Drug addiction is a scary subject, which is why so many families fail to discuss it properly, or at all, with their young people. This is folly, however. Kids need to be frightened about drugs and so do adults.
Anyone can become a drug addict under the right circumstances. In fact, you might know someone who is a drug addict but not realize this is the case. She could end up on the five o’clock news one day and you would never have suspected a thing.
The outward signs of drug addiction look like lots of other things. One might appear to age prematurely. Perhaps they shake slightly, or they seem forgetful and tired. Perhaps skin, hair, and eyes lose their healthy glow.
Addicts slow down and are cautious in every movement as though they see things in their way or are unsure of their movements. At the other extreme, they plunge into situations incautiously.
Drug addicts are sometimes erratic: seemingly happy or even ecstatic one minute, depressed and desperate the next. They might show more severe signs of mental illness: paranoia, panic, and suicidal tendencies. Agitation can turn to violence, leaving loved ones and friends in fear for their safety.
Financially, drug addicts struggle. They fund their habits with grocery money, money put aside for the rent or mortgage, or even money that was needed for medicines their children require. Their ethics seem to disappear and they will do anything for drugs.
It is not uncommon for a child who was an honor student last year to be stealing from his friend’s parents this year to buy meth. A mother could become a prostitute to pay for drugs, contracting deadly diseases along the way.
There is a good chance that the guy who side-swiped you on the highway was high on cocaine. Your children could be in a vehicle driven by a parent who just injected heroin.
The taxi driver you got a lift from or the fireman who arrived at the scene of an arson attack might be under the influence of drugs. Even surgeons, dentists, and teachers go to work after smoking, snorting, injecting, or ingesting something illegal to get through the day.
Data suggests that as many as half of the crimes committed in the United States involve drugs in some way. Either the aggressors had taken drugs, were trying to fund a drug purchase, or they were involved in the trade.
Organized crime is almost impossible to root out and is deeply involved in drug trafficking and sales. Ruthless men and women are behind this seedy side of life, but every drug user ensures the continued prosperity of crime bosses and their ‘businesses.’
A lot of what you see externally in the behavior or appearance of a drug addict is the result of short term interference with signals to the brain caused by drugs. Some of what you witness, however, is long term and potentially permanent damage resulting from continued and intensive drug use. While some people will seem to live without major damage to their bodies after continued use, other users will lose their grip on reality after a single injection of heroin.
Medical imaging has captured pictures of a normal brain and what it would like after using certain drugs. These pictures show how destructive drugs are. Results make it appear that drugs virtually eat the brain until what is left is a meager portion of the original organ.
Some clients will be emotionally healthy before they abuse drugs. A single experiment could trigger a hidden possibility which would have remained hidden under other circumstances: the possibility of developing a devastating mental illness.
Finally, a body will become dependent on drugs to the point where total withdrawal is not even possible. Pain killer addicts will sometimes have to carry on using a maintenance dose of their opiates until the day they die.
It is no exaggeration to say that drug addicts are at greater risk of causing death. They become violent and hurt other people, or even kill people. When high, they do not feel pain and can continue to wreak havoc that is devastating and deadly using their bare hands or turning ordinary objects into weapons.
They act without reasoning, committing crimes they would never think of when sober. If an addict is behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence, his choice could result in many deaths including those of pedestrians, other drivers, and their own passengers. Drug addiction commonly results in periods of anger and domestic abuse which could leave a spouse or child dead.
These deaths might or might not include his own. If an addict does not die after setting fire to his house with everyone in it or shooting everyone, including himself, then he could kill himself simply by continuing to take the poisons he has chosen. Death occurs as a result of using tainted drugs. It happens when the heart, lungs, or other organs collapse from overuse of drugs.
Overdose is a common problem as users continue looking for a bigger and better high. Drugs kill when substance abusers become agitated or depressed during the withdrawal period and commit suicide or hallucinate. They might believe they can eat bullets or fly out of sixth-story windows.
A mixture of drugs, both illicit and prescribed, is a potentially fatal cocktail. Trying to detoxify alone is also potentially deadly. A body seeking its poison is under tremendous stress. Cardiac arrest is just one possibility.
The news is full of stories of how drugs influenced the behavior of ordinary people and celebrities who went on to commit murder or suicide. Beyond drug addiction, there is the violence caused during wars between drug lords and dealers in which innocent people are sometimes caught up. Drug addiction is everyone’s business and is costly to everyone. Like cancer, addiction touches almost everyone in some way.