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Warning Signs of Drug Abuse

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Drug abuse continues to be a major concern in the United States. According to the report by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2013:

  • Half of all Americans regularly drink alcohol with about 25% binge-drinking in the last month and heavy drinking reported by 16.5 million people over the age of 12.
  • More than 24.5 million people used an illicit drug in the last month, which is about 1 out of every 10 people.
  • Almost 5% of adults between 18 and 25 years old used prescription drugs in ways other than prescribed.

Knowing the warning signs of abuse creates a better opportunity to address the problem.

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What is Drug Abuse?

Drug abuse is an umbrella term that has different meanings depending on the substance use. Generally, definitions of drug abuse include:

person abusing pills
  • Using an illicit drug like cocaine, heroin, and crystal meth.
  • Taking a prescription medication that is not meant for you or taking your prescription more frequently, at higher doses, or for longer durations that directed.
  • Using a substance for nonmedical reasons or reasons that were not intended like overusing over-the-counter cold medicines to become high.
  • Using a legal substance like alcohol in excess or with high regularity.

Even one use can qualify as drug abuse. Drug abuse usually begins as a willful experience for the person using the substance, and addiction typically is a product of continued drug abuse. Addiction is a persistent urge to obtain and use substances regardless of the negative consequences to the user or others in their lives.

Signs of Drug Abuse

Video: 8 Telltale Signs of Drug Abuse

Credit: Howcast

Drugs of Abuse Categories

It can be overwhelming to consider the numerous individual substances that can be drugs of abuse. From glues and amphetamines to benzodiazepines and opioids, understanding the substances and the category they belong to will help understand the effects of drugs in those categories. Drug categories include the following:

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