FAQs

1. What drugs are commonly abused?

NIDA and other agencies track trends in drug abuse through various surveys and data collection systems. Annually, NIDA supports the collection of data on drug abuse patterns among secondary school students and young adults through the Monitoring the Future Study (MTF); for more information, see DrugFacts - High school and Youth Trends. NIDA also supports a Community Epidemiology Work Group, a network of researchers who meet twice yearly to discuss drug abuse patterns in major metropolitan areas across the nation and in regional "hot spots," such as within and across border cities and areas.

For information on commonly abused drugs, see Commonly Abused Drugs, for a chart containing information on street and commercial names of abused drugs and their health consequences.

2. What is drug addiction?

Drug addiction is a complex, and often chronic, brain disease. It is characterized by drug craving, seeking, and use that can persist even in the face of devastating life consequences. Addiction results largely from brain changes that stem from prolonged drug use—changes that involve multiple brain circuits, including those responsible for governing self-control and other behaviors. Drug addiction is treatable, often with medications (for some addictions) combined with behavioral therapies. However, relapse is common and can happen even after long periods of abstinence, underscoring the need for long-term support and care. Relapse does not signify treatment failure, but rather should prompt treatment re-engagement or modification. For more information, see "Drugs, Brains, and Behavior - The Science of Addiction."

3. How quickly can I become addicted to a drug?

There is no easy answer to this common question. If and how quickly you become addicted to a drug depends on many factors, including your biology (your genes, for example), age, gender, environment, and interactions among these factors. Vast differences characterize individual sensitivity to various drugs and to addiction vulnerability. While one person may use a drug one or many times and suffer no ill effects, another person may overdose with first use, or become addicted after a few uses. There is no way of knowing in advance how quickly you will become addicted—but there are some clues, one important one being whether you have a family history of addiction.

4. How do I know if someone is addicted to drugs?

If a person is compulsively seeking and using a drug(s) despite negative consequences, such as loss of job, debt, family problems, or physical problems brought on by drug abuse, then he or she probably is addicted. And while people who are addicted may believe they can stop any time, most often they cannot, and will need professional help—first to determine if they in fact are addicted, and then to obtain drug abuse treatment. Support from friends and family can be critical in getting people into treatment and helping them to maintain abstinence following treatment. For information on substance abuse treatment providers, see: findtreatment.samhsa.gov or call 1-800-662-HELP.

5. What are the physical signs of abuse or addiction?

The physical signs of abuse or addiction can vary depending on the person and the drug being abused. For example, someone who abuses marijuana may have a chronic cough or worsening of asthmatic symptoms. Each drug has short-term and long-term physical effects. Stimulants like cocaine increase heart rate and blood pressure, whereas opioids like heroin may slow the heart rate and reduce respiration.

6. If a pregnant woman abuses drugs, does it affect the fetus?

Many substances including alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs of abuse can have negative effects on the developing fetus because they are transferred to the fetus across the placenta. For example, nicotine has been connected with premature birth and low birth weight as has the use of cocaine. Heroin exposure results in dependence in the newborn, requiring treatment for withdrawal symptoms. It is often difficult to tease apart the confluence of factors that go with drug abuse during pregnancy—poor nutrition, inadequate prenatal care, stress, and psychiatric comorbidities—all of which may impact fetal development.

7. Are there effective treatments for drug addiction?

Drug addiction can be effectively treated with behavioral therapies and, for addiction to some drugs such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol, medications. Treatment will vary for each person depending on the type of drug(s) being used. Multiple courses of treatment may be needed to achieve success. Research has revealed 13 basic principles that underlie effective drug addiction treatment discussed in NIDA's Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide.

8. Where can I find information about drug treatment programs?

For referrals to treatment programs, call 1-800-662-HELP, or visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration online at findtreatment.samhsa.gov.

9. What is detoxification, or "detox"?

Detoxification is the process of allowing the body to rid itself of a drug while managing the symptoms of withdrawal. It is often the first step in a drug treatment program and should be followed by treatment with a behavioral-based therapy and/or a medication, if available. Detox alone with no follow-up is not treatment.

10. What are the costs of drug abuse to society?

Drug abuse costs the United States economy over $600 billion dollars annually in increased health care costs, crime, and lost productivity, broken down as follows by type of drug:


Beyond the raw numbers are other costs to society, including:

  • the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C either through sharing of drug paraphernalia or unprotected sex;
  • deaths due to overdose or other complications from drug use;
  • effects on unborn children of pregnant drug users; and
  • other effects such as crime, unemployment, domestic abuse, family dissolution, and homelessness.

11. What is withdrawal? How long does it last?

Withdrawal describes the various symptoms that occur after long-term use of a drug is reduced or stopped abruptly. Length of withdrawal and symptoms vary with the type of drug. For example, physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal may include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and cold flashes. These physical symptoms may last for several days, but the general depression, or dysphoria (opposite of euphoria), that often accompanies heroin withdrawal may last for weeks. In many cases, withdrawal can be easily treated with medications to ease the symptoms, but treating withdrawal is not the same as treating addiction.

Resources

ACLU

The American system of government is founded on two counterbalancing principles: that the majority of the people governs, through democratically elected representatives; and that the power even of a democratic majority must be limited, to ensure individual rights. Through the years, the key to the ACLU's success and their greatest source of strength has always been the support of ACLU members who understand our freedoms can never be taken for granted - they must be vigorously defended or they will surely be lost.

Addiction Recovery Resources for the Professional

Treatment for Professionals and Others Suffering from Addiction

Al A Club

Located in Trenton, the Club hosts Alcoholics Anonymous, AlAnon and Alateen Meetings.

American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM)

American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has resources for educating physicians on addiction disease and encouraging appropriate treatment for those suffering from addiction; highlights include a doctor referral database, reviews of medical research, and topical articles on addiction medicine and care.

Camden Recovery Center

The Living Proof Recovery Center is a welcoming and safe place of hope and support for all members of the recovery community....created for individuals in recovery and maintained by individuals in recovery. Located in Camden County, NJ, the recovery center is open 7 days a week with a full calendar of activities.

Central Jersey Intergroup

Central Jersey Intergroup serves as a centralized point of contact for all the Alcoholics Anonymous member groups. CJI maintains a 24-hour hotline for alcoholics in need, arranges 12-step calls, publishes meeting lists, supplies literature and much more.

Christian Recovery Resources For Him

CRRFH is dedicated to helping people recovery from all forms of addiction, including drug addiction, alcoholism, codependency, ACA, ACoA through Jesus Christ and 12-step groups

Division of Addiction Services Treatment Directory

Up-to-date, treatment Directory that can be searched by type of care, agency and numerous other options.

Eva's Village Recovery Center

This is the first peer driven recovery center in the state. The New Jersey State Division of Addiction Services (DAS) awarded a grant to Eva's Village to develop the Recovery Center, which serves as a model program for a client-centered recovery-oriented system of care. .

International Lawyers in Alcoholics Anonymous

International Lawyers in Alcoholics Anonymous is a group of recovered lawyers and judges carrying the message of recovery within our profession. Our purpose is to act as a bridge between reluctant (in denial) lawyers/judges and Alcoholics Anonymous.

Johnson Institute- Let’s Conquer Addiction in Our Lifetime

The Johnson Institute brings a long tradition of activism by people with long term addiction recovery to reduce the barriers to wellness for all those afflicted and affected by alcohol and drug problems.

Legal Action Center

The Legal Action Center is the only non-profit law and policy organization in the United States whose sole mission is to fight discrimination against people with histories of addiction, HIV/AIDS, or criminal records, and to advocate for sound public policies in these areas.

Narcotics Anonymous in New Jersey

NANJ helps to find NA meetings in New Jersey, provide contacts for nearby states, professional information for those who work caring for addicts and details about NA fellowship events for our members

New Jersey Self-Help Clearinghouse

If you are seeking ANY TYPE of community SUPPORT GROUP,
You’ve come to the right place! Call us Mon-Fri, 8:30am-5pm to speak with a volunteer or staff member who will provide you with information and contacts on any of over 4,500 NJ support groups, over 1,200 national and online groups, and over 100 people who are seeking others to start new local groups.

Northern New Jersey Alcoholics Anonymous

NNJAA provides general information about Alcoholics Anonymous and about AA in northern New Jersey.

Online Health Resources

OnlineHealthResources.com is a comprehensive directory of health related websites.

Oxford Houses, New Jersey

Oxford House is a concept in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. In its simplest form, an Oxford House describes a democratically run, self-supporting and drug free home.

Patrick Kennedy on addiction, recovery

"I know the seriousness of this illness and I am certainly determined, having come so close so many times, to not let this disease take its toll on me ever again," said Kennedy, a seven-term lawmaker who has been treated several times during his life for addiction to cocaine, the painkiller OxyContin and other legal and illegal drugs.
Watch the Today show interview in streaming video.

Recovery Month

The Recovery Month effort aims to promote the societal benefits of alcohol and drug use disorder treatment, laud the contributions of treatment providers and promote the message that recovery from alcohol and drug use disorders in all its forms is possible.

SMART Recovery®

SMART Recovery® is an abstinence-based, nonprofit organization with a sensible self-help program for people having problems with alcohol and other drugs. It includes many ideas and techniques to help individuals change their lives.

Southern New Jersey Area General Assembly - Alcoholics Anonymous

SNJAGA - AA provides general information about Alcoholics Anonymous and about AA in Southern New Jersey.

Stanton's Blog

Stanton Peele has been investigating, thinking, and writing about addiction since 1969. His first bombshell book, Love and Addiction, appeared in 1975. Its experiential and environmental approach to addiction revolutionized thinking on the subject by indicating that addiction is not limited to narcotics, or to drugs at all, and that addiction is a pattern of behavior and experience which is best understood by examining an individual's relationship with his/her world. This is a distinctly nonmedical approach. It views addiction as a general pattern of behavior that nearly everyone experiences in varying degrees at one time or another.

The Addiction Recovery Guide

The Addiction Recovery Guide assists individuals struggling with drug addiction and alcoholism find help that best suits their needs. Recovery is an ongoing, lifelong process. Once a person has stopped using a particular substance, the process of learning to live without that substance begins. Learning to manage life's daily stresses and developing strategies to deal with the challenges that arise are important skills to develop in maintaining recovery and preventing relapse. Many people also feel that finding ways to be of service can be very helpful in keeping one's recovery on track.

The Bridge Inc--Youth and Family Counseling

The Bridge, Inc., is a private, nonprofit community agency that has been helping families in the Essex County area since 1971. All our services are designed to strengthen the family and promote the personal growth of children, adolescents, adults and seniors. Individual, group and family counseling are offered by culturally diverse, skilled professional staff in the areas of mental health and substance abuse.

The Recovery and Monitoring Program of NJ

The Recovery and Monitoring Program (RAMP) was started in January 2003 and is designed to encourage health professionals to seek a recovery program before their impairment harms a patient or damages their careers through a disciplinary action. Housed in the Institute for Nursing, it is one of the services available to nurses in New Jersey experiencing problems with impaired practice. The New Jersey State Board of Nursing now refers nurses who qualify to the RAMP program for monitoring as an alternative to disciplinary action. Even nurses who must be disciplined benefit from these services.. RAMP is a comprehensive, structured plan for recovery and monitoring that promotes public protection, safe practice and health. It is a statistically sound method for dealing with impaired practice.

TwelveBeads.com

Prayer Beads Exclusively For The Twelve Step Community To Aid In The Practice Of Step Eleven

What a Difference a Friend Makes

For people living with mental illness—and their friends. You'll find tools to help in the recovery process, and you can also learn about the different kinds of mental illnesses, read real-life stories about support and recovery, and interact with the video to see how friends can make all the difference.

Women For Sobriety

Women For Sobriety is both an organization and a self-help program for women alcoholics. It is, in fact, the first national self-help program for women alcoholics.

Women’s Fund of New Jersey

The Women’s Fund of New Jersey (WFNJ) was established in June 1995 with a mission to be a reliable and stable source of financial support for member organizations dedicated to improving the lives of women and, in so doing, improving society as a whole.