Drug abuse is the use of a substance, be it a “street” or prescription drug, to get high or gain pleasure or benefit. This is distinct from a usual prescription plan formed with a medical provider, which involves taking a specified dose of a medicine on a specific schedule to treat a specific symptom. Most drugs of abuse affect the pleasure center of the brain. The reward response declines with use, such that most abusers are fighting, and failing, to recreate the response they got with early use. This diminishing reward response exacerbates the abuse cycle.
Drug addiction is when a person becomes physically or psychologically dependent on a drug. When a person becomes dependent on a drug it can be dangerous to stop the drug suddenly. Withdrawal symptoms can include sweating, shaking, and depression. A person who is addicted may seek the drug at all costs without thinking about consequences of their behavior such as problems with health, money, and relationships.
- Delay experimentation. People who start any substance use early are more likely to become addicted.
- Be aware of the possible signs of drug abuse. Intervening early can greatly helping in the success rate of quitting.
- Do not use drugs of abuse during pregnancy as it can cause serious harm to your baby.
- Avoid drugs of abuse while taking other medications. There can be serious and even deadly interactions between certain drugs.
- Educate your friends about the consequences of drug abuse.
- Commit to quitting. This may be one of the most difficult things you do in your life. Once you decide to quit, develop a plan to make it happen.
- Ask your medical provider for help. Withdrawal from certain drugs can be very dangerous to your health. You may need a medical provider to help you with the process and prescribe medications.
- You will need lots of help. Gain support from family, friends, and your medical provider. You will need counseling to help with your addiction.
Seek medical attention if:
- You are someone who has suddenly stopped a particular drug and its experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
- Call 911 if someone around you is using a drug of abuse and becomes unconscious.
Common drugs of abuse
The most commonly abused drugs on college campuses are alcohol, marijuana and nicotine. Also frequently abused are stimulant drugs (ADD/ADHD prescription medications), prescription pain medicines (Vicodin, codeine), prescription anti-anxiety medicines (Xanax, Ativan) and club drugs (molly, ecstasy). In some groups, hallucinogens such as LSD and Psilocybin (mushrooms) may be used, as may cocaine, methamphetamines and heroin. There are well-publicized ongoing epidemics of opioid and methamphetamine abuse with many tragic ruined lives and deaths.
Signs that someone may have a drug problem
- Major life changes
- Altered sleeping and eating habits
- Decline in school and work performance
- Disruption of friend group and/or social withdrawal
- Symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Aggressive or abusive behavior
- Stealing and lying
- Poor personal hygiene