The realities of drug and alcohol addiction have changed drastically over the past few decades. Matters of substance abuse defy all boundaries, from affluence to education to race, and even geography. What may be deemed a drug addiction epidemic here in Arizona may be a national trend just the same. In fact, as sad as it may be, it is likely the case that a drug abuse and/or overdose related epidemic taking place here in Arizona is almost surely occurring in a multitude of regions elsewhere around the country.

With the many advances in mental health and chemical dependency recovery over the past decade or so, what we know today about drug and alcohol addiction is far greater than that of what once was. Moreover, we now have a multitude of highly advanced tools and therapies at our disposal, many of which continue to evolve as we further our scope of understanding over this multi-dimensional condition.


According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “No one factor can predict if a person will become addicted to drugs. A combination of factors influences risk for addiction.” While this reality has come to be a commonplace belief among nearly all mental health and chemical dependency recovery professionals, there remains wide ranging opinions on the exact breakdown and contributing percentages for each category, such as genetics, biology, environment, etc.

In many cases, people addicted to drugs and/or alcohol can have one or more underlying mental health disorders that play a key role in perpetuating their substance abuse issue. Common examples of such disorders may be; depression, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), other trauma like past sexual abuse or death/loss of a loved one, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and a variety of others. Regardless of whether or not one suffers from such mental health issues however, the actual cause of addiction stems from repeated use to where the individual crosses various internal thresholds within their brain, from initial use, to abuse, to full-blown addiction.

The process and timeline, from initial using stage to actual addiction, greatly varies from person to person, and the type of drug they most commonly abuse will play a major role in how the process evolves. For instance, crack-cocaine users tend to become addicted much faster than others due to the enormous pull of the drug. Other drugs, such as heroin and opioid painkillers (i.e., Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin, Morphine, Dilaudid, etc.) for instance, can create a state where the body becomes physically dependent on the drug, thereby speeding up the evolution from use to abuse to addiction.

The timeline from initial use (most commonly being the experimental stage during adolescence) to full-blown addiction can be anywhere from several months to multiple years, or even decades. It is important to note that this process is unique to each individual. Even in cases where most other variables are the same or similar, such as drug type, environment, genetic disposition, schedule of use (how often and how much), etc., there can still be substantial variation between the two individuals in terms of when each enters full-blown addiction.

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Information on Common Drugs of Abuse Among Addicts and Alcoholics


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