Drug Abuse and Mental Illness Fast Facts


Drug abuse has reached the epidemic in the USA over the past few years. It is destroying families, jobs, relationships, the person’s health and welfare and the future of the young generation. One thing for a fact is that the impact of drug abuse whether it be prescription pain killers or so called street drugs (cocaine, marijuana, heroin, LSD, bath salts) causes addiction. In this article I will show you about drug abuse and mental illness fast facts that you need to know.

It all starts with a simple pain then a trip to the urgent care center or the emergency room where he or she gets a prescription for the pain. But if the effect is not good enough the person goes to another doctor. Now this is where addiction starts.

facts on drug abuse

The question is what are the pathological signs, causes and side effects of long term use and abuse? Do you want to know? Then please read on. But first let me show you some statistical data.


According to the Addiction Center there are 21 million Americans who have at least one addiction, yet only 10% receive treatment. Addiction can come from alcohol, opioids (prescription pain killers), heroin and street drugs. By the far the most commonly abused substance is Marijuana (Cannabis) according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse about 22.2 million.

Yes, there is medical marijuana for chronic pain but you will need a card and prescribed by a doctor licensed to prescribed this substance. And yes you read ti and have seen it just recently we now have CBD Oil which is now legal to buy at your local grocery store or online without the psychoactive component THC. For a more recent detailed study on drug abuse statistics please click the table from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

What happens to the brain?

Well the answer is that when a person is addicted to drugs the brain has a reward system where it releases a feel so good neurotransmitter otherwise known as Dopamine. By abusing drugs the dopamine released by the brain produces a rush of euphoria which induces more drug seeking behavior in order to get the same feeling. Therefore the more a person uses drugs the more they conditioned the brain the same substance fueled pleasant sensations. And so the person develops dependence and tolerance to the drug.personfacts on drug abuse

What are the Signs?

Substance abuse whether alcohol or opioid drug related can present in physical changes in appearance or personal hygiene and behavioral changes such as anxiety, depression and frequent mood swings. I have seen it in my practice as a nurse where one day they are themselves then a week later they feel they are either not taking their prescribed medications or are busy with something else. You can see it in their behavior. But let me outline to you things I have seen. The following are the physical signs:

  • Blood shot eyes and pinpoint pupils
  • Chills
  • Tremors
  • Runny nose
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Poor personal hygiene — wearing the same clothes, not bathing, poor dental hygiene, body odor
  • Sleep problems – insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Weight changes – poor diet choices

Behavioral changes can include the following :

facts on drug abuse
  • Job related issues – frequent absenteeism, arguing at work
  • Poor performance in school – poor grades, skipping classes
  • Isolation – family and freinds
  • Financial problems – borrowing money from someone to support the habit, stealing money
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Sudden changes in mood –  irritability to angry outburst
  • Lack of motivation
  • Fearfullness
  • Paranoid ideations

What are the causes?

Now let us look at the various ways that motivates a person to take drugs. Who is likely to take drugs or better yet why take them in the first place? Here they are:

facts on drug abuse
  • Genetics – drug abuse can run in families
  • Co-Occurring Conditions – anxiety and depression
  • Environmental Factors – parental abuse, neglect, poor relationship with the parents
  • Experimentation – curious what is like to get high
  • Peer pressure – to be accepted in a group
  • Chronic Pain
  • Stress

What are the side effects?

The effects and abuse of drugs has no limits as it will affect the mind, body and spirit of the person. It will not spare anything due to the person’s dependence and tolerance. While the side effects of vary from among individuals the most common are presented here:

  • Incarceration
  • Weakened immune system – makes one prone to diseasesAddiction and tolerance
  • Increased infections
  • Impaired decision making
  • Financial loss
  • Ruined family relationships – divorce
  • Cardiovascular complications
  • Seizures and strokes
  • Permanent brain damage

Now what?

If you are addicted to abusing drugs then by all means seek treatment before it is too late. Seek a drug abuse referral treatment center online in your local area where you can find detox centers, sit down with a psychiatrist, drug abuse counselor, peer support specialist and have someone come with you (friend or family member). You are not alone here. You can recover and I have seen it in my practice as a nurse. You can do it and nobody else. And remember “You are Precious.”


It is a fact that drug abuse has reached the epidemic here in the US and has no boundaries. It affects all walks of life. There are many sources where a person can acquire and abuse drugs whether it be a prescription from a doctor, acquired from the street or just simply the medicine cabinet. Knowing how it affects the brain and the pleasurable effects that can lead to dependence and tolerance. The many signs such as chills, tremors and poor personal hygiene to causes such as genetics, anxiety and depression to the side effects such as impaired decision making, financial loss and medical issues one can see that it is growing problem.

So again I advice you if are reading this far to seek online for referral to a drug abuse treatment referral center. Remember recovery is possible only if you take action now.

If you have comments or additional questions please leave a comment below as I would love to hear from you. Please share this blog by clicking the social media buttons below. Cheers to your recovery and celebrate !

Alex RN


6 responses to “Drug Abuse and Mental Illness Fast Facts”

  1. Jason Pawloski says:

    Great information here, Alex! Awareness is important as many people might not either be aware of their problematic health behaviors, or sometimes simply don’t know there are different resources to help them in their path to recovery and/or improved health.
    Keep up the great work!

    • Thank you Jason that you have learned a lot from this blog. Yes, there is so much information out there if only they can find the right resources. And that is where we come in as health care professionals where our job is to disseminate and educate the public about the growing problem of drug abuse. As we know recovery is possible but only if that person will take the next step of being aware that there is a problem. The person must be motivated enough to recognize that by continuing to abuse drugs there are consequences to it like broken relationships, financial and health problems and so much more.
      Thanks again.

      Alex RN

  2. Thank you for this helpful information, this will open the minds of a lot of people. God bless

    • Marilou thanks for the kudos. I hope I gave you information on Facts on Drug Abuse – An Overview Study
      If you can do me a favor to please share this blog on Facebook and other social media accounts you have an account with.

      Alex RN

  3. Nathaniel Robinson says:

    This works really well.

    • Thanks Nate for the comment. Drug abuse is an epidemic here in the US and if not worldwide. I am glad you have learned something from this blog.

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