter medicines by taking them in a different way than intended, such as:
Taking medicine prescribed for someone else
Taking a larger dose than prescribed
Using the medicine in a different way than directed, such as crushing and snorting or injecting
Using the medicine to get high on purpose
The risks and speed of developing an addiction depend on the drug. Some drugs, like opioid painkillers, cause addiction very quickly. Drugs have a strong effect on the brains reward system, by filling the brain with a chemical called dopamine which produces the feeling of being high. Over time, the brain gets used to the larger amount of dopamine so it needs larger doses of the drug to get high. Some people might feel like they need the drug to just feel normal. When drugs are used for a long time, they damage the areas of the brain responsible for judgment, decision-making, memory, and learning.
No matter the type of addiction, if you recognize symptoms, it is important to seek the necessary help. Contact us today to take the first step.
Recommended Reading: How To Stop Doing Something Addictive
Why Are Some People More Susceptible To Opioid Addiction
Nobody is quite sure why one person becomes addicted to opioids and not another. Typically, opioids produce pain relief, which is good after surgery. However, for some people opioids create a pleasurable effect. For example, caffeine is a reinforcing drug people like the effects.
That is true for about 80 percent of the adult population in U.S. But, some people avoid it because it makes them jittery or anxious. Early in the process of opioid use, people may take it because of the pleasurable effect, and some people actually dont like the effect of an opioid and may go on to avoid them. If you take an opioid and your pain is gone, and you find yourself saying, I feel really good, it may be a warning sign that you are vulnerable to misusing these medications.
Over time that good effect diminishes for people who like how an opioid makes them feel, and many people take more opioids because they hope to get that good feeling, and they also dont want to go through withdrawal.
Tolerance Is A Key Symptom Of Addiction
Sometimes an addiction can sneak up on you slowly and insidiously. As you continue to use a drug, you can slowly build up a tolerance to it, which means that you no longer get the same feeling or “high” that you once got by taking a small amount.
Once your tolerance begins to build, you might increase the dose or frequency of taking the drug. You are trying to get that same “high” that you felt in the beginning when your body was not used to the drug. As you continue to build tolerance, you end up taking more of the drug. Your body becomes chemically dependent on the drug. Which means, you discover that you need to take the drug just to feel normal or leveled out.
You May Like: How To Overcome Food Addiction
Chronic Disease And Relapses
For many addicts, addiction can become a chronic illness, meaning that they can have relapses similar to relapses that can happen with other chronic diseasessuch as diabetes, asthma, and hypertensionwhen patients fail to comply with their treatment. These relapses can occur even after long periods of abstinence. The addict can take action to enter remission again. But he remains at risk of another relapse. The ASAM notes “Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”
What Else Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
If you or a loved one is experiencing substance use disorder, ask your healthcare provider:
- How can I stop taking drugs?
- What is the best treatment plan for me?
- How long will the withdrawal symptoms last?
- How long does therapy take?
- What can I do to prevent a relapse?
- What community resources can help me during my recovery?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Substance abuse, or substance use disorder, is a brain disease. Drugs affect your brain, including your decision-making ability. These changes make it hard to stop taking drugs, even if you want to. If you or a loved one has a substance use disorder, talk to a healthcare provider. A trained provider can help guide you to the treatment you need. Usually, a combination of medication and ongoing therapy helps people recover from addiction and get back to their lives.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/03/2020.
You May Like: How To Leave An Addict
Statistics On Methamphetamine Addiction And Abuse
Methamphetamine, which is commonly called Meth, is a controlled substance which has a high potential for abuse, overdose, and addiction. As an illegal drug, Meth is usually sold as Crystal to be burned and smoked. Meth is highly addictive and dangerous for a persons health.
- About 774,000 Americans are regular Meth users. About 16,000 of them are between the ages of 12 and 17.
- About 10,000 Americans who regularly used Meth suffered a fatal overdose in 2017.
- About 964,000 Americans are addicted to Meth.
- In 2017, about 195,000 Americans used Meth for the first time.
- The number of fatal Meth overdoses almost tripled from 2011 to 2016.
How Long Does It Take To Get Addicted To Heroin
Most people dont become addicted to heroin after one use. But using the drug once may lead to repeated use that escalates to addiction. Depending on how often you use heroin, how you use the drug and the purity of the drug, you can get addicted to heroin in less than a week.
Those who use heroin usually do not experience physical or psychological cravings after their first use. But the drugs desirable effects often motivate people to try it again. This can start a dangerous cycle of compulsive use.
As heroin use escalates, the brain begins to build a tolerance to the drug, requiring higher doses to feel the same effects. Over time, people become physically dependent on the drug and need it to function normally. Many individuals dont realize they have a problem until theyve developed a full-blown heroin addiction. The longer they wait to enter heroin treatment, the more addicted they become.
Medical Disclaimer: DrugRehab.com aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
Also Check: Is My Kid Addicted To Video Games