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:

  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • LSD
  • Marijuana
  • Sedatives
  • Methamphetamine (crystal meth, speed)
  • PCP
  • Ecstasy
  • GHB
  • Ketamine
  • Steroids
  • Inhalants
  • 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
neurotransmitter
Drugs stimulate unnecessary chemical release in the brain. Long-term drug use may change brain function.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.