Drug abuse is an intense desire to obtain increasing amounts of a particular substance or substances to the exclusion of all other activities.
Drug dependence is the body's physical need, or addiction, to a specific agent. Over the long term, this dependence results in physical harm, behaviour problems, and association with people who also abuse drugs. Stopping the use of the drug can result in a specific withdrawal syndrome.
Substances can be taken into the body in several ways:
Alcohol is of course the most commonly used and widely abused drug in the world. Types of alcohol include beer, wine, and spirits.
The effects of alcohol are dependent on a variety of factors, including a person's size, weight, age, and sex, as well as the amount of food and alcohol consumed.
An amphetamine, in tablet and pill form, is a stimulant to the central nervous system. They are inhaled, injected, or swallowed.
Cocaine is a drug extracted from the leaves of the coca plant. It is a potent brain stimulant and one of the most powerfully addictive drugs available. Cocaine can be snorted into the nostrils or dissolved in water and injected or smoked.
Heroin is a highly addictive drug derived from morphine, which is obtained from the opium poppy. It is a white to dark brown powder or tar-like substance. Heroin can be injected into a vein, injected into a muscle, smoked in a water pipe or standard pipe, mixed in a marijuana joint or regular cigarette, inhaled as smoke through a straw or snorted as powder via the nose.
Long-term effects of heroin appear after repeated use for some period of time. Chronic users may develop
With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity or effect. As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped. Withdrawal, which can occur as early as a few hours after the last administration, produces restlessness, muscle and bone pain, inability to sleep, diarrhea and vomiting, feeling cold, kicking movements and other symptoms. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health can lead to death.
Marijuana is a green or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa). Most users roll loose marijuana into a cigarette called a "joint". It can be smoked or mixed into food or brewed as tea.
Marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations. Studies show that someone who smokes five joints per week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day.
Inhalants are ordinary household products that are inhaled or sniffed by children to get high. There are hundreds of household products on the market today that can be misused as inhalants. Examples of products used are:
These products are sniffed, snorted or inhaled from a plastic bag. Inhalants are also sniffed directly from the container.
Sniffing highly concentrated amounts of the chemicals can directly cause death
Deliberately inhaling from an attached paper or plastic bag or in a closed area greatly increases the chances of suffocation.
The key to treatment is stopping the abuse of the drugs or substances.
Agitated or violent people need physical restraint and may need sedating medications in the emergency department until the effects of the drugs wear off. This can be disturbing for the person to experience and for family members to witness. Medical professionals go to great lengths to use as little force and as few medications as possible. It is important to remember that whatever the medical staff does, it is to protect the person.
Withdrawal from some drugs can cause a lot of problems, and stopping these drugs should only be done under the supervision of a doctor. Withdrawal from other agents, such as narcotics, is uncomfortable but generally not harmful, and the doctor will give medicine to reduce the side effects.
Counselling programs may be suggested. These programs are helpful to some people.