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Drug Dependence & Abuse (cont.)

Drug Dependence & Abuse Causes

While there is no single cause for substance abuse, people abuse drugs for a number of different reasons.

  • The most common reason why people abuse drugs is to "get high." Adolescents and preadolescents can become involved in experimentation with drugs. However, only a small percentage of people who experiment with drugs become drug abusers. The desire to get high may be from an underlying psychological disease such as depression. Other risk factors for drug use also include the pressures of coping with school, work, or family tensions.
  • Drug abuse by pregnant women results in the developing fetus (baby) being exposed to these same drugs. The baby may develop birth defects. The baby may be born with an addiction and go into withdrawal. The baby may be born with a disease associated with drug abuse such as HIV/AIDS.
  • People with current or a history of specific medical conditions, such as chronic pain from cancer, can become dependent on certain drugs. Many psychiatric diseases can be complicated by substance abuse. Similarly, drug abuse may be a sign of a more serious mental health problem. Individuals who fit the diagnostic criteria for both a substance abuse and another mental health disorder are often referred to as having a dual diagnosis.
  • Athletes have abused a variety of agents, such as steroids, to enhance muscle mass or improve athletic ability. Athletes have also abused amphetamines to make them feel more powerful and to mask pain so they can continue to play even with injuries. Drug testing programs have reduced this problem to some extent, but drug use among athletes is still an issue worldwide.

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