Drug Abuse and Dependence (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Most of the time, drug abuse starts with casual use. People don't use drugs because they want to be addicted. Drugs can make you feel good for a while. They may make you feel energetic, self-confident, and powerful. You may take a drug to reduce stress or anxiety or to help you forget a problem.
Drug use changes your brain and how it works. If you continue to use drugs, you may develop strong cravings for them, and it may get harder to say "no" to further use. At the same time, you may begin to lose interest in activities you always enjoyed. This is because you may feel that they are not as enjoyable as using drugs. You may then become dependent.
Not everyone who uses drugs abuses them or becomes dependent. Other things that influence whether this happens include your genes, family, friends, and life situations. For more information, see What Happens and What Increases Your Risk.
When drug use, abuse, and dependence occur, you are more likely to have changes in your behavior than to have physical symptoms.
Changes in behavior
These signs don't always mean a person is using drugs. The behavior could be because of work or school stress, or it could be a sign of depression or another medical problem. But behavior changes like these are common in people who abuse drugs.
If you think you or a loved one might have a drug problem, use this short quiz to check your drug use:
Physical signs of drug abuse or dependence
Symptoms in older adults
Drug abuse in older adults may go unnoticed, since the signs may be similar to those of aging. Older adults often take more medicines, such as sleep medicines and painkillers, that can lead to dependence.
Symptoms of withdrawal
When you are dependent on a drug and you stop using it, you may have physical symptoms known as withdrawal. These symptoms differ for each drug. They can include feeling sick to your stomach, vomiting, having belly pain, sweats, nervousness and shaking, and seizures.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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