Every year, thousands of Illinois residents struggle with addiction, a chronic disorder caused by drug or alcohol use. It can even lead to legal difficulties. When someone is suffering from addiction, they struggle to control their urges for alcohol or drugs even though the substances could cost them not just money but also social standing, their job or their clean record. The economic toll of addiction on the state is significant and is estimated to be greater than $3.5 billion.
When people think of addiction, they commonly think of street drugs. Street drugs can include drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and marijuana as well as so-called “designer drugs” such as spice, bath salts and molly. Regardless of the type of drug, all street drugs can be dangerous.
In Illinois, heroin is widely considered to be one of the most dangerous drugs in the state. The state’s central location makes it a convenient hub for traffickers, and Chicago, in particular, is a heroin hot spot. Heroin users often begin with what might be considered a fairly benign drug: prescription painkillers. When someone misuses prescription drugs or is addicted and can no longer achieve the same results, they often move on to the often more potent, more affordable and more accessible heroin. In fact, according to one survey, more than three-fourths of heroin users became addicted through non-medical use of prescription opioids.
Other common street drugs include:
The risks of street drugs can be immediate and can include overdose, vein damage, bacterial infection or contamination. Long-term effects of drug use include:
About 2.5 percent of Illinoisans over the age of 12 abused or were dependent on illicit drugs during 2013 and 2014, the most recent year for which data was available.
While street drugs pose a clear and obvious threat to health, many people erroneously believe that prescription drugs are a safer alternative. Prescription drugs such as hydrocodone, codeine and fentanyl are used to manage pain and are typically given after surgery or serious injuries. Misusing these medications can lead to addiction or heroin use.
Opiates work by intercepting pain signals in the brain. They are commonly used after serious injuries or surgery or to treat other major pain. About 200 million prescriptions are filled annually. The easy access to and availability of opioids is believed to help fuel the demand for some street drugs, such as heroin.
According to the CDC, the most problematic prescription opiates include:
Other commonly abused prescription drugs include barbiturates, benzodiazepines, amphetamines and sleeping medications.
Risks associated with prescription drug misuse can lead to depressed breathing, sedation, difficulty concentrating, a heightened risk of accidents, memory problems, liver damage, nausea and vomiting, constipation, brain damage and addiction.
About 2 million Americans are believed to suffer from prescription opioid dependence, and every day, about 1,000 people seek emergency care for opioid misuse.
Only 35,000 of them received treatment. Heavy alcohol use is defined as drinking more than five drinks on any single occasion on at least five days a month. Binge drinking is defined as drinking five or more drinks on any single occasion in a single month.
Alcohol dependence is defined as:
While excess alcohol use alone does not automatically translate to alcohol dependence, it can be a symptom of an alcohol use disorder. Heavy drinking can also lead to relationship problems, violence, sexual dysfunction and employment difficulties.
Substance abuse statistics reveal that drug and alcohol misuse and addiction can affect a person directly and indirectly, and it can have immediate and long-term effects. Just one use can lead to changes in heart rate, blood pressure, psychosis, and overdose. Long-term effects associated with addiction can include mental illness, heart or lung disease, infectious diseases and cancer.
Addiction can affect a person’s sleep, nutritional status, a risk of injury, a risk of violence and decision-making ability. Babies who are born to women who misuse drugs can be born addicted and may suffer a wide range of adverse outcomes.
Those who are suffering from drug addiction can suffer from the housing, employment, and relationship problems, and they may be more likely to encounter legal problems. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not just dangerous; it can bring stiff legal penalties. Nearly 33,000 people were arrested for DUI in Illinois in 2015, according to IDOT, and more than 90 percent of them lost their driving privileges. Drivers who are arrested for DUI also frequently face fines, jail time, community service and mandatory rehabilitation programs.
A licensed treatment facility can give people an ally in fighting their addictions. For some people, an out-of-state rehab center provides an environment that is conducive to recovery, away from the stresses and triggers of your everyday life. With an individualized treatment plan designed to meet personal goals and objectives, a patient can have access to the strategies that will propel them towards recovery and a healthy, positive outcome. Residential care, hospitalization, intensive outpatient programs, dual diagnosis, counseling, behavioral management programs and comprehensive support will give them the tools they need to achieve abstinence, wellness and an improved quality of life.
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