Substance abuse and addiction have haunted humanity for thousands of years. From ancient drugs such as wine and opium to modern synthesized heroin and prescription painkillers, these substances have been the source of struggle and hardship for millions of addicts. Overcoming addiction is never an easy process; however, early addiction therapy, when it existed, used to be an ordeal in itself.
Substance abuse and substance addiction are two separate but overlapping conditions that can occur in people who misuse alcohol or a broad spectrum of medications and illegal drugs. In mental health terms, the single diagnosis used to account for both of these conditions is substance use disorder. Every year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration uses a nationwide effort called the National Survey on Drug Use and Health to roughly determine how many U.S. teenagers and adults qualify as substance abusers or substance addicts.
Heroin is a well-known opioid narcotic substance noted for its ability to trigger drug abuse, drug addiction and fatal drug overdoses. In recent months, this substance has reentered the public consciousness as a highly visible personal and public health danger. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration tracks heroin-related statistics for all U.S. teenagers and adults through an annual venture called the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. These statistics include such things as the overall number of people who use the drug and the number of people who use it for the first time in any given year.
Hallucinogenic drugs, also known as hallucinogens, are substances that produce their effects by altering the information entering the brain through one or more of the senses. A small but substantial minority of teenagers and adults in the U.S. use these powerful substances, which can have a strongly negative effect on mental and physical health and well-being. In a study published in January 2014 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, a team of American researchers assessed the current popularity of various hallucinogenic drugs.
Methamphetamine is a powerful, addictive stimulant drug known for its ability to trigger a declining capacity for impulse control and rational decision-making in habitual users. For this and other reasons, infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is relatively common among people who regularly take the drug. In a study published in 2013 in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, researchers from the University of California, San Diego looked at the ways in which methamphetamine use and HIV infection combine to contribute to a downward spiral of health in affected individuals.