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Illegal Drug Addiction in North Carolina


Illegal drugs cost Americans roughly $193 million every year, based on findings by the United States Department of Health and Human Services in 2014. Drugs such as crystal meth, heroin and cocaine, affect thousands of people each year, as addiction changes people’s behaviors and moral values due to the addictive properties of these dangerous drugs.  Illegal drug addiction in North Carolina, as reported by the SAMHSA, saw a decline in admittance for addiction by 17.3% in 2012 from the previous year. However, it has still risen by 170.1% over a 5-year period.

What are illegal drugs?

Illegal drugs refer to the many substance that are illegal to own, use, or sell. These include drugs such as crystal meth, flakka or bath salts, cocaine, heroin, various hallucinogens, ketamine, and mescaline. They are Scheduled drugs, meaning that they were made illegal because they served little or no medical purpose, and there is a high risk that people may abuse them.

Cocaine addiction and abuse

Cocaine is a very powerful stimulant that is often used recreationally. It can be snorted, smoked, and injected. It is made from the coca plant that is grown naturally in South America. The feelings that people report from using the drug, includes an increase in energy, euphoria, and a tendency to be more talkative. Crack is another form of cocaine, and it comes as small rock crystals. The illegal drug was given its name due to the cracking sound it makes when smoked. Cocaine is a Schedule II drug, and therefore has some medical value, but there is a high chance for abuse.

Cocaine affects the body and brain via the nervous system. It also affects the dopamine system responsible for feelings of euphoria and reward. Dopamine normally recycles quickly in the brain, but cocaine stops this process from occurring. It causes a flood of dopamine to enter into the brain, which ultimately leads to the “high” that people experience.

Health risks of cocaine abuse

The short-term effects of cocaine abuse, include dilated pupils, constriction in the blood vessels, and an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Violent and bizarre behavior is common in high doses of cocaine. Panic attacks, anxiety, and irritability are common with cocaine abuse. There is also a risk of overdose that can lead to strokes, seizures, brain damage, and even coma.

The long-term effects of abusing this drug, include withdrawal symptoms and a tolerance that can cause the person to be at risk of overdose as more of the drug is taken to reach the desired result. Withdrawal symptoms include problems concentrating, fatigue, anxiety, depression, inability to feel pleasure, severe cravings, aches and pains, and tremors in the body. Furthermore, cocaine addiction can cause damage to many areas of the body, including their brain, kidneys, central nervous system, heart, and lungs.

Crystal Meth addiction and Abuse

Crystal meth is a powerful central nervous system depressant that also goes by the medical name methamphetamine. Certain methamphetamines are prescribed for ADHD, and obesity in some cases due to the weight-loss component that the drug has. Crystal meth comes in the form of crystals, often called ice or glass, and can be smoked, snorted, injected or swallowed. Users report a rush that is so powerful, that some users become hooked after their first try. It floods dopamine into the brain, which produces the rush and euphoria that users feel. Meth is a Schedule II drug. It was scheduled as such due to the medical value and the high risk of abuse.

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Abuse

Signs that someone may be a meth addict or abusing meth, can be revealed through their behavior and physical appearance. The following are signs that a person may be abusing meth:

  • A person may pick at their skin or hair obsessively.
  • Personal grooming becomes lacking, and their appearance deteriorates.
  • Weight loss due to a loss of appetite.
  • Disrupted sleeping patterns, such as staying awake for long periods at a time, even for several days.
  • Rapid eye movement, as well as diluted pupils.
  • Facial tics, exaggerated movements, twitching, and constantly talking.
  • Outbursts of anger, also known as mood swings.
  • Stealing or borrowing others’ possessions and always borrowing money.
  • Paranoia and hallucinations, as well as other psychotic behavior

Heroin Abuse and Addiction

Heroin is a potent opioid that is made from the seed pod of the opium poppy plant found natively in Asia. It comes as a white to brownish powder, and also sometimes as a sticky tar. Users of heroin usually snort, inject, or smoke the drug, and each of these delivery methods produce a nearly instant effect on the body, which can be a contributing factor to addiction. The drug is a Schedule I controlled substance in America, meaning that it does not serve any medical purpose and has a high chance for abuse.

In the brain, heroin is converted back into morphine, a powerful opiate, which then binds to opioid receptors. These receptors control a person’s sense of pleasure and pain, causing users to feel high amounts of pleasure and no pain. The receptors are located in the brain stem, which also controls a person’s automatic processors, such as arousal, respiration, and blood pressure.

Health Effects of Heroin Abuse

Among the most severe short-term effects of heroin abuse, is the risk of overdose that can lead to serious medical concerns, such as comas. A slowed breathing rate is also of concern, along with clouded mental acuity, hypothermia, vomiting, and nausea.

Among the long-term health effects of continued heroin abuse, are collapsed veins, bacterial infections from poorly cleaned paraphernalia, infectious diseases such as HIV, abscesses, and heart infections. A tolerance that forms with extended use, can cause the user to use more than what is safe, which can ultimately lead to overdose. Withdrawal symptoms such as chronic abdominal cramps, depression, nausea, vomiting, fluctuating moods, and diarrhea can occur with extended use of heroin.

People who have an illegal drug addiction in North Carolina, should seek assistance from one of the many certified rehab centers found in the state. An addiction is a treatable disease, and the treatment you or a loved one requires is just a phone call away. Reach out to qualified treatment centers in North Carolina to learn more about illegal drug addiction treatment.