Common Questions About Drug Use and Your Health

Drug Abuse continues to be a major issue in the United States and with roughly 16 million Americans using drugs in the last month (see below for where this came from). If you are a drug abuser or know someone who is, here are some of common questions concerning drug use and health risks.

 Where can I get help? 

These days there are many options to get help for a drug addict.  A search on the web will get you quickly to many options. One site you can visit to find help local to you is: 

www.resistaddiction.com

How many people use drugs? 

A reported 15.9 million Americans over the age of 12 (or 7.1%) reported to be using an illicit drug in the month before a 2001 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. 

How many people die from drug use? 

There was a reported 19,698 people who died from drug use in 2000 (reference the National Vital Statistics Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) 

What is drug abuse? 

One definition of drug abuse comes from the SAMHSA, which defines drug abuse to be using drugs 51 or more times in the prior year.  

What are the most common illicit drugs? 

(From 2003 government statistics at: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/factsht/drugdata/index.html) The most common illicit drugs used by current users over the age of 12 were marijuana (12.1 million users, or 5.4% of the population), cocaine (1.7 million users, or 0.7% of the population), and hallucinogens, which include LSD, PCP, and MDMA (1.3 million users, or 0.6% of the population). Approximately 37% of those over the age of 12 reported lifetime use of marijuana, 12.3% reported lifetime use of cocaine, and 12.5% reported lifetime use of hallucinogens.

What are the other health risks of drug use? 

Most people often associate the risks of drug use to a drug overdose and possible death; however, drug use has significant other health risks. Here is a very short list of health risks you face as a drug user. There are many more health risks, but these are some of the more severe.

 

Risks for Cocaine Users

 

If you are a user of cocaine, this drug stimulates your nervous system. Cocaine increases heart rate, elevate blood pressure, and respiratory rate.  Cocaine users have experienced increased risk or heart attack as well as respiratory failure. 

Risks for Stimulate Users

 

Methamphetamines, Ice, and Amphetamines are stimulates and can also raise heart rates, blood pressure and respiratory rates.  These users have a much higher risk of stroke, high fever, and heart attack.  Stimulants also increase anxiety and mood swings.  There is a risk of paranoia and delusions from long term use. 

Risks for Depressant Users

 

Depressants like Barbituates and Tranquilizers can result in comas, slurred speech, altered perception, depression, and for mothers there is a risk of birth defects.

 

Risk for Hallucinogen Users

 

Hallucinogens like PCP and LSD also increase heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. PCP blocks pain receptors which results in a much higher risk of physical injury. 

Risk for Narcotic Users

 

Narcotics like Heroin, Morphine, Codeine, and Opium cause drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting.  In extreme cases they result in convulsions and coma. For mothers, there is a risk of addicted infants and premature babies.

 

What resources should I look for to find help? 

The National Institute on Drug abuse is a great place to start at:  www.nida.nih.gov.  There are many great resources on the web. For teenagers there is a great government site at:  www.teens.drugabuse.gov.   There are also many, many, self-help web sites like www.drugabuseguide.net.

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