Drug Abuse

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Frequently asked questions

What defines drug abuse?

Drug abuse is the excessive, maladaptive, or addictive use of drugs for nonmedical purposes despite social, psychological, and physical problems that may arise from such use.

What it’s like to be addicted to drugs?

Being addicted to drugs involves losing control of your thoughts and behaviour.

You spend a lot of time thinking about the drug: how to obtain more when you'll use it, how wonderful or horrible it makes you feel. You have a hard time setting boundaries for yourself. You may say you'll only use "so much," but then find yourself unable to stop and use twice as much.

What does it mean to be psychologically addicted to a drug?

The term psychological dependence is generally meant to describe the emotional and mental processes that are associated with the development of, and recovery from, a substance use disorder or process addiction.

What are the effects of drug abuse?

Side effects of drug addiction may include:

  • Nausea and abdominal pain, which can also lead to changes in appetite and weight loss.
  • Increased strain on the liver, which puts the person at risk of significant liver damage or liver failure. 
  • Seizures, stroke, mental confusion and brain damage.
  • Lung disease.

How can drugs be abused?

When you use legal or illicit substances in ways you shouldn't, you're engaging in drug abuse. You could take more pills than prescribed or use someone else's prescription. You may use drugs to make you feel better, relieve stress, or escape reality. However, you might be able to adjust your bad habits or stop using them completely, with professional help. Call us on 0800 999 1083 for confidential help and to discuss treatment options.  

What are the main causes of drug abuse?

Adverse childhood experiences like emotional, physical, or sexual abuse increase your chance of becoming addicted to drugs.

 Another factor is peer pressure. Peer and friend pressure is a significant risk factor for drug addiction, particularly for young people who are on the verge of starting to take drugs. 

A lack of family involvement or support can also put you at risk of developing a drug addiction.


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