Drug Addiction Causes & Effects

The Rose provides drug addiction treatment for women rooted in a science-based, research-supported clinical model to ensure a healthier life. Our treatment experience was designed by women for women, so you or your loved one receive a tailored experience.

Understanding Drug Addiction

Learn about drugs and substance abuse

Substance abuse is a term that is used to describe the inappropriate use of substances such as heroin, alcohol, prescription pain medications, marijuana, and cocaine. Substance abuse can include the use of both legal and illegal substances, and this term can be used for both those individuals who abuse substances just once or for those who do so continually. Numerous individuals partake in substance abuse without becoming addicted, but for millions of others, the misuse of alcohol or other substances can result in the development of a substance use disorder.

In general, when an individual’s substance abuse evolves into a substance use disorder, she is no longer able to control how much and how often she abuses her substance(s) of choice. Those who develop a substance use disorder will experience unsatisfactory outcomes in response to their use but will continue to partake in this self-defeating and dangerous behavior. The severity and nature of an individual’s substance abuse is based on the substance being consumed, along with the amount and frequency of the abuse itself. Failing to seek care for an addiction can ultimately make it tremendously difficult for a person to refrain from using drugs and/or alcohol and live a healthy life.

Luckily, there is professional help available that can help individuals who are grappling with substance abuse problems. For those who wish to break free from the powerful grips of addiction, substance abuse treatment can assist people in making the changes needed to obtain long-lasting recovery and improved health.


Drug addiction statistics

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that over 23 million individuals throughout the country are in need of professional treatment for substance abuse. SAMHAS also reports that 20 million of these individuals will not obtain that help.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NS-DUH) provides data that shows eight out of every 10 adults in the United States have abused substances at least once in their lifetime, and seven out of every 10 adults have done so at least one time in the previous year.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for drug addiction

Genetic and environmental factors tend to play a major role in the development of a substance use disorder. Consider the following explanations:

Genetic: Experts estimate that between 40% and 60% of individuals with substance use disorders have a genetic history of such concerns. Those who have an immediate family member, such as a sibling or a parent, who has battled with a substance use disorder are at a higher risk for also struggling with the same issues. Numerous studies also show this genetic connection is present in adopted children as well. Adopted individuals who have biological parents with substance use disorders, but adoptive parents without such disorders, remained at risk for struggling with substance abuse.

Environmental: The prevalence of substance abuse within cultures can play a major role in whether or not an individual will follow also abuse drugs and/or alcohol. Powerful environmental influences include living in an area where substances are affordable and available, associating with individuals who abuse alcohol or other substances, and going through an extensive amount of stress that erodes an individual’s ability to cope.

Risk Factors:

  • Being male
  • Poor impulse control
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Family history of substance abuse
  • Exposure to substance abuse at a young age
  • Displays of aggression at a young age
  • Current or prior mental illness
  • Prior substance abuse

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of drug addiction

The type of substance that is being abused, the presence of any co-occurring mental health disorders, and a number of other factors an all play into the signs and symptoms that suggest an individual is abusing substances. Below are some of the most common signs and symptoms of substance abuse:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Being secretive or deceptive regarding one’s whereabouts and activities
  • Possession of rolling papers, syringes, or other drug paraphernalia
  • Declining performance at work
  • Multiple absences from work
  • Loss of interest in significant events, activities, and/or issues
  • Inability to sit still / acting jumpy or jittery
  • Engaging in risky or reckless behaviors

Physical symptoms:

  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent sores or scabs
  • Itchiness
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Significant weight gain or loss
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Bloodshot eyes and/or dilated pupils
  • Runny nose

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Suicidal ideation
  • Disorientation
  • Poor judgment
  • Confusion
  • Inability to concentrate or focus
  • Racing thoughts

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Anger and/or aggression
  • Depression
  • Dramatic, unexplained mood swings
  • Withdrawal from friends and family


Effects of drug addiction

Below are some of the many ways in which substance abuse can damage an individual’s life if treatment is not sought:

  • Strained interpersonal relationships
  • Family discord
  • Job loss and chronic unemployment
  • Decline in performance at work
  • Diminished cognition
  • Cardiovascular distress
  • Organ damage
  • Suicide attempts
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Homelessness
  • Development of co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Worsening of mental health
  • Legal issues, including incarceration and arrest
  • Financial problems
  • Social withdrawal

Co-Occurring Disorders

Drug addiction and co-occurring disorders

For those who are partaking in substance abuse or have developed a substance use disorder, the risk for the developing a co-occurring disorder increases. Additionally, if a person is already suffering from a mental health condition, the abuse of drugs and/or alcohol can cause symptoms to become more distressing. Below are a few examples of the mental disorders that can occur alongside a substance use disorder:

  • Eating disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of drug withdrawal & overdose

Effects of withdrawal: The exact symptoms of withdrawal will be dependent on the severity and the nature of one’s substance use disorder, however some of the most common symptoms that might present themselves when an individual attempts to stop or lessen their substance use can include:

  • Seizure
  • Tics, tremors, and shakiness
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Flu-like symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Agitation
  • Powerful cravings for continued substance use
  • Depression

Effects of overdose: An overdose can be identified by a number of symptoms, which are often dependent on the type of substance(s) being abused. Someone who presents with the following symptoms after abusing one or more substances should obtain medical attention immediately:

  • Coma
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Seizure
  • Bluish tint to lips and fingernails
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Weak pulse
  • Confusion
  • Shallow or irregular breathing
  • Hallucinations

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Thanks to The Rose, I was finally able to get treatment for my substance use disorder. Other treatment options did not get me the breakthrough that The Rose was able to provide me.

– Former Patient
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