Drugs and the addictions they cause are known by many people throughout the United States. This paper will talk about the history, statistics, and causes of drug addiction. it will also tell about the many impacts of this addiction on the user and others. It will conclude by telling of ways to deal with drug addiction and the values that might contradict with services that are available. Drugs have been around for hundreds of years and the number and type of people using them is continually changing.
According to Musto (2016), Dr. Benjamin Rush was one of the first persons to conduct U.S. research on drug abuse. This was hard for him to do, due to the lack of scientific resources .
Drug abuse in the 1920’s seemed to be on the low side with morphine being the most used drug. In 1929 the Committee on Drug Addiction was formed. The committee’s first job was to focus on the use of morphine with the hopes of finding a substitute for it that wasn’t habit forming (Musto,2016).
In 1947 the Committee on Drug Addiction and Narcotics was created. At that time methadone had been created in Germany, and this committee pursued the possibility it could help with growing problems with the use of morphine, while still trying to find ways to help people with their addictions with other treatments. After the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement and major demographic changes, marijuana use became popular with an increase in its use.
With the increased use of drugs, the thinking began to change to the idea that drug use was a disease.
The acceptance of drug abuse as a disease helped to lead to federally funded community mental health centers. Three laws were passed in the 1970’s to help deal with drug abuse. They included penalties from the law and punishment, along with increased studies on how to deal with the problem. Since drug addiction has been known to exist for hundreds of years, the number of persons addicted to drugs has changed during that time. Nationwide Trends (2015). States that in 2013 approximately 24.6 million Americans over the age of twelve said they had used an illicit drug, with marijuana being listed as the most commonly used. Statistics say that most people use the first time while they are teenagers and begin with marijuana followed by prescription medicine then inhalants. It is also reported that drug use is highest among people aged late teens to their twenties
. There has also been an increasing number of people in their fifties and sixties using drugs. Statistics on Drug Addiction (n.d.) states that almost 8 million adults Americans deal with combined mental and drug abuse disorders . In 2014 approximately one out of twelve children aged twelve to seventeen were addicted to drugs. Approximately one out of six eighteen to twenty-five-year-old have some type of addiction. There are approximately 14.5 million people over the age of twenty-five that suffer from addiction. When looking at the elderly population, there are approximately fifteen percent that has a drug addiction and twenty-one to sixty-six of those also have a mental disorder. More men suffer from drug addiction than women. Fourteen percent of American Indians and native Alaskans have the highest rates of substance abuse and addiction followed by eleven percent Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
The next group is Whites and Hispanic with eight percent and African Americans having seven percent reported addiction problems. Asians had the lesser amount with four percent with addiction issues. There can be many reasons for a person to turn to drugs. Many people begin using drugs because of their friends, curiosity, or they think it will help with a trouble they’re having. If a person has other family members that are addicts, went through a traumatic event, have mental disorders, used when they were young and if they smoked or injected the drug can increase the likelihood of addiction. Statistics on Drug Addiction (n.d.) states that addiction is fifty percent inherited. Along with genetics, environmental factors can also play an equal role leading to addiction. Another contributing factor that can lead to addiction later in life is the use of drugs before the brain is fully developed which happens approximately by the time a person is in their mid-twenties.
A person with a drug addiction can face many health problems. The type, amount, and how the drug was taken can determine the effects they have on the person. There are short-term and long-term effects. Short-term effects can include the person’s appetite changing, mood swings, and increased or lowered blood pressure or heart rate, psychosis, stroke or heart attack. Long-term effects can be, heart or lung disease, hepatitis, mental illness, or cancer. The use of drugs can change the way the brain works. These changes can affect the person’s ability to make sound decisions, memory, control stress. Some effects of drug use may not be shown for longer periods of time and some may be immediate. The worse effect is death to the person who is addicted. Drug addiction and abuse can have many impacts on different people, not only the user. Drug addiction can affect a person’s ability to find and keep a job which can ultimately affect their family.
The family of a user is the most effected due to the addiction of the family member. The family can receive criticism and negative remarks from the user. Children that have one parent that is a drug addict, often lack clothing, shelter, food, and other necessities. Children in this type of home are often abused and neglected. They are more likely to be placed in the foster care system. Children born into these homes often become drug users as well. In these home, there is a lack of medical care that can lead to the user not receiving needed help. An impact on society can be the cost due to drug addiction. According to Trends & Statistics (2017) the American taxpayers paid more than $270 billion for medical care, criminal justice, lost work, and legal fees associated with drug addiction, and these bills are most often passed on to the taxpayer. Fifty percent of people in federal prisons and twenty percent in state prisons are there because of a drug-related incident.
Most people in prison have a problem with drugs or alcohol and are likely to begin using again when released. The co-workers of an addict will often make up work not completed by the user. A person who is addicted to drugs can cause workplace injuries to themselves or others, which can cause problems for the employer. There are many services available to help people with drug addiction. Unfortunately, not everyone gets the help they need. Most people who need treatment don’t receive it because they don’t think they need any help, that there’s nothing wrong with them. Of the approximate twenty-two million people in America that needed help, only point nine percent of them receive it .
There are over fourteen thousand treatment programs that provide many different types of treatment. The most used is the twelve-step programs some are religious based and some are not, that help addicts deal with their addiction one step at a time. The program begins with the person admitting that they are powerless to their addiction and they can’t control their lives and they continue until they have control over their addiction, the twelfth step and can be done inpatient or outpatient. Alternative rehab centers look at the whole body and try to find any underlying causes of their addiction. This method uses a comprehensive approach that will help the addict feel in control, comforting setting, education, and counseling.
There are other sources to help with addiction such as holistic programs, counseling, behavioral therapy, and medication-assisted therapy. The way each person deals with addiction is different, and the same goes for the one helping those with addiction. as the person someone is depending on for help, I need to be familiar with what type drug the person is using. I also need to be able to help the person find the proper help, by knowing what is available. Also finding a way to pay for services is crucial in finding the help that’s needed. As the worker trying to find help, I need to be able to put my personal feelings and believes aside and perform the duty of finding the person help. I may not agree with the person’s lifestyle or their addiction or the things they have done due to the addiction, but looking past this and finding the positive parts of them can be detrimental in helping them succeed in becoming clean.
If I was dealing with someone that was hooked on pain medicine that had been legally prescribed when not need, I would almost agree with the Harrison Act that allowed for those doctors to be prosecuted (Musto,2016). As the professional, I may not always agree with certain programs, but if it is working for the addict, then I need to remember the same thing doesn’t work for everyone. I also need to able to allow the person I’m trying to help to make their own decisions and support them even if I know the outcome will not be the best for them. This paper has shown many things about drug addiction; history, statistics, causes, impacts, treatment, and the worker’s values. Unfortunately, there will never be a quick fix for this problem. If the society can become better educated in what can lead to drug addiction and show more kindness to his fellow man, there may be hope in helping to slow this life-destroying illness down.