Drug dependence means that a person needs a drug to function normally. Abruptly stopping the drug leads to withdrawal symptoms. Drug addiction is the compulsive use of a substance, despite its negative or dangerous effects.
A person may have a physical dependence on a substance without having an addiction. For example, certain blood pressure medications do not cause addiction but they can cause physical dependence. Other drugs, such as cocaine, cause addiction without leading to physical dependence.
Tolerance to a drug (needing a higher dose to attain the same effect) is usually part of addiction.
Drug abuse can lead to drug dependence or addiction. People who use drugs for pain relief may become dependent, although this is rare in those who don’t have a history of addiction.
People who are more likely to abuse or become dependent on drugs include those who:
- Have depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia
- Have easy access to drugs
- Have low self-esteem, or problems with relationships
- Live a stressful lifestyle, economic or emotional
- Live in a culture where there is a high social acceptance of drug use
Commonly abused substances include:
- Opiates and narcotics are powerful painkillers that cause drowsiness (sedation) and sometimes feelings of euphoria. These include heroin, opium, codeine, meperidine (Demerol), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and oxycodone (Oxycontin).
- Central nervous system (CNS) stimulants include amphetamines, cocaine, dextroamphetamine, methamphetamine, and methylphenidate (Ritalin). These drugs have a stimulating effect, and people can start needing higher amounts of these drugs to feel the same effect (tolerance).
- Central nervous system depressants include alcohol, barbiturates (amobarbital, pentobarbital, secobarbital), benzodiazepines (Valium, Ativan, Xanax), chloral hydrate, and paraldehyde. These substances produce a sedative and anxiety-reducing effect, which can lead to dependence.
- Hallucinogens include LSD, mescaline, psilocybin (“mushrooms”), and phencyclidine (PCP or “angel dust”). They can cause people to see things that aren’t there (hallucinations) and can lead to psychological dependence.
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active ingredient found in marijuana (cannabis) and hashish.
If your teen’s problems have gone beyond the norm, such as drug abuse or severe depression, our wellness center offers comprehensive services that can help.