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The definition of drug abuse continues to change because the term is subjective and infused with the political and moral values of the society or culture one lives in. An example of this is the drug caffeine. It is physically addicting but is not considered an abused drug because it does not generally trigger antisocial behavior in users. Despite the definition, drug abuse generally leads down a path to drug addiction. However, not every person who abuses drugs becomes an addict.
Drug abuse can be defined as compulsive, excessive, and self-damaging use of habit forming drugs or substances. Drug abuse may lead to addiction or dependence, serious physiological injury (such as damage to kidneys, liver, heart) and/or psychological harm (such as dysfunctional behavior patterns, hallucinations, memory loss), or death. Drug abuse is also called substance abuse.
Drug abuse affects people of all income levels, ages, and stations in life. Quite often the last person to see that there is a problem is the drug abuser. For those who have never been addicted to anything, drug abuse can be a confusing subject. It seems counter-intuitive that someone would persist in drug and alcohol abuse when it causes so many negative consequences in that person's life. The key to understanding substance abuse is realizing what triggers it and why it persists.
Most people begin using drugs and or alcohol as a way to temporarily escape a problem of some kind. Using the substance makes them feel better at the time and they come to associate those good feelings with the substance. Over time, when they want to feel better, they will use this same substance. The drugs or alcohol become valuable to them as a means of feeling good. As a result of the physiologically addictive affects of drugs and alcohol, the person will lose control with continued use. Chemical dependency is the result.
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