Substance abuse is defined as a pattern of using a substance (drug) that causes significant problems or distress. This may be missing work or school, using the substance in dangerous situations, such as driving a car. It may lead to substance-related legal problems, or continued substance use that interferes with friendships, family relationships, or both.
Substance abuse, as a recognized medical brain disorder, refers to the abuse of illegal substances, such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine. Or it may be the abuse of legal substances, such as alcohol, nicotine, or prescription medicines. Alcohol is the most common legal drug of abuse.
Substance (drug) dependence
Substance dependence is the medical term used to describe abuse of drugs or alcohol that continues even when significant problems related to their use have developed. Signs of dependence include:
- Tolerance to or need for increased amounts of the drug to get an effect
- Withdrawal symptoms that happen if you decrease or stop using the drug that you find difficult to cut down or quit
- Spending a lot of time to get, use, and recover from the effects of using drugs
- Withdrawal from social and recreational activities
- Continued use of the drug even though you are aware of the physical, psychological, and family or social problems that are caused by your ongoing drug abuse
What is drug addiction?
Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences. It is considered a brain disorder because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control. Those changes may last a long time after a person has stopped taking drugs
Addiction is a lot like other diseases, such as heart disease. They both disrupt the normal, healthy functioning of an organ in the body, both have serious harmful effects, and both are, in many cases, preventable and treatable. If left untreated, they can last a lifetime and may lead to death.
Why do some people become addicted to drugs, while others do not?
As with other diseases and disorders, the likelihood of developing an addiction differs from person to person, and no single factor determines whether a person will become addicted to drugs. In general, the more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs will lead to drug use and addiction. Protective factors, on the other hand, reduce a person’s risk. Risk and protective factors may be either environmental or biological.
What biological factors increase risk of addiction?
Biological factors that can affect a person’s risk of addiction include their genes, stage of development, and even gender or ethnicity. Scientists estimate that genes, including the effects environmental factors have on a person’s gene expression, called epigenetics, account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person’s risk of addiction Also, teens and people with mental disorders are at greater risk of drug use and addiction than others. Children’s earliest interactions within the family are crucial to their healthy development and risk for drug use.
What environmental factors increase the risk of addiction?
Environmental factors are those related to the family, school, and neighborhood. Factors that can increase a person’s risk include the following:
Home and Family. The home environment, especially during childhood, is a very important factor. Parents or older family members who use drugs or misuse alcohol, or who break the law, can increase children’s risk of future drug problems.
Peer and School. Friends and other peers can have an increasingly strong influence during the teen years. Teens who use drugs can sway even those without risk factors to try drugs for the first time. Struggling in school or having poor social skills can put a child at further risk for using or becoming addicted to drugs.
What other factors increase the risk of addiction?
Early use. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, research shows that the earlier people begin to use drugs, the more likely they are to develop serious problems. This may be due to the harmful effect that drugs can have on the developing brain. It also may result from a mix of early social and biological risk factors, including lack of a stable home or family, exposure to physical or sexual abuse, genes, or mental illness. Still, the fact remains that early use is a strong indicator of problems ahead, including addiction.
How the drug is taken. Smoking a drug or injecting it into a vein increases its addictive potential. Both smoked and injected drugs enter the brain within seconds, producing a powerful rush of pleasure. However, this intense high can fade within a few minutes. Scientists believe this powerful contrast drives some people to repeatedly use drugs to recapture the fleeting pleasurable state.
What are the symptoms of drug abuse or dependence?
The following are the most common behaviors that mean a person is having a problem with drug or alcohol abuse. But each person may have slightly different symptoms. Symptoms may include:
- Using or drinking larger amounts or over longer periods of time than planned.
- Continually wanting or unsuccessfully trying to cut down or control use of drugs or alcohol.
- Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of drugs or alcohol.
- Craving, or a strong desire to use drugs or alcohol.
- Ongoing drug or alcohol use that interferes with work, school, or home duties.
- Using drugs or alcohol even with continued relationship problems caused by use.
- Giving up or reducing activities because of drug or alcohol use
- Taking risks, such as sexual risks or driving under the influence.
- Continually using drugs or alcohol even though it is causing or adding to physical or psychological problems.
- Developing tolerance or the need to use more drugs or alcohol to get the same effect. Or using the same amount of drugs or alcohol, but without the same effect.
- Having withdrawal symptoms if not using drugs or alcohol. Or using alcohol or another drug to avoid such symptoms.
The symptoms of drug or alcohol abuse may resemble other medical problems or psychiatric conditions. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
The top 10 shocking before and after drug use photos is presented in the video below: