You might be wondering why on earth your loved seems to be choosing drugs over
family. You might be struggling with finances, or even from the painful
realization your loved one is in trouble with the law. Or you might be asking
yourself why you are taking drugs again, when you swore just a few hours ago
that you needed to cut down.
Drug abuse is not a matter of moral weakness or faulty willpower. It is a
vicious cycle that actually causes changes in the brain, leading to stronger and
stronger impulses to use.
Without help, drug abuse destroys families and takes lives. But there is hope.
Find out how to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug abuse or addiction in
someone you care about or yourself. With the right support and treatment, the
road to recovery is possible
What is drug abuse and drug addiction?
Drug abuse, also known as substance abuse, involves the repeated and excessive
use of chemical substances to achieve a certain effect. These substances may be
“street” or “illicit” drugs, illegal due to their high potential for addiction
and abuse. They also may be drugs obtained with a prescription, used for
pleasure rather than for medical reasons.
Different drugs have different effects. Some, such as cocaine or
methamphetamine, may produce an intense “rush” and initial feelings of boundless
energy. Others, such as heroin, benzodiazepines or the prescription oxycontin,
may produce excessive feelings of relaxation and calm.
What most drugs have in common, though, is over stimulation of the pleasure
center of the brain.
With time, the brain’s chemistry is actually altered to the point where not
having the drug becomes extremely uncomfortable and even painful. This
compelling urge to use, addiction, becomes more and more powerful, disrupting
work, relationships, and health.
Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse is just as dangerous as street drug use. When used
appropriately, prescription drugs can have beneficial effects medically or
psychologically. Prescription drugs in the opiate family, such as vicodin (hydrocodone)
and oxycontin, are often prescribed for chronic pain or recovery from surgery.
Benzodiazepines, such as valium or Xanax, are prescribed to treat anxiety. The
problem arises when these drugs begin to be used ‘off label’. Furthermore,
prescription drugs provide an easy access point to other family members
susceptible to abuse.