Drug abuse is the use of certain chemicals to create pleasurable effects on the brain, and the effect is usually called a ‘high’ or euphoria. Drug abuse is medically termed substance use disorder which also refers to addiction. An individual who abuses a substance (drug) often experiences significant problems or discomfort due to their drug-using behavior. This may include getting fired or missing work or school, driving under the influence, and using drugs in dangerous situations.
In addition, substance abuse may cause someone to get arrested and interfere with family and friendships. Many types of substances constitute drugs of abuse, but alcohol is the most commonly abused legal substance.
Categorizing Drugs of Abuse
Even though the most well-known drugs of abuse are usually illegal, such as heroin or cocaine, there are also many legal drugs that get abused and cause addiction. Prescription drugs, especially opioid pain killers, are as much if not more of a concern as illegal drugs. Still, regardless of whether or not a drug is legal, the medical community has categorized drugs into three groups, they include:
What Are Depressants?
Biologically, a depressant is any substance that depresses the body’s central nervous system. Many depressants are explicitly designed to treat disorders like anxiety and insomnia. Other depressants can be used for recreational purposes. The most well-known depressant type of substance is alcohol. Other abused depressants include opioids (heroin, prescription pain killers, and fentanyl), benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin), and barbiturates are sleep medications and muscle relaxers. Depressant types of drugs cause relaxation and lower anxiety. Today the trend is to combine multiple depressant drugs to get a more intense effect.
Combining depressants can also directly or indirectly increase your risk of damage to the brain and other organs, overdose, death. (CDC)
Examples of Stimulants
Stimulant types of drugs affect the central nervous system in the opposite way as depressants. Stimulants excite the CNS and cause a person to feel awake and hyper. There are legal and illegal types of stimulants that people abuse. The most well-known illegal stimulants include cocaine, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine. Legal stimulants include prescription stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin. In addition, caffeine is considered a drug and is also a stimulant. Other drugs that have stimulant effects include ecstasy and molly. Multiple stimulants like depressants are often consumed together for a greater effect or mixed with alcohol and other depressants to level off the excitation or to ‘come down,’ in other words.
What Is a Hallucinogen?
Interestingly there are many more hallucinogens that people can abuse versus other drug categories. Hallucinogens can also cause mental health trauma and disorders. The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes what hallucinogens are and why they are dangerous.
Hallucinogens are a diverse group of drugs that alter a person’s awareness of their surroundings as well as their thoughts and feelings. They are commonly split into classic hallucinogens (such as LSD) and dissociative drugs (such as PCP). Both types of hallucinogens can cause hallucinations or sensations and images that seem real though they are not. Additionally, dissociative drugs can cause users to feel out of control or disconnected from their body and environment. (NIDA)
What Are The Main Causes of Drug Abuse?
The underlying cause of why a person will abuse drugs stems from four situations. First, most people who have experienced trauma, abuse (physical or sexual), or neglect often turn to drugs to self-medicate. The next cause is environmental exposure to drugs in the home or if the parent or caretakers used drugs. The third is whether or not the person has an undiagnosed emotional or mental health disorder. The last cause of drug abuse is similar to environmental exposure, peer pressure. The ultimate reason a person will abuse drugs is to change how they feel and improve how they perceive the world around them.
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