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Drug Abuse - Treatment, Symptoms and Causes

What is Drug Abuse?

The persistent use of addictive substances as a habit by an individual, following a specific pattern of use is called drug abuse. Prolonged, repetitive and compulsive use can make the user tolerant to the effects of the substance of abuse. Use of such substances becomes ingrained in the system of the abuser, and withdrawal results into a set of specific symptoms, encouraging one towards a relapse. This vicious cycle of use and withdrawal leads to a condition called drug addiction.

While the widespread notion is that drug abuse and resultant addiction is a behavioural disorder, this truly is a misconception. The effects of drug use are more pervasive. Constant use of drugs alters the neural functioning of brain cells. Among the mechanisms that are observed as the effects of drug abuse on the brain are 'imitation of natural chemical messengers' and 'reward circuit over-stimulation’, making substance abuse a brain disorder.

With medical advancements of the last few years, the previous underestimation of drug abuse has been reduced, diagnosing and treating it like a brain disorder, instead of a mere behavioural deflection. Among the primary steps to identification and corresponding cure of drug abuse is a strong understanding that treatment is beyond one’s willpower. In most cases treatment is an appropriate combination of medical assistance and counseling. This may be variable for different cases.

Causes of Drug Abuse.

p>Using drugs is a common practice among teenagers and young adults. But the stage where the individual cannot bear abstinence from such substances leads to drug abuse. The most prominent causes are:

  • Genetics: It has been observed that several drug abusers and addicts have a family history of the same. While no direct relation has been established between drug abuse and genetics, it can be inferred that family members of drug abusers have a higher predisposition to abuse.

  • Co-occurring conditions: Mental illness, profound stress, verbal, physical or sexual abuse are among the top causes of drug abuse. The victims of such ailments/abuse need a channel to went out frustration, or respite from anxiety they face. Thus, they turn towards drugs as a distraction.

  • Environmental causes: Environmental causes mainly comprise of peer pressure or bullying. Adolescents abusing drugs may be vouching for attention of ignorant parents.

What is the symptoms of Drug Abuse?

Physiological signs: As an individual’s abuse habit strengthens, they increase their drug dosage, as they face higher tolerance towards smaller quantities. This enables overdose, giving out clear physical symptoms. These include bloodshot or glazed eyes, pupil constriction or dilation, abnormal or unprecedented weight alterations, wounds or bruises, afflicted at the site of drug entrance. Apart from these, organ failure can also be observed.

Behavioural changes: Sudden changes in behaviour, towards family and friends can be observed. The victim shows negative behavioural modifications especially when unable to use their usual drug. A shift in one’s priorities, lowering of inhibitions towards previously restricted activities are indications.

Treatment of Drug Abuse.

Several treatment plans can be followed for victims of drug abuse. Usually, the course of action is decided based on case specific factors such as substances involved, frequency of abuse, the patient's condition at the time of admission to program etc.

The most important aspects of treatment are consistency and intensity. Generally, the course of treatment is a combination of medical assistance and counseling or other behaviour therapies. Treatment must be continuously reviewed to check the patient's progress and modified as required. Treatment for any previously encountered or currently faced mental illness must be included.

The patient is particularly vulnerable during treatment course. Due to characteristic withdrawal symptoms of each drug, a relapse is highly likely. Therefore, close and careful monitoring of the patient is of utmost importance.

Prevention to avoid Drug Abuse.

The first step towards prevention involves proper awareness about the multiple aspects of drug abuse. It has been previously established that drug abuse, and subsequent addiction is essentially a brain disorder. This puts young abusers, mostly teenagers and adolescents at a greater risk. The most effective prevention tactics are informative discussions about the effects and consequences of drug abuse. For most children, this will eliminate the fascination, and therefore the possibility of abuse for leisure. Preventing drug abuse at an early age shall be most advantageous. Excessively stressful conditions can lead to drug abuse in adults, which can be avoided by repetitive guidance and mental support from well-wishers.                

Withdrawal symptoms of Drug Abuse.

The common symptoms of drug abuse withdrawal are restlessness, muscle cramps and full-body ache, fatigue, profuse lacrimation, anxiety, insomnia, runny nose etc. Apart from these, each drug has its categorical withdrawal symptoms. Here are a few:

Heroine: Symptoms begin to exhibit within 12 hours of last dosage, peaking between 24-48 hours. The symptoms of withdrawal and common flu are similar.

Cocaine: Depression and restlessness are commonly observed symptoms. Withdrawal begins within hours of last dose, peaks within a few days, and can persistent from 7-10 days, up to a few months, depending upon the intensity of abuse.

Prescription Opiates: Withdrawal usually spans for 5-10 days, beginning within 8-12 hours and peak is observed in 12-48 hours.

Popular Health Tips

Addiction: Correct Approach For Permanent Results!

MA Clinical Psychology, Bachelor of Arts (Psychology), Diploma in Hypnotherapy, Diploma in Naturopathy & Yogic Science (DNYS), Certificate in Naturopathy & Yoga
Psychologist, Nagpur
Addiction: Correct Approach For Permanent Results!

Are you tired of getting rid of your addiction? Is quitting the addiction very difficult? Then read this till the last.


Addiction is a condition in which a person engages in the use of a substance or in a behaviour even after having harmful negative undesirable consequences. The addictive substance or behaviour is pleasurable and rewarding which reinforces and provided a compelling incentive to repeatedly persue the addiction. It gives short term gratification.

Apart from most common and old addictions like alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, gambling etc. there are other addictions as well which are equally or even more harmful. And they include:

Internet addiction
• Social Network addiction (Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram etc)
• Games (PUBG, Candy Crush, Clash of Clans etc)
• Relationships (Too much attached with Gf/Bf and giving a lot of time to them and energy to them)
• There are many more such addiction.

The available solutions for addiction and the reason why they do not work.

1. Sudden termination: Our mind and body both get habitual so sudden removal or termination is not accepted and thus people face the withdrawal symptoms.
2. Stopping it slowly: The cravings the urges are very powerful and once can not just quit addiction so easily as the causes and triggers are still there.
3. Medicines: Medicines are helpful but they only work on physiological aspect. They don't deal with the mental and emotional part the causes.
4. Diverting mind somewhere else, getting more busy and occupied, counseling, good influence from loved ones and many more. There are also many things which are suggested and being used but still they never work for most of the people.

What is the correct solution?

Addiction is a psychological problem and it is on mental and emotional level. It has root causes and triggers. Mind and body both get habitual of the pleasure and reward. And thus the solution is also psychological. There are patterns and habits in our mind which regulate our thoughts emotions and behaviour. Many times the addiction is minds defence and until and unless the purpose which is being served by the addiction is not resolved it is very difficult to get rid of it.

The causes and triggers are needed to be identified 1st and then treated and resolved. This is the reason why even after coming from a de-addiction center the person again becomes addicted.

For permanent results the person is required to take the correct approach which will give long lasting results.

Psychotherapy combined with NLP and many other approaches will give the best possible results in very less time as we are dealing with the root causes and once the leakage has be found and sealed then there is no chances of water coming out again.

2568 people found this helpful

Substance Abuse - How Should You Cope With Someone Going Through It?

B.A., MA - Counselling Psychology
Psychologist, Mumbai
Substance Abuse - How Should You Cope With Someone Going Through It?

While we all know substance abuse is a social issue and learning that a loved one is affected by the problem can be nearly heart-breaking. It is definitely not something that can be easily accepted. At the same time, the affected individual needs all your love and attention and more importantly support to get through the situation. It is important to not show anger or frustration at the person but to empathize and help them get out of the situation.

Read on to know some of the ways in which you can play an active role in supporting your loved one under such circumstances. This involves both of you coping with the situation at hand, as well as helping the person come out of the abuse.

  1. Educate yourself: When you are trying to help a person, you should know in detail about the substance that was being used and its ill effects. This gives you greater credibility, unlike the person who got carried with the happy feeling it gave and got into abuse. 
  2. Ensure safety: This is both for the affected individual and yourself. With the required substance not being available, the person could look at harming either self or others, especially ones who are trying to get them out of the abuse. Though the intent is to help, they are looked at as people who are depriving the feel-good feeling produced by the substance, which is no longer easily available. Therefore, ensure safety. 
  3. Talk openly: In the beginning, be a good listener. Once you get their confidence, make them understand that the entire situation is making you upset and perhaps angry or frustrated too. Get them to focus on your proposal of getting out of the habit together. If they are willing then this can ensure greater success in quitting the habit. Get to understand how exactly the habit developed including the people responsible for it, the circumstances leading to it, and the various chemicals that were used. The duration and frequency are also important. Tell them it is okay and that you will both get out of it with each other’s support. 
  4. Participate in therapy sessions: Individual counseling will work effectively for the primary client, but it is also important for family members to get involved. The counselor also would need support beyond the few counseling hours for completely getting rid of an individual’s habit. Therapy can help you learn how to manage the issues back at home. 
  5. Find your “me-time”: With all that is going on, you will need some time for yourself to just be. Eat well, stick to your workouts, sleep well, keep your friends, and make time for your hobbies. These will ensure you are in good shape to support the affected individual. It is not possible for you to help another person when you are not in great shape yourself. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
3181 people found this helpful

Importance Of Family Therapy For Treating Mental Health Problems In Children!

MBBS, MRCPsych (UK), CCST (General Adult Psychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry)
Psychiatrist, Visakhapatnam
Importance Of Family Therapy For Treating Mental Health Problems In Children!

Often, issues faced by dysfunctional families take a toll on a child’s mental health, and various factors can lead to a child's mental health problems. Physical and verbal abuse and parental divorce are among other causes of mental health problems in children. Family therapy is one of the proven effective psychiatric procedures that help a child cope with mental health issues, and helps to direct the child’s life.

The Role of Family Therapy
Family therapy is also known as family focus therapy or family systems therapy works with families, to help them in dealing with a wide range of family problems. One such problem is a child’s mental illness.

Children, pre-teens and teens are continually going through a developmental phase during their formative years. This is the time when they are most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of life. Sometimes parents are not equipped to deal with the suffering child properly. This is where family therapy can significantly benefit families and children. The psychological process can help children in dealing with major issues such as bad conduct, mood disorders, drug abuse, and eating disorders.

It can include individual sessions amidst a series of family meetings, and when required. At times, even the social networks around families can be included.

Mental Issues That Family Therapy Focuses
Family therapy offers possible treatment for a wide range of conditions including a long-term illness such as depression. It is based on two principles. A mental illness is made only worse by a dysfunctional family. Immediate family relationships are the strongest support system for a child. This is what makes them most important during long-term treatments.

Family therapy focuses on treating and molding the way families, and parents interact with the child facing mental issues. It helps in strengthening parent and child bond, and also helps instill faith and confidence in the child dealing with mental issues. All these measures combined to bring the child on the road to recovery.

How Does It Work?
Family therapy is not a time-bound process, so its effectiveness depends on the child and family. The therapy has its various forms and can be integrated with one another, as and when the psychiatrist thinks it is necessary. Among its multiple forms are teaching coping skills, psychoeducation, behavioral models, structural family therapy, systematic models, and solution-focused therapy.

Family therapy has proven most effective during the childhood and adolescent stages, where it has shown significant improvement among children suffering from anorexia, inattention, hyperactivity and severe long-term illnesses such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, drug abuse and anxiety disorders among others. Family therapy can be very effective in wide range of psychiatric conditions.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

2695 people found this helpful

How Does Internet Addiction Affects Your Brain?

M.D Psychiatry , MBBS
Psychiatrist, Faridabad
How Does Internet Addiction Affects Your Brain?

Internet addiction disorder or IAD, more commonly called Problematic Internet use or PIU, refers to excessive internet use that interferes with your daily life. Too much internet use to chat with friends, watch porn, use social media or surf the net for information- all fall under the purview of internet addiction.

Internet addiction disorder is a recently recognised condition in which sufferers spend unhealthy amounts of time “online” to the extent that it impairs their life quality. The internet addicts may experience distress and withdrawal symptoms just like smokers do, if they are denied access to their computers or mobile phones. They suffer withdrawal symptoms like tremours, obsessive thoughts, and involuntary movements of the fingers like typing.

IAD and Your Health
Internet addiction can have two different types of repercussions- physical and mental. Physical problems associated with this disorder are-

  1. Back pain
  2. Carpel tunnel syndrome
  3. Neck pain due to cervical spondylitis
  4. Sciatica pain

Mental Problems

The psychological and organic harm to the brain caused by internet addiction is still being probed but there is enough research to say conclusively that internet addiction disrupts nerve wiring in the brains of addicts. This addiction thus causes a level of brain damage normally seen in heavy substance abusers. The brains of people who use cocaine and cannabis or other narcotics also show similar effects. The brain thus gets damaged when you get hooked to a behaviour- be it obsessive internet use or drugs. IAD is as physically damaging to your brain like an addiction to drugs, scientists believe.

In particular, brain scans have shown that internet addiction causes significant damage to white matter in the brain. This disruption to white matter nerve fibres connecting vital parts of the brain involved in emotions, decision making, and self-control has long-lasting debilitating results. IAD also shrinks the brain’s gray and white matter fibers which result in changes in your brain functioning and the way you handle emotions.
This disruption in white matter fibers is caused by disrupted myelin, the fatty insulating sheath that coats nerve fibres and helps them to function.

The risk factors for IAD
Specific risk factors for IAD include:

  1. Anxiety, depression or other mental health or mood disorders
  2. Loneliness
  3. Absence of social interaction or support
  4. Presence of other addictions like gambling, alcohol, drugs, or sex
  5. An abrupt change that limits social activity or mobility like having a baby, becoming disabled, losing a job etc.
  6. High levels of stress.

IAD is treatable. All you have to do is seek help. Sometimes, trying to get rid of IAD by yourself doesn’t work. This is the right time to seek the help of a counselor. Behavioural therapies that chip at the root of the problem or the main cause of IAD help you in getting rid of it fast.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

5248 people found this helpful

Drug Abuse - Understanding The Pattern!

MBBS, MD - Psychiatry
Psychiatrist, Raigarh
Drug Abuse - Understanding The Pattern!

Is someone close to you into drugs? Are you concerned about him or her having a drug problem? There are several patterns of drug abuse, which help you to determine the extent of drug abuse a person is undergoing. It is important for you to recognize your dear ones’ drug use patterns and analyse whether you need to take further steps. The different drug abuse patterns are classified as follows:

  1. Hard drug use
    • Hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine are considered to be the most dangerous in terms of their harmful effects on health and behavior.
    • They are associated with risks of addiction. Most people start with such drugs recreationally, but addiction can set in very quickly.
    • People engaging in hard drugs are subjected to high risk behavior. They usually become isolated and live in their own world, away from society.
  2. Frequent drug use
    • The frequency of drug abuse is not good enough for determining, if a person is addicted.
    • People engaging themselves in binge drinking during weekends can have serious issues in spite of not drinking every day.
    • Frequent drug use indicates a person’s drug tolerance and dependence. A person who drinks or uses drugs regularly is quite likely to continue this pattern.
  3. Early drug use
    • People who start taking drugs from early adolescence are at an enhanced risk of developing drug problems in their adulthood.
    • The earlier a child gets into drugs, the sooner they become addicts.
    • During adolescence, a person’s body and brain still undergo development and any kind of drug-related consequences may be quite severe.
    • Drug use from an early age is quite a common phenomenon.
  4. Solitary drug use
    1. Teenagers who use marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol while they are alone are at a higher risk of developing drug problems later in life.
    2. They are quite likely to have poor physical health by the age of 23, compared to social drug users.
    3. Solitary drug use is also quite a common aspect that prevails.
  5. Escapist drug use
    1. The reasons for using alcohol and drugs vary from person to person.
    2. People who use drugs for coping with stress, medicating anxiety or depression, and building self-esteem are prone to becoming addicts.
    3. Teens using substances for coping with boredom and grief are highly subjected to drug problems.

A lot of people drink on some occasions, and try some substance just for the sake of experimenting. However, when the substance starts affecting your career, relationships and activities, a pattern of drug use is recognized. These patterns increase the risk of addiction, no matter how many months, years or weeks a person is engaged in them. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Psychiatrist.

2716 people found this helpful

Popular Questions & Answers

My age 32 year I am taking drugs I want treatment please help me consult with drugs addiction doctor without physical problem I have to leave.

BASM, MD, MS (Counseling & Psychotherapy), MSc - Psychology, Certificate in Clinical psychology of children and Young People, Certificate in Psychological First Aid, Certificate in Positive Psychology, Positive Psychiatry and Mental Health
Psychologist, Palakkad
Dear lybrate user. I can understand. Heroin addiction comes under SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND ADDICTION. Deaddiction treatment is best suited for such addictions. Medically assisted drug detoxification or alcohol detoxification alone is ineffective as a treatment for addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends detoxification followed by both medication (where applicable) and behavioral therapy, followed by relapse prevention.
1 person found this helpful

Hai im ashiq suffering from many diseases by using weed one year before and I completely stop everything but some anxiety and vomiting and eye problem fear are there now some time suicide thoughts coming in mind what I do sir any one can help me please.

M.A. Clinical Psychology, Diploma In Counselling, Diploma In Mental Illness
Psychologist, Kolkata
Firstly I would like you to feel appreciated for having overcome your habit of weed. Now for your peoblems that you are facing, you can consult a rehabilitation specialist to help yiu further and work with your confidence and moral boosting.

Once alprazolam was prescribed by doctor and after that taking regularly now it became habit. Please let me know how this can be left. I have tried by lowering but still I have to take. Kindly tell me how can I leave this habit Thanks.

M. S. in Psychotherapy and Counselling
Psychologist, Jaipur
Hello sir, Plz Increase your physical activity whatever your health allows like brisk walking or yoga or sports. Meditate. Take proper diet. Considering your age I would suggest you to do some kind of volunteering. Be it in any orphanage or in library or wherever you may work easily. These all activities will boost your feel good hormones and you won't be dependent on alprazolam.
1 person found this helpful

I was on self medication of sertraline 25 mg twice daily. I am taking this medication from last 6 years with 75% expected normal achievement, very less side effects like uneasiness at liver site sometimes and want to achieve more important, I changed my medication to 5 mg Escitalopram twice daily, instead of sertraline dose mentioned above, from last 10 days. Feeling almost the same or little better and side effects of liver side uneasiness has also improved. My query is which is the better medication for long term use, I'm planning to go with the new one.

Diploma in Psychological Medicine, MBBS
Psychiatrist, Ludhiana
Dear lybrate-user, you should not take any medication by yourself. Even anybody should not do this. Different medications have different side effects. Escitalopram is also good for long term. There are some blood tests every one should do who are taking psychotropic medications. My sincere request is please don't take any medication by yourself. Thank you for your question.
1 person found this helpful

I am suffering from cough from last 3 weeks no pain in the chest. I am a smoker but weed. What should I do? I have taken some medicines for a week 1.Levocitrizen 2. Cold tablet 3.amoxicillin potassium clavunate 650.

MBBS, Dip.Cardiology, Fellowship in Clinical Cardiology(FICC), Fellowship in Echocardiology
Cardiologist, Ghaziabad
Get a chest X-ray done with ECG and echocardiography and also cbc. You need to get evaluated for the cause of your problems. It can be chest infection or even a heart problem get back to me with the report for further advice. Till that time continue the same medication along with steam inhalation.
2 people found this helpful

Table of Content

What is Drug Abuse?
Causes of Drug Abuse.
What is the symptoms of Drug Abuse?
Treatment of Drug Abuse.
Prevention to avoid Drug Abuse.
Withdrawal symptoms of Drug Abuse.
Play video
Impact Of Drug And Alcohol On Children

My name is Dr Ankita Mishra. I am a consultant psychiatrist and I will be talking on the topic today alcohol and drugs. What parents need to know? Many young people today are using drugs and alcohol and smoke quite often and statistically up to 50 % of children to the age of 16 years have tried illegal drugs at some point in time. So it is really important for a parent to be aware of this and not take this as part of normal growing up. Taking drugs and alcohol can have serious physical and mental health consequences and can lead to depression or psychosis as well.

Taking drugs can make a youth quiet unpredictable and can lead to accidents, injuries and they can involved in unprotected sex for that matter and it can also have serious physical health problems because of sharing needles and other equipment such as HIV and hepatitis. So it's very important to take all this into consideration. The most commonly used drug is something which is readily available like alcohol or smoking and there can be wear reasons why the youth today uses drugs it could be because of curiosity, for fun, it could be as a way to cope up with anxiety and depression as a way to deal with difficult situation. And it is commonly seen that if there is a member of family or one of the friends are using drugs or alcohol it's more likely for the person to get addicted to it.

It's quite difficult to say when using drugs or alcohol is more than usual or it's like something which is concerning but if you feel that your child is quite concerned about using alcohol and taking drugs or smoking or if you feel that it has become a focus of his or her life and it's quite preoccupied with either using a drug or finding ways to seek it or maybe spends a lot of time thinking about it then it something which can be quite concerning. There can be some behaviour and symptoms is well.

If you feel your child is quite isolated, is not involving in with family or friends, is behaving out of character or you senses unusual smell in your room or you find unusual things like silver foil or needle covers then it is something to be worried about. If you suspect that your child is doing drugs or taking alcohol for that matter there are certain things which you can do as parent. First of all, you have to take stay calm and make sure that it's actually the truth. Secondly, there is no point in getting angry with your child or blaming the child because at this point it's your support and helps that they need most.

There is no point in getting into long conversations or fighting over it especially when your child is in an intoxicated stat. The best possible way to help them out is to let them know that you are on their side and you are there to support them and seek professional help. You can contact a psychiatrist or psychologist what they can do is they can talk with you as well as your child and they can maybe if needed prescribe medication or get your child into therapy. And it's a way by which you as a family and as well aa your child will get the required help and support to recover from addiction.

Thank you so much if you have any further queries or if you want to contact me then you can do that through
Play video
How To Get Rid Of Addiction?
Main Dr Manish Kansal hoon aur main ek Psychiatrist hoon, Delhi me practise karta hoon. Delhi aur Greater Noida me mere Hospital hain. Aur aaj hum baat karna chahenge Nashe ke bare me. Jese ki aap sabko pata hai ki aaj kal nasha bohot zada badh gaya hai, specially jo humare youngsters hai, college aur schools me, wo bohot choti umar me nasha shuru kar dete hai.

Common nasha jo hai aj kal, wo hai alcohol, cannabis, charas, ganja, bhang. Isme designer drugs bhi agae hai jese ki heroine, cocaine, ye sare drugs aj kal bohot choti age me he bacche shuru kar dete hai. School time me he start kar dete hai, friends ke influence me aa ke start kardete hai. Dosto ke chakkar me, experimentation me, family pressure me aa ke drugs start karte hai aur ultimately bahar nahi aa pate hai is problem se.
Kuch logo ko aisa lagta hai ki nashe ka koi solution nahi hai lekin nashe ka ilaaj sambhav hai. Youngsters ko, baccho ko nashe se bahar nikala ja sakta hai agar professional help li jaae to.

Ghar me log counselling karte hai but wo itni effective nahi hoti. Lekin nashe ka ilaaj sambhav hai dawaiyo ki form me, counselling se, psycho therapy aur bohot saare ways me ise theek kia ja sakta hai. Yeh ek bohot bada subject hai aur baccho ki zindagi ko bachaya ja sakta hai.

Main pichle 20 saalo se general psychiatrist hoon, but mera interest nashe ke ilaaj me bohot hai. Aur agar aap apne kisi saathi ka, family member ka, friend ka chahte hai ki wo nashe ki addiction se bahar ajae to aap mujhse Lybrate ke through contact bhi kar sakte hai.
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