Drug addiction is a chronic brain disease. It tricks the brain into thinking that drugs are essential, despite negative consequences. Addiction compels individuals to go to great lengths to acquire their drugs of abuse. In 2013, more than half of new illicit drug users were under 18 years of age, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. While initial drug use is voluntary and typically begins with experimentation, repeated use can affect a person’s self-control, inducing cravings. These cravings often drive an ongoing addiction. Illicit drug use has been on the rise since 2002. According to a 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report, 10.2 percent of the American population was past month users of illicit drugs, with marijuana and prescription opioid misuse leading the charts. Illicit drugs comprise opioids, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens and cannabis.

Meaning of opioids…
The term opioids describe natural opiates, such as morphine and synthetic drugs made from opium. These drugs are used medically as pain relievers. They work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and other organs in the body, reducing an individual’s perception of pain. Opioids include heroin and opium as well as prescription medications such as fentanyl, oxycodone and methadone.

Signs of an Opioid Addiction
Nearly 2.5 million Americans of the age group of 12 or older suffered from an opioid use disorder in 2014, per ASAM. Opioid addiction may weaken an individual’s immune system, and it causes gastrointestinal issues that can lead to malnutrition. Symptoms of an opioid addiction includes Drowsiness, Constricted pupils, Slurred speech, Respiratory depression. In some cases, opioid users will experience withdrawal symptoms. These include nausea, sleeplessness, restlessness and pain and drug cravings.

Struggling with a drug addiction?
Heroin, an illegal opioid synthesized from morphine, claimed the lives of 10,574 Americans in 2014. Because, it is the fastest-acting opiate, heroin has a high potential for abuse. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), an estimated 23 percent of heroin users become addicted to opioids. Physical dependence on the drug often causes long-term heroin users to experience traumatic withdrawal effects if they do not get the regular dosage.

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