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Drug Addiction

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Drug addiction is a disease characterised by a damaging pattern that leads to further problems that relate to tolerance to and/ or withdrawal from the substance. The most commonly abused drugs that lead to drug addiction are cannabis (marijuana), cocaine, inhalants such as household cleaners, hallucinogens, amphetamines, anabolic steroids, ecstasy, and even prescription drugs. Each drug will produce different effects on the brain, but with drug addiction, an individual may not feel normal without the presence of drugs in his/ her system. Drug addiction is also called substance dependency or chemical dependency.

It is estimated that more than 2.6% of people will suffer from a drug addiction at some point in their lives, although it is not possible to accurately account for all the drug addicts in the country, more so in the world. What is certain is that there is a gradual, constant increase in individuals with drug addiction in the last few years. It has become increasingly common in society.

Risk Factors for Drug Addiction

There is no single cause that would result to drug addiction. It is not passed from one generation to the ne, however, it is observed that substance-abuse disorders are higher within some families, which can be possibly attributed to the addictive environment in the family. The following are some of the common risk factors that may predispose a person to drug addiction:

  • Being close to someone who has a history of drug abuse or drug addiction
  • Teenagers under peer pressure
  • Having mood disorders (such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder), thought disorders (such as schizophrenia), and personality disorders (antisocial personality disorder)
  • Gender: males are more likely to be addicted to drugs as compared to women

Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction

                The constant need for drugs to function is the foremost symptom of drug addiction. The other signs and symptoms of drug addiction include:

  • Increased drug tolerance
  • When alcohol is taken away, withdrawal symptoms manifest such as,
    • Depression
    • Restlessness
    • Insomnia
    • Sweating and shaking
    • Nausea
  • Using drugs more often than planned
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about drugs (e.g. where and how to get them, recuperating from drug’s effects)
  • Abandoning of activities once enjoyed because of drug use
  • Aware of the problems caused by drug addiction but continues to use them nonetheless

Treatment for Drug Addiction

The goal of treatment for drug addiction is to completely stop drug use and avoid relapsing. This may be very difficult for individuals who have become very dependent on drugs for everyday functioning. Treatment for drug addiction usually includes:

  • Group therapy
  • Counselling
  • Drug education
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • If a loved one is suspected of drug addiction, express your concern and explain that you are willing to help. If there is no negative reaction, suggest joining a Narcotics Anonymous program.

Although it is possible to quit on your own, it will require great determination and a tremendous amount of support from family and friends. The best way to avoid a drug addiction is to not even try it in the first place. Disclaimer: This article should not be used for self-diagnosis and should be used for information purposes only. It does not provide medical advice or treatment. Red Cross programs offer First Aid Courses that are made available to all to learn proper approach and support to individuals with drug addiction problems.


Drug Abuse. (2014). National Institutes of Health: National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved September 29, 2013, from

Robinson, Lawrence, Smith, Melinda and Saisan, Joanna. (2013). Drug Abuse and Addiction. Retrieved September 29, 2013, from

Stopper, Melissa C. (2012). Drug Abuse and Addiction. WebMD. Retrieved September 29, 2013 from

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