Defined simply, drug abuse is the general term used to describe the excessive
and habitual use of some kind of substance, such as alcohol, marijuana or
cocaine. These drugs typically lead to impaired judgement, loss of physical and
emotional control and renders the person into a state of intoxication. Drug
abuse is also known as Substance Abuse and is considered to be a medical problem
that develops over time after prolonged use of drugs because they are harmful to
Previously, drug abuse generally referred to the abuse of illegal or hard to
obtain drugs. But over the years, legal drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol and
tobacco have become the leading causes of drug abuse.
When someone is an addict, the dependence on the drug is psychological and
physical. It is an illness than is not within the control of the individual.
Whereas when someone is abusing drugs, it's a habit that they continue even
though their actions begin to negatively impact their lives and their ability to
function normally. Drug addiction or dependency often begins with drug abuse. It
is possible and likely that continued drug abuse will eventually evolve and
develop into an addiction, especially if the abuse begins at a young age.
Types of Drug abuse:
There are many different classes of drugs, all of which can pose danger to those
who choose to abuse substances within those classes. The continued abuse of any
addictive substances can lead to problems such as unemployment, family turmoil,
physical complications, and psychiatric problems. The sooner that an individual
ends his or her drug abuse, the more likely he or she is to have a chance at a
All drugs are not created equal. In fact, some drugs have the potential to be
deadlier than others based on how they are developed, what they contain, and how
potent they are.
Some of the most common types of drug abuse include the following:
Stimulant Abuse: Stimulants are substances that cause physical and psychological functions to
speed up. Individuals that abuse stimulants tend to experience a major boost
in energy, euphoria, and a powerful sense of grandiosity. And while some
stimulant substances can be effective for individuals battling certain
mental health issues, several stimulants offer no medical or psychiatric
benefit. The most commonly abused stimulants include amphetamines.
Cocaine Abuse: Cocaine is a street drug that has been and continues to be extremely popular
throughout the United States. This substance, which is a derivative of the
coca plant, comes in white powder form and is usually snorted. Someone
abusing cocaine will experience an energetic, euphoric high for about 20
minutes before it wears off. As a result, most cocaine users abuse this
substance back-to-back to maintain that high. Unfortunately, using cocaine
this frequently quickly leads to dependence and potential overdose.
Adderall Abuse: By far the most popular prescription stimulant, Adderall is used for the
treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. When taken as
prescribed, Adderall can increase focus and attention. However, when it is
abused, Adderall triggers a boost of energy and hyper focus, which can last
hours. Abusing this prescription drug excessively can lead to cardiac
complications up to and including heart attack.
Meth Abuse Known on the streets as trash or garbage, meth is an extremely toxic
stimulant that has a pseudoephedrine base, which is the primary ingredient
that triggers stimulant effects. Meth also contains deadly elements such as
paint thinner, hydrochloric acid, and battery fluid, to name a few.
Individuals abusing meth will experience intense euphoric highs and equally
as depressed lows. The up and down process of going from euphoric to
depressed can be extreme and lead to severe psychological problems that have
the potential to be permanent.
Opioid Abuse: Today, the opioid epidemic rages on and more and more people are becoming
dependent on their opioid or opioids of choice. Opioids can be naturally
occurring (such as heroin and codeine) or synthetic (such as fentanyl and
OxyContin) but are all equally as addictive. Continual opioid abuse can
result in vital organ damage or failure, respiratory problems, and overdose.
Heroin Abuse: Today, heroin is the kingpin of opioids, with nearly one million people in
the U.S. abusing it. When heroin is abused, individuals obtain a pleasurable
high that reduces or eliminates their physical and/or psychological
distress. Countless heroin users were once prescription painkiller users,
however, found that heroin was easier to obtain and more affordable. Heroin
is usually smoked or injected. Those who inject this opioid can suffer from
collapsed veins and an increased risk for contracting blood borne diseases
like HIV and hepatitis.
Prescription Painkillers: OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, and fentanyl are some of the most commonly
abused prescription painkillers. When taken as prescribed, each one of these
painkillers can pose a significant medical benefit, however when abused,
they can be deadly. Prescription painkiller users tend to partake in
behaviors such as doctor shopping, stealing prescription drugs from loved
ones’ homes, and obtaining pills on the street. These medications can be
smoked, snorted, swallowed, or injected. Since these opioids are
semi-synthetic, it is impossible to know what exact substances are in these
drugs, making them extremely risky to continue to abuse.
Sedative Abuse: Sedatives such as benzodiazepines are primarily used to treat anxiety
disorders such as panic attacks, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Benzodiazepines are highly effective in reducing anxiety and can also aid in
helping individuals who suffer from sleep problems or seizures. However,
they are very popular substances of abuse due to the feelings of detachment
and relaxation that they produce.
Xanax, Ativan, and Valium: Xanax, Ativan, and Valium are benzodiazepines that work to calm the mind and
body. When an individual consumes one or more of these benzodiazepines, he
or she will become almost instantly relaxed. Unfortunately, when
benzodiazepines like these are abused, individuals are at risk for
experiencing excessive sleepiness, drowsiness, and respiratory depression.
When an individual becomes physically and psychologically dependent on one
of these prescription drugs and attempts to stop using suddenly, he or she
can suffer from deadly withdrawal symptoms, including grand mal seizures.
Hallucinogens: Hallucinogens have long been part of club culture as substances that can
enhance one’s experiences. While there are countless physical dangers of
abusing hallucinations, one of the most pressing areas of concern is that
someone who is under the influence of a hallucinogen can behave in a manner
that is possibly dangerous or even deadly.
Ecstasy Abuse: When ecstasy is abused, individuals experience delusions and hallucinations
that can be both visual and auditory. Those who are under the influence
explain being on ecstasy as being in a state of complete euphoria. But when
this drug is abused, several negative effects can occur, including
dehydration that can be life-threatening.
Pattern of drug abuse:
Alongwith the type of drug abuse, the pattern of drug abuse is equally relevant
to know whether or not a person is addicted to drug abuse.
The patterns of drug abuse are as follows:
Hard drug use: Hard drugs, such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, tend to be the
most dangerous, both in terms of their effects on health and behavior as
well as the risk of addiction. While some individuals use these drugs
recreationally, addiction can set in after just one use, setting into motion
a rapid downward spiral. Once a person has escalated to the use of hard
drugs, they often engage in high-risk behavior, isolate themselves from
friends and family, and live outside society.
Frequent drug use: By itself, frequency of drug use is not the most accurate way to determine
whether someone is addicted. However, frequent drug use can be an indicator
of tolerance (needing more of a drug to get the same high) and dependence.
There is also a good chance that someone who uses drugs or alcohol regularly
will continue using and have difficulty quitting.
Early drug use: People who begin using drugs in early adolescence are highly vulnerable to
drug problems in adulthood. One study found that people who started drinking
before age 15 were more likely to become addicted to alcohol as adults than
people who refrained from drinking until they were 18 or older. The earlier
a child uses drugs, the earlier they become addicted. Since their brains and
bodies are still developing during that time, the short- and long-term
consequences may be particularly severe.
Solitary drug use: Using drugs alone has been linked to addiction and other problems later in
life. Teens who use marijuana and other drugs while alone are more likely to
have drug problems as young adults, are less likely to graduate from college
and are more likely to report poor physical health by age 23 than social
drug users. Solitary users also earned lower grades and engaged in violent
or delinquent behavior more often.
Escapist drug use: The reasons why someone uses drugs or alcohol can be as problematic as
where, when or how. If a person uses drugs to cope with stress, build
self-esteem or medicate an underlying mental health disorder such as
depression or anxiety, they are at higher risk of eventually becoming
addicted. Research has also shown that the risk of drug use increases
significantly when teens use substances to deal with stress or boredom.
Thus the study of types and patterns of drug abuse is important to determine
the ill effects and addiction of a drug abuser. It also helps to understand the
psychology of drug abuser thereby understanding the pattern of his drug abuse
which will in turn facilitate the rehabilitation of the drug abuser. Depending
on the pattern and type of drug abuse, the addict is to be treated as a patient
rather than a criminal and adequate treatment should be given to him to get rid
of his addiction thereby saving his life from the evil of drugs.