Drug Abuse and Addiction

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Sometimes what was just a fun time activity can soon become a lifetime problem. 

Drug addiction takes its beginning in a group of peers who feel the urge to experiment and explore something new for themselves.

One such forbidden enigma people seek, is usually recreational drugs.

For others, drug addiction develops unintentionally, or rather as a result of taking irreplaceable prescription drugs.

While some people take measures to distance themselves from drug dependence, others fall into the trap of persistent drug abuse.

Drug addiction doesn't happen all of a sudden...

It is a long process that starts from tolerance to dependence and only then progresses to become a life-threatening irresistible habit.

Seeking help is not a sign of weakness. Your desire to become your previous self is well justified, and treatment programs do exist so you can get professional support.

This article is a guide to drug addiction, its main types, effects, and symptoms. It also teaches how to prevent addiction and what treatment is available to help you overcome substance use disorder.

What Is Drug Addiction?

Addiction isn't about the substances a person uses but rather how they affect the mind, body, and behavior. Whether it is alcohol, nicotine, or drugs, the brain rewires in a way that it can't operate without the substance. A drug addict becomes dependent on the feeling of euphoria or relaxation, and the brain constantly needs a higher dose to reach the desired effect.

Drug addiction isn't necessarily about illegal drugs like LSD, heroin, and cocaine either. A person may become addicted to legal substances like sleeping pills, antidepressants, and other prescription drugs.

Taking drugs may seem harmless at first when a person gets 'high.' However, after a few uses, signs and symptoms of drug addiction become more pronounced in the brain and body but not as visible to the human eye. Read the following sections to discover the symptoms and effects of substance use disorder.

7 Types of Drug Addiction and Their Symptoms

There are several types of drug abuse, as each substance has a different effect on the brain's chemical systems and leads to various physiological changes. The Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) classifies:
Central nervous system (CNS) depressants.
CNS stimulants.
Dissociative Anesthetics.
Here is a detailed description of each of them, along with common symptoms.

Cannabis-Containing Substances

One of the common cannabis-containing substances is marijuana which contains delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (TCH). The substances can be smoked, vaporized, inhaled, and eaten. 

When used with alcohol, a person may experience short-term and long-term negative consequences.

Marijuana is forbidden in a few states in the US and the EU. The substance is derived from the cannabis plant that is dried and smoked.

Some states in the US support legalization of cannabis sale for recreational use - however, continued abuse may lead to psychological dependence and other side effects associated with marijuana addiction.

Adverse Signs and Symptoms

Here is a list of short- and long-term side effects of misusing marijuana or other cannabis-containing substance:

Short-term Symptoms
Dry mouth.
Red eyes.
Food craving.
Decreased reaction and coordination.
Long-term Symptoms
Low work and school performance.
Lung damage.
Diminished brain function.

Central Nervous System Depressants.

Depressants provide a relaxing effect on the central nervous system as they slow down the brain's performance. 

It makes a person forget about existing problems, troubling thoughts, and anxiety. Most depressant drugs are prescribed medications aimed at treating mental health disorders.

People with mental illness are prescribed medications like barbiturates and benzodiazepines.

Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are pharmaceutical drugs treating mental disorders like depression and panic attacks.

When a prescription drug is taken for a long period, your brain can develop tolerance to the substance and later dependency.

Withdrawal symptoms happen when the substance's dose is reduced, potentially causing insomnia, panic attacks, aphasia, and weight loss. However, it is still unknown whether physiological dependence always leads to withdrawal phenomena. It is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with Benzodiazepine addiction.



Xanax is a high-potency but short-acting benzodiazepine that targets the central nervous system.

To battle anxiety and insomnia, healthcare providers prescribe Xanax knowing that it is an effective substance when used correctly. The medication provides a feeling of sleepiness and relaxation.

Xanax has become a problematic substance. It is very efficient when it comes to issues with sleep and stress. However, Xanax misuse is prevalent among adolescents. Young adults misuse drugs by taking them orally or crushing and snorting them. Taking a higher dose than usual can be fatal. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2021, 12,499 people died because of taking fatal doses of antidepressants.

Adverse Signs and Symptoms

The warning signs of Benzodiazepines are:
Memory problems.
Mood swings.
Muscle weakness.
Here are the effects of an overdose (identifying those early can save a life):
Extreme drowsiness.
Respiratory depression.
Impaired coordination.
Slurred speech.
Slow heartbeat.

Central Nervous System Stimulants

Stimulant addiction is a serious concern. Unlike depressants, stimulants accelerate the heartbeat and increase blood pressure, giving a person an immense boost of energy. Well-known stimulates are cocaine, Adderall, methamphetamine, and others. People who seek these substances usually want to get 'high,' receive an energy boost, or lose weight.


Adderall is a prescription medication given to people with ADHD. The medication helps them focus on one thing at a time and improves their performance and productivity.

Not following the guidelines of a mental health professional and taking a higher prescribed dose may lead to tolerance and later dependence. For this very reason, Adderall is classified as a Schedule II drug: effective, but can be potentially misused.

College students without ADHD or other mental illnesses tend to seek Adderall to induce euphoria or help them deal with the stressful academic environment. The substance keeps a person awake and improves attention.

When Adderall isn't taken to treat any condition, it can induce short-term physical effects as well as adverse psychological side effects.


Cocaine is an illicit drug that comes in the form of powder. It is considered to be highly addictive in comparison to other less potent substances. 

When snorted, cocaine releases a huge amount of dopamine to the synapse, creating a build-up of chemicals in the brain that cannot be recycled all at once. This is why cocaine gives such an immense boost of energy and the feeling of euphoria.

Continued cocaine abuse has many long-term side effects like poor decision-making, appetite loss, and increased risks of stroke and heart attack, among other life-threatening symptoms.


Methamphetamine is a deadly and highly addictive illegal drug. As with most stimulants, the drug has psychoactive properties that make a person feel overconfident, happy, and active.

There is also legal, medical methamphetamine used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD symptoms, but, to prevent addiction, medical professionals prescribe low doses of the drug.

Street meth is produced in improvised laboratories using cheap materials and may be combined with toxic chemicals like battery acid, ammonia, etc.

The effects of meth addiction include brain, liver, and lung damage, heart attack, stroke, psychosis, and more.

Adverse Signs and Symptoms

Stimulants greatly change a person's behavior and make them feel restless and overly excited. However, there are many side effects that will make you think twice before taking these drugs:
Behavioral changes
High alertness
Rambling speech
Delusion and hallucinations
Nausea and vomiting
Depression after the drug's effect fades

Opioid Painkillers

Opioids are drugs made from opium or synthetically. These substances reduce pain and induce euphoria. Heroin is the number one opioid that is considered to be one of the most addictive drugs, followed by cocaine. Additionally, opioids such as morphine, methadone, codeine, and others also pose a risk of opioid addiction.


Drug addiction to heroin can be quickly formed after just a few uses. It is a synthetic drug made from morphine that can be injected, snorted, and smoked. Heroin is used either as a white or brown powder or as a sticky black substance known as "Black Tar."

Heroin provides a feeling of immense euphoria and pleasure, along with short- and long-term side effects. Some of them include severe itching, insomnia, liver and kidney damage, semi consciousness, etc.

Tramadol is an opioid medication that relieves severe pain. Taking tramadol as prescribed also has risks of becoming tolerant and dependent on the medicine. Therefore, it is highly important always to consult your doctor and follow the exact instructions.
Tramadol is a highly effective medicine for reducing chronic pain, but it is no less addictive. As the tolerance develops, the brain will require a higher dosage to have the same effects at all times, which can be indicative of tramadol addiction. Consequently, the drug will have visible side effects like sleepiness, fatigue, vomiting, and headache.

Lyrica addiction is a serious issue. Although Lyrica itself is not classified as a narcotic or an opioid. It is a prescribed medication to treat epilepsy and generalized anxiety disorder, and other conditions. People addicted to opioids seek Lyrica to manage chronic pain and anxiety. The medication doesn't cure the problem; thus, patients are sometimes directed to use the substance for a long time. This, in turn, may lead to tolerance and the body's need to receive a higher dose to relieve pain.

Adverse Signs and Symptoms

Common side effects of opioids include:
Memory problems.
Lack of focus and attention.
Slurred speech.
Problems with coordination.


Hallucinogens have the ability to alter perception and make a person hear and see things that do not exist. The effects of hallucinogenic drugs depend on the environment and mental health of a user. In case of signs of depression or anxiety, there is a higher chance of going through a 'bad trip.' Examples of hallucinogens are LSD, peyote, ketamine, etc.

Some hallucinogenic narcotics can alter the mind but also make a person behave in an irrational and self-harming way.

Adverse Signs and Symptoms

Typical symptoms and signs of hallucinogens are:

Short-Term Effects
Strange behavior
Appetite loss.
High body temperature.
Increased heartbeat.
Long-Term Effects
Persistent Psychosis.
Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD).

Dissociative Anesthetics

Dissociatives are another class of psychedelic drugs. Dissociatives detach a person from reality. Similarly to hallucinogens, visual and vocal hallucinations are also present. In addition to that, a person feels disconnected from the body or even the physical environment.

Examples of dissociatives are ketamin, phencyclidine (PCP), methoxetamine, and others.

Adverse Signs and Symptoms

At the time of drug consumption, a person can feel numbness, safety, relaxation, and also euphoria. However, long-term misuse can lead to:
Vitamin deficiency.
Poor coordination.
Ketamin Bladder Syndrome.
Nerve damage.
Memory loss.
Seizures and coma.


Inhalants are breathable drugs that have mind-altering properties. Commonly misused inhalants are glue, aerosol products, gasoline, paint thinner, and more. The fumes can be very toxic to the brain. Despite this, people can keep inhaling the substances to prolong the high.

Adverse Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of inhalants vary based on the substance. Some of them are so toxic that they can lead to brain damage and even death. Other symptoms may include:
Drunk-like behavior.

How Substance Use Disorder Affects the Brain and Body

Taking drugs is often motivated to reach a feeling a person has experienced for the first time. When drugs are consumed, dopamine is released to the brain. It frees a person from any anxiety and stress and makes him feel happy. 

Frequent drug abuse makes the brain get used to the substance. This means a person will have to double the dose to feel good again.

Since the brain receives such a big outburst of dopamine, other activities that a person enjoyed before become dull and uninteresting.

Drug abuse also influences human behavior, harming some of the brain's chemical systems and circuits. It leads to such problems as poor judgment and decision-making, memory loss, and worsened ability to learn new things.

Since there are 7 main categories of drugs, each of them affect the body in a different way. Some of them have short-term and long-term effects.

For example, prolonged abuse of cannabis-containing substances can make a person feel relaxed and happy but also reduce fertility and concentration abilities and even cause anxiety. In comparison, an addictive drug - cocaine - has more adverse effects on the body: the drug gives an immense boost of energy, but, in turn, it can overstimulate the heart and nervous system and may result in a stroke, heart attack, or seizure.

In short, drugs have adverse effects on the body, which may include:
Brain damage.
Heart attack.
Respiratory problems.
Cardiovascular disease.
Kidney and liver damage.
Abdominal pain.

Red Flags of Substance Abuse

Substance use disorder can be stopped from further development. For that, you and your loved ones should learn to recognize red flags. Some warning signs are noticeable, but others will take longer to appear.

Successful recovery is easier and faster if a drug addict gets treatment at the early stage of addiction. Here are the signs you should look out for if you suspect your loved one suffers from substance use disorder:
Low performance at school or work.
Takes unreasonable decisions to find drugs.
Increases drug doses.
Experiences tough drug withdrawal symptoms.
Not responding to the family's intervention.
Becomes less sociable and active.
Behaves irrationally.

How to Prevent Addiction to Prescribed Medications

Many people develop drug addiction unintentionally. The dependence on a substance is usually caused by prolonged medication use. Some prescribed medications have more addictive properties than others. However, it shouldn't abstain anyone from stopping taking painkillers or other drugs. Instead, you should:
Follow your doctor's exact directions.
Let your doctor know whether there is a history of drug misuse in the family.
Inform your doctor about any changes during the course of treatment.

Get Drug Abuse and Addiction Treatment Now

Miracles Asia offers effective and relaxing drug addiction treatment in Phuket, Thailand. 

If you feel like you, or your family member suffers from drug misuse, it is always better to address the problem at its early stage. 

Our facility is designed to create a feeling of comfort and safety for our patients while medical professionals are screened and trained to provide professional support throughout your journey. Get in touch now with our Admissions Team and learn how we can help you win over substance use disorder.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between drug addiction and drug tolerance?
Drug addiction is a psychological and physical dependence on the drug; without the substance, a person cannot normalize their life and focus on what brings them pleasure. Drug tolerance, on the other hand, is a phenomenon that happens when the brain and body get used to the substance and require a higher dose to achieve the initial effect (e.g., suppress the pain, feel relaxed or high).
What is the difference between drug addiction and substance misuse?
Drug use and addiction are two terms that have clear distinctions.

Substance misuse means infrequent episodes of taking drugs. In comparison, drug addiction is a fixed pattern of a person constantly seeking drugs; it is also described as a severe substance use disorder.

A person may take drugs occasionally without developing an addiction to them. However, there are certain substances that the brain develops tolerance to and later dependence. After that, there is a thin line between taking a recreational drug sporadically and risking one's life to obtain the drug.
What is the difference between drug addiction and substance use disorder (SUD)?
Substance use disorder (SUD) has three stages of drug dependence: mild, moderate, and high. Whenever the dependence on the drug crosses the 'high' line, it becomes an addiction. This means drug addiction is a severe form of SUD when a person irrationally and impulsively wants to obtain drugs.
Is alcohol a drug?
Alcohol belongs to one of the seven types of drugs. It is classified as a central nervous system depressant. Although it is legal to purchase, alcohol abuse has mind-altering properties. Alcohol addiction is another problem that many people struggle with. 
What are the 7 types of drugs?
There are seven types of drugs, classified by their effects on a user. The Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) officers have recognized the following types:

Central nervous system (CNS) depressants
CNS stimulants
Dissociative Anesthetics

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