Drug abuse is a very severe desire to get and use more and more substances which may include drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol.
Drug abuse is different from drug dependence or drug addiction because drug dependence suggests that the individual has a physical or psychological need to use the drug to carry out basic functions and will experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug is discontinued which doesn’t occur with drug abuse.
Drug abuse tends to run in families and individuals with a history of mental health challenges who come from dysfunctional families, whose friends use drugs, who achieve poorly in school, and whose parents are active drug abusers suffering from untreated mental illness are at greater risk for becoming drug abusers.
Symptoms widely depend on the kind of drug the individual abuses.
General symptoms that might occur are constant sniffles or runny nose, changes in sleeping patterns, sudden mood swings, loss of interest in regular social activities, sudden weight gain or weight loss, slurred speech, impaired coordination, lack of proper self-care, poor hygiene, neglecting personal responsibilities, drug use is causing legal difficulties, problems at work or at school, and relationship problems.
There are so many causes of drug abuse that it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause in specific patients. In general, there are a number of mental health conditions that are known to lead patients to drug abuse. There are also genetic histories that strongly suggest a genetic predisposition in some patients. A child with parents who abuse drugs is more likely to become a drug abuser, but many of these children do not. That makes the genetic component unclear. In some cases, experimentation with drugs in adolescence can lead to drug addiction and abuse later.
Underlying mental illnesses are thought to cause many people to self-medicate with drugs. They may also use drugs to cope with a trauma or to get attention from others. Many people who abuse drugs suffer from depression and seek out drugs as a way to elevate their moods. For young people who abuse drugs, an unstable home environment is a major risk factor. It can also result from poor parenting, an overly permissive attitude and peer pressure from friends who use drugs. Availability may also be a factor. For those who see others using drugs regularly, that can tempt others to try drugs and to begin to abuse them.
Effective drug abuse treatment involves detoxification which is the process of eliminating the drug from the body, therapy and medication for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc., and long-term follow-up.
The goal of treatment should be to help the drug abuser stop using drugs completely and improve their mental health for better relationships within society, at work, and at home.
The only way to prevent drug abuse completely is to never take illegal drugs. Drug education should begin in early childhood with parents and teachers educating children about the danger of illegal drugs. Education about the highly addictive nature of so many drugs can keep many people from trying them in the first place and becoming addicted. For those who have mental health conditions such as depression, getting treatment for that condition before it leads to self-medication is key. Keep lines of communication open so that adolescents and young adults don’t use drugs to get attention. With open communication, parents can find out about any drug use among peers and the peer pressure the child is experiencing.