Every year, tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use costs the United States over $700 billion in health care, crime, and lost productivity. But it’s the personal cost of drug abuse that can have the greatest impact – the cost that family, friends, and loved ones suffer when someone they care about falls victim to addiction. In 2009, 9.3% of people over twelve years old surveyed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration required treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem – that’s 23.5 million people. Of those, only 11.2% actually received the treatment that they needed. It is a frightening and sad fact that we are likely to know someone in our own lives who is struggling with illicit drugs or alcohol. It is sadder to realize how rare it is for those struggling with addiction to get help.
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Of those admitted to substance abuse treatment programs in 2008, the majority were admitted for troubles with alcohol or alcohol in combination with another substance. We don’t think of alcohol as the quickest killer or the most dangerous drug. Opiates and heroin, addiction to which is also an epidemic in America, can have more deadly overdoses and overdoses can be more common. But the long-term effects of alcohol are still very dangerous and include heart disease, brain damage, liver damage, and more.
As you can see on this infographic, the most well-known illicit drugs have both dangerous short-term and long-term effects. If you’re looking for reasons not to do drugs, both the short-term and long-term effects should provide ample excuses. The short-term feelings of euphoria that come with bath salts, for example, are paired with the long-term risk of overdose and death, increased blood pressure, depression, psychosis, and more.
One illicit drug with a shocking set of short-term effects is Desomorphine, which is better known by its street name Krokodil. Like a lot of other illicit drugs on this infographic, Krokodil is not just dangerous because of what it is in its pure form – it is also dangerous because, on the street, it can be cut with wood shavings, rat poison, and other dangerous chemicals to lower its price. Krokodil is injected into the blood stream, and the injection sites often become infected. This is the source of the most horrifying images associated with Krokodil. Limbs and injection sites begin to rot, causing a person to turn into a walking corpse. Bones and internal organs become visible and exposed to the environment, hastening a person’s painful death. Worst of all, Krokodil is extremely addictive.
You don’t have to travel to Russia, where Krokodil is most prevalent, to see the horrifying effects that illicit drugs can have on the body, though. Heroin and anabolic steroids are also injected into the blood stream, and those injection sites can become infected and gangrenous as well. Sharing needles is common among people addicted to these types of drugs, which can result in the spread of HIV and AIDs.
Other drugs are inhaled through the nose, like cocaine and bath salts. These drugs can result in the deterioration of the nasal cavity and the whole nose. It’s no surprise, either, that these drugs have a profound effect on our brain chemistry; memory loss, psychosis, depression, insomnia, and more are just a few of the negative effects.
However they are consumed, these illicit drugs result in the body breaking down and being destroyed. We only have one body and much of the damage that these drugs cause is long-lasting or even permanent. Some recovery is possible, depending on the extent that the drug was used and how diligently sobriety can be maintained. It’s best to avoid these drugs entirely – but if one is already a user, the best thing to do is to seek treatment and begin a recovery as soon as possible with a qualified expert.