Drug Abuse and Drug Addiction

(Drug Dependence)


Drug abuse is continued misuse of drugs even when faced with drug-related job, legal, health, or family difficulties.Drug addiction is long-term, compulsive drug use. The person may attempt to stop using drugs, but repeatedly return to drug use despite physical, emotional, or social harm. Drug dependence means that the body has begun to require the drug in higher doses to have the same effect and to avoid withdrawal symptoms.Drugs that commonly abused include:
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • LSD
  • Marijuana
  • Sedatives
  • Methamphetamine (crystal meth, speed)
  • PCP
  • Ecstasy
  • GHB
  • Ketamine
  • Steroids
  • Inhalants
  • Prescription medications that are used improperly, such as opioid pain relievers, amphetamines, sleeping pills, or anti-anxiety drugs
The addictive potential of each drug is different.


The exact cause of drug abuse and dependence is unknown.There are many theories, though. For example, some people may inherit certain genes that make them more likely to abuse drugs. Another theory is that people learn how to use drugs by copying the behavior of others, especially their parents. Also, changes that happen in the brain due to long-term drug use may reinforce a person's desire to keep using drugs.
Chemical Release in Brain
Drugs stimulate unnecessary chemical release in the brain. Long-term drug use may change brain function.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

Drug abuse and addiction are more common in young men but can occur in anyone at any age. Other factors that may increase the risk of drug abuse and addiction include:
  • Family members with substance abuse problems
  • Mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, panic disorder
  • Social and peer pressure to use drugs, which may include spending time with other drug users
  • Early antisocial behavior, such as breaking the law or repeated lying
  • Easy access to drugs
  • Stress
  • Poor attachment to your parents or little parental supervision

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