Drug Abuse and Addiction
Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
- Drug abuse and addiction facts
- What is drug abuse?
- What is drug addiction?
- What types of drugs are commonly abused?
- What are the physical and psychological effects of drug abuse and addiction?
- What are causes and risk factors for drug abuse and addiction?
- What are symptoms and signs of drug abuse and addiction?
- What happens to your brain when you take drugs?
- How is drug addiction diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for drug addiction?
- What are complications of drug addiction?
- What is the prognosis of drug addiction?
- Can drug abuse and addiction be prevented?
- Where can people get help for drug abuse or addiction?
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- Patient Comments: Drug Abuse - Symptoms
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Drug abuse and addiction facts
- Drug abuse is a disorder that is characterized by a destructive pattern of using a substance that leads to significant problems or distress.
- Drug addiction is a disease that is characterized by a destructive pattern of drug abuse that leads to significant problems involving tolerance to or withdrawal from the substance, as well as other problems use of the substance can cause for the sufferer.
- Drug abuse and addiction are unfortunately quite common, affecting 7% and more than 2% of people at some point in their lives, respectively.
- Dual diagnosis refers to the presence of both a drug-abuse or dependence issue in addition to a serious mental-health problem in an individual.
- Virtually any substance whose ingestion can result in a euphoric ("high") feeling can be abused.
- Inhalants like household cleaners are some of the most commonly abused substances.
- While the specific physical and psychological effects of drug abuse and addiction tend to vary based on the particular substance involved, the general effects of abuse or addiction to any drug can be devastating.
- Although drug abuse and addiction have no single cause, there are a number of biological, psychological, and social risk factors that can increase a person's likelihood of developing a chemical abuse or chemical dependency disorder.
- Symptoms of drug abuse include recurrent drug use that results in legal problems, occurs in potentially dangerous situations, interferes with important obligations, or results in social or relationship problems.
- Symptoms of drug dependence include tolerance, withdrawal, using a lot of the drug or for a long period of time, persistent desire to use the drug, unsuccessful efforts to stop using the drug, neglecting other aspects of life because of their drug use, and spending inordinate amounts of time or energy getting, using, or recovering from the effects of the drug.
- While the specific effects of drugs on the brain can somewhat vary depending on the drug that is being used, virtually every drug that is abused has an effect on the executive functioning areas of the brain. Drugs particularly affect the brain's ability to inhibit actions that the person would otherwise delay or prevent.
- Since there is no one test that definitively indicates that someone has chemical abuse or addiction, health care practitioners diagnose these disorders by gathering comprehensive medical, family, and mental-health information, as well as securing a physical examination and lab tests to assess the sufferer's medical state.
- Treatment services for drug abuse and addiction remain largely unutilized by most sufferers of these conditions.
- The primary goals of recovery are abstinence, relapse prevention, and rehabilitation.
- During the initial stage of abstinence, an individual who suffers from chemical dependency may need detoxification treatment to help avoid or lessen the effects of withdrawal.
- Often, much more challenging and time consuming than recovery from the physical aspects of addiction is psychological addiction.
- The treatment of dual diagnosis seems to be more effective when treatment of the sufferer's mental illness is integrated with the treatment of the individual's chemical dependency.
- Drug addiction increases the risk of a number of negative life stressors and conditions, particularly if left untreated.
- Recovery from substance abuse is usually characterized by episodes of remission and relapse.
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