Home » Definitions: Drug abuse, misuse, addiction, dependence and tolerance

Definitions: Drug abuse, misuse, addiction, dependence and tolerance

what is drug abuse?

Before talking about drug abuse we will first have to know what a drug is.

A drug is any chemical substance (other than food) that can change how your body or mind (brain) works. This definition includes:

  • Over the counter medicines (legal drugs that do not need prescription)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Social legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco
  • Illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine.

Drug abuse is chronic when the user can not stop even with the harmful effects of the drug is then know as an addiction, a brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use.

Physical dependence of a drug is when your body gets used to a substance (caffeine, a prescription drug etc.)  due to regular exposure. When the substance is withdrawn from the body, the body experiences withdrawal symptoms as the body starts getting used to the lack of the substance. Addiction can include but is not limited to physical dependence

Tolerance is when your body needs more amounts of a substance  to create the same effect.

Enough about definitions…

Drug abuse and addiction is currently a very big threat to public health. World Health Organization 2017 survey recorded 2 billion alcohol users, 1.3 billion smokers, 18.5 million drug users. Drug use also poses a social issue with the increase in violence and accidents, student drop outs and strained family relationships.

Drug abuse is when a drug is not used appropriately with the intention of ‘getting high’ usually deliberately.

It is different from drug misuse which is still the inappropriate use of a drug but not with the intention to get high, for example, missed doses, taking too much of the drug thinking it will increase the effect.

Both are not practices to initiate.

Know anyone with a drug abuse problem or just looking for where to get more information on drug abuse? Stay connected with us to find out the reasons why people use drugs (risk factors) and reasons why others do not use drugs (protective factors).

Remember prevention is the best approach

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Ekwoge Hilda

Dr. Ekwoge Hilda is a trained pharmacist from Cameroon and Co-founder of HILPharma. When she is not busy creating content, she slings pills to pay the bills.

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