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:
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. 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 reviewedSeptember 2012by Brian Randall, MD
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