Drug Addiction And Drug Abuse

General Illness Information

Medical Term:

Drug Abuse And Addiction

Common Name: None Specified


Drug addiction involves a triad of compulsive drug use, which includes: 1) Psychologic craving or dependence and the behavior included in the procurement of the drug (“hustle”), 2) Physiologic dependence, with withdrawal symptoms on discontinuance of the drug; and 3) tolerance, i.e. the need to increase the dose to get the desired effect. Drug dependency is a function of the amount of drug used and the duration of usage.

Drug abuse is compulsive and potentially destructive use of psychoactive drugs despite adverse medical and social consequences.

Causes: The most common substances that are causes of substance abuse are: nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, opiates  (including codeine, morphine, heroin, methadone, opium), psychedelic drugs e.g. PCP (angel dust), LSD, mescodine glues, solvents, paints, and benzodiazepines (valium, ativan etc.).

Factors that have been identified as potential causes of drug abuse and addiction are: 1) Biomedical factors such as genetic, biochemical and physiological; 2)Psychological such as personality traits, learned behavior, social and stress.


Don’t socialize with persons who use and abuse drugs;

Seek counseling for mental-health problems, such as depression or chronic anxiety, before they lead to drug problems;

Develop wholesome interests and leisure activities;

After surgery, illness or injury, discontinue the use of prescription pain relievers and tranquilizers as soon as possible.

Signs & Symptoms

Depends on the substance of abuse. Most produce:

  • A temporary, pleasant mood;
  • Relief from anxiety;
  • False feeling of self-confidence;
  • Increased sensitivity to sights and sounds (including hallucinations);
  • Altered activity levels either stupor and sleeplike states or frenzies;
  • Unpleasant or painful symptoms when the abused substance is withdrawn;
  • Unexplained seizures etc.

Risk Factors

  • Psychological problems, including depression, dependency or poor self-esteem;
  • Peer pressure;
  • Excess alcohol consumption;
  • Genetic factors (possibly). Some persons may be more susceptible to addiction;
  • Fatigue or overwork;
  • Poverty;
  • Family history of drug abuse;
  • Illness requiring prescription pain relievers or tranquilizers.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosis requires a good history and physical examination. Diagnosis may be confirmed by doing a drug screening test on the urine and blood. The usefulness of urinalysis for detection of drugs, varies markedly with different drugs and under different circumstances. Water-soluble drugs, such as alcohol, stimulants and opiates are eliminated in a day or so. However, fat-soluble substances e.g. barbiturates and tetrahydrocannabinol appear in the urine over longer period of time – several days in most cases and  for as long as 1 to 2 months in chronic marijuana users. Sedative drug determinations are quite variable, amount of drug and duration of use being important determinants. Other factors that have to be taken into consideration are false positives (which can be due to ingestion of some legitimate drug and food), manipulations and urine dilution.

General Measures:

  • Admit you have a problem;
  • Seek professional help;
  • Be open and honest with your family and good friends, and ask their help;
  • Psychotherapy or counseling;
  • Hospitalization for management of drug-withdrawal symptoms-during detoxification;
  • Avoid friends who tempt you to resume your habit;
  • Join self-help groups.


  • Disulfiram (Antabuse) for alcoholism. This drug produces severe reaction when alcohol is consumed;
  • Methadone for narcotic abuse. This drug is a less-potent narcotic used to decrease the severity of physical withdrawal symptoms.


No restrictions. Exercise regularly and vigorously.


Eat a normal, well-balanced diet that is high in protein. Vitamin supplements may be necessary if you suffer from malnutrition.

Possible Complications:

  • Accidental injury to oneself or others while in a drug-induced state;
  • Loss of job or family;
  • Death caused by overdose;
  • Irreversible damage to body organs;
  • Incarceration;
  • Malnutrition;
  • Severe infections, such as endocarditis (infections of the heart), hepatitis or blood poisoning, from intravenous injections with non-sterile needles;
  • Sexually transmitted diseases, which are more frequent among addicts.


Curable with strong motivation, good medical care and support from family and friends. However, relapses are common.


Nothing Specified.

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