Overcoming Drug Addiction in Arizona
From October 2018 to September 2019, more than 1,000 residents of Maricopa County, Arizona, died as a result of drug and alcohol overdoses. As the COVID-19 pandemic progressed throughout 2020 and 2021, reports of drug abuse skyrocketed as people in Arizona and across the world struggled with isolation, job loss and the loss of friends and family members.
If you’re one of the many people struggling with drug use and addiction, it’s important to remember that there’s hope. The right drug addiction treatment program, combined with a long-term commitment to sober living, can help you overcome your addiction and take control of your life.
At Camelback Recovery in Phoenix, Arizona, we’re committed to helping you overcome your addiction so you can live a fulfilling and sober life. Reach out to learn more about our drug addiction treatment programs.
What’s Considered a Drug Addiction?
A drug addiction or substance use disorder occurs when a person can’t control their use of prescription drugs, illegal drugs or other illicit substances. For many, addiction starts with something as innocent as the experimental use of a drug like marijuana or cocaine. Addiction can even stem from using drugs that are prescribed by a medical doctor, such as opioid painkillers or amphetamines.
It’s important to note that some drugs can cause addiction more quickly than others. Similarly, some people become addicted more easily than others. While some may use drugs recreationally or take prescriptions without ever becoming addicted, others may feel the need to take more drugs almost immediately. When the latter occurs, it’s not uncommon for that person to need a higher dose each time to feel the same effect, and that’s a slippery slope that can quickly lead to a very severe substance use disorder.
Is Drug Addiction a Disease?
It’s a common misconception that people with drug addictions can simply stop using illicit drugs, but it’s important to remember that drug addiction is a disease. The American Psychiatric Association recognizes that while those with a substance use disorder generally recognize their problem, they’re unable to stop using without intervention. Additionally, individuals with mental health problems may notice their symptoms worsen with regular drug use, which can make it even more difficult to combat addiction.
Risk Factors for Drug Addiction
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5) lists addiction as a mental illness. The manual lists several risk factors that make a person more susceptible to addiction, should they have the opportunity to experiment with illegal drugs or obtain prescription medications that have addictive properties.
- Environmental influence
- Mental health conditions
If you have a family history of alcoholism and drug dependence, the risk of developing an addiction in your teen or adult years is much higher. When it comes to genetic factors, your predisposition to substance abuse problems relies on three distinct subfactors: opportunity, motivation and capability. That means that while you may have family members with a history of addiction, the likelihood that you’ll develop a drug addiction is slim unless you meet those criteria.
While genetics is thought to play an enormous role in the development of addiction, environmental factors may be just as crucial. When environmental influence is combined with a genetic predisposition to drug addiction and the opportunity to use, the risk of addiction becomes alarmingly high.
Some factors that may be considered risky include:
- Family history of drug abuse or exposure to drugs at home
- Childhood abuse or neglect
- A lack of education or lack of access to health care
- Peer pressure or social influence
Mental Health Conditions
Those living with mental disorders often misuse drugs as a way to cope with their symptoms. For some, that means abusing or overdosing their prescription medication, while for others, it means relying on illegal drug use to help them cope.
While drug abuse may help temporarily diminish feelings and symptoms associated with mental illness, it can also alter the chemicals in a person’s brain, making their condition worse in the long run.
Commonly Misused Drugs
Many drugs can lead to addiction; however, those listed below are among the most common. Abusing the drugs listed below often leads to addiction, and in these cases, treatment gives those with substance use disorder the best chance at recovery.
Arizona is currently facing an ongoing opioid epidemic. More than five people die of an opioid overdose each day in Arizona. That’s why it’s crucial to recognize the dangers of this drug, as well as the signs of addiction.
Because opioids include a broad range of prescription and nonprescription drugs, there’s an extensive list of street names they might go by. As such, this list is not exhaustive.
What Are They?
Opioids are a class of drugs that act on opioid receptors in the spinal cord. Some opioids are prescribed legally to reduce pain, while others are considered illicit drugs. In addition to reducing pain, these drugs also have an effect on the digestive system and emotions, and in some cases, they can help to reduce coughing.
Commonly abused opioids include Percocet, fentanyl, Vicodin, OxyContin, morphine and codeine.
A common side effect of opioids is a feeling of euphoria. However, the more a person uses opioids, the less they feel that effect, and as such, users often find themselves increasing the dose in an attempt to recreate the feeling they experienced when initially trying the drug, eventually leading to physical dependency.
What Do Opioids Look Like?
Opioids come in a variety of forms, including tablets, capsules, liquids, syrups, suppositories and nasal sprays.
Signs of Opioid Abuse
There are several short-term and long-term side effects of opioids, including:
- Temporary impotence
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slowed breathing
Dizziness and drowsiness in opioid abusers can sometimes result in clumsiness and frequent falls, along with fractures, bruising and other fall-related injuries.
In those who have a substance abuse problem, long-term effects can include substance use disorder, increased tolerance, liver damage and infertility.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that’s manufactured illegally. In Arizona, the drug is known to be readily available and affordable, which creates plenty of opportunities for abuse in young or underprivileged persons. Unfortunately, in 2019, most overdose deaths resulted from methamphetamine abuse.
- Crystal meth
What Is It?
Methamphetamine is a synthetic drug. As a stimulant, it has a direct effect on the body’s central nervous system, causing the user to feel a burst of focus and energy. In some cases, methamphetamine is used for medical applications, including to curb appetite in those struggling with obesity and to improve focus in those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
The high produced by methamphetamine varies depending on how it’s taken. When a person injects or swallows it, they can expect to feel high for as long as eight hours, while smoking it can produce a high that lasts up to 12 hours.
What Does Methamphetamine Look Like?
Methamphetamine is a white odorless powder that can be snorted, dissolved in water and swallowed or injected. Sometimes, methamphetamine is crystallized so that it can be heated and smoked. In this case, it’s generally called crystal, ice or glass.
Signs of Methamphetamine Abuse
While some of the signs of methamphetamine drug abuse are obvious, such as meth mouth and skin sores, there are several other signs and side effects users commonly experience. These include:
- Increased sex drive
- Excessive or fast talking
- Intense feelings of euphoria
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Increased heart rate
On top of these, other serious effects can occur after using methamphetamine, and in some cases, they can constitute the need for emergency care. These include:
- Confusion or paranoia
- Slowed or irregular heartbeat
- Dilated pupils
- Difficulty breathing and chest pain
- High blood pressure
- Stomach pain
Often, continued drug abuse with illicit drugs like meth can lead to long-term side effects such as ongoing anxiety and paranoia, depression, sexual aggression and heart disease.
Heroin is a dangerous drug that’s commonly found in Arizona. Its highly addictive nature frequently leads to substance use disorder in those who try it, and the severity of withdrawal symptoms associated with the drug makes it difficult to stop once a person starts to use it.
- China white
- Black tar
- White stuff
- Mexican horse
What Is It?
Heroin is an analgesic drug that’s derived from morphine, which makes it an opioid. This drug is considered a Schedule 1 substance in the U.S., meaning it has no legitimate medical purpose.
Heroin can be snorted, smoked or injected.
What Does Heroin Look Like?
Heroin is a fine powder that’s typically brownish or pinkish; however, in its purest form, it’s generally bright white.
Signs of Heroin Abuse
Heroin’s side effects can change dramatically depending on the amount ingested, as well as the person who’s using it. A person with a mental health disorder is more likely to experience intensified side effects, especially with heavy use.
Some of the most common symptoms of heroin abuse include:
- Hostility and irritability
- Euphoric periods
- Mood swings
- Weight loss
- Disorientation and paranoia
- Fatigue, exhaustion or periods of prolonged sleep
- A decline in personal hygiene
A person who’s addicted to heroin is also likely to struggle with their responsibilities at work or school and may have a hard time maintaining relationships.
Cocaine frequently leads to substance use disorder. It’s known for its addictive properties, and those with risk factors for drug abuse may experience the signs of addiction within only one or two experiences with the drug.
What Is It?
Cocaine is a stimulant drug that gives users a quick burst of energy. Its effects typically don’t last long, and as a result, many users will find themselves using increasing amounts of cocaine to continue feeling high or mixing it with other substances, such as alcohol, heroin or marijuana. When combined with alcohol abuse, the effects of cocaine may be enhanced and the risk of overdose often increases.
What Does Cocaine Look Like?
Cocaine is a fine white powder. In some cases, it may be combined with baking soda and cooked to create a rock-like substance known as crack.
Signs of Cocaine Abuse
A person who’s addicted to cocaine is often plagued with depression and fatigue when they’re not using. At times when they’re on the drug, they typically experience some combination of the following:
- Increased energy and alertness
- Feelings of superiority
- Engaging in risky behaviors
- Damage to nostrils and nasal passages
Prescription drug abuse is becoming increasingly common, particularly among teens and younger adults. While opioids are the most commonly abused prescription drug, it’s not uncommon to see addicts abuse drugs such as Ritalin, dextroamphetamine and other medications that are commonly prescribed for ADHD. As many as 20% of college students in the U.S. admit to using such prescriptions to increase focus while studying.
Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse
It’s important to note that the side effects of prescription drugs vary widely depending on the drug in question, as well as the dosage. That being said, there are some warning signs to watch for if you think someone you know is abusing drugs. These include:
- Taking higher-than-prescribed dosages of drugs
- Appearing intoxicated
- Irritability, particularly when medication is unavailable
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns