Drug Addiction Info

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Drug addiction is not the same as substance abuse or drug abuse. In short, whereas individuals who abuse drugs are not necessarily drug dependent, people who are addicted to drugs, conversely, are also drug abusers.

Individuals can become addicted to various drugs or substances such as illegal drugs (methadone or cocaine, for instance), inhalants (examples include glues and household cleaning solvents), or prescription drugs (like darvocet or codeine) taken inappropriately.

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Basic Info About Dysfunction and Dependence

Whatever the drug or substance of choice, drug addiction AND drug abuse are typified by the dysfunctional ways in which the drug or substance takes over the person's life, disrupting his or her daily functioning at work, school, or home, leading to repeated drug-related legal difficulties, dysfunctional relationships, and negatively affecting his or her overall quality of life.

Drug addiction can be psychological, physical, or both. Psychological addiction refers to the subjective feelings the user requires in order to attain pleasure or euphoria.

For instance, taking a drug in order to dull the pain of an unpleasant experience or to "relax" are examples of psychological dependence. 

Physical addiction, on the other hand, refers to the physiological effects of drug abuse and is characterized by withdrawal symptoms that are experienced when the user stops taking the drug and tolerance, defined as the need to take increasing amounts of the drug in order to feel the initial "buzz" or "high."

Sadly, the persons who are actively involved in drug abuse and/or drug addiction are frequently the last ones to "see" their negative behavior and their own symptoms of abuse and addiction.

Drug Abuse versus Drug Addiction

To differentiate the difference between drug abuse and drug addiction, definitions of both terms will be provided below.

Drug abuse is defined as a pattern of taking drugs that results in one or more of the following circumstances:

  • Taking drugs in situations that can result in physical injury. Examples include operating machinery or driving a vehicle.

  • Continued abuse in spite of ongoing relationship problems that are drug-related.

  • Failure to attend to important responsibilities at home, work, or school.

  • Experiencing recurring alcohol-related legal problems. Examples include driving "under the influence" or getting arrested for damaging someone's property.

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Drug addiction is a disease that includes the following symptoms:

  • Loss of control: The inability to limit one's drug use over time or on any given occasion.

  • Craving: A strong and continuing compulsion or need to take drugs.

  • Tolerance: The need to take more and more drugs in order to feel a "buzz" or to "get high."

  • Physical dependence: Withdrawal symptoms that occur when a person stops taking drugs. The following are examples of drug-related withdrawal symptoms include: shaking, nausea, and sweating.

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