The dictionary simply defines drug abuse as the habitual taking of addictive or illegal drugs. But what does this really mean? Today, we discuss how drug use can lead to abuse and commonly abused substances – legal and illegal.
When Drug Use Leads To Drug Abuse
One way to understand drug abuse, according to this alcohol rehab in California website, is to look at what it is not. Drug abuse is not the same thing as addiction, although abuse can lead to addiction. It is also not the same thing as dependence, though in many instances, abusing a drug can cause dependency. So what is drug abuse?
First, let’s look at abuse not just from the clinical perspective, but from the practical reality of clients we see every day. As substance abuse professional counselors, we have found that drug abuse occurs not only from the taking of addictive or illegal drugs, but also by the misuse of common over-the-counter drugs. When we consider this important distinction, we see that drug abuse is less about the substance and more about the use or misuse of a substance. Even household items such as ammonia, bleach and spray paint can become a dangerous substance in the wrong hands.
The misuse of any substance can lead to drug abuse.
Ways People Misuse Drugs and Other Substances
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has published information on common causes of drug abuse. One of the main reasons people choose to abuse a substance is because of the effect the substance has on the brain’s dopamine and serotonin levels. The NIDA study explains, “Dopamine neurons influence pleasure, motivation, motor function and saliency of stimuli or events. Serotonin plays a role in learning, memory, sleep and mood.” When people abuse drugs, they are altering their current state of being, which leads to the abuse and other long term problems such as addiction and dependence.
In many cases, drug misuse is intended, which means the user is aware that they are using a drug outside of its suggested use. Here are common ways people abuse and misuse substances:
- Overdosing: taking higher dose than directed or prescribed
- Snorting: turning pills into powder form for inhaling
- Taking a drug for a purpose other than prescribed or directed
- Taking another person’s prescribed drugs
- Huffing (Inhalant Abuse): Inhaling or spraying an aerosol substance (such as hairspray or air fresheners) to experience the “high” from the sprays or fumes.
Commonly Abused Drugs
- Cigarettes & Tobacco
- Illegal Drugs (heroin, cocaine, meth)
Commonly Abused Over The Counter Drugs:
- Cough syrups
- Allergy medicines
- Sinus sprays
Commonly Abused Household Substances
Paint thinners, spray paint, gasoline, nail polish remover, hairspray, deodorant sprays, shoe polish, air fresheners, room deodorizers, bleach, ammonia, markers, and glue are commonly abused household substances. If you have children in your home, consider any thing with high fumes as a potentially dangerous substance that could lead to abuse. If you use any of these substances in your home, keep them out of reach of children – even teenagers – and limit the use of them to prevent accidental misuse.
Drug abuse can be prevented.
Drug use does not have to turn into misuse or abuse. Experts at California residential drug treatment center advising: if you are a parent, be aware of things in your home, prescription medicines and over-the-counter drugs that could possibly be abused. Talk to your children about the dangers of substance use and abuse. For all adults, only use prescribed drugs as directed, and only purchase drugs over the counter that contain the medicine you need to treat your existing symptom. Be careful with mixing different medications, as this can lead to other complications. The key is to only use drugs when/if you need them and only for their intended purpose.