Figures published earlier this year, by the Home Office, show that cannabis and cocaine continue to be the most popular illegal drugs in the UK. Amphetamines have become more widespread in the north of England and nitrous oxide use has risen in the 16–24-year-old age bracket.
In the last decade, the use of drugs has increased by 10%. More than 3.2 million people (approximately 1 in 11) took drugs in the year 2019/20, with 5% of the under 25-year-olds being classed as “frequent drug users” – meaning they had taken a drug more than once a month. Are we creating a nation of addicts?
The problem with illegal drugs (and some prescription ones) is they are highly addictive and often cause physical and psychological dependency. Addiction is a huge problem, which continues to grow – it puts strain on already overworked health services and causes an escalation in criminality. The UK saw over 225,000 drug offences in 2019; more than 270, 000 people were treated for substance misuse; and the country continues to have one of the highest rates of drug-induced deaths in Europe.
Addicts need their fix and if they don’t have the money to buy their drug of choice, they will use any means to obtain it, at times turning to crime and even violence. Of course, not everyone who tries drugs will instantly become addicted, but an added danger associated with illegal substances is the lack of quality control or monitoring. Dealers often cut (mix) their drugs with a lower grade, or increased potency, products to maximise their profits, which can lead to overdose and even death.
The use of any drugs can lead to problems with money, relationships, and health; and there is no safe level of drug use, the use of any drug always comes with potentially dangerous side effects.
Here are some of the drugs that are available illicitly, and some of the serious side effects of taking them –
Cannabis or marijuana is the most used illegal substance in the UK. It is a class “B” drug. Often smoked in its leaf form, or available as a type of resin. People use cannabis for its pleasurable high. However, it can impair coordination, short-term memory, learning, and the ability to focus, it can also cause paranoia, psychosis, anxiety, lung damage, nausea, and dependence.
Cocaine is the second most popular drug and the most widely used class “A” substance. It produces feelings of euphoria and gives the user more energy and confidence. Some people will use the drug to get “high” and party, whilst others will take it to focus and get more done in their life – for instance at work. Frequent use of cocaine can cause addiction, mood swings, heart, and other health problems.
Amphetamines are stimulants, which usually come in powdered form and are injected, swallowed, or snorted. They can be used as a performance enhancer, and to produce feelings of euphoria. They can cause issues with overheating, anxiety, high blood pressure and psychosis as well as heart problems and dependency.
Ecstasy/MDMA is a psychoactive substance largely used for social and recreational purposes and is often associated with the rave or dance music scene. The effects can last for anything up to six hours and include altered sensations, increased energy, as well as feelings of intense pleasure and understanding. Side effects include hallucinations, overheating, dehydration, heart attacks, strokes, and psychosis-like experiences.
Heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, are known for their pain-relieving properties. They are used recreationally because of their euphoric effects. Heroin is highly addictive, and withdrawal is often difficult and painful. Other side effects include respiratory or breathing problems, dry mouth, drowsiness, impaired mental function, and constipation. Opioid overdoses are on the rise as imported illegal heroin is often cut with other substances.
Nitrous Oxide otherwise known as laughing gas. This drug is commonly used for sedation and pain relief but is also used by people to feel intoxicated or high. It is popular amongst the 16–24-year-old age group as it produces a euphoric effect and causes uncontrollable laughter, it can often be found at raves and illegal parties. Whilst it might seem harmless, side effects can include a rapid loss of blood pressure, fainting, heart attacks or even sudden death.
Anabolic steroids are a class “C” drug and when used in the correct manner and prescribed by a medical professional are not illegal. However, illicitly manufactured or obtained anabolic steroids are. They are often used for cosmetic reasons to increase muscle mass, or by athletes trying to improve performance. There are lots of side effects to long term or overuse these include hair loss, severe acne, reduced sperm count, infertility, erectile dysfunction, and the increased chance of developing prostate cancer.
Aside from the side effects, there are often health, relationship and money issues that come with taking drugs; and there is always the risk of dependency and addiction. It can be extremely difficult to accept that you may have a drug problem, what starts out as experimentation or a way to relax can turn serious. Most drugs are psychologically addictive, and some can also induce a physical dependency which makes stopping them even harder.
Drug addiction is a disease that requires treatment. There are drug rehabilitation services offered privately and through charitable or government-funded schemes. These include day-care drop-in centres, inpatient rehab treatment centres, luxury residential rehabs, and individual and group counselling. Also available are peer-group fellowship organisations such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Cocaine Anonymous (CA).
Residential rehab is a good way for someone suffering from drug addiction to get away from their daily life and all the distractions that go with it, giving them time to focus fully on their recovery. A well-established private treatment centre or specialised drug rehab clinic will use a combination of therapy models to treat an individual’s primary and co-occurring conditions.
Here at our luxury rehab centre, set on the beautiful Spanish island of Ibiza, we have a highly qualified team experienced in a range of therapies for the treatment of drug addiction, alcoholism, process addiction, and other associated mental health conditions.
Our residential inpatient programs combine a variety of treatment methods including individual and group counselling, onsite transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and EMDR and equine-facilitated psychotherapy.
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