Drug Abuse and Addiction At A Glance

Estimated arrests for drug abuse violations by...

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  • 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.
REFERENCES:

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Treatment Revision. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

American Psychiatric Association. Treatment of Patients with Substance Use Disorders, Second Edition. Arlington, Virginia: American Psychiatric Association, 2006.

Chermack, S.T., R.L. Murray, M.A. Walton, B.A. Booth, J. Wryobeck, and F.C. Blow. “Partner Aggression Among Men and Women in Substance Use Disorder Treatment: Correlates of Psychological and Physical Aggression and Injury.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 98.1-2 Nov. 2008: 35-44.

Compton, W.M., Y.F. Thomas, F.S. Stinson, and B.F. Grant. “Prevalence, Correlates, Disability and Comorbidity of DSM-IV Drug Abuse and Dependence in the United States.” Archives of General Psychiatry 64.5 (2007): 566-576.

Drake, R.E., and K.T. Mueser. “Psychosocial Approaches to Dual Diagnosis.” Schizophrenia Bulletin26.1 (2000): 105-118.

Drake, R.E., and M.A. Wallach. “Dual Diagnosis: 15 Years of Progress.” Psychiatric Services 51 Sept. 2000: 1126-1129.

Ducci, F., M.A. Enoch, Q. Yuan, P.H. Shen, et al. “HTR3B Is Associated With Alcoholism With Antisocial Behavior and Alpha EEG-Power — An Intermediate Phenotype for Alcoholism and Co-Morbid Behaviors.” Alcohol 43.1 Feb. 2009: 73-84.

Etheridge, R.M., J.C. Smith, J.L. Rounds-Bryant, and R.L. Hubbard. “Drug Abuse Treatment and Comprehensive Services for Adolescents.” Journal of Adolescent Research 16 (2001): 563-589.

Farrer, S. “School-Based Program Promotes Positive Behavior, Reduces Risk Factors for Drug Use, Other Problems.” National Institute of Drug Abuse 18.6 (2004).

Fillmore, M.T. “Drug Abuse as a Problem of Impaired Control: Current Approaches and Findings.”Behavioral Cognitive Neuroscience Review 2 (2003): 179.

Flensborg-Madsen, T., J. Knop, E.L. Mortensen, et al. “Amount of Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Developing Alcoholism in Men and Women.” Alcohol and Alcoholism 42.5 (2007): 442-447.

Friedman, R.A. “The Changing Face of Teenage Drug Abuse — The Trend Toward Prescription Drugs.” New England Journal of Medicine 354.14 Apr. 2006: 1448-1450.

Korhonen, T., U.M. Kujala, R.J. Rose, and J. Kaprio. “Physical Activity in Adolescence as a Predictor of Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use in Early Adulthood: A Longitudinal Population-Based Twin Study.” Twin Research in Human Genetics 12.3 June 2009: 261-268.

Morton, W.A. “Cocaine and Psychiatric Symptoms.” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Primary Care Companion 1.4 Aug. 1999: 109-113.

Schinke, S., and T. Schwinn. “Gender-Specific Computer-Based Intervention for Preventing Drug Abuse Among Girls.” American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 31.4 (2005): 609-616.

Setlik, J., G.R. Bond, and M. Ho. “Adolescent Prescription ADHD Medication Abuse Is Rising Along With Prescriptions for These Medications.” Pediatrics 124.3 Sept. 2009: 875-880.

 

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