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:
- Methamphetamine (crystal meth, speed)
- Prescription medicine that is used improperly, such as narcotic pain relievers, amphetamines, sleeping pills, or anti-anxiety medicine
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
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Last reviewedFebruary 2014by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.