People try drugs or alcohol for a variety of reasons, ranging from curiosity or boredom to social pressure or mental health issues.  For some people, trying drugs or alcohol is a one-time event that doesn't lead to further use. For others, though, drug or alcohol use can become a substance use disorder, defined as a chronic and relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences. 

But what drives people to try drugs and alcohol in the first place? There are several reasons, but some are more common than others.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is one of the leading causes of drug use among young people. Whether it takes the form of subtle suggestions or outright coercion, peer pressure from family and friends can exert a powerful influence over our decisions and behaviors.

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Teens are especially susceptible to this type of social pressure, and many will start using drugs at an early age to fit in or feel accepted by their friends. Many young people will try out drugs or alcohol without fully understanding the risks involved.

Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues like anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, bipolar disorders, and depression, can also lead people to start using drugs or alcohol. Numerous studies have listed mental health issues as one of the main drivers of substance use disorders, and vice versa.

Many people with mental health disorders self-medicate in an attempt to numb the pain or ease the symptoms like excessive fear, worry, mood changes, or even suicidal ideation. Others may use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with difficult life experiences. This can lead to a spiral of drug addiction and mental health problems that is very difficult to break free from.

Trauma

Trauma, especially early childhood trauma, is a major risk factor for developing substance abuse problems later in life. Traumatic experiences like abuse, neglect, witnessing violence, or losing a loved one can have a profound effect on one's mental and emotional health.

For many people, childhood trauma can be long-lasting and far-reaching, and it's often difficult to overcome the damage done in childhood. They may struggle with mental health issues like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, and depression, and turn to may use substances to try to cope with these problems.

Symptoms of Boredom

Boredom is another common reason people first try drugs or alcohol. Teens and young adults often have a lot of free time and can be easily bored. They may start using drugs or alcohol to pass the time or to make their lives more exciting. This can lead to addiction, as people continue to use drugs or alcohol to escape the boredom of their everyday lives.

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Curiosity

Many young adults first try drugs or alcohol out of curiosity. They may have seen their friends using these substances and want to try them for themselves. Others may be curious about the effects of drugs or alcohol and want to experience them firsthand. It's estimated that over 52% of all high school students try illicit drugs, while over 70% drink alcohol by the time they graduate. 

TV, Movies, Music, and Video Games

Popular culture often glamorizes drug use, and this can influence young people to start using drugs or alcohol. TV shows, movies, music, and video games often depict drug use in a positive light, and this can make it seem like a harmless or even exciting activity. Constant exposure like this normalizes drug use in entertainment culture. As a result, teens assume using illegal, and prescription drugs is a normal lifestyle. 

Rebellion

Many teenagers first start using drugs or alcohol as a way to rebel against their parents or authority figures. They may see drug use as a way to defy the rules and take risks. For example, they may smoke cigarettes to show their independence or hallucinogens to escape to a world they deem more idealistic.

Lack of Proper Information About Drugs or Alcohol

Many people start using drugs or alcohol without knowing much about them. They may believe myths and misconceptions about these substances, which can lead them to underestimate the risks involved. For example, teens might be led to believe that marijuana is medicinal and carries a host of benefits. So, they may be more inclined to start using it without understanding the risks.

Lack of Confidence

People who lack confidence or have low self-esteem are also more likely to start using drugs or alcohol. They may use these substances as a way to boost their confidence or make them feel better about themselves. For example, someone who feels shy in social situations may start drinking alcohol to loosen up and feel more confident.

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The above are some of the main reasons people start using drugs or alcohol. It's important to note that not everyone who tries these substances will become addicted. However, drug and alcohol use can lead to addiction, and it’s often hard to break free from this cycle of abuse.

How to Protect Your Loved One From Addiction

As a parent or guardian, there are a few things you can do to help protect your loved one from addiction:

If you suspect your child is using drugs or alcohol, don't hesitate to reach out for help. There are many physical and mental health care resources available to families struggling with addiction. Early intervention is essential to helping your child get on the path to recovery.

As part of an ongoing war on drugs, in November 2020, Oregon became the first state in the US to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of hard drugs. The measure, known as Measure 110, was widely praised by drug policy reform advocates as a progressive step that would help to reduce the stigma around drug use and provide people with drug addiction problems with much-needed treatment.

Measure 110 made personal possession of methamphetamine, heroin, LSD, oxycodone, and other drugs punishable by a $100 fine rather than jail time. This was in a bid to reduce incarceration rates and redirect funds toward addiction treatment programs. These treatment programs would be funded through marijuana tax revenue and savings from decreased law enforcement costs.

The Oregon Health Authority, one of many behavioral health resource networks, announced on September 22 that it had completed awarding the first two years of funding to nonprofits under Oregon's decriminalization of drugs law.

According to OHA, the first round of grants totaled $302 million. Despite this milestone, experts warned that more than just services would be needed to curb the high rates of drug use and resulting societal costs in the state. Keith Humphreys told the Oregon lawmakers that the state should adjust its permissive approach as it encourages drug use without any deterrent.

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"Because the West Coast has an individualistic culture with a tolerance for substance abuse, social pressures to seek treatment are often minimal," said Keith Humphreys, the Founder, and co-director at the Stanford Network on Addiction Policy.

"So, on the one hand, we have widely available and highly rewarding drugs. On the other hand, little or no pressure to stop using them. Under those conditions, we should expect to see exactly what Oregon is experiencing: extensive drug use, extensive addiction, and not much treatment seeking."  (Source)

According to Humphreys, people struggling with addiction hardly seek treatment without pressure from loved ones, health care providers, or the law. He says this should be a concern because the state has lifted the legal pressure to stop substance abuse and seek treatment. Besides, since many people who struggle with use don't work or keep in touch with loved ones, the pressure to quit might not come from those sources, either. (Source)

M110 allows the law authorities to write $100 tickets for personal possession of small amounts of drugs, and the charged person can just call the Life helpline line and have their ticket removed. It all seems very easy to get away with abusing drugs.

But despite that, many people who are issued these tickets still ignore them, according to Dr. Todd Korthuis, the head of addiction medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. By the end of this summer, 3000 tickets were issued, and only 137 calls were made. Even more disturbing is that most callers were not seeking treatment but only screening for legal reasons. (Source)

Good Intentions Behind the Law

The Oregon voters voted in favor of Measure 110, which decriminalized the possession of small amounts of drugs and redirected 110 funds from law enforcement to addiction treatment. The measure was designed to address the state's public health crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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According to proponents of the measure, it would help to reduce the number of those incarcerated for drug-related offenses and redirect funds to much-needed addiction treatment programs. In addition, by decriminalizing drug possession, the measure will help to reduce the stigma associated with addiction and make it more likely that people will seek treatment. 

When the voters passed the ballot measure, they recognized drug addiction and overdoses are a serious problem in Oregon; and that the state needed to increase access to drug treatment. The health-based approach to drug use problems is not only more humane but also effective and cheaper than criminal punishments. Making people criminals because they abuse drugs or struggle with addiction is costly and life-ruining, making it hard to seek treatment. 

On February 1, 2021, the laws regulating controlled substances' possession changed from felonies to Class E violations. Measure 110 is designed to ensure that anyone who wants access, assessment, treatment, and recovery services for substance use gets it.

By all accounts, Measure 110 was set to reduce the pressure on drug users seeking treatment or help. However, going by statistics, it seems to be failing because Oregon has a nearly 20% surge in overdose deaths in the year that ended in April 2022. And according to Dr. Tod Korthuis, Oregon has one of the highest rates of substance use disorders and mental health disorders. Conversely, it ranks the least for access to treatments in the nation.

Humphreys and Korthuis don't fault Measure 110 for the spiking overdose deaths and other drug-related issues. However, they believe these trends have outpaced the state's addiction treatment system.

What Needs to Be Done

Measure 110 is the first of its kind in the United States. The only other country that has tried it successfully is Portugal, which is often cited as an inspiration. Initially, the country had harsh policies led by the criminal justice system. It needed to try something else. So, in 2001, Portugal took a radical step and became the first country globally to decriminalize the consumption of all drugs. 

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Speaking about what needs to be done, Humphreys mentioned that Portugal puts heavy legal and social pressure on those abusing drugs to get help. And despite the decriminalization of drugs, one can hardly see people openly using or dealing drugs, as in West Coast cities of the US. That's because they close operations and use court pressure to lead them into treatment. 

"I have spent a lot of time in Portugal, and I know the people who designed their policy," Humphreys said. "Please take it from me; Oregon is not following Portugal's example and will not get its results." (Source)

Humphreys further mentioned the need for harm reduction, which emphasizes engaging directly with addicts to prevent overdose, and transmission of infectious disease, improve physical, social, and mental well-being and offer low-threshold options for accessing addiction treatment and other health care. He recommended solutions like making Naloxone (opioid antagonist) more available to reduce overdose deaths. 

As the prevalence of mental health issues and substance use disorder continue to rise in the United States, the search for new and innovative treatments has become more urgent. One potential therapy that is gaining popularity is psilocybin mushrooms. Psilocybin, the main active ingredient in magic mushrooms, has shown effectiveness in treating alcohol use disorders (AUD).

A clinical study published in Jama Psychiatry found that psilocybin could help people with alcohol use disorders reduce their drinking days. The study participants were given 12 weeks of manualized psychotherapy and were randomly selected to get psilocybin or diphenhydramine during 2-day-long medication sessions at weeks 4 and 8. The results showed that over 50% of the participants who were assigned psilocybin stopped drinking entirely for months or even years.

After 32 weeks of analyzing the 93 participants with alcohol use disorders, researchers discovered that the 48 participants who got psilocybin and psychotherapy had an 83% reduction in their drinking habits within 8 months of their first dose, while those assigned placeboes had 51%. While the exact mechanism of action is not known, it is thought that psilocybin helps to break the cycle of addiction by:

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The safety and efficacy of psilocybin mushrooms as a treatment for alcohol addiction are still being studied, but the preliminary evidence is promising. As a precaution, you should never consume psilocybin mushrooms without the supervision of a trained medical professional. Psilocybin may be riskier in an uncontrolled environment because your experiences may feel extreme. For example, you may feel severe anxiety while under the influence of the drug.

Other common side effects are nausea and vomiting, paranoia, and delusions. In rare cases, psilocybin mushrooms can cause psychotic episodes. Psilocybin mushrooms can also interact with other drugs and medications. For example, they can intensify the effects of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication.

It is always important to speak with a medical professional before consuming psilocybin mushrooms, especially if you are taking other medication.

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What are psilocybin mushrooms?

Psilocybin mushrooms are a type of mushroom that contains the psychoactive compound psilocybin. Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound that is found in over 200 species of mushrooms. When consumed, it can produce powerful hallucinations and an altered state of consciousness. Some people use psilocybin mushrooms for recreational purposes, while others use them for medicinal or spiritual purposes.

Psilocybin has been shown to be an effective treatment for various conditions, including depression, anxiety, and addiction. It is also being studied as a potential treatment for PTSD and OCD. Although psilocybin mushrooms are legal in some countries, they are illegal in most parts of the world. Possession and consumption of psilocybin mushrooms can lead to jail time and heavy fines.

 

What this means for alcohol addiction treatment

Alcohol addiction is a serious problem that can lead to various negative consequences, including health problems, relationship difficulties, and financial problems. In some cases, alcohol addiction can even lead to death.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol is a factor in about 95,000 deaths annually in the United States. These deaths are due to various causes, including alcohol-related accidents, liver diseases, and other health complications.

Treatment rates for alcohol use disorder are low (e.g., 7.6% in 2021), and the Food and Drug Administration has only approved 4 AUD evidence-based medications since 1947. 

While these medications can help people with alcohol addiction, they have been shown to be only partially effective. Psilocybin mushrooms have shown promise as a treatment for substance use disorders and could potentially help to reduce the number of deaths due to alcohol addiction.

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Further evidence on the effectiveness of psilocybin is needed

Although the study’s results are encouraging, it is important to note that it's a small study with a limited number of participants. More research is needed to confirm the findings and to determine the long-term efficacy of psilocybin mushrooms as a treatment for alcohol addiction. The study only analyzed 93 participants, and only 50 were given psilocybin as such research needs to be done in a bigger and more diverse population. 

Besides, the study used diphenhydramine, an antihistamine, as a placebo, which is not an ideal substitute for psilocybin. It was also observed that the participants didn’t have serious drinking problems as those who usually enrolled in clinical trials for alcohol use disorders. The clinical trial may have attracted participants who were already managing their condition. Most notably, the researchers didn't include participants with underlying mental disorders like depression so they could establish if psilocybin-assisted therapy treats AUD and not other co-occurring disorders. 

But patients with severe AUD can benefit from the therapy. This is especially true if the therapy can address other issues that underlie physical dependence and mental disorders. In this case, the treatment will simultaneously address both conditions.

Ketamine is also showing potential as a treatment for alcohol addiction. A group of researchers found that Ketamine disrupts memories to help heavy drinkers stop drinking or cut back. Ketamine blocks the NMDA receptors, disrupting the reconsolidation of memories associated with alcohol consumption. As a result, heavy drinkers who receive ketamine treatment may have fewer cravings for alcohol.

It has also been shown to be an effective treatment for various conditions, including depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.

Psilocybin mushrooms and Ketamine have shown promise as potential treatments for alcohol addiction and some mental health issues. However, more research is needed to confirm the findings. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, many resources are available to help. Never try psilocybin mushrooms or Ketamine outside a clinical setting, as they can be dangerous.

Cigarette smoking has been linked to cancer, diabetes, lung disease, COPD, tuberculosis, and other health complications. It's also responsible for over 480,000 deaths annually in the United States. Given the dangers, many people have opted to vape or use e-cigs like JUUL to ease the transition from traditional cigarettes to not smoking at all. But is vaping a safer alternative to smoking?

Several studies have shown that while vaping is less harmful than smoking, it's still not safe. Vaping can damage your lungs and airways and has been linked to cancer. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also found that some vaping products contain harmful chemicals, including metals that can be toxic.

To reduce the number of people affected by these health risks, the FDA is reviewing e-cig products to ensure they are "appropriate for the protection of public health." The manufacturers of vaping products must prove their products are an aid to traditional adult smokers and not appealing to youth and teens. This explains why the FDA has proposed a ban on all JUUL products.

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On July 5, 2022, it issued marketing denial orders (MDOs) to JUUL Labs Inc. for all its products currently marketed in the US. This MDO prevents the company from continuing to sell its products in the American market. JUUL should also remove all of its products from the market or face enforcement action.

The reason is that after reviewing JUUL's premarket tobacco product applications, the FDA established that the application did not have enough evidence to support a finding that the products are "appropriate for the protection of public health." As the FDA puts it, there are scientific issues unique to the JUUL application that warrants additional review.

According to the FDA's news release, the insufficient and conflicting data in some of JUUL's study findings raised concerns that haven't been properly addressed and prevented the FDA from executing a complete toxicological risk assessment of the said products on the JUUL application.

The FDA has yet to receive evidence to suggest that JUULpods or devices are hazardous. However, the underlying factor is that there isn't adequate evidence to support a finding that the products are appropriate for the protection of public health. Besides, there's no way to determine the potential dangers of using JUUL pods with a non-JUUL device or third-party e-liquid pods with a JUUL device.

The FDA is encouraging JUUL users to report any adverse effects they may have experienced after using the product through the Safety Reporting Portal and seek medical help.

A Look into JUUL - What is JUUL?

JUUL is a type of electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) that is battery-operated and looks like a USB drive. It was first introduced in 2015 by two Stanford graduates, James Monsees and Adam Bowen, who are also the co-founders of JUUL Labs. The company is based in San Francisco, California.

The vaping device works by heating a nicotine liquid, which creates an aerosol vapor. JUUL says its e-cigarette is a "satisfying alternative" for adult smokers who want to switch from traditional cigarettes. The company also claims its products are not meant for youth or non-smokers, as nicotine can be addictive and harmful. However, their products come in different flavors - like mint, mango, and crème Brulee, which appeals to the younger audience.

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A JUUL pod contains 0.7mL of nicotine liquid, equivalent to a pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs. The JUUL device delivers a high dose of nicotine, which is why it has been criticized for being especially addictive.

Why is Vaping Considered Dangerous?

Vaping is dangerous because it increases your risk of lung cancer, lung infection, and other health problems. It is especially dangerous for young people. The nicotine in e-cigs (e-cigarettes) is highly addictive, and can harm the developing brain. Youth vaping is considered dangerous for several reasons, including:

Vaping is Bad for your Heart and Lungs

Vaping exposes users to a range of harmful chemicals, including nicotine, metals, and other toxins which are harmful to health. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that e-cigarette users had significantly higher markers for heart damage and inflammation levels than non-users.

They also had higher levels of lung inflammation. This suggests that vaping may be harmful to your cardiovascular and respiratory health. It may also increase your risk of developing chronic (long-term) diseases such as heart disease, lung disease, and cancer.

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E-cigs can be Addictive like Traditional Ones

Vaping can be addictive, especially for teens still developing their brains. The nicotine in e-cigarettes can be particularly addicting, and this can lead to health problems down the road.

Vaping Can Act As a Gateway to Smoking

Research has shown that teens who vape are more likely to start smoking cigarettes in the future. This is likely due to the fact that vaping can act as a gateway to smoking, as it normalizes the behavior and makes it seem less risky. 

E-cigs aren't the Best Smoking Cessation Tool

Electronic cigarettes, or ecigs aren't the best smoking cessation tool. In fact, they may even make it harder to quit smoking in the long run. A recent study found that most people who used e-cigs to quit smoking ended up using both e-cigs and traditional smoking. So if you're trying to kick the habit, it's best to steer clear of e-cigarettes altogether.

The New Generation is Getting Addicted to Nicotine

E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular among young people, who are attracted by the flavors and the perceived lack of health risks. But this means that more young people are taking up smoking and becoming addicted to nicotine. This is a major concern, given the long-term health risks associated with smoking.

Vaping may be harmful to your health, and it's certainly not the best way to quit smoking. And with more young people taking up vaping, we could be facing a public health crisis down the line. If you're struggling with an addiction to nicotine, it's important to get help from a doctor or treatment center. There are many resources available to help you quit, and you don't have to go through it alone.

It is not easy to tell that a loved one is abusing drugs, especially in the early stages of addiction. You may notice changes in their moods or behaviors, but that could be anything. However, if your intuition tells you there’s a problem, it might be worth taking stock of your concern. A great place to start is to watch out for paraphernalia.

People who abuse drugs often use items like spoons, silicone bongs, glass bongs, beaker bongs, acrylic bongs, roach clips, etc., to produce, hide or administer drugs. So, if you find these items in their belongings, it could be a sign that they are abusing drugs. In which case, you may need to help them get the help they need to stop abusing drugs.

Abusing drugs doesn’t always translate to addiction, but it is a precursor to addiction. Early intervention is therefore critical to preventing addiction and accompanying problems.

What does drug paraphernalia look like?

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It can be challenging to identify drug paraphernalia because they look like legitimate items. Marijuana pipes and bongs for sale, for example, often have a disclaimer indicating they’re meant to be used only with tobacco products.

While drug paraphernalia varies from one manufacturer to another, more manufacturers are making them in bright, trendy colors with designs like dragons, wizards, devils, and skulls. They do this to glamorize drug use and make their product appealing to their target market.

Examples of drug paraphernalia

An essential part of understanding drug use is identifying the items that drug addicts use to hide, consume or produce drugs. You may find these items in your loved one’s backpack, car, or bedroom.

Note: If you come across any drug items in your loved one’s belongings, you might be tempted to check them out. But you should not touch these items as some drugs may be absorbed through the skin.

Roach clips

Roach clips are great for pinning the hair back. But drug users may use them to hold the blunt or joint to avoid burning their fingers when they become too short to hold. You can also watch out for small joints and blunts in the trash can.

Smoking devices

Smoking devices like hand pipes, bongs, dab rigs, DIY disposable devices, and hookahs are also very common among those who smoke marijuana.

Tin foil pipe

Tin foil scraps or pieces of aluminum foil are everyday household items and could be easy to ignore. But if you find them in your loved one’s belongings or the waste bin, it could be a sign they’re smoking heroin or inhaling meth fumes.

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People who smoke drugs chop the crystals with razors or ATM cards and place them onto a foil. They then hold it over a lighter or candle. When it smokes, they use a dollar bill, rolled-up foil straw, metal straw, or glass straw to inhale the smoke.

Burnt bottle caps or spoons

One of the first signs that your loved one is using drugs is missing spoons. Suddenly, you’ll notice your cutlery service for 12 is down to 8 spoons, etc.

Drug addicts use spoons for cooking powdered drugs. They place the drug in the spoon bowl, add some water, and heat it over the flame until it becomes liquid. But since they can’t return the burnt spoon, they’ll hide it for their next use.

Alternatively, they may use bottle caps and hold them with pliers. You may also find a burnt lighter as these go hand in hand.

Used needles

Needle tracks or “track marks” on your loved one’s body are apparent signs of cocaine, heroin, meth, or prescription painkiller abuse. But like other addicts, your loved one may do a great job hiding the track marks. So, if you find needles or syringes along with some belt or elastic bands in their rooms or backpacks, that might be a clear indication they’re using. Belts or bands are used to constrict the upper leg or arm to make the veins more prominent for injection.

Glass water pipe

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Glass water pipes or bongs indicate that someone is smoking cannabis, spice or other herbal substances like K2 or "spice". A bong is a portable filtration device with a bowl outside of a vertical tube and water at the bottom of the pipe for water filtration.

A glass water pipe is just one type of bong. Others include ceramic, plastic, metal, and bamboo. Bongs also come in different designs, including beakers, round base, percolators, straight tube, and multi-chamber. Multi-chamber pipes provide a smooth hit. They can also be incredibly small like a mini bong.

Plastic bags or small paper bags

These might be harmless. But when there’s suspicion about drug use, it’s best to pay attention to any plastic and small paper bags in their belongings. People who abuse drugs store and carry drugs in makeup bags and plastic baggies.

Pacifiers and lollipops

These two seem harmless but are often used by people who abuse drugs like meth or ecstasy. Usually, these drugs cause teeth grinding and jaw clenching. So, users use pacifiers or lollipops to prevent these side effects from happening while they’re intoxicated.

Signs of addiction

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At the end of the day, finding these items in your loved one’s belongings doesn’t guarantee that they’re struggling with drug addiction. It’s, therefore, crucial to watch out for other signs before taking the next step. Some indications of addiction may include:

 

Seeking help

If your loved one has drug paraphernalia and is exhibiting some of the signs shared above, it’s time to act fast. Start talking with professionals to determine treatment options suitable for your loved one. Remember, every addiction patient is different, so a one-size-fits-all approach may not apply in your case.

Drug addiction doesn’t only affect the drug user. Drug use also affects entire families, probably more than most people acknowledge.

In the United States alone, approximately 21 million people above 12 years suffer from substance use disorders, including alcohol and drug abuse. Most young people start abusing drugs in high school or earlier. To prevent drug abuse among young people, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is tasked with developing programs, services, and policies on drug abuse and misuse.

Drug addiction takes a toll on an individual’s psychological, emotional, and physiological well being. This is one way alcohol and drug abuse has a negative impact on families.

This article will discuss the various effects of drug use on families.

Drug use and the family

When a loved one is struggling with addiction, family members have to find ways to cope with it. More often than not, family members have conflicting and intense emotions regarding the situation at hand. As a result, family relationships become strained.

Addicts’ families are made to understand that their loved ones don’t intentionally want to hurt them. Therefore, they try to empathize by supporting, encouraging, and loving them regardless of the situation.

Unfortunately, the emotional abuse, deceit, and manipulation that addicts subject them to can be overwhelming. Consequently, there is a high probability that family relationships will suffer.

Here are some of the ways drug use affects the family

Effects on children

The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare reported that in the United States, approximately 8.7 million children live in households where at least one parent has a substance use disorder. Most of these children experience abuse or parental neglect. 

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Children whose parents use drugs or that have an alcoholic parent suffer both physically and emotionally. Most times, the parents neglect the children. Parents who abuse drugs tend to stop focusing on their role as parents; thus, they become emotionally and physically unavailable for their children. Sometimes, the parents stop taking care of their children’s basic needs. They don’t provide meals or a clean environment, and neither do they go out of their way to be involved in their children’s health care, social life and education.

Growing up in an environment where neglect is the norm affects children’s mental health. Additionally, it affects their ability to have healthy relationships with other people. 

Children in such family settings are also more likely to experience emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. The abuse may be from their parents or other people, including relatives and family friends.

Parents’ drug addiction can have long-term psychological effects on children. There is a high probability that the children of alcoholics and drug users will have behavioral problems like anxiety, detachment, angry outbursts, and depression. They can also develop mental health problems as they get older.

Research has also shown that children who suffer from neglect and abuse are more likely to abuse drugs in the future. 

Effects on finances

Drug addiction tends to take a toll on family finances. Drug users often lose their jobs since they can no longer perform or show up as expected. Consequently, they start using family savings to finance their drug addiction.

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Since illegal drugs are expensive, the family may run into financial problems quickly. Paying for basic needs like food, utilities, clothing, and rent may become a problem. There is also a need to pay for addiction treatment which can be expensive.

Other than that, drug users may get into trouble with the law. When this happens, it is up to the family to raise money to ensure their loved one doesn’t end up in jail.

Drug users may also feel entitled to family members’ money. Since they cannot finance their lifestyle, they rely on money from other family members, or eventually they could become homeless.

Stress

When a loved one is an addict, most, if not all, of their responsibilities become their partner’s responsibilities.

The partner has to juggle between paying bills, raising the children, cleaning up after the addict, and making important decisions regarding the family, among others. Consequently, they may become stressed. Stress is a risk factor for other conditions like depression and high blood pressure.

Loss of trust

Most addicts make promises they can’t keep. They also don’t live up to their agreements with family members, further straining their family relationships.

Family members become frustrated when the addict doesn’t live up to their promises and obligations. 

Children are also affected by this. When an addict promises his children something and does not follow through, the children have trust issues. They will find it hard to trust other people since their parents have already set a bad precedent.

Emotional and physical abuse

Drug use can lead to emotional and physical abuse. Since drug users are irrational and most family members are on edge due to their behavior, simple disagreements can lead to big fights, sometimes physical.

Substance abuse and mental health issues go hand in hand. Drug users tend to be emotionally abusive and manipulative. Their behavior negatively affects family members and other people they are close to.

Sometimes, children whose parents are drug addicts become abusers. In an attempt to mask their struggles, they misbehave and act out, hurting other people in the process. Eventually, some become drug users too. 

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Fear

Most drug addicts are unpredictable. As discussed above, drug abuse and mental health issues go hand in hand.

It is almost impossible to predict how a drug user will react to situations. Consequently, most family members resort to being extra careful with their words and actions to avoid confrontation.

Children that grow up in settings where one or both parents are addicts tend to be highly reserved. They are conditioned not to say or do anything that would rub their parents the wrong way from a young age. This tends to reflect in their day-to-day lives.

Generally, drug use breeds fear in the family.

Dealing with drug use in the family

When you realize your loved one is struggling with an addiction, you should encourage them to seek professional help. Try to make the addict see how their drug use affects them and other family members. Remember to be compassionate while doing this.

If they don’t seem to care, you can stage an intervention with the help of other family members. You can also involve an intervention specialist to increase its chances of success.

The entire family should also consider getting therapy or counselling. Therapy goes a long way in helping everyone deal with the effects of a loved one’s addiction. 

If the family member agrees to seek treatment and join support groups, the healing process will be much easier. The chances of successfully rebuilding strained family relationships are also much better.

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a non-flammable gas used for pain relief and sedation. It was discovered in the 1700s, and since then, medical practitioners, including dentists, use it as an anesthetic to sedate their patients before conducting minor procedures. Other anesthetic gases commonly used in the United States are: isoflurane, halothane, sevoflurane, and desflurane.

Other than medicinal uses, NO2 is used in the automotive industry and food industry. In the automotive industry, some enthusiasts use nitrous oxide to improve engine performance.

With the rising number of drug abuse cases, partygoers discovered nitrous oxide and started using it to feel high or intoxicated. Today, it is one of the most common drugs in the music festival scene. You’ll likely find nitrous oxide at any concert you attend. It goes by several names, including: whippets, nangs, hippy crack, balloons, nitro, buzz bomb, N20, NO and ice cold fatties.

Nitrous oxide is a dissociative anaesthetic. Therefore, it somehow dissociates the mind from the body, giving patients or users a sense of floating. Other common side effects include intense visual hallucinations and distorted perceptions.

This article discusses the various effects of nitrous oxide gas when consumed as a recreational drug. Additionally, we will look at the results of mixing it with other drugs and the risks of inhaling nitrous oxide.

How is nitrous oxide used?

Users commonly inhale NO2 by releasing nitrous gas cartridges (whippets/bulbs) into a different object, e.g., a balloon. Some inhale it directly from the gas cylinders, like a can for whipping cream.

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Nitrous oxide effects

The effect of nitrous oxide abuse varies from person to person. Some of the factors that determine how nitrous oxide affects an individual are:

Inhaling nitrous oxide has both short-term and long-term effects.

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Short term effects

Shortly after an individual inhales the gas from latex balloons or cartridges, they get excited, a rush of euphoria, and a sense of floating. This feeling disappears after a few minutes. Nitrous oxide abuse can cause the following short term effects:

If individuals consume excess nitrous oxide at once, they may experience high blood pressure, temporary loss of consciousness, or even get a heart attack.

Long term effects

Continuous use of nitrous oxide may lead to the following long term effects:

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Results of mixing nitrous oxide with other drugs

At the moment, there’s not enough research to conclude that mixing nitrous oxide with other illegal drugs increases an individual’s health risks. However, there are instances when combining nitrous with other drugs increases results in other additional symptoms.

If you mix nitrous with alcohol, you are likely to experience the following symptoms:

Other than that, mixing nitrous oxide with alcohol may increase one’s risk of accidents and death.

If you mix nitrous oxide with any stimulant, the chances are that the combination will affect your heart rate and breathing rate.

Mixing nitrous oxide with depressants like opiates or benzodiazepines may increase the chances of an overdose due to a lack of oxygen to the brain.

The risks that come with inhaling nitrous oxide

When you inhale nitrous oxide from the tanks or whippets, the gas is extremely cold, approximately -40 degrees Celsius. Therefore, you will likely get frostbite on your lips, nose, throat, and vocal cords.

Additionally, nitrous oxide is generally under constant pressure. Therefore, when you inhale it directly from the containers, they may cause your lung tissues to rupture.

Another risk is that the gas dispensers may explode if they are faulty. If this happens, you may end up hurt in the process.

Crackers used to dispense gas canisters may also result in cold burns on your hands.

Overdose

Since nitrous oxide is a gas, there aren’t any doses associated with overdose or toxicity. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has specific standards on the nitrous oxide amounts that dentists and other medical practitioners should use on patients, specifically for medicinal reasons. The WHO classifies the standards into two categories: chronic exposure and acute exposure.

WHO recommends that medical practitioners use 20 parts per billion (ratio between nitrous oxide and breathable air) for chronic exposures. For acute exposures, they should (ideally) use any amount below 100 parts per billion for one hour.

People who directly inhale nitrous from the containers are more likely to exceed this recommended amount. Consequently, they experience overdose and toxic side effects a few minutes after inhaling the gas.

Some signs of overdose include:

If your loved one shows any signs of overdose, call an ambulance immediately and inform the operator that the individual overdosed on nitrous oxide. If they lose consciousness, place them in the recovery position and ensure that their airway is clear. Check the breathing to ensure they are still breathing. If not, do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

When the paramedics arrive, inform them of the exact drugs your loved one took, especially if they mixed them with other drugs.

Conclusion

There is no safe level of using drugs or alcohol, and nitrous oxide is no exception. There’s always a risk that comes with any drug and alcohol abuse.

Using nitrous oxide can affect your health, finances, work, relationships, school, and other aspects of your life. If you notice that nitrous oxide has negatively affected you or your loved one, seek professional help. Contact us today to start your recovery journey. We will help you settle on a treatment center that suits you best.

Drug abuse or addiction is a huge problem in the United States. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report, 164.8 million people aged 12 or older (60.2%) had used substances like illegal drugs, alcohol, or tobacco in the past month. Within that time, 47 million people smoked cigarettes, and 139.8 million drank alcohol. The survey adds that 19.4% of the population had used an illicit drug in the past year, with marijuana accounting for 15.9% of use. Prescription drugs misuse came second with 3.6%.  

Sadly, the drug problem causes addiction, physical and psychological problems, and in some cases, death. In 2019 alone, there were about 71,000 drug overdose deaths in the country, and the trend seems to be holding up. While the drug use problem is rampant in the country, it’s important to note that not all states are struggling with the same types of substances. Different states have different drug problems, each with varying severity. This article will look at how drug of choice differs across the United States.

Alcohol

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The legal drinking age in the US is 21 years old and is strictly enforced. However, statistics show that young adults in the country are also indulging in alcohol use. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism pointed out that most states had a 2.35 gallons per capita alcohol consumption in 2016, which exceeds the country’s goal of 2.1.

Currently, New Hampshire is the state with the highest alcohol consumption per capita of 4.67 gallons. This is over double the country’s set goal. But Statista notes that the state has lower rates of binge drinking than other states. States like Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota have the highest rates of binge drinking. Binge drinking is the consumption of 4 or more drinks within 2 hours for women and five or more drinks with 2 hours for men. It is the most common form of excessive drinking and is linked to severe risks.

Utah is on the other end of the spectrum, with the lowest alcohol consumption per capita of 1.34 gallons. This is mainly attributable to the strict alcohol regulations in the state. Utah is one of the nine states with per capita less than 2.1 gallons.  

Alcohol consumption per capita in the US ranked

Highest alcohol use per state

Lowest alcohol use per state

Marijuana

The federal government classified marijuana as a schedule I drug, along with others like cocaine and heroin. However, 18 states and the country’s capital have legalized marijuana use for adults, while 36 states, including the US Virgin Islands, Guam, District of Columbia, Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico, allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana programs. Consequently, the states with fewer marijuana restrictions tend to have higher use rates. In fact, states like Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Alaska are among the top 12 states with the highest use rates.

Currently, cannabis use among US adults in 2018-19 was highest in the District of Columbia, with about 27% of adults using the drug. South Dakota has the least marijuana use, with about 11.13%, according to Statista:

Marijuana use across the US states ranked

States with the highest marijuana use

States with the lowest marijuana use

Prescription opioids and heroin

After pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that pain relievers wouldn’t cause addiction, healthcare providers started prescribing these drugs at greater rates in the late 1990s. This led to vast misuse of both opioid drugs before it became apparent that they could indeed be highly addictive. According to NSDUH’s 2020 survey, 10.1 million people misused prescription opioids in the past.

Studies show that prescription drugs are gateway drugs, leading people to use street drugs like heroin, fentanyl and cocaine. Prescription drugs have low opioid levels and are often used as pain-relievers. But chronic pain patients may need to take these drugs for a longer time, exposing themselves to the risks of drug addiction, and tolerance. So many chronic patients end up taking more pills each day, which can be expensive or inaccessible. As a result, they turn to alternatives like fentanyl and heroin to achieve the desired effect and avoid withdrawal symptoms.

The escalating use of prescription opioids for pain management has contributed significantly to the opioid epidemic. Opioid is widely used across the US, but it disproportionately affects the states of West Virginia, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Ohio. According to the National Institute of Health, these states had the highest rate of fatal opioid overdoses, with 42.4, 33.7, 33.1, and 29.6 per 100,000 people, respectively. Hawaii, Iowa, Texas, and California had the least overdoses, accounting for 4.1, 4.8, 4.8 ad 5.8 per 100,000, respectively.

Aside from the overdose cases, opioids, alongside other drugs like heroin, are primarily used in populous states and those that serve as entry points. A survey based on HHS and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s ranked states by opioid misuse rates, and these were the findings:

Opioid use across the US states ranked

States with the highest opioid use

States with the lowest opioids use

Other substances

While some states use specific substances more than others, the reality is that Americans are using alcohol or drugs and, sometimes, a combination of both. Alcohol and nicotine are legal and loosely regulated. The fact that they are affordable and easily accessible makes them a drug of choice for many people. Despite these, alcohol and nicotine carry a risk for addiction and even death.

Prescription medications are also technically legal. And since the doctors issue them, some Americans abuse them assuming it’s safe. But prescription drugs are highly addictive and can serve as a gateway to other drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Besides, these drugs account for 30% of emergency room admissions.

And with the growing cases of mental illness across the country, many are self-medicating with cocaine, marijuana, or alcohol. Unfortunately, these mind-altering substances offer temporary relief but may lead to addiction and other health-related issues.

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Americans use drugs and alcohol for various reasons. Some do so as a social activity, like after work or during holidays, while others use it to fit in. Availability, experimenting, self-medicating, feeling good, etc., are common reasons people use drugs across the country. But there are other risk factors like having family members who abuse substances that predispose one to use.

Drug of choice may differ from state to state due to availability, state laws, and influence. But all in all, the drug is still a problem irrespective of the type of drug. If you or someone close to you is addicted to drugs, it is best to seek substance abuse treatment. Many treatment approaches exist to help you lead a drug-free life.

People who abuse drugs use a range of items to make, abuse, or conceal drugs. Most of these items are either hard to access or pretty expensive to buy. So users may opt for everyday household essentials. For example, they will use plastic storage containers to store the drugs or create a pipe out of a pen.

For a loved one, knowing how to recognize these items can help you act quickly. When it comes to drug use, the sooner someone can get substance abuse treatment, the faster they can recover. Becoming drug free is one of the main goal of our health care system.

This is particularly true for highly addictive substances such as heroin and cocaine. Others like fentanyl are very potent and could lead to overdose deaths, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

But recognizing drug items can be harder than it sounds. Generally, these items refer to any material or equipment that drug users use to make, administer, or transport drugs. The items are not always obvious as the methods of drug use or concealing drugs have become quite clever.

A 2018 survey by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that about 20.3 million people in the United States aged 12+ had a substance use disorder related to alcohol or drugs in the past year. So, if you suspect that your loved one is abusing drugs, it’s best to get to the bottom of it before the situation worsens.

This article will highlight the common household items that people use to abuse, transport, or conceal drugs to give you an idea of what to watch out for. We’ll also recommend steps that you can take once you confirm that a loved one is indeed abusing illegal drugs.

Toothpicks

Toothpicks are perhaps the last household items that you'd expect to find on this list. However, they are common paraphernalia, especially among people who smoke illegal drugs like opioids, marijuana, cocaine, and meth. These drugs are smoked in a glass pipe or bong, and from time to time, the bong gets clogged up and stops functioning as it should.

When it does, drug users will need a series of supplies to clean it up, including toothpicks (or paper clips). People also use toothpicks for drugs like meth - where they soak the toothpicks in liquid meth and chew on them throughout the day.

Finger Nail clippers

Cocaine users tend to have coke nails. Coke nails refer to the long fingernails; usually, the pinkie nails used to scoop and snort powder cocaine. This act is referred to as doing a bump. The nail acts as the vessel instead of needing an item, like a dollar bill, ATM card, or straw, to snort coke.

But sometimes, one may choose to use finger nail clippers in the place of their nails. Clippers facilitate a quick and easy snorting of a small amount of coke by dipping it into the small containers used to hold drugs.

Nail polish remover

Teens and young adults who are not old enough to buy alcoholic beverages go for alternatives like nail polish remover that contain alcohol. And since there are no age restrictions surrounding nail polish removers, they buy and drink it for the intoxicating effects.

Some intentionally inhale its vapors (huffing) or apply it directly to their skin for the effects. Young adults use nail polish remover because it’s a cheap and common household item. No one will suspect anything if they see a nail polish remover in their bags or belongings.

Spoons

Spoons are often used as cocaine or heroin paraphernalia. But drug spoons aren’t the same size as the regular spoon - they are often smaller and might be discolored depending on how the person uses them.

Laundry detergents

This may come as a surprise, but some people snort, huff, or sniff washing powder as an alternative to crystal meth. Laundry detergents have alcohol and ethanol as ingredients. But they are also packed with chemicals that can harm the body, making them very dangerous.

In addition to using detergents as drugs, some steal the detergents and trade them for drugs. According to one post in the New York Magazine, a 150-ounce bottle of Tide detergent is $5 or $10 worth of crack cocaine or weed. Other similar products abused by teens include deodorants, bath salts, cleaning products, and aerosol sprays.

Paper towel

Foil and toilet paper are often used to smoke heroin. Teens and young adults who abuse drugs may have toilet paper or paper towels sitting around in their rooms. Usually, these serve as some sort of huffing device. You may also notice air canisters, Freon, glue, and other household items.

Homemade items

Teens and young adults use household essentials like compact mirrors, razor blades, straws, tin foil, and hollowed-out writing instruments for drug preparation and use. They also use masks to store or hide drugs.

Signs your loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol

Finding your loved one with one of these items shouldn’t sound an alarm. After all, they are household items. However, it’s important to pay attention to warning signs that might indicate drug use, such as:

●       Changes in behavior and mood

●       Paraphernalia in their bags

●       Withdrawal symptoms when not using

●       Poor hygiene

●       Sudden shift in weight

●       Missed appointments and other responsibilities

●       Changes in sleep patterns

●       New friends or acquaintances

●       Obvious intoxication

●       Hacking cough

●       Bloody or runny noses

●       Dental decay or scabs on the body

●       Talkativeness

●       Needle or track marks

You might also want to watch out for risk factors like mental health problems. Stress, anxiety, depression, etc., often tend to co-occur with substance abuse. The risks of drug use are higher in people with mental disorders.

Short- and long-term effects of drug misuse

Drug use can have a range of direct and indirect effects on the body. Usually, the effects depend on the type of drug, the person’s health, how much is taken, and how they’re taken. According to NIDA, short-term effects include changes in blood pressure, wakefulness, heart rate, appetite, mood, and stroke, heart attack, overdose, stroke, or death. Long-term effects include cancer, lung disease, heart disease, mental illness, hepatitis, HIV/AIDs, and addiction.

 

What to do if your loved one has any of these items

If you suspect your loved one is abusing drugs, it’s best to approach the topic with a well-meaning plan. The aim is not to make the person feel attacked. Find constructive ways to talk to your loved ones, and consider getting them into a treatment program. The best facilities offer individual and family programs to help families and their loved ones.

The relationship between drugs and music goes way back in history. Several historic hymns sung by sailors glamorize drinking alcohol and other contentious activities.

Most people started paying attention to the relationship between music and drugs in the 1930s when jazz musicians based in the United States started allowing their fans to take the music they loved home with them.

Since people had ample time to listen to music, they started noticing how musicians refer to drugs in their songs. Consequently, they started having discussions on the same.

In the 1970s, U.S. President Richard Nixon launched a controversial campaign dubbed 'war on drugs' after parents raised concerns that musicians referred to every kind of illicit drug in their music and encouraged listeners to use them.

Listening to music is an enjoyable pastime for most people. You can easily access free music on various apps. Music stimulates the auditory cortex, the part of the brain responsible for music. It is known to improve one’s mood, reduce anxiety, ease pain, reduce depression, and make one more alert, among several other benefits.

Different genres of music have been associated with drug and alcohol abuse. Most modern musicians, including Kottonmouth Kings, Jay-Z, Tech N9ne, and Eminem, refer to drug use in their lyrics. Since several musicians refer to drugs in different types of music, there are concerns that famous artists who have produced popular music, and other genres might contribute to the rising addiction rates.

In this article, we will discuss the music genres that have been associated with drug use over the years. Let's dive in.

Jazz


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For the longest time, jazz music and jazz musicians have been linked to drug abuse. Between the 1940s and 1950s, drug abuse in the jazz community was at an ultimate high. Despite other economic and social factors that influenced it, most people in the jazz community accepted narcotic use.

At the time, jazz musicians who were addicted justified cocaine, morphine, and heroin use. They claimed that they used drugs to enhance their performance and creativity. Renowned jazz musicians like Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Chet Baker used narcotics right before their performances.

Drug use prematurely ended or sidetracked the careers of some talented jazz musicians. Charlie Parker's drug use  is well documented. He battled heroin addiction, alcoholism, liver cirrhosis, ulcers, debt, mental illness, suicide attempts, and broken marriages throughout his adult life.

Most people blamed Parker for causing widespread heroin addiction & mental health issues among jazz musicians. Parker eventually died in 1955 due to the long-term effects of drug abuse. 

Some jazz musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, and Clifford Brown avoided narcotic use despite people associating jazz with it. They tried to set a good example for others.

Rock & Roll 


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Most people tend to closely associate rock and roll music with substance abuse. Many rock n roll hits have drug references, and a few musicians have had to check into rehab to battle addiction. This trend has been ongoing for several decades.

Note that a good number of successful rock 'n' roll musicians don't live long, prosperous lives. The reason is that for many, substance abuse defines their lifestyle. They use illicit drugs while recording hits, before live performances, and during shows.

Rock 'n' roll musicians who abuse drugs claim that the drugs help them improve their performances and numb pain. Unfortunately, they have to deal with dire consequences later on.

Jimi Hendrix , a renowned guitarist in music history, also ended up having complications as a result of drug use. In 1970, Hendrix confessed that he had abused LSD, cocaine, and marijuana. On 18th September 1970, he overdosed on barbiturates and died of complications resulting from the overdose. His music career and his life were cut short.

Rap


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Most talented hip-hop artists grew up in low-income areas where drug use is prevalent. Therefore, it is not surprising that most of them make drug references in their music, sometimes in positive ways. A study revealed that drug references in rap music increased from 11% to 19% in two decades.

Several decades ago, most rappers only referred to alcohol and ‘having a good time’ in their music. However, when Schooly D  joined the industry, he romanticized drug use, a criminal lifestyle, and prostituting women.

Since he was very influential, other rappers also started incorporating drug references in their lyrics. Most rappers mentioned marijuana in their music, but a few mentioned other hard drugs. Consequently, drug use quickly spread throughout the rap community.

A few musicians like Eminem and Afroman attempted to address the negative impacts of drug use on musicians’ lives. Additionally, the rap community in general acknowledged the negative impact of drugs after promising rappers like Mac Miller started dying due to overdoses.

Electronic Dance Music (EDM)


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Electronic dance music gained popularity in the mid-1990s. It is a diverse music culture that attracts people from all walks of life. Most people claim that there is a spiritual aspect to EDM, hence the need to use drugs. 

EDM lovers like communal dance parties, music festivals, and raves. The EDM pulsing beat, colored lights, and fans in a prolonged state of euphoria rubbing against each other typically describe what EDM concerts are like.

Ecstasy (MDMA) is the drug of choice among EDM musicians and fans. Some also use amphetamine. Both drugs complement the repetitive, fast music. Additionally, they give users feelings of pleasure through dance and movement. 

Lindsay Lohan, an actress formally known for partying and her love for EDM, recently acknowledged that EDM concerts always left her feeling burned out because she used pills and cocaine.

Conclusion

In general, music allows artists to express themselves and talk about their troubles, and drug abuse seems to be one of the issues they struggle with. Lately, musicians have become vocal about issues related to drug use.

Whether or not music plays a role in encouraging drug addiction is still a controversial debate. However, there is no doubt that specific genres of music are related to drug use.

If you are struggling with an addiction  you should consider seeking medical advice and treatment.  Drug abuse has adverse effects and can potentially take a toll on your health. Seek help before it’s too late.

Struggling With Addiction 2020 © All Rights Reserved
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