Drug Abuse (cont.)

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What are the physical and psychological effects of drug abuse and addiction?

While the specific physical and psychological effects of drug abuse and addiction tend to vary based on the particular substance involved, the general effects of abuse or addiction to any drug can be devastating. Psychologically, intoxication with or withdrawal from a substance can cause everything from euphoria as with alcohol, Ecstasy, or inhalant intoxication, to paranoia with marijuana or steroid intoxication, to severe depression or suicidal thoughts with cocaine or amphetamine withdrawal. In terms of effects on the body, intoxication with a substance can cause physical effects that range from marked sleepiness and slowed breathing as with intoxication with heroin or sedative hypnotic drugs, to the rapid heart rate of cocaine intoxication, or the tremors to seizures of alcohol withdrawal.

What are causes and risk factors for drug abuse and addiction?

Like the majority of other mental-health problems, drug abuse and addiction have no single cause. However, there are a number of biological, psychological, and social factors, called risk factors, that can increase a person's likelihood of developing a chemical-abuse or chemical-dependency disorder. The frequency to which substance-abuse disorders occur within some families seems to be higher than could be explained by an addictive environment of the family. Therefore, most substance-abuse professionals recognize a genetic aspect to the risk of drug addiction.

Psychological associations with substance abuse or addiction include mood disorders like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, thought disorders like schizophrenia, as well as personality disorders like antisocial personality disorder. Social risk factors for drug abuse and addiction include male gender, being between 18 and 44 years of age, Native-American heritage, unmarried marital status, and lower socioeconomic status. According to statistics by state, people residing in the West tend to be at higher risk for chemical abuse or dependency. While men are more at risk for developing a chemical dependency like alcoholism, women seem to be more vulnerable to becoming addicted to alcohol at much lower amounts of alcohol consumption.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/10/2014

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