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Symptoms and Signs of Drug Dependence and Abuse

Doctor's Notes on Drug Dependence and Abuse

Drug abuse (substance abuse) is an intense desire to use increasing amounts of a particular substance, or to take illegal drugs or to misuse legal substances such as alcohol or prescription medications. Drug dependence (addiction) is the body's physical need to have a specific drug. Over time, dependence results in physical harm, behavior problems, and association with people who also abuse drugs. Stopping the use of the drug can result in withdrawal symptoms.

Symptoms of drug dependence and abuse depend on the substances being abused. Symptoms of drug dependence and abuse may include changes in the level of consciousness, a decrease in responsiveness, bizarre behavior, agitation anger, anxiety, sleep problems, hallucinations, sleepiness, confusion, skin is cool and sweaty or hot and dry, chest pain, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Serious symptoms of drug dependence and abuse include coma, abnormal vital signs (temperature, pulse rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure), vomiting blood, blood in bowel movements, and a person may stop breathing, which can cause death. Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the drug but can be life threatening.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Opioid Dependence : Test Your IQ of Opioid Misuse Disorder Quiz

Opioid Dependence Quiz

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.