According to a recent national poll, nearly 40 percent of Americans know someone with a substance abuse problem.1 Although this number is unprecedented, many people are largely uneducated when it comes to the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Understanding the causes, symptoms and consequences of recreational drug use can increase the number of people getting the help they need.

Specific Drugs, Specific Risks

While experts agree that all addictive substances can cause damage, the drugs of choice, how they are used, and how they interact with each other increases the overall risk. For example, someone who chooses cocaine is opting for a substance that can seal off blood vessels, resulting in structural tissues in the nose and head to die away. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, those who choose marijuana can alter brain chemistry so severely they experience the following:

  • Lowered sense of life satisfaction
  • Increased tardiness at work and poor performance
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Reduced sense of motivation
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • Lower IQ levels2

Any misuse or abuse of a drug has some effect on mood, cognition and physical health. Sometimes, the problems last only as long as the person remains high, fading away as sobriety approaches. In some cases, the damage left behind is permanent.

While many of the physical and emotional problems associated with drugs are specific to the type of substance used, there are some problems that seem to be universal. Among those risks, drug overdose is the most dangerous. Along with altering brain chemistry, the physical changes caused by substance abuse can cause irreparable damage to the body’s vital organs. For example, sedatives like Vicodin impact the body’s ability to breathe properly. Taken in larger doses than prescribed by a physician, Vicodin can cause users to fall into a deep sleep and stop breathing. Stimulants, on the other hand, may speed up the body’s systems to such a degree the person abusing the drug might collapse due to heat exhaustion or heart failure.

People who take drugs rarely want to overdose. In fact, the National Center for Health Statistics suggests that 74 percent of overdoses due to prescription drugs are accidental.3 But chasing a high means taking in larger doses of drugs, and that means coming closer an amount that results in death.

Finding Help for Drug Addiction

As is the case with other disease, when drug addiction is identified early, the likelihood of recovery from proper treatment is increased. If someone you know needs help, please contact us at Black Bear Lodge. Our programs are appropriate for anyone struggling with substance abuse. Our customized approach allows us to assess each client and provide the right therapies at the right time. Call our toll-free helpline now to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.


144% of Americans Know Someone Who Has Been Addicted to Prescription Painkillers.” National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 5 May 2016. Accessed 25 Sept. 2017.

2 National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Marijuana.” NIDA, Aug. 2017. Accessed 25 Sept. 2017.

3 Serna, Joseph. “Fatal drug overdoses in U.S. increase for 11th consecutive year.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 19 Feb. 2013. Accessed 25 Sept. 2017.

4 Lynsen, Ann. “Homelessness and Housing.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 15 Sept. 2017. Accessed 25 Sept. 2017.