In 2009, 8.7% of people over the age of 12 had used illegal drugs in the past month. Many of those people, and likely people you know, have excuses and reasons for doing drugs. Those excuses come in handy when drug users try to rationalize behavior. But it’s important to understand the underlying truth and the power of addiction.
“I can quit any time I want.”
Drug users may rationalize that addiction doesn’t factor in to drug use. The truth is, even drugs that aren’t physically addictive may be psychologically addictive. Most drug users are aware of the health risks and dangers, but continue to engage in dangerous and illegal behaviors. Detoxing from drugs often requires the assistance of medical professionals and counselors, as well as the support network of family and friends.
“This drug isn’t addictive.”
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana is estimated to produce addiction in approximately 9 percent, or roughly 1 in 11, of those who use it at least once. While not every marijuana smoker is addicted, it’s false to say that the drug isn’t addictive at all. On top of the potential chemical dependency, marijuana users can feel emotionally tied to the culture of smoking, making it difficult to quit.
“It isn’t dangerous.”
Drug abuse is dangerous. Depending on the drugs used, dangers can include contracting HIV, accidental overdose and death or injury from drugged driving. Inhaled drugs can cause lung disease while drugs like meth can cause gruesome side effects like open sores and rotting teeth. Drug users who claim that drugs aren’t dangerous are willfully ignoring the known dangers and related health problems.
“It isn’t hurting anyone else.”
Sadly, drug abuse affects entire families. Pregnant moms can cause severe health problems in unborn children by using drugs and alcohol during pregnancy. Addiction can have a rippling impact through families, causing emotional trauma for kids, parents and other loved ones. Drugged drivers have the potential to injure or even kill other drivers and pedestrians. Even accidental death from drug use can hurt people other than the drug user herself.
The LiveFree! Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is a coalition of community advocates who strive to address drug and alcohol abuse in Pinellas County. Visit us online to see how you can get involved in this cause that is so near and dear to our community.