Substance abuse seems to be the most widely known among all types of addiction. The use of pharmaceuticals without the advice of a doctor and for a purpose other than what it is prescribed for or for the sensation or pleasure it elicits is called addiction to drugs.
Prescription drugs that are commonly the subject of addiction are bracketed by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse under the following categories:
● Opioids. Commonly known as pain killers, they work by reducing the intensity of pain signals that reach the brain. They also affect emotions, reducing the effects of pain stimuli.
● Depressants. Loosely known as sedatives or tranquilizers, central nervous system depressants affect the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and reduce brain activity, producing a drowsy or calming effect. They are therefore used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders.
● Stimulants. Historically, stimulants were used to treat a host of ailments such as obesity, respiratory and neurological disorders. Today, they are used to address attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD, and sometimes, depression. Stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy by enhancing the effects of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine and inducing a sense of euphoria.
● Over-the-counter drugs. These are usually cough suppressants, sleep aids, or anti-allergy medicines that are taken by substance abusers because of their psychoactive or hallucinogenic effects. OTC drugs are the most widely abused of pharmaceutical substances because they are obtainable… without prescription.
Among the serious consequences of addiction are change in personal appearance, absenteeism, declining performance, being prone to accidents, crime, overdose, mental illness, and wrecked relationships with family and friends. Mood swings, depression, anger, anxiety, deceit, and being secretive or defensive. Death is the most extreme repercussion of addiction.