People are engaging in “drug abuse” when they use drugs in an amount – or at a frequency – that is harmful to themselves or to the people around them, but when physical or psychological dependency has not developed.
Drug addiction, on the other hand, is a chronic brain disease. Drug addiction causes obsessive drug seeking and consumption, regardless of the consequences. Over time, drug addiction usually gets worse, not better.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Drug Use?
Common Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse:
- Neglect: Drug abusers often ignore responsibilities like school, work, and family
- Risk taking: Drug use lowers inhibition and common sense in most users. Drug users are more likely to engage in risky behavior (e.g., driving under the influence, unprotected sex, associating with people and situations that place the person at risk for physical or emotional harm).
- Legal problems: As drug use increases, so does the risk of arrests for driving under influence, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, and theft.
- Relationship Issues: Drug abuse often leads to tension and fights with family, loved ones, and friends.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction?
Common Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction:
In drug addiction, symptoms become more severe and physical dependence on the drug develops. Other common signs and symptoms include:
- Tolerance: Larger amounts of the drug may be needed to get as high as the user was once able to get on smaller amounts of the drug.
- Loss of Control: Drug addicts often find themselves using more drugs than they planned, or promised.
- Cravings: People with drug addiction find themselves obsessively thinking about drugs, and may feel a strong sense of urgency or “need” to get drugs.
- Dangerous/Harmful behavior: Addicts continue using drugs even though it’s creating mental and physical health problems (like blackouts, mood swings, and paranoia).
- Withdrawal: Withdrawal syndrome may occur when drugs are denied or unavailable. Signs include: anxiety, shaking, trembling, sweating, nausea, insomnia, depression, fatigue, loss of appetite, and even seizures. Anyone showing signs of withdrawal should consider seeking immediate medical assistance.
How Does Drug Abuse Affect The User’s Health?
There are many factors that influence how drug abuse and addiction will impact the health of the user, including:
- How much and how often a person uses
- The age drug use began
- The length of time the person has been using
- Family history of drug abuse addiction
- Pre-natal exposure
Drug abuse can impact the health of the user and result in:
- Memory impairment
- Anxiety disorders
- Personality disorders
- Panic disorders
- Liver disease
- Brain damage
- Thoughts of suicide
- Emotional impairment
- Problems with gait and balance
- Brain damage
- Organ damage and cancer
- Heart disease
- Overdose, coma or death
As drug abuse continues, the degree of impairment may become more severe and may become permanent.
What are the Effects of Particular Drugs?
High doses of many drugs can cause immediate life-threatening health problems such as heart attack, respiratory failure, and coma. The addition of impurities in most street drugs only increases the risk to the user. Combining drugs with alcohol (a drug in its own right) is especially dangerous.
Here is a list of certain drugs and their effects:
- Barbiturates and tranquilizers: Hangover-like symptoms, nausea, seizures, and coma. Overdose or mixing with alcohol can be fatal. Withdrawal symptoms can be deadly.
- Cocaine: Tremors, seizures, psychosis, and heart or respiratory failure.
- LSD: Nausea, rapid heart rate, depression, disorientation, paranoia, and psychosis.
- Marijuana: Rapid heart rate, memory impairment, cognitive problems, paranoia, infertility, weakened immune system, and possible lung damage.
- Heroin/Narcotics: Respiratory and circulatory depression, dizziness, impotence, constipation, and withdrawal sickness. Overdose can lead to coma and death.
- PCP: Unpredictable and violent behavior, dizziness, numbness, high heart rate and blood pressure, convulsions, and heart and lung failure.
- Stimulants: High heart rate and blood pressure, headache, blurred vision, dizziness, impotence, skin disorders, tremors, seizures, and psychosis.