How Do You Define Drug Addiction?

We accept nowadays that drug addiction is in fact a disease, and a complicated one at that. Having said that, it is really quite simple to define drug addiction. It is the involuntary, continuous use of illegal substances with no regard for the consequences.

Of course that is necessarily a simplistic definition, it does the job, but does not take into account the many factors involved. It also needs to include high dependence on a specific substance. There is a physical dependence, proven by the altered state of various brain chemicals whilst under the influence.

However it is more complicated than that in as much as there is also a pyschological factor involved, as a compulsive behaviour issue. Very often the initial use of drugs is done as a reaction to certain situations in the persons life that they feel they cannot control. The drugs make them feel good about themselves, it is something that they have initiated, so they feel in control.

It becomes a vicious circle as the body gets used to the drug and actually needs it after a while to function “normally”. The user is then dependent and a recognisable addict.

At this point we can say that there is, or certainly can be, a difference between drug use and drug addiction. There are many people using drugs for various medical conditions on a long term basis. I myself am a habitual drug user, in as much as I suffer from high blood pressure and am prescribed two drugs that I have to take on a daily basis for the rest of my life.

Does that make me a drug addict? Of course not. I sometimes forget to take them, even after many years. I would never forget if I was addicted to them. That is the case with many prescription drugs. They control a specific condition and make the users life better.

There are of course prescription drugs that are abused, pain killers, sleeping tablets etc. These usually, as well as controlling a certain condition, also as a side effect have another effect of making the person feel good in some way, and they become addicted.

To say that a person is a drug addict, or if you like drug dependent, they have to be taking the substance on a regular basis, and if they stop taking it they will feel very unwell with bad withdrawal symptoms. A true addict will continue with their habit despite knowing what damage they are causing to themselves, i.e. no regard for the consequences. Drug addiction is a fact when a person is using frequent, excessive amounts of a substance, and they are unable to consider stopping.

We should not underestimate the psychological process at work here. When the persons mind has become so used to operating under the influence of the effects of a substance.

The definition of drug abuse/addiction is of course not as important as the individual reasons that someone becomes that way. When that persons life has been taken over by drugs then the definition doesn’t matter, only so much that those of us that care can recognise the signs early and try to help if we are allowed.

Chris Haycock has had his own problems with drugs and alcohol, and over the years has beaten them. He is now an entrepreneur and information publisher who tries to use what he has learnt personally to help others. If you would like to know more, just go to

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