Addiction is a chronic, relapsing condition characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite significant substance-related problems. Addiction is considered a brain disorder due to the functional changes to brain circuits it causes. These changes occur in the areas of the brain that regulate self-control, stress, and reward.1
The initial decision to take drugs may be voluntary, but regular substance use can lead to brain changes that threaten the self-control of an addicted person and interfere with their ability to avoid intense drug-taking impulses.1 Such brain changes can persist long after an individual has stopped using drugs, which is why substance abuse is considered a “relapsing” condition.
Relapse is common in substance abuse treatment, but that does not mean that therapy is not effective. To minimize the risk of relapse, drug addiction treatment should be continuous and modified based on how the patient responds.2
In this article, we will discuss the nature of addiction to commonly abused drugs. In addition, we will explore the available treatment options that can decrease the risk of relapse and encourage lasting recovery.
Drug Addiction Statistics
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published the report on substance use and abuse in 2018, presenting the following statistics on drug abuse in the USA:3
- In 2017, 19.7 million American adults (aged 12 and older) were fighting
substance use disorder, according to the National Study on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
- Nearly 74% of people with a drug use disorder suffered from an alcohol use disorder in 2017.
- In 2017, about 38% of adults were struggling with an illegal drug use disorder.
- The same year, 1 in 8 adults simultaneously suffered from both alcohol and substance use disorders.
- In 2017, 8.5 million American adults suffered from or co-occurring conditions with both a mental health disorder and a drug use disorder.
- Drug misuse and addiction have cost American society more than $740 billion a year in lost productivity in the workplace, healthcare costs, and crime-related costs.
What Are the Different Types of Drugs?
Drugs and other substances can be classified into different categories based on the following criteria:4
- Chemical similarity: It is beneficial to identify drugs by their chemical similarity because chemically related drugs may have similar effects and risks.
- Classification based on how the drugs affect the mind and body: Many people identify substances by how they influence the mind and body, although there is often overlap in chemical similarities or legal outcomes.
- Legal classification: In general, legal classifications are based on a drug’s perceived medicinal value and its perceived risk and threat. Legal classifications vary from country to country.
Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in the world. It affects different body systems, which in turn cause users to have multiple symptoms. Alcohol causes feelings of euphoria and reduces inhibitions, while seriously affecting reasoning, vision, and response times. It is a central nervous system depressant, but it causes the most serious long-term liver damage.5
While consuming alcohol is not inherently a problem, drinking too much can have a range of impacts and increase the risk of a variety of problems.5
Illicit drugs are defined as illegal substances to possess, have no medical uses, and can be harmful to consume. Some of the illicit drugs are:5
- Cocaine: A highly addictive stimulant substance derived from coca plant leaves native to South America.
- Hallucinogens: Drugs that cause deep distortions in the perceptions of a person’s reality. They include substances such as LSD, mescaline (peyote), ketamine, salvia, PCP, psilocybin, ayahuasca, and DMT.
- Heroin: An addictive drug made from morphine, a natural substance derived from different opium poppy plants’ seed pods.
- Marijuana: A drug made from Cannabis sativa, a hemp plant. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the major psychoactive (mind-altering) compound in marijuana.
- Meth: A highly addictive amphetamine stimulant drug.
Prescription drugs refer to medicines prescribed by a doctor, often referred to as pharmaceuticals. When used improperly, they can cause harm, both in the short and long term. Some people might believe that all prescription medications are safe, but they can be dangerous if instructions are not followed or if they are mixed with other medicines, drugs and/or alcohol.4
What Causes Drug Addiction?
No single factor can predict whether a person is going to become addicted to drugs. The risk of addiction is affected by a variety of factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the likelihood that addiction will result from taking drugs. For instance:2
- Genetics: The genes that people are born with account for about half the risk of addiction in a person.
- Environment: A person’s environment includes different factors. Family and friends, economic status, general quality of life, and related circumstances may cause a person to start abusing drugs.
Genetic and environmental factors interfere with crucial developmental phases of a person’s life, which may further influence the risk of addiction.2 While drug use can lead to addiction at any age, the earlier drug use starts, the more likely it will progress to addiction.2
How to Identify Drug Addiction?
If, for no apparent reason, a person starts behaving differently, acting withdrawn, looking exhausted or depressed, or aggressive, it may be a sign that they are developing a drug-related issue. Some of the drug addiction symptoms are:6
- Urge to consume daily: An individual cannot stop themselves from using drugs, even if they want to.
- Increased spending on drugs: A person is spending more money than usual or borrowing money.
- Increased dose to get the same effect: An individual needs more and more of a substance to get the same effects (called “tolerance”).
What Are the Available Treatments for Drug Addiction?
There are several options that have been successful in treating drug addiction, such as:7
- Detoxification: Detox refers to a series of procedures intended to treat acute intoxication and withdrawal. It signifies a clearance of toxins from the patient’s body. Medically assisted detox is usually the first step of recovery.
- Inpatient or residential care: Licensed residential care facilities provide organized and intensive care 24 hours a day, including secure accommodation and medical treatment. They may use a variety of therapeutic approaches that are typically aimed at encouraging the patient to live a drug-free and crime-free lifestyle after treatment.
- Outpatient behavioral treatment: This type of treatment provides a wide range of services for patients visiting a behavioral health specialist on a regular basis. Many of the services provided include individual or group drug counseling, or both.
How to Find Help for Drug Addiction?
Trying to find an appropriate treatment for you or your loved one can be difficult. However, there are numerous online resources that can help you find a program tailored to your needs and provide other information. Some of the available treatment options include:8
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It aims to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA has a website that shows the location of residential, outpatient, and inpatient treatment programs for drug addiction and alcoholism throughout the country, and this information is also accessible via phone. It also provides other valuable resources and information on addiction and substance abuse.
- American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a recognized specialized addiction treatment center. It seeks to treat the whole individual, which means addressing co-occurring mental disorders, physical health, and social problems along with addiction treatment. In addition to personalized treatment plans, each treatment center has unique facilities for patients, offering convenient and comfortable amenities such as spa-like environments, equestrian therapies, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does Meth Stay in the System?
Methamphetamine finds its way into a user’s blood, urine, saliva, sweat, and hair when consumed. Samples of fluid and hair may be tested for meth presence, with some methods of testing being more convenient and cost-effective than others.9
Hair drug testing is very reliable and almost impossible to cheat on. It can tell if someone has used most of the drugs usually up to the past 90 days. For the purpose of detecting on-going or repetitive drug use, hair testing is often the most successful method. If a person only uses a drug once, they are less likely to appear positive on a hair test. Meth can stay in the hair up to 90 days.9
How Long Does Cocaine Stay in the System?
Usually, after last use, cocaine or its metabolites can show up for up to 2 days on a blood or saliva test, up to 3 days on a urine test, and months to years on a hair test. For up to 2 weeks, a heavy user will test positive for a urine test. However, some other factors such as metabolism, weight, dosage, and frequency of use, may affect how long it stays in a person’s body.10
How Long Does Crack Stay in the System?
Crack cocaine’s half-life is usually 15 minutes, but it mostly depends on how much is used. It can be detected in hair follicles up to three months after use, but it can still show positive results after many years. Crack cocaine is typically detectable for one to four days after use in the urine, but can also be detected several weeks after the last use. In saliva, it may be detectable for up to 24 hours after use. In the blood, it can be found up to 2-12 hours after use.10
How Much Does Drug Addiction Treatment Cost?
The cost of addiction treatment varies from center to center. Some treatment programs are free, and some might cost quite a lot. No matter your financial situation, you can find a treatment center that will provide you or your loved one with the support you need. Many rehabs provide financial assistance, accept insurance, or provide options for financing.
One of the most common ways of paying for rehab is insurance. The sum insurance pays depends on the insurer and what is approved by the health provider.
Let’s verify your coverage for treatment at an American Addiction Centers location. Your information is kept 100% confidential.
- National Institute on Substance Abuse. (2020). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. Drug Misuse and Addiction.
- National Institute on Substance Abuse. (2018). Understanding Drug Use and Addiction DrugFacts.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
- Australian Government Department Of Health. (2019). Types Of Drugs.
- National Institute on Substance Abuse. (2020). Commonly Used Drugs Charts.
- National Institute on Substance Abuse. (2014). Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide. What are signs of drug use in adolescents, and what role can parents play in getting treatment?
- National Institute on Substance Abuse. (2019). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts.
- National Institute on Substance Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction. Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). Where can family members go for information on treatment options?
- Junkuy, A., O’Brien, T.E., Sribanditmongkol, P., Suwannachom, N., Thananchai, T. (2015). Duration of detection of methamphetamine in hair after abstinence.
- Bourland, J.A. (2013). Practical Aspects of Drug Testing in Human Hair. Laboratory Perspective.