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Learning About Drug Abuse

For some, the use of drugs is purely recreational and never experience any adverse effects. Others may take prescription drugs and not go through the trauma of becoming addicted to them. These are the lucky ones. For many others, drug abuse, whether prescribed or otherwise, can cause dependency, problems at home, school and work, destroy relationships and create health and emotional problems.

Learning about drug abuse, how it progresses, physical signs and understanding the hold it can have on an individual, will give a better understanding of this kind of addiction. For anyone worried about a friend or family member it is it is vital to learn the facts in order to offer help and support.


Experimenting with drugs is often a result of peer pressure or curiosity. Taking potentially addictive prescription drugs is usually due to suffering from pain, anxiety or depression. Using these drugs does not mean they will lead to abuse. It is when an individual begins to rely on drugs, to the point where everyday life begins to suffer, that a drug abuse or addiction problem can be confirmed.

Vulnerability to addiction depends on certain factors and differs from person to person. Family and social environment, genes and mental health all play a part in addiction. There is an increased risk of vulnerability if there is a family history of drug abuse. Traumatic childhood experiences, abuse and neglect may make individuals susceptible, as do mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Taking drugs at an early age and the methods used to administer them may increase addictive potential.

The Effects

Each drug can produce a different effect on the brain. All drugs however, have the same thing in common: by using them repeatedly they can alter brain function. Recreational drugs can cause pleasurable feelings in the brain due to a rise in dopamine levels. The brain registers these feelings then wants them repeated. As they are repeated, the substance becomes as important to the brain as the basic requirements for existence such as eating and drinking. Brain changes then inhibit the ability to control behaviour and think clearly. Cravings grow stronger and become more important than family, work and even personal health. These cravings can completely take over the ability to think rationally to the point where an addict will be oblivious to the impact drugs are having on his or her life.

Very few addicts are able to recognize when they cross the fine line between regular drug use and full-blown addiction. Using drugs can gradually increase over time and if they fulfil a need, like creating calmness or increasing self-confidence, an individual may become increasingly reliant on them. The ability to stop using them becomes increasingly impaired as what was originally a deliberate choice turns into a physical and emotional need.

With support and treatment it is possible to overcome the disruptive effects of drug abuse. By understanding how drugs can take a hold. The first steps to recovery can be made.

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