Sober living

Drug Addiction: Definition With Examples and Support

Substances such as alcohol, marijuana and nicotine also are considered drugs. When you’re addicted, you may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes. Once a person has decided that they have a problem and need help, the next step is an examination by a healthcare professional.

Substance Use Helpline

  • In addition, more than one in four adults living with serious mental health problems also has a substance use problem.
  • The progression of drug addiction begins with the first exposure, mostly when the drug is taken voluntarily for its recreational and hedonic effect, and progressively consolidates during repeated but still controlled drug use.
  • Scientists use this knowledge to develop effective prevention and treatment approaches that reduce the toll drug use takes on individuals, families, and communities.
  • Two groups of synthetic drugs — synthetic cannabinoids and substituted or synthetic cathinones — are illegal in most states.

Without treatment, addiction can cause serious health issues, even death. It can damage personal relationships, lead to financial difficulties and cause legal problems. Untreated addiction also harms family members, and the effects can last for generations. Over time, the substances or activities change your brain chemistry, and you become desensitized to their effects.

drug addiction

What is an SUD?

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has concrete diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders. About half of people who experience a mental health condition will also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa. In 2020, 17 million U.S. adults had a co-occurring mental health disorder and SUD. One of the brain areas still maturing during adolescence is the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that allows people to assess situations, make sound decisions, and keep emotions and desires under control. The fact that this critical part of a teen’s brain is still a work in progress puts them at increased risk for trying drugs or continuing to take them. Introducing drugs during this period of development may cause brain changes that have profound and long-lasting consequences.

Other life-changing complications

The type of drug prescribed depends on many factors, including the phase of treatment a person is in. The fifth edition (DSM-5) was published in 2013 and changed the terminology from substance abuse, addiction, and alcoholism to Substance Use Disorder (SUD), which encompasses both drugs and alcohol. While relapse is a normal part of recovery, for some drugs, it can be very dangerous—even deadly. If a person uses as much of the drug as they did before quitting, they can easily overdose because their bodies are no longer adapted to their previous level of drug exposure. An overdose happens when the person uses enough of a drug to produce uncomfortable feelings, life-threatening symptoms, or death.

Furthermore, GABAA receptor modulators modify the addictive drugs effects [60, 61], and targeting these receptors might be seen as an effective therapeutic strategy but precluded by many side effects among which dependence itself [62,63,64]. Drug addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disease that results from the prolonged effects of drugs on the brain. Similarly to other neuropsychiatric diseases, drug addiction is intermingled with behavioural and social aspects that are equally important parts of the disease, complicating the overall therapeutic approach. Actually, it is only recently, in the beginning of the 21st century, that we started to see “the drug-addict” as someone suffering from a disease and whose brain has been altered fundamentally by drugs [2]. Therefore, the most effective treatment approaches include biological, behavioural and social-context components. Based on the latest scientific advances, treatment and management of drug addiction patients point towards a personalised strategy [3].

Tobacco, Alcohol, Prescription Medication, and Other Substance Use (TAPS)

Recovery from drug addiction is a long process that often involves setbacks. Relapse doesn’t mean that treatment has failed or that sobriety is a lost cause. Rather, it’s a signal to get back on track, either by going back to treatment or adjusting the treatment approach. Recovery can begin at any point in the addiction process—and the earlier, the better. The longer drug abuse continues, the stronger the addiction becomes and the harder it is to treat. Of interest, more people have overcome their addiction than those enrolled in a program (eg, 12-step, CBT).[36] For these reasons, consideration is necessary to treat an individual with addiction or not.

drug addiction

Though it’s a treatable illness, substance use disorder recovery often involves a lifelong cycle of relapse (recurrence of use), withdrawal, and abstinence. The evidence is quite clear on the long-term effects of drug dependence, with those diagnosed dying 22.5 years earlier than those without the diagnosis. This lifespan is related to the toxic effects of substances on multiple systems, including, but not limited to, the cardiac, respiratory, and neurological systems. Different types of substance use disorders can have a wide range of symptoms. However, some common characteristics include personality or attitude changes; sudden weight gain or loss; exhibiting anger, irritability, hyperactivity, agitation, or emotional outbursts; and more. Treatment may involve an inpatient or outpatient program depending on each person’s situation.

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what is drug addiction, or substance use disorder (SUD), is when someone continues using a drug despite harmful consequences to their daily functioning, relationships, or health. Using drugs can change brain structure and functioning, particularly in areas involved in reward, stress, and self-control. These changes make it harder for people to stop using even when they really want to. When you’re addicted to drugs, you can’t resist the urge to use them, no matter how much harm the drugs may cause. The earlier you get treatment for drug addiction (also called substance use disorder) the more likely you are to avoid some of the more dire consequences of the disease. Drug addiction, or substance use disorder, is a serious mental illness that affects a person’s health, relationships, finances, and well-being.

  • Drug abuse and addiction is less about the type or amount of the substance consumed or the frequency of your drug use, and more about the consequences of that drug use.
  • Addiction is a chronic (lifelong) condition that involves compulsive seeking and taking of a substance or performing of an activity despite negative or harmful consequences.
  • Once a person has decided that they have a problem and need help, the next step is an examination by a healthcare professional.
  • As with adults, teenage drug abuse isn’t limited to illegal drugs.
  • Indeed, after going from the bench to the bedside it will also be essential to assess the reversed route.

Substance Use Disorder vs. Substance Abuse

People experiencing SUDs have trouble controlling their drug use even though they know drugs are harmful. Drug addiction including smoking, alcohol and illicit drug use is indirectly or directly responsible for 11.8 million deaths each year in the world [1]. According to the Global Burden of Disease study, this number is higher than deaths from cancer and accounts for a fifth of all deaths around the world [1]. If you or someone you care about may have an addiction, talk to your provider right away.

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