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Drug Addictions Definition & Overview


Drug abuse is a disease characterized by continued misuse of drugs even when faced with drug-related job, legal, health, or family difficulties. Problems associated with drug abuse must have existed a minimum of 12 months to meet the diagnosis.

Drug dependence refers to long-term, compulsive drug use, perhaps with attempts to stop but repeatedly returning to drugs. Drug dependence also means that your body has begun to require the drug in higher doses to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Drug abuse and drug dependence are not terms that should be used to describe people who are taking appropriate dosages of prescribed drugs (pain medication, for example) and who have become physically dependent on them. Diagnosis of both drug abuse and drug dependence requires the presence of specific behavioral symptoms.

Some of the most commonly abused substances include:

  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • LSD
  • Marijuana
  • Sedatives
  • Speed (methamphetamine, “crystal meth”)
  • PCP
  • Ecstasy
  • GHB
  • Ketamine
  • Steroids
  • Inhalants
  • Legal drugs that are used improperly or without a prescription, such as:
    • Narcotic painkillers
    • Amphetamines
    • Drugs for treating anxiety
    • Sleeping pills

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. Copyright © 2024 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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