Life And Death Of A Drug Addict

Life and death of a drug addict

8 Signs Of Painkillers Addiction

The life and death of a drug addict depict the wild emotional roller-coaster lifestyle of a drug addict which may eventually lead to a drug overdose death.  The irony of the life and death of a drug addict is that most drug addicts are not even afraid to die, but are scared to live. This is because they have reached rock bottom and are oblivious to normal daily living. The only thing that matters is an hourly fix.

This article, Life and death of a drug addict, will focus on why people abuse drugs, common symptoms of drug addiction, how drug addiction leads to death, risk factors and prevention, and treatment options.

Why People Abuse Drugs

life and death of a drug addict

Alcohol and illicit drugs abuse has been consistent in many societies. And people regardless of age, race, and background have one time or the other experienced the trauma of drug abuse.

The desire to be happy, and that drugs take them closer to happiness, is one of the reasons why people abuse drugs.

Another reason is that drugs help you cope with work pressure. And since you have not fallen to the level of prostituting for drugs on the streets, there is no cause to worry. Unfortunately, once you become addicted, craving grows more important than anything else. It becomes destructive and eventually, something will shift.  You either lose your job or your life or even both. 

Common Symptoms Of Drug Addiction

Performance deteriorates. As drug addiction takes a firm grip on you physically and mentally, you may miss or frequently be late for work or college. You may also start to neglect social and family responsibilities, while your performance steadily worsens.

Isolation grows. Your feeling of isolation grows as drug abuse takes over your life. This put an end to any social and intellectual development.

Drug tolerance. You become drug-tolerant. And this means you need to use more of the drug to feel the same euphoria you used to reach with smaller amounts.

Withdrawal symptoms. If you go too long without drugs, you experience symptoms such as nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking, and anxiety.

Powerless to stop drug use. You use more drugs than you planned, even though you told yourself you wouldn’t. You want to stop using, but feel powerless.

Life depends on drug use. You spend the whole day using, thinking about drugs and planning how to get them. Or just recovering from the drug’s effects.

How Drug Addiction Leads To Death

life and death of a drug addict

The health consequence of drug addiction is death. Drug-related deaths have more than tripled since 2000. There are more deaths, illnesses, and disabilities from drug use than any other preventable health condition. Today, one in four deaths is attributable to alcohol, tobacco, and illicit or prescription drug use.

Drug overdose deaths

life and death of a drug addict

Drug overdose deaths remain high. Opioids are currently the main driver of drug overdose deaths.

Among 71 drug-induced deaths, methadone was reported as the main intoxicant in 31 deaths and heroin in 17. Other opioids, including buprenorphine, caused an additional 15 deaths. Ten of the 17 patients with substance use disorder had severe medical comorbidities as a contributing cause of death

Mortality and causes of death among patients with opioid use disorder receiving opioid agonist treatment: a national register study, BMC Health Services Research, 2 July 2019

Furthermore, a sample of 524 young drug addicts consecutively treated at a special hospital and followed by an average of 10 years found that:

  • A total of 62 died from drug-related deaths at an average age of 28 years; 19 of them had committed suicide.  
  • Those who committed suicide had a hereditary personality for mental disturbances.
  • Lethal substances proved to be opiates, barbiturates and alcohol.
  • Signs of heart disease were often in the overdose cases.
  • Most of the addicts who died were in a compulsive stage of drug addiction. But some were abstaining or trying to abstain from drugs.
  • A critical period seems to be at 26-28 years of age. This is a period when the abuse seems to be most intense and gripping. The suicide risk is high and the efforts to abstain from drugs most serious and risky.

Intravenous drug-induced deaths

life and death of a drug addict

 Out of 274 deaths with evidence of intravenous drug abuse, 127 died from diseases unrelated to intravenous drug abuse. And in 41% of these, chronic alcoholism was implicated, while deaths from overdose drug-related cause comprised only 11% of all cases.  Half of all patients died from infection, with 72 from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) alone

“Causes of death in hospitalized intravenous drug abusersNational Library of Medicine, September 1990

The findings from the intravenous drug-induced death records show that:

  • Persons hospitalised with a history of intravenous drug abuse usually die from causes other than overdose.
  • AIDS and chronic alcoholism are significant problems.
  • Emphasis should be placed upon detecting “hidden” intravenous drug deaths to provide more accurate statistical information.

Risk Factors For Drug Addiction And Prevention

Drug addiction is a serious, often deadly disease. However, like any disease, no one person is to blame.

Risk factor: Early use of drugs

life and death of a drug addict

Prescription medications such as painkillers, sleeping pills, and tranquilisers can lead to abuse and addiction.  In fact, next to marijuana, prescription painkillers are the most abused drugs. And more people die from overdosing on powerful opioid painkillers each day.

Prevention: Understand how drug abuse develops

 For instance be aware that substance abuse starts when you:

  • Use addictive drugs (illicit or prescribed) for recreational purposes
  • Look out for intoxication every time you use
  • Abuse prescription medication

Risk factor: Friends and Peer Pressure

Some people experiment with recreational drugs out of curiosity, to have a good time, because friends are doing it.

Prevention: Avoid Temptation and Peer Pressure

Develop healthy friendships and relationships by avoiding friends or family members who pressure you to use substances. Peer pressure is an important part of life for teens and adults. If you are looking to stay drug-free develop a good way to just say no.

Risk factor: Home and Family

A survey on drug and alcohol abuse across generations revealed how many people abuse a variety of different substances throughout four generations. Alcohol was the most commonly used. Other drugs abuse also trends with marijuana, meth, amphetamines, barbiturates, stimulants, sedatives, and painkillers with, dangerous, even lethal side effects.

Prevention:  Look at your family history of mental illness and addiction

Although this disease tends to run in the family, it can be prevented. Therefore, the more you are aware of your biological, environmental, and physical risk factors, the more likely you are to surmount them.

Risk factor: Mental disorders

life and death of a drug addict

Mental illness and drug abuse often go hand in hand. This is because drugs are often used to ease problems such as stress, anxiety, and depression.

Prevention: Seek help for mental illness

So if you are dealing with a mental illness such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder you should seek professional help. A professional will provide you with healthy coping skills to alleviate your symptoms without turning to drugs and alcohol.

Risk factor: Abuse, neglect, or other traumatic experiences

People often turn to drugs and alcohol when something is missing or not working in their life. By practicing stress management skills, you can overcome these life stressors and live a balanced and healthy life.

Prevention: Keep a balanced and healthy lifestyle

Develop goals and dreams for your future. These will inspire you to focus on what you want. Also, help you realise that drugs and alcohol will only stop you from achieving your goals. Equally, living a healthy lifestyle will help you stay free from addiction.

Treatment Options

The first step is to accept your struggle with drug addiction. The next step is to seek treatment to restore your physical and mental wellbeing and happiness. There are many treatment options available as follows:


Some people with severe forms of addiction enter a detox program before moving into rehab. Others may prefer their recovery at an inpatient or outpatient center. Treatment doesn’t stop there. Since the recommendation is to continue to attend support groups and therapy sessions. And these therapy sessions may include biofeedback, holistic, experiential, motivational enhancement, and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).


life and death of a drug addict

Intervention is another step towards drug addiction recovery. An intervention takes place between loved ones and a person suffering from drug addiction. The concept behind an intervention is to assist loved ones to express their feelings in a positive and emotional way. Hence encourage the person battling an addiction to enter a treatment program.


Faith-based rehab centers appeal to people who prefer a more spiritual approach to their recovery. Treatment centers on faith where people in recovery can surround themselves with similar people searching for strength from a higher power in the journey ahead.

Bottom Line

Although the life and death of a drug addict are sometimes a paradox, nonetheless life is the most fulfilling. As such, it is simply too painful if you lose even a minute of your life to drug addiction. Thankfully, there’s a way to take your life back. That is to get help because drug abuse can take a serious toll on your health and well-being. So if you are struggling with drug dependency, seek treatment immediately.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

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