Addiction is the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences or a neurological impairment leading to such behaviors.

Addictions can include but are not limited to, drug abuse, exercise addiction, food addiction, computer addiction, gambling sex, and porn, just to name a few.

Classic hallmarks of addiction include impaired control over substances or behavior, preoccupation with substance or behavior, continued use despite consequences, and denial.

Habits and patterns associated with addiction are typically characterized by immediate gratification (short-term reward), coupled with delayed deleterious effects (long-term costs).

Physiological dependence occurs when the body has to adjust to the substance by incorporating the substance into its “normal” functioning. This state creates the conditions of tolerance and withdrawal.

Tolerance is the process by which the body continually adapts to the substance and requires increasingly larger amounts to achieve the original effects.

Withdrawal refers to physical and psychological symptoms experienced when reducing or discontinuing a substance that the body has become dependent on.

Symptoms of withdrawal generally include but are not limited to anxiety, irritability, intense cravings for the substance, nausea, hallucinations, headaches, cold sweats, and tremors.

Withdrawal is the body’s reaction to abstaining from an addictive substance of which it has become dependent and tolerant. Without the substance, physiological functions that were dependent on the substance will react because of the body’s tolerance and dependence on the substance.

Chemical and hormonal imbalances may arise if the substance is not introduced.

Physiological and psychological stress is to be expected if the substance is not re-introduced.

Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, is a patterned use of a substance (drug) in which the user consumes the substance in amounts or with methods that are harmful to themselves or others.

The term “drug abuse” does not exclude dependency, but is otherwise used in a similar manner in non-medical contexts.

The terms have a huge range of definitions related to taking a psychoactive drug or performance-enhancing drug for a non-therapeutic or non-medical effect.

Drug misuse is a term used commonly when prescription medication with sedative, anxiolytic, analgesic, or stimulant properties are used for mood alteration or intoxication ignoring the fact that overdose of such medicines can have serious adverse effects.

Prescription misuse has been defined differently and rather inconsistently based on the status of drug prescription, the uses without a prescription, intentional use to achieve intoxicating effects, route of administration, co-ingestion with alcohol, and the presence or absence of dependence symptoms.

Chronic use leads to a change in the central nervous system which means the patient has developed tolerance to the medicine that more of the substance is needed in order to produce desired effects.

When this happens, any effort to stop or reduce the use of this substance would cause withdrawal symptoms to occur.

Avenues of obtaining prescription drugs for misuse are varied: sharing between family and friends, illegally buying medications at school or work, and often “doctor shopping” to find multiple physicians to prescribe the same medication, without knowledge of other prescribers.

Increasingly, law enforcement is holding physicians responsible for prescribing controlled substances without fully establishing patient controls, such as a patient “drug contract.”

Concerned physicians are educating themselves on how to identify medication-seeking behavior in their patients, and are becoming familiar with “red flags” that would alert them to potential prescription drug abuse.

Depending on the actual compound, drug abuse including alcohol may lead to health problems, social problems, morbidity, injuries, unprotected sex, violence, deaths, motor vehicle accidents, homicides, suicides, physical dependence, or psychological addiction.

There is a high rate of suicide in alcoholics and other drug abusers.

The reasons believed to cause the increased risk of suicide include the long-term abuse of alcohol and other drugs causing physiological distortion of brain chemistry as well as social isolation.

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