Drugs of all kinds can be dangerous and deadly when they are chronically abused and misused. Drug abuse is not the same as drug addiction, and differs only the lack of dependence in drug abuse.
What Is Drug Abuse?
Drug abuse is the misuse of any over-the-counter or prescription drug, or the use of any illicit drug. Illicit drugs include:
- Club Drugs
Legal and prescription drugs that are commonly abused include such drugs as:
- Dextromethorphan (DXM)
When abuse takes place with these types of drugs, there are a number of ways in which an individual may engage in misuse. Most commonly, these drugs are misused in the following ways:
- Taking more of the drug than medically justified
- Using the drug in any way for non-medical reasons
- Using the drug with the specific intent of experiencing a high or altered state of existence
- Administering the drug in ways in which it is not intended to be used (i.e. crushing and snorting or injecting pills, use with other drugs that are known to produce problematic effects)
Signs Of Drug Abuse
Drug abuse is very common, and especially with prescription drugs, it is among the most dangerous behaviors plaguing modern society. According to the National Institute On Drug Abuse, prescription drug abuse statistics for 2010 showed that:
- 7% of 12-17 year olds used prescription drugs non-medically
- 13% of 18-25 year olds used prescription drugs non-medically
- 4% of individuals aged 26 or older used prescription drugs non-medically
Additionally, The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that over 3,000 young adults died from prescription drug overdoses in 2010, and these were mostly painkiller related.
Some of the most common signs of drug abuse are very similar to those of drug addiction, and include such things as:
- Continued drug abuse despite repeated negative consequences as a result of drug abuse
- Damaged and/or broken relationships as a result of drug abuse
- Drug-related legal troubles, such as DUIs, illegal possession, and/r or public intoxication
- Decreased performance at work, school, and/or problems at home
- Change in personal appearance and/or hygiene
- Financial difficulties, and/or money gone with no explanation of where it went
One of the most dangerous things about drug abuse is the fact that there is a thin line that differentiates abuse from addiction, and it most commonly leads to addiction if changes are not made to cease drug abuse. Contrary to drug abuse, drug addiction requires an actual dependence on the drug of abuse, which can be psychological and/or physical, depending on the drug and its effects.
When an individual engages in drug abuse, there is no medical justification for their use, even if initial purpose of a drug was for legitimate medical reason. This shift from medical to non-medical use of drugs is most common in painkillers, as they are extremely addictive, and many people erroneously believe that they are safer than illicit drugs because doctors prescribe them.
Is Drug Abuse As Dangerous As Drug Addiction?
Drug abuse is as dangerous as drug addiction because despite the lack of dependence, drug abuse and addiction have many behaviors and effects in common, all of which are extremely risky and potentially lethal. Some examples of the similarities between drug abuse and drug addiction are outlined in the following table.
|Misuse or non-medical use of drug(s)||✔||✔|
|Repeated use despite negative consequences resulting from drug abuse||✔||✔|
|Engaging in risky and/or illegal behaviors to obtain and use drug(s)||✔||✔|
|Change in personal appearance and hygiene||✔||✔|
|Increased secrecy and absences from events and gatherings||✔||✔|
|Change in friends and associates to those who use drugs and/or have questionable reputations||✔||✔|
|Becoming angry or irate when confronted bout drug use||✔||✔|
|Discovery of drug abuse paraphernalia (i.e. needles, spoons, paper rolled up to form tubes, baggies, aluminum foil, leftover powder from crushed pills)||✔||✔|
|Withdrawal symptoms when not using drugs||–||✔|
|Seeking ways in which to use drugs for the specific purpose of obtaining a high from said substances||✔||✔|
With exception to a lack of withdrawal symptoms, which is inherent to dependence, drug abuse involves the same behaviors, effects, and consequences as addiction. Individuals who engage in drug abuse are at an increased risk of overdose, arrest, and a wide array of precarious situations that may lead to danger, and even death.
Drug Abuse Needs Drug Rehabilitation
Because drug abuse is dangerous and most often leads to addiction when it is not addressed immediately, it is important to ensure that an individual who engages in drug abuse get help to remain sober and not fall into addiction in the future. Like addicts, drug abusers are in pursuit of intoxicating effects from a drug or multiple drugs. The fact that dependence has not yet developed only effects the need for detoxification, but has no bearing on the need to address the destructive and compulsive behaviors associated with drug abuse.
As with most addicts, those who abuse drugs typically have some kind of trauma or underlying issue from which they are trying to escape or cope. The primary goal of drug rehabilitation is to help individuals understand what may have taken place in life that may have contributed to their drug use and addictive behaviors. Additionally, drug rehab helps individuals to learn coping and survival skills without the use of drugs, and this knowledge is vital to ensure the prevention of addiction in the future.
If you, or someone you love is abusing drugs of any kind, please don’t ignore the signs and don’t discount the dangers of drug abuse. Psychological and physical dependence are not what make addiction deadly, it is the behaviors associated with both drug addiction and abuse that are dangerous and claim thousands of lives every year.
Please call us now at 1 (866) 445-4137 to speak with one of our trained counselors about your situation and concerns. We will work with you to help assess the situation, and determine the proper and most effective level and form of rehabilitation to change the behaviors that drive drug abuse and lead to addiction. There are thousands of drug abuse and addiction treatment programs, centers, and services, and we can help you to sift through them and find the type of assistance that is best for yourself, or your addicted loved one. Call us now, and let us help you, or your addicted loved one return to a life free from drug abuse, and without the threat of impending death.