General Wellness

Understanding Drug Abuse

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 31.9 million people over the age of 12 used illegal drugs in the United States in 2018. Even though this is a high number, public understanding of drug abuse does not seem to be as widespread as the problem itself. Over the past few decades, research has changed the way many medical professionals approach the subject, but that has not eliminated persisting stigmatization throughout society. In general, drug users often experience significant judgment from loved ones who think “tough love” is the answer. Sometimes, however, this can lead to further problems. Read on to learn more about this complex topic.

Causes of Drug Abuse

If someone you know is struggling with drugs, it can be helpful to gently recommend in-person or online drug abuse courses, but before making any suggestions, check yourself for understanding. It can be productive to know where your friend or family member is coming from before trying to talk to them. If you cannot imagine why someone you love might try drugs, here are three common reasons:

  • Physical, Emotional or Sexual Abuse
  • Trauma
  • Mental Health Disorder

Before judging someone for using drugs, try putting yourself in his or her shoes. People often turn to drugs as a way to cope with difficult life circumstances, and they may need to address trauma related to that before there is any hope of recovery.

Types of Drug Abuse

When it comes to abusing drugs, people have many options. Three broad categories include depressants, stimulants, “club” drugs and prescription drugs. People who struggle with depressants often find themselves addicted to substances such as alcohol or heroin. Drugs like meth and cocaine fall under stimulants, and club drugs are those common in dance party environments such as LSD. While it is common to think of these sorts of drugs when you think about drug abuse, they are not the only problematic types. Over recent years, abuse of prescription drugs has become increasingly common. Many people who abuse prescriptions obtain the drugs illegally, but abuse exists in the realm of legal prescriptions as well. 

Drug abuse is a complex subject that can be difficult for everyone involved. When it comes to communicating, things can easily become a mess. One of the best ways to reduce conflict and reestablish connection with someone who abuses drugs is through understanding and empathy. You may not agree with them, but knowing where they are coming from can improve your chances of guiding them to help.

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