Understanding Drug Addiction

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There are many people out there who don’t understand how people turn to drugs or alcohol to be able to cope, but drug/alcohol addiction is a genuine and very harmful thing to deal with. Drug addiction is a complex disease that needs to be thoroughly understood, but before it becomes a drug or alcohol addiction, there is drug abuse.

What Is Drug Abuse?

Drug abuse refers to an individual who uses certain substances to get out of their heads purposely. Drugs create a pleasurable effect on the brain, and it’s for this reason that substance abuse can turn into a drug/alcohol addiction; the user craves the euphoric feeling that the drugs evoke. There are currently almost 200 million drug users around the world, and it’s a problem that is rapidly increasing.

It’s particularly prevalent as an issue in the young adult category, and aside from the damage to the body that substance abuse has over time, there are also risks of new diseases being contracted. Drugs may make the user feel good for a moment, but the only positive here is that drug abuse doesn’t always lead to addiction; you may be able to change things and stop using them altogether.

Drug abuse covers all substances, including alcohol and cigarettes. It’s not the same thing as addiction, and it’s essential to recognize that fact. Drug addiction indicates a dependence on the drug to keep going in day to day life. Drug abuse does not.

Causes & Risk Factors of Drug Abuse

Causes of Drug Abuse

There are a variety of reasons for drug abuse, and it’s vital to understand each of them to be able to pinpoint the problem that you may be coping with. The direct cause is not 100% understood, but several speculations surround the causes of drug abuse. Drugs that are abused are usually psychoactive, and they are used for a variety of reasons, which include:

  • Peer pressure
  • For fun – recreational use
  • Used as part of a ritual
  • A means of being creative

There are some other causes, and these include:


A lot of people use drugs in their daily life – medication, for example, is a necessary drug and used every day. However, in that number of people, only a tiny percentage actually abuse drugs. It has been previously cited that drug abuse can often run in families. This suggests that one of the notable causes of drug abuse is genetics. A parent watching their child while under the influence of drugs may not cause their child to grow up and be a drug user, though. It’s also possible to abuse drugs without there being another person in the family doing it. This is why it’s all muddy waters, rather than a clear-cut reason

Health Conditions

There is very little evidence to suggest that mental health conditions lead to drug abuse, but there are cases whereby someone with a mental health condition chooses to use drugs to “get high” and feel a false euphoria. It wasn’t the leading cause of drug abuse, but it did contribute towards it. Not everyone with a mental health condition will abuse drugs, though, just as not everyone who abuses drugs will develop a mental health condition.

Environmental Causes

Among younger users, there is evidence to show that some circumstances in life are risk factors for drug abuse, but not directly a cause of it.

Risk Factors

There are plenty of risk factors for drug abuse that must be understood if parents and educators hope to identify the circumstances behind the drug abuse in the first place. Some of the known risk factors for drug abuse include:

  • Failing at school
  • A lack of motivation for education
  • Early aggressive behavior and anti-social behavior
  • Use of drugs at a young age
  • Availability of drugs in the local community
  • Improper or neglectful parenting
  • Long working hours
  • Parent or sibling drug abuse
  • Attention-seeking behavior
  • Transitions in home life

As well as these, there are biological factors to consider, and these can increase the likelihood of an individual using drugs. While these may be difficult to change, it can be helpful to be aware of them so that any potential drug abuse can be intervened on before it begins. These biological factors include:

  • Genetics, as mentioned above
  • Those with mental health issues
  • Metabolization of said drugs
  • Gender – men are twice as likely to deal with substance abuse

Common Types of Drug Abuse

Drug abuse can occur with any substance, drug, or medication that leads to a state of altered consciousness or euphoria. Often, abuse of any of these substances can lead to withdrawal that can be so severe that medically managed detox is necessary. The drugs included in this are not limited to the illegal kind, either. Alcohol is a drug that can be abused as it’s addictive over time, and alcohol abuse can have some devastating side effects. It’s also the case that prescription medications can be abused over time, too, and these are gained legally through a physician.

Let’s explore some of the common types of drug abuse out there so we can have a deeper understanding of how they can affect the user.


This is the most common type of drug abuse, as alcohol enables the drinker to have a short-term euphoria and even sedation in some cases. It’s the substance that is widely abused above all others, and prolonged abuse can lead to effects such as liver damage and mental health deterioration, among other things. It acts as a sedative by depressing the central nervous system and lowers blood pressure, slows down the heart rate, and makes breathing more shallow. Alcohol affects users in different ways, with some dealing with total anesthesia and others only experiencing minor sedation!


These types of drugs induce sleep or kill pain, and these usually fall into the category of opiates. These include heroin, morphine, and hydrocodone like Vicodin.


Users of amphetamine do so for the rush that they generate and an intense high that is brief, creating a powerful stimulus that leads to more users over time. This is the most dangerous drug to abuse as it can quickly become addictive.

Prescribed Drugs

Given that a physician gives these drugs, it can surprise people how many out there abuse prescription drugs. Most of the medicines that are prescribed are harmless; well, when it comes to addiction, they are. They can still be abused, though, and as prescription drugs that are handed out for mental health issues are typically known to have addictive qualities. Prescription drugs cover all different mental health issues as well as other ailments.


One of the classes of drugs that are considered to be addictive and is frequently abused are benzodiazepines. These work by depressing the central nervous system, which then slows down bodily functions. Some of those that have been subjected to abuse include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin.

Party Drugs

Named as such for being those that are frequently abused by teenagers and young adults, party drugs are typically abused in clubs and on the party scene. These include drugs like MDMA, GHB, Ketamine, etc. Since many drugs are new to the market, it’s not possible to research much in the way of the long-term effects.

Cocaine & Crack

A highly addictive substance, both cocaine and crack, are potent stimulants, and people snort, inject, cook or taste these drugs into compounds that can be converted to smoked, too. Cocaine is presently the single most abused drug – aside from Methamphetamine – in the country. It’s often used alongside depressants, also.


There are three categories that hallucinogens fall into psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants. There is an overlap between the symptoms of intoxication and the effects of the drug at all. Drugs that fit into each category give a different sensation to the user, and these are regularly abused substances.

Effect of Drug Abuse on the Body

Those who abuse drugs may not realize that they have an issue until the effects of drug abuse are seen. Sometimes, drug abuse side effects are noticed physically before anything else, and while drug abuse effects on the body do depend on the drug used, all drug abuse hurts the health of the individual taking the drug. The most common effects of drug abuse include changes to sleep and decreased cognitive abilities.

Other physical problems are evident, and these include:

  • Abnormal vital signs – heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration
  • Lung pain and pain in the chest
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain
  • Skin can be sweating and cold or hot and dry, either is common those who are abusing drugs
  • Diseases like Hep B or C and even HIV can occur with needle sharing
  • Sexual incompetence and impotence
  • Blackouts and hangovers

Each of these effects varies from person to person. A drug that affects one person won’t touch another, and so it’s often seen that there are wild variations between what one person feels versus another.

Psychological Drug Abuse Effects

The effects of drug abuse are not always physical. There are a lot of side effects of drug abuse that are psychological, too. There has been a common link through all drug abusers in which there is an intense desire to use the drug of choice above anything else. Drug cravings can change the way that the user thinks, and the side effects can include preoccupation with where the drug is, how to pay for it, and when it can be used again.

Psychological drug abuse is usually evident in drastic mood changes. The person taking the drug may become anxious or jittery, worrying about where their next fix will come from and feeling depressed due to the side effects of the drugs. Some of the other psychological drug abuse effects include:

  • Irritability
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Selfishness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Can no longer find pleasure in activities that were previously enjoyed
  • Pressuring others into taking drugs

Each of these side effects, again, differ from person to person. Recognizing these symptoms is going to be an essential way to ascertain whether drug abuse is present.

Drug Abuse Treatment

There are a variety of options for those who require treatment for drug abuse that leads to addiction. There are different levels of care that you can expect from each facility, and the range of facilities includes:

Detox Facilities

A safe, medicinally aided program which is monitored closely addresses all of the physical aspects of addiction and substance abuse

Residential Rehabilitation Programs

These provide the right type of care in an environment which is controlled carefully, with added support that helps to mitigate the risk of relapse in recovery.

Partial Hospitalization

The treatment option of partial hospitalization is beneficial for those with a diagnosis of mental health issues as well as substance abuse disorder

Intensive Outpatient Programs

These are the programs that allow a person to get the help that they need while maintaining responsibilities outside, like working and educational attendance.

Sober Living Community

For those who want to continue sobriety, sober living communities provide a safe house beyond rehab for drugs and alcohol abusers.

Preventing & Curing Drug Abuse

To prevent substance abuse from growing into drug/alcohol addiction, you must stop it before it begins to set in. Below, you’ll find a list of ways to stop it before it starts: prevention is much better than cure!

Coping With Stress

A lot of people start to use drugs as a way to feel less stressed and far less tense. The problem is that drugs are not a permanent fix. They offer temporary happiness that does not patch over long term issues, and once the person comes down from a drug, the side effects often push them to find another fix. It’s essential to cope with the stress in other ways, from exercise and meditation to eliminate the stressors that are causing the problems.


Depression is not unusual, and many people who deal with the highs and lows of their moods often need an outlet. Drug abusers turn to the wrong outlet, especially when there are therapy and counseling that can have a much better effect.

Stay Happy

The only way to indeed be happy is to maintain a lifestyle that makes you happy in the first place. Low self-esteem is not easy to deal with, and it can be a trigger for those who turn to drugs, keep your friendships secure, and maintain a healthy balance in your diet and movement. This way, you can stay drug-free as you have other things to lean on when times are hard.

Find Things to Care About

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a hobby or a sport; you need to have things that you can rely on to keep you motivated to stay focused in life. If you have items that you care about in your life, you’re less likely to put yourself in a position of needing to take drugs to cope.

Know Your Background

As drug abuse is noted in families, it may be worth being aware as to whether there is a history of drug abuse in your family. If you know that others have used drugs, then you know that you need to be vigilant in taking precautions and staying away from drugs and alcohol. Avoidance is more comfortable than recovery, so ensure that you learn about yourself and your family, so you don’t get caught in that cycle.

Where To Get Help

If you are looking for help with drug/alcohol addiction or drug abuse, turn to us. Addiction Helpline America can help you to handle your drug issue, and we are committed to helping everyone who wants help can find it. We have the guidance, resources, and connections that can get you into the right facility to make dealing with recovery easier.

You are here to enjoy life, which means that you shouldn’t have to struggle with drug abuse leading to drug/alcohol addiction. The feelings of depression and shame that come with drug abuse are also not something that you should have to cope with, and with our help, we can help you to address the issues that led you to drinking and drugs in the first place.

Your situation is not irreversible; it can be changed with our help. It doesn’t matter what substance you are abusing; we can point you in the right direction for the best recovery for your needs. There is no need to feel isolated and alone, not when our professionals can point you in the right direction for rehab centers and therapists.

At Addiction Helpline America, we will connect you with the right treatment facility for your needs. There is no need to wait until it becomes a full-blown issue. There are many variables, such as insurance, cost, travel, and the type of substance you are addicted to. Our reps and affiliates are on standby 24/7 to make sure that you can find the help you need!

Drug abuse does not have to overtake your life, and with our help, you don’t have to let it.

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