Alcohol dependence is a previous (DSM-IV and ICD-10) psychiatric diagnosis in which an individual is physically or psychologically dependent upon alcohol (also chemically known as ethanol). Drug addiction is a serious psychological disorder, as shown above, it actually affects brain chemistry. These myths are from Face it Together (2022), an organization committed to helping those struggling with addiction. You can select the double pointed arrow in the lower right corner to make the slides full screen. The best way to prevent an addiction to a drug is not to take the drug at all. If your health care provider prescribes a drug with the potential for addiction, use care when taking the drug and follow instructions.

The freebase version of cocaine, known as crack, is a potent, smokable version of the drug. Like many other stimulants, cocaine agonizes the dopamine neurotransmitter system by blocking the reuptake of dopamine in the neuronal synapse. Substance dependence and addiction are complex conditions; however, they are treatable. If you or a loved one are experiencing dependence, it’s important to seek help and treatment as soon as possible.

Addictive Substances “Hijack” Brain Reward Systems

If you can’t function properly in the morning without your cup of coffee, it could be that you are caffeine-dependent. When you miss your morning cup, you might develop physical withdrawal symptoms, like a headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and more. Medical uses of psychoactive drugs include general anesthesia, in which pain is blocked and unconsciousness is induced.

It may be done by family and friends in consultation with a health care provider or mental health professional such as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, or directed by an intervention professional. It involves family and friends and sometimes co-workers, clergy or others who care about the person struggling with addiction. The sooner you seek help, the greater your chances for a long-term recovery.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

The President's Advisory Commission on Narcotics and Drug Abuse of 1963 addressed the need for a medical solution to drug abuse. However, drug abuse continued to be enforced by the federal government through agencies such as the DEA and further legislations such as The Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the Comprehensive physiological dependence on alcohol Crime Control Act of 1984, and Anti-Drug Abuse Acts. People who are addicted to a substance use it even if it has no medical benefit. They use the substance no matter what and despite the consequences. Addictions are more likely to result in serious harm, including suicide, unlike tolerance and physical dependence.

  • The woman used caffeine in the past to boost her mood and to provide energy, but over the course of several years, she increased her caffeine consumption to the point that she was consuming three liters of soda each day.
  • In contrast, a person who has psychological dependence has an emotional, rather than physical, need for the drug and may use the drug to relieve psychological distress.
  • Sex differences in reaction to addictive substances are not particular to humans.
  • People used to believe that addiction only happened in certain areas, like in inner cities, or among specific groups of people, like those who were down and  out.

For example, a person may drink alcohol when they feel stressed but otherwise feel no compulsion to drink. The terms “addiction” and “dependence” can seem similar, but they are different. People used to believe that addiction only happened in certain areas, like in inner cities, or among specific groups of people, like those who were down and  out. But addictions can happen anywhere, from college campuses to rural and suburban towns. And anyone can become addicted, from people experiencing homelessness to business executives. Addictions can start slowly as people experiment with different types of drugs.

Risk factors

These synthetic drugs are so potent that even small doses can cause overdose and death. Historically, heroin has been a major opioid drug of abuse (Figure 4.17). Heroin produces intense feelings of euphoria and pleasure, which are amplified when the heroin is injected intravenously. Following the initial "rush," users experience 4–6 hours of "going on the nod," alternating between conscious and semiconscious states.

  • This is when a person depends on a substance or behavior emotionally, such as when stressed.
  • Large-scale public health campaigns by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Drug Abuse have led to recent declines in the opioid crisis.
  • The contemporary definition of alcohol dependence is still based upon early research.
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