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What Is The Meaning Of Drug Addiction

Treatment Options For Substance Use Disorder

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There is no cure for SUD, but there are many treatment options available. People with SUD experience the most success when using a combination of different treatments.

Treatment options include:

  • Group and peer counseling
  • Behavioral therapy to help deal with cravings, identify drug use triggers, find better coping mechanisms, and reduce the risk of relapse
  • Self-help groups and 12-step programs

How Addiction Gets Started

The reason that people engage in activity that can become addictive in the first place is to experiment, because of the social environment, or achieve a feeling of euphoria or to relieve an emotional state of dysphoria.

When people drink, take drugs, or participate in other reward-seeking behavior they experience a “high” that gives them the reward or relief they are seeking.

Who Is At Risk For Substance Use Disorder

Anyone can develop a substance use disorder. No one thing can predict whether a person may develop an addiction. You may be more prone to drug use due to:

  • Biology: The persons genetic makeup, gender, ethnicity and mental health issues may raise his or her risk for developing an addiction. About two-thirds of people in addiction treatment are men. Particular ethnicities are at higher risk for substance use disorder. This is true for Native Americans.
  • Environment: Surroundings can affect the likelihood of developing substance use disorder. For example, stress, peer pressure, physical or sexual abuse and early exposure to drugs can raise the risk.
  • Age: Teenagers who start taking drugs are especially at risk. The parts of the brain that control judgment, decisions and self-control are not fully developed. Teens are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. In a developing brain, drugs can cause changes that make addiction more likely.

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Examples Of Addiction In A Sentence

addictionaddictionaddictionaddictionPeoplemagaddictionArkansas Onlineaddiction NBC NewsaddictionEssenceaddiction The Hollywood ReporteraddictionaladdictionWashington PostaddictionThe Courier-Journal

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word ‘addiction.’ Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

What Is Drug Abuse And Addiction Disorder


Formerly separately called substance or drug abuse and addiction, drug use disorder, also called substance use or chemical use disorder, is an illness characterized by a destructive pattern of using a substance that leads to significant problems or distress, including tolerance to or withdrawal from the substance, as well as other problems that use of the substance can cause for the sufferer, either socially or in terms of their work or school performance. The effects of drug use disorders on society are substantial. The economic cost, including everything from lost wages to medical, legal, and mental health implications is about $215 billion. The cultivation of and the production of synthetic drugs like methamphetamine have a negative impact on soil and water supplies. Drug law infractions are a highly common reason for arrests in the United States, with more than 1.5 million occurring in 2016.

Teens are increasingly engaging in prescription drug abuse, particularly narcotics, also called opioids , and stimulant medications, which treat conditions like attention-deficit disorder and narcolepsy.

The term dual diagnosis refers to the presence of both a drug use disorder and a serious mental health problem in a person. Substance use disorders, unfortunately, occur quite commonly in people who also have a severe mental illness. Individuals with dual diagnoses are also at higher risk of being non-compliant with treatment.

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Addiction Vs Abuse And Tolerance

Drug abuse is when you use legal or illegal substances in ways you shouldnât. You might take more than the regular dose of pills or use someone elseâs prescription. You may abuse drugs to feel good, ease stress, or avoid reality. But usually, youâre able to change your unhealthy habits or stop using altogether.

Addiction is when you canât stop. Not when it puts your health in danger. Not when it causes financial, emotional, and other problems for you or your loved ones. That urge to get and use drugs can fill up every minute of the day, even if you want to quit.

Addiction also is different from physical dependence or tolerance. In cases of physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms happen when you suddenly stop a substance. Tolerance happens when a dose of a substance becomes less effective over time.

When you use opioids for pain for a long time, for example, you may develop tolerance and even physical dependence. This doesnât mean youâre addicted. In general, when narcotics are used under proper medical supervision, addiction happens in only a small percentage of people.

There Is No Cure For Addiction But People Can And Do Recover

While there is no cure for any mental health disorder, including drug addiction, many go on to lead incredible lives filled with hope and courage. Numerous research-based therapies and treatment interventions have been proven to be effective in treating those living with drug addiction.

The key is receiving personalized treatment that is intensive and integrated. When long-term support and therapeutic and spiritual interventions are applied, people struggling to overcome addiction do recover. Mental, physical, and spiritual wellness is central to recovery.

Questions about drug addiction and treatment? Call .

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What Causes Drug Addiction

An action performed once as an experiment in a social situation can soon develop into a habit. An experimental use of alcohol at a college party can be used as an example. Substances such as alcohol and nicotine can affect the way one feels. Some people enjoy the physical and mental stimulations these substances create. In most cases, it is highly likely for the individual to get obsessed with such feelings. This condition ultimately leads the person to develop an addiction to that particular substance. Some people get addicted to even more than one substance. However, such a lifestyle often leads to a series of mental, physical and social impairments.

Who Is At Risk For Drug Addiction

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Various risk factors can make you more likely to become addicted to drugs, including:

  • Your biology. People can react to drugs differently. Some people like the feeling the first time they try a drug and want more. Others hate how it feels and never try it again.
  • Mental health problems. People who have untreated mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder are more likely to become addicted. This can happen because drug use and mental health problems affect the same parts of the brain. Also, people with these problems may use drugs to try to feel better.
  • Trouble at home. If your home is an unhappy place or was when you were growing up, you might be more likely to have a drug problem.
  • Trouble in school, at work, or with making friends. You might use drugs to get your mind off these problems.
  • Hanging around other people who use drugs. They might encourage you to try drugs.
  • Starting drug use when you’re young. When kids use drugs, it affects how their bodies and brains finish growing. This increases your chances of becoming addicted when you’re an adult.

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Understanding Drug Abuse And Addiction

People from all walks of life can experience problems with their drug use, regardless of age, race, background, or the reason they started using drugs in the first place. Some people experiment with recreational drugs out of curiosity, to have a good time, because friends are doing it, or to ease problems such as stress, anxiety, or depression.

However, its not just illegal drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, that can lead to abuse and addiction. Prescription medications such as painkillers, sleeping pills, and tranquilizers can cause similar problems. In fact, next to marijuana, prescription painkillers are the most abused drugs in the U.S. and more people die from overdosing powerful opioid painkillers each day than from traffic accidents and gun deaths combined. Addiction to opioid painkillers can be so powerful it has become the major risk factor for heroin abuse.

What Is Drug Misuse

Drug misuse is a broad term used to describe different types of substance use. Specifically, it describes someone who uses a legal or prescribed medication in a way that was not directed.

Using illegal substances or medications refers to illegal drug use. This also includes minors who drink alcohol.

Likewise, if you use a drug more often or in larger amounts than recommended, even if it is your prescription, it is misuse.

You are misusing a drug any time you use a drug for purposes for which it was not intended or if it is not legally intended for use. This is true even if you do not intend to or cannot get high from the drug.

Doctors can prescribe a drug for off-label purposes. As a patient, youd be using a drug for a purpose for which it is not FDA-approved. However, you are doing so under your doctors directions, so it is not misuse.

Signs of drug misuse include:

  • Taking a dose at the wrong time
  • Solvents, aerosols, gases, and glue

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What Drugs Cause Drug Addiction

Drug addiction information indicates any type of drug can be abused or cause drug addiction. Drug addiction involves easily accessible drugs like tobacco and alcohol, as well as illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin. Some drug addictions, like alcoholism, appear to be declining, while others, like methamphetamine addiction, is on the rise.

Drug addiction info indicates the following drugs and drug types are commonly associated with drug addiction:45

  • Alcohol – most widely abused drug with 20% of users becoming dependent on it at some point
  • Opiates – substances derived from the opium poppy, the most common drug addiction is that of heroin
  • Cocaine, crack – up to 10% of users go on to heavy drug use
  • Amphetamines – like crystal meth, use on the rise in rural communities
  • Hallucinogens – like PCP, LSD and , often combined with other drugs
  • Prescription medication – such as oxycodone and morphine
  • Other chemicals – like tobacco, steroids and others

Go here, if you are interested in drug abuse information covering symptoms, effects, causes, treatments, more.

APA ReferenceTracy, N. . What is Drug Addiction? Drug Addiction Information, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, September 23 from

General Patterns Of Use

Substance Use in Women and Men

Patterns of drug dependence differ with age. Men are more commonly involved than women. Patterns change as drugs come in and out of vogue. The general picture in the UK is shown in Table 11.2. Data on illicit drug use in the UK are provided from a number of sources but up-to-date information on prevalence and patterns of usage can be obtained from the annual British Crime Survey. Data from the 2008/2009 survey indicate that one in three people between the ages of 16 and 59 had ever used illicit drugs while 1 in 10 had used an illicit substance in the previous year. The survey also allows observations on the trends in illicit drug use over time, as shown in Table 11.3.

A.I. Leshner, in, 2001

Shaul Lev-Ran, … Jonah Fox, in, 2016

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What Drugs Lead To Addiction

Drugs that are commonly misused include:

While these drugs are very different from each other, they all strongly activate the addiction center of the brain. That is what makes these substances habit-forming, while others are not.

What Medications Are Available To Help With Substance Use Disorder

Medication may be part of your treatment plan. Your care team figures out the best medications for you. Medication-assisted treatments are available for:

  • Opioids: Methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone are FDA-approved for the treatment of opiate use disorder.
  • Alcohol: Three FDA-approved drugs include naltrexone, acamprosate and disulfiram .
  • Tobacco: A nicotine patch, spray, gum or lozenge can help. Or your doctor might prescribe bupropion or varenicline .

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Why Do People Take Drugs

In general, people take drugs for a few reasons:

  • To feel good. Drugs can produce intense feelings of pleasure. This initial euphoria is followed by other effects, which differ with the type of drug used. For example, with stimulants such as cocaine, the high is followed by feelings of power, self-confidence, and increased energy. In contrast, the euphoria caused by opioids such as heroin is followed by feelings of relaxation and satisfaction.
  • To feel better. Some people who suffer from social anxiety, stress, and depression start using drugs to try to feel less anxious. Stress can play a major role in starting and continuing drug use as well as relapse in patients recovering from addiction.
  • To do better. Some people feel pressure to improve their focus in school or at work or their abilities in sports. This can play a role in trying or continuing to use drugs, such as prescription stimulants or cocaine.
  • Curiosity and social pressure. In this respect, teens are particularly at risk because peer pressure can be very strong. Adolescence is a developmental period during which the presence of risk factors, such as peers who use drugs, may lead to substance use.

Do People Choose To Keep Using Drugs

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The initial decision to take drugs is typically voluntary. But with continued use, a person’s ability to exert self-control can become seriously impaired. This impairment in self-control is the hallmark of addiction.

Brain imaging studies of people with addiction show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision-making, learning and memory, and behavior control.12 These changes help explain the compulsive nature of addiction.

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Principles Of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research

Drug treatment is intended to help addicted individuals stop compulsive drug seeking and use. Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, take many different forms, and last for different lengths of time. Because drug addiction is typically a chronic disorder characterized by occasional relapses, a short-term, one-time treatment is usually not sufficient. For many, treatment is a long-term process that involves multiple interventions and regular monitoring.

There are a variety of evidence-based approaches to treating addiction. Drug treatment can include behavioral therapy , medications, or their combination. The specific type of treatment or combination of treatments will vary depending on the patients individual needs and, often, on the types of drugs they use.

Treatment medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone , are available for individuals addicted to opioids, while nicotine preparations and the medications varenicline and bupropion are available for individuals addicted to tobacco. Disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone are medications available for treating alcohol dependence,1 which commonly co-occurs with other drug addictions, including addiction to prescription medications.

What Is Drug Use

Drug use, or misuse, includes:

  • Using illegal substances, such as
  • Misusing prescription medicines, including opioids. This means taking the medicines in a different way than the health care provider prescribed. This includes
    • Taking a medicine that was prescribed for someone else
    • Taking a larger dose than you are supposed to
    • Using the medicine in a different way than you are supposed to. For example, instead of swallowing your tablets, you might crush and then snort or inject them.
    • Using the medicine for another purpose, such as getting high
  • Misusing over-the-counter medicines, including using them for another purpose and using them in a different way than you are supposed to

Drug use is dangerous. It can harm your brain and body, sometimes permanently. It can hurt the people around you, including friends, families, kids, and unborn babies. Drug use can also lead to addiction.

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What Happens To The Brain When A Person Takes Drugs

Most drugs affect the brain’s “reward circuit,” causing euphoria as well as flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. A properly functioning reward system motivates a person to repeat behaviors needed to thrive, such as eating and spending time with loved ones. Surges of dopamine in the reward circuit cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors like taking drugs, leading people to repeat the behavior again and again.

As a person continues to use drugs, the brain adapts by reducing the ability of cells in the reward circuit to respond to it. This reduces the high that the person feels compared to the high they felt when first taking the drugan effect known as tolerance. They might take more of the drug to try and achieve the same high. These brain adaptations often lead to the person becoming less and less able to derive pleasure from other things they once enjoyed, like food, sex, or social activities.

Long-term use also causes changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well, affecting functions that include:

Despite being aware of these harmful outcomes, many people who use drugs continue to take them, which is the nature of addiction.

What Is An Addiction


Drug addiction or substance use disorder happens when a person can’t control their use of a particular drug, despite its potentially harmful effects . Often, it starts with experimenting with the drug, exposure to prescribed medications, or receiving medications from someone else apart from a health expert. Many people forget that drugs don’t work the same for everyone, so it can be difficult to determine whether you’ll benefit or respond negatively to a drug not prescribed by a doctor, according to Medline Plus.

Cleveland Clinic notes that the most predominant sign of substance use disorder is the inability to stop. While the first use of a drug might be a choice, it can affect your decision-making ability in your brain, making it hard to bring yourself to stop using it. According to WebMD, some signs of addiction include taking drugs even when you don’t need them, losing interest in things you love, or experiencing trouble focusing at school or work without taking the drug. The good news is that regardless of the causes of drug addiction, the condition is treatable and treatment options include counseling and medication, when necessary. If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit theSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration websiteor contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP .

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