Drug abuse is a common problem that plagues all ethnic groups and social classes worldwide. Drug abuse and dependence is a disease and not a character defect or the result of weak will power or moral deficit. Different people will be affected by drugs in different ways; some people are more prone to addiction than others.
A person who abuses drugs may not realize that he or she has a problem. The first motivation for treatment is often external: family relationships, employment pressures, health concerns, legal problems, financial concerns, etc. Family members often bring the abuse to the attention of a health care provider. A goal through the course of treatment is to move the motivation from external motivation for treatment to internal motivation for recovery.
A wide variety of substances can be abused. They are often categorized as cannabinoids, depressants, dissociative anesthetics, hallucinogens, stimulants, opium and morphine derivatives and other compounds. These take the form of:
illegal drugs (such as phencyclidine known as PCP, methamphetamine and heroin) plant products (such as marijuana or hallucinogenic mushrooms) chemicals (huffing of air dusters, gasoline, paint, etc.) or prescription medications (taking medications not prescribed or not following the prescription).
Drug abuse and mental disorders often co-exist. In some cases, mental diseases may precede addiction; in other cases, drug abuse may trigger or exacerbate mental disorders, particularly in individuals with specific vulnerabilities or genetic predispositions. Once the patient is stabilized and chemical free, a dual diagnosis approach will focus treatment on each to increase possibility of long term recovery. Recovery from drug addiction can be a long-term process and frequently requires multiple episodes of treatment.
For additional information on drug abuse, see the Resources section.