Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction (and How to Go Clean)

Nov 2, 2020


Drug abuse is a complex condition where there is an excessive, maladaptive, or addictive use of drugs for nonmedical purposes despite its harmful consequences (The Authors of Britannica, 2020), some of which can be short-term, long-term, or permanent. Some effects may still continue even after withdrawal. The effects vary depending on factors like the drug usage and their history. Drug abuse is the act of over-using drugs to get a certain feeling. It may seem hard at first but you could still put a stop to it easier than when you have to recover from an addiction. 

Regular usage or intake of drugs does not necessarily equate to drug addiction. Over time, drug abuse may lead to drug addiction because users tend to develop tolerance on the drugs they took. Drug addiction is when you need larger doses of a drug to achieve the same feeling you had when you first used it. As opposed to drug abuse, you couldn’t control yourself, you become dependent on it, and it changes the way that you think and act. It starts to interfere with how you live your life and it may also affect how you treat your family and loved ones. In addition, it may also affect your work and health, both physically and mentally.

According to Addiction Center (Yerby, 2020), almost 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, yet only 10% of them receive treatment and Americans aged 18-25 years old, the typical age of a college student, are most likely to use addictive drugs. College students experience a lot of stress due to struggling with how to manage their time and needing help to keep up with their assignments or finishing their thesis . Addiction or drug abuse can affect anyone but there are some common factors among users such as: genetics, abuse, trauma, peer pressure, exposure to substance or drug abuse, mental health disorders, dependence on prescription drugs, etc.


As mentioned earlier, drugs have different effects depending on the user and their history. Some drugs actually have (and is used for) medicinal purposes, like cocaine and heroin. Those have been legalized unlike medical marijuana whose legalization is still debatable. Because of that, Charles E. Dodgen (2004) classified drugs according to the properties or effects of the drug on the central nervous system. These are:

  • CNS stimulants – increases alertness, attention, and energy (e.g. cocaine, amphetamine, caffeine)
  • CNS depressants – slows brain activity, causes muscles to relax and is useful for treating anxiety (e.g alcohol, barbiturates, solvent inhalants)
  • Psychedelics or hallucinogens – causes changes in perception, mood, and feelings, and it helps relieve pain; otherwise known as party drugs (e.g marijuana, LSD, mescaline)
  • Narcotics – used to treat moderate to severe pain and has sleep-inducing properties (e.g. opium, heroin, morphine)

 What are the instant effects of drug use?


Drug abuse may happen to either prescription or nonprescription drug users. The effects of drug abuse vary from each user depending on their health or medical history, the type of drug they are using, and if they are using any other substances or drugs, whether prescribed or not. Users who abuse drugs may experience these effects especially after having abused drugs over a long period of time:


Physical Effects:

  • Weakening of the immune system
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Respiratory problems
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Brain damage, seizures, and strokes
  • Extreme weight loss

Mental Effects:

  • Aggressiveness, confusion, and paranoia
  • Addiction
  • Loss of self-control
  • Impaired judgment
  • Memory loss
  • Depression and anxiety


The effects of drug abuse is very concerning and that is why the legalization of drugs has become one of the 100 most controversial topics for debates   both in and out of school. It poses the problem of using those drugs more than what was prescribed. This is worrying because in the US, 1 out of 5 teens have abused prescription medications.


The most important step is acknowledging that you have a drug abuse or drug addiction problem. Having a family member or friend help you recognize this will also be helpful. This first step opens the road to recovery and rehabilitation. Once you recognize the need for help, you must go to a health professional in order to have a formal assessment for a treatment, if needed. 

There are multiple types of treatment available for drug abuse or drug addiction because as said earlier, the effects vary from person to person. Treatments address the person’s current state but most receive both medication and a series of individual or group therapies to attend. The treatments are tailored to suit the needs of the person so that the effectiveness of the treatment can be ensured. Medications can help the person to regain control and relieve symptoms of withdrawal. Therapies help in understanding the person’s behavior, stress, coping strategies, other mental health problems and to help prevent relapse.

There are also some community  based organizations and government funded programs that help drug abusers and drug addicts with their treatments. Note that there are some treatment centers and programs that offer their services free of charge.


Drug abuse is a very serious matter because it causes harmful effects. Going clean may seem like a daunting task but recovery is possible for everyone so never lose hope. You may not find the combination of medication and therapies that best suits you right away, but you’ll figure it out in time with help from a health professional. And if you are for the legalization of some medicinal drugs like marijuana but need help in constructing your thoughts into compelling arguments, we are here to help you write a persuasive essay.

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