Drug Addiction Overview

Drug Addiction Overview
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You may be hooked emotionally and psychologically. You may have a physical dependence, too. If you have a drug addiction -- whether to a legal or illegal drug -- you have intense cravings for it. You want to use the drug again and again. When you stop taking it, you may have unpleasant physical reactions.

While not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted, many people do. Drug addiction involves compulsively seeking to use a substance, regardless of the potentially negative social, psychological and physical consequences. Certain drugs, such as narcotics and cocaine, are more likely to cause physical dependence than are other drugs. Breaking a drug addiction is difficult, but not impossible. Support from your doctor, family, friends and others who have a drug addiction, as well as inpatient or outpatient drug addiction treatment, may help you beat your drug dependence.

Signs and symptoms

The range of drugs to which you can become addicted is wide. The drugs include:

  • Cannabis compounds. These compounds are found in marijuana and hashish.
  • Central nervous system depressants. Barbiturates and benzodiazepines are examples of central nervous system depressants. Phenobarbital, amobarbital (Amytal) and secobarbital (Seconal) are examples of barbiturates. Benzodiazepines include tranquilizers such as diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), oxazepam (Serax), lorazepam (Ativan), clonazepam (Klonopin) and chlordiazepoxide (Librium).
  • Central nervous system stimulants. This class of drugs includes amphetamines, methamphetamine, cocaine and methylphenidate (Ritalin).
  • Designer drugs. Synthetic compounds, such as Ecstasy, which has both amphetamine-like and hallucinogenic effects, are included in this category.
  • Hallucinogens. LSD, phencyclidine (PCP) and ketamine (special K) are examples of hallucinogens.
  • Inhalants. Glue, paint, solvents and nitrous oxide can all be used as inhalant drugs.
  • Opioids. Opioids are narcotic, painkilling drugs produced naturally from opium or made synthetically. This class of drugs includes heroin, morphine, codeine, methadone and oxycodone (Oxycontin).

General signs and symptoms

Addiction to any drug may include these general characteristics:

  • Feeling that you need the drug regularly and, in some cases, many times a day.
  • Making certain that you maintain a supply of the drug.
  • Failing repeatedly in your attempts to stop using the drug.
  • Doing things to obtain the drug that you normally wouldn''t do, such as stealing.
  • Feeling that you need the drug to deal with your problems.
  • Driving or doing other activities that place you and others at risk of physical harm when you''re under the influence of the drug The particular signs and symptoms of drug use and dependence vary depending on the type of drug.

Cannabis compounds: Signs and symptoms

  • A sense of relaxation and happiness.