Addiction Info



1. What drugs are commonly abused?

The following list of drugs and substances are the most commonly abused in the United States, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. These are the substances most often treated at drug rehab centers.


  • Hashish
  • Marijuana (Pot)

Depressants (Downers)

  • Barbiturates
  • Benodiazepines
  • Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol)
  • GHB
  • Methaqualone (Quaaludes)

Dissociative Anesthetics

  • Ketamine
  • PCP


  • LSD
  • Mescaline
  • Psilocybin

Opioids and Morphine Derivatives

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • Opium


  • Amphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstacy (MDMA)
  • Methamphetamine
  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin)
  • Nicotine

Other Compounds

  • Anabolic Steriods
  • Inhalants


2. What is drug addiction?

Whether a person is genetically or biochemically predisposed to addiction or alcoholism is a controversy that has been debated for years within the scientific community. One school of thought advocates the “disease concept”, embracing the notion that addiction is an enherited disease, and that the individual is permanently ill at a genetic level, even for those experiencing long
periods of sobriety. Most drug rehab centers agree.

3. How quickly can I become addicted to a drug?

There is no easy answer to this question.

If and how quickly you might become addicted to a drug depends on many factors including the biology of your body. All drugs are potentially harmful and may have life-threatening consequences associated with their use. There are also vast differences among individuals in sensitivity to various drugs.

While one person may use a drug one or many times and suffer no ill effects, another person may be particularly vulnerable and overdose with first use. There is no way of knowing in advance how someone may react.

4. How do I know if someone is addicted to drugs?

Have you ever felt you ought to Cut down on your drinking/drug use? Have people ever Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking/drug use? Have you ever felt bad or Guilty about your drinking/drug use? Have you ever had a drink or taken a drug first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover (Eye-opener)? If a person is compulsively seeking and using a drug despite negative consequences, such as loss of job, debt, physical problems brought on by drug abuse, or family problems, then he or she is probably addicted.

Those who screen for drug problems, such as physicians, have developed the CAGE questionnaire. These four simple questions can help detect substance abuse problems:

  • Have you ever felt you ought to cut down on your drinking/drug use?
  • Have people ever annoyed you by criticizing your drinking/drug use?
  • Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking/drug use?
  • Have you ever had a drink or taken a drug first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover (Eye-opener)?

5. What are the physical signs of abuse or addiction?

The physical signs of abuse or addiction can vary depending on the person and the drug being abused.

For example, someone who abuses marijuana may have a chronic cough or worsening of asthmatic conditions. THC, the chemical in marijuana responsible for producing its effects, is associated with weakening the immune system which makes the user more vulnerable to infections, such as pneumonia.

Each drug has short-term and long-term physical effects, stimulants like cocaine increase heart rate and blood pressure, whereas opioids like heroin may slow the heart rate and reduce respiration.

6. Are there effective treatments for drug addiction?

Drug addiction can be effectively treated with behavioral-based therapies. Treatment may vary for each person depending on the type of drug(s) being used and multiple courses of treatment may be needed to achieve success. There are many types of drug rehab centers.

7. What is detoxification, or detox?

Detoxification is the process of allowing the body to rid itself of a drug while managing the symptoms of withdrawal. It is often the first step in a drug treatment program and should be followed by treatment with a behavioral-based therapy if available. Detox alone with no follow-up is not treatment.

8. What is withdrawal? How long does it last?

Withdrawal is the variety of symptoms that occur after use of some addictive drugs is reduced or stopped. Length of withdrawal and symptoms vary with the type of drug.

For example, physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal may include: restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and cold flashes. These physical symptoms may last for several days, but the general depression, or dysphoria (opposite of euphoria), that often accompanies heroin withdrawal may last for weeks.

In many cases withdrawal can be easily treated with medications to ease the symptoms, but treating withdrawal is not the same as treating addiction.

9. What are the costs of drug abuse to society?

It is estimated that in 2000 illegal drug use cost America close to $161 billion:

  • $110 billion in lost productivity
  • $12.9 billion in healthcare costs
  • $35 billion in other costs, such as efforts to stem the flow of drugs.

Beyond the raw numbers are other costs to society:

  • Spread of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C either through sharing of drug paraphernalia or unprotected sex
  • Deaths due to overdose or other complications from drug use
  • Effects on unborn children of pregnant drug users
  • Other effects such as crime and homelessness.

10. If a pregnant woman abuses drugs, does it affect the fetus?

Many substances including alcohol, nicotine, and drugs of abuse can have negative effects on the developing fetus because they are transferred to the fetus across the placenta. For example, nicotine has been connected with premature birth and low birth weight as has the use of cocaine.

Scientific studies have shown that babies born to marijuana users were shorter, weighed less, and had smaller head sizes than those born to mothers who did not use the drug. Smaller babies are more likely to develop health problems.

Whether a baby’s health problems, if caused by a drug, will continue as the child grows, is not always known. Research does show that children born to mothers who used marijuana regularly during pregnancy may have trouble concentrating, even when older. NIDA research continues to produce insights on the negative effects of drug use on the fetus.


Addiction Recovery systems explained

Drug addiction is a treatable disorder. Through treatment that is tailored to individual needs, patients can learn to control their condition and live normal, productive lives. Like people with diabetes or heart disease, people in treatment for drug addiction learn behavioral changes and often take medications as part of their treatment regimen.

Behavioral therapies can include counseling, psychotherapy, support groups, or family therapy. Treatment medications offer help in suppressing the withdrawal syndrome and drug craving and in blocking the effects of drugs. In addition, studies show that treatment for heroin addiction using methadone at an adequate dosage level combined with behavioral therapy reduces death rates and many health problems associated with heroin abuse.

In general, the more treatment given, the better the results. Many patients require other services as well, such as medical and mental health services and HIV prevention services. Patients who stay in treatment longer than 3 months usually have better outcomes than those who stay less time. Patients who go through medically assisted withdrawal to minimize discomfort but do not receive any further treatment, perform about the same in terms of their drug use as those who were never treated. Over the last 25 years, studies have shown that treatment works to reduce drug intake and crimes committed by drug-dependent people. Researchers also have found that drug abusers who have been through treatment are more likely to have jobs. Thousands of drug rehab centers have contributed to the reports.

Types of Treatment Programs for Addiction Recovery

The ultimate goal of all drug abuse treatment is to enable the patient to achieve lasting abstinence, but the immediate goals are to reduce drug use, improve the patient’s ability to function, and minimize the medical and social complications of drug abuse.

There are several types of drug abuse treatment programs. Short-term methods last less than 6 months and include residential therapy, medication therapy, and drug-free outpatient therapy. Longer term treatment may include, for example, methadone maintenance outpatient treatment for opiate addicts and residential therapeutic community treatment.

In-maintenance treatment for heroin addicts, people in treatment are given an oral dose of a synthetic opiate, usually methadone hydrochloride or levo-alpha-acetyl methadol (LAAM), administered at a dosage sufficient to block the effects of heroin and yield a stable, noneuphoric state free from physiological craving for opiates. In this stable state, the patient is able to disengage from drug-seeking and related criminal behavior and, with appropriate counseling and social services, become a productive member of his or her community.

Outpatient drug-free treatment does not include medications and encompasses a wide variety of programs for patients who visit a clinic at regular intervals. Most of the programs involve individual or group counseling. Patients entering these programs are abusers of drugs other than opiates or are opiate abusers for whom maintenance therapy is not recommended, such as those who have stable, well-integrated lives and only brief histories of drug dependence.

Therapeutic communities (TCs) are highly structured programs in which patients stay at a residence, typically for 6 to 12 months. Patients in TCs include those with relatively long histories of drug dependence, involvement in serious criminal activities, and seriously impaired social functioning. The focus of the TC is on the resocialization of the patient to a drug-free, crime-free lifestyle.

Short-term residential programs, often referred to as chemical dependency units, are often based on the “Minnesota Model” of treatment for alcoholism. These programs involve a 3- to 6-week inpatient treatment phase followed by extended outpatient therapy or participation in 12-step self-help groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous. Chemical dependency programs for drug abuse arose in the private sector in the mid-1980s with insured alcohol/cocaine abusers as their primary patients. Today, as private provider benefits decline, more programs are extending their services to publicly funded patients.

Methadone maintenance programs are usually more successful at retaining clients with opiate dependence than are therapeutic communities, which in turn are more successful than outpatient programs that provide psychotherapy and counseling. Within various methadone programs, those that provide higher doses of methadone (usually a minimum of 60 mg.) have better retention rates. Also, those that provide other services, such as counseling, therapy, and medical care, along with methadone generally get better results than the programs that provide minimal services.

Rapid Detox : Also referred to as ‘ultra rapid opiate detox,’ rapid detox can be used for treating opiate based substances and addictions such as heroin, vicodin, methadone, or any prescribed narcotic pain killers. Other narcotic opiate-based substances that can be treated through the rapid detoxification process include :codeine, dilaudid, morphine, & oxycontin. The rapid opiate detox process is generally conducted in a hospital setting and under general anesthesia. In fact, the process is most often overseen by certified and qualified anesthesiologists and a nursing staff that specializes in such procedures. While under anesthesia, the patient is administered medications that accelerate the physical reactions to the rapid withdrawal process which can last from 4 to 6 hours.

Many drug rehab centers offer more than one of the options listed on the page.

Drug treatment programs in prisons can succeed in preventing patients’ return to criminal behavior, particularly if they are linked to community-based programs that continue treatment when the client leaves prison. Some of the more successful programs have reduced the rearrest rate by one-fourth to one- half. For example, the “Delaware Model,” an ongoing study of comprehensive treatment of drug- addicted prison inmates, shows that prison-based treatment including a therapeutic community setting, a work release therapeutic community, and community-based aftercare reduces the probability of rearrest by 57 percent and reduces the likelihood of returning to drug use by 37 percent.

Drug abuse has a great economic impact on society-an estimated $67 billion per year. This figure includes costs related to crime, medical care, drug abuse treatment, social welfare programs, and time lost from work. Treatment of drug abuse can reduce those costs. Studies have shown that from $4 to $7 are saved for every dollar spent on treatment. It costs approximately $3,600 per month to leave a drug abuser untreated in the community, and incarceration costs approximately $3,300 per month. In contrast, methadone maintenance therapy costs about $290 per month.


Opioids are most often used to relieve various sorts of pain. These narcotic drugs include morphine and oxycontin and vicodin. Many of these medications are given before surgical procedures and are prescribed to lessen the pain that follows surgery. In other cases these pain killers are given for chronic muscle pain or spasms resulting from misuse of over use of certain body parts. In most cases people who take these medications do not mean to become addicted to them, however, once a person feels the effects caused by these drugs a desire to stay on them begins to grow.

Opioids block messages of pain from the body to the brain resulting in a type of euphoric or numb feeling. In some people, opioids cause drowsiness and a false sense of pleasure. These euphoric, careless feelings are what people become addicted to. Even if a person is taking the medication as prescribed an obsession to stay on the medicine can manifest itself within a person’s mind and daily activities. People who become addicted to these types of drugs are generally subject to severe withdrawal symptoms which can include vomiting, depression, sleeping and eating problems, and pain in the body and mind.

Depressants include drugs such as Xanax and Valium and are often used to control anxiety and sleeping problems. If used in excess, these types of depressants can cause similar effects to those achieved by opioids. These medications affect the brain by decreasing neurotransmitter functions which causes a sleepy or calming effect. People who take these medications often find that they are unable to stop taking the drugs even when their prescription has run out. The withdrawal with depressants is severe enough to cause serious health problems such as seizures. These drugs can be extremely dangerous and oxycontin addiction to them may lead to further complications if not dealt with immediately.

Stimulants are another class of prescription medication and include drugs such as Ritalin and other drugs commonly found in dieting and anti-attention deficit medications. These drugs increase the brain’s activity causing it to function at higher levels than normal. Increased heart rate, respiration and blood pressure are all effects that this medication can have on people who abuse stimulant-type drugs. Stimulants increase the brain’s production of dopamine and create a euphoric feeling within the body. People who abuse stimulants often use other drugs to supplement their habit.

All prescription medications when taken without need or prescription are extremely dangerous. Over the past few years prescription drug addiction cases have risen because it is an easy way for doctor’s to make money off of black market prescriptions. In addition the need for prescription drug treatment has risen, and at Gulf Coast Recovery we are dedicated to treating this deadly disease. Prescription drug addiction is often an invisible disease, however if you have a problem or suspect that someone you love suffers from this addiction, please call us and find out how to get treatment today.