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Marijuana is also called "grass," "pot," "reefer," "joint," "hashish," "cannabis," "weed," and
About 2 in 5 Americans have used marijuana at least once in their life.
Marijuana comes from a plant called hemp (cannabis sativa). The main, active ingredient in
marijuana is THC (short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). This and other ingredients, called
cannabinoids, are found in the leaves and flowering parts of the marijuana plant. Hashish is a
substance taken from the tops of female marijuana plants. It contains the highest amount of
How fast you feel the effects of marijuana depend on how you use it:
If you breathe in marijuana smoke (such as from a joint or pipe), you may feel the effects within
seconds to several minutes.
If you eat foods containing the drug (such as "hash brownies,") you may feel the effects with 30
Marijuana acts on your central nervous system. Low-to-moderate amounts of the drug may
Increased appetite ("the munchies")
Feeling of joy (euphoria)
Increased sensations of sight, hearing, and taste
Other effects can include:
Feelings of panic, or rarely severe paranoia
Decreased ability to perform tasks that require a lot of coordination (such as driving a car)
Decreased interest in completing tasks
Delirium or seeing or hearing things that aren't there (hallucinations)
Changes in body image
Increased heart rate and blood pressure
Infections such as sinusitis, bronchitis, and asthma in heavy users
Irritation of the airways causing narrowing or spasms
Possibly weakening of the immune system
Trouble concentrating and paying attention, which can interfere with learning
Trouble telling oneself from others
Violence (may be related to marijuana that is laced with a drug called PCP)
Regular users may have withdrawal effects when they stop marijuana use. These may include:
The medical use of marijuana is controversial, yet it's active ingredient (THC) is legal for medical
purposes in at least 16 states. (Whole marijuana is illegal, even for medical use.)
THC has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the following
Relieving chronic pain and spasticity
Stimulating appetite in patients with AIDS or who have undergone chemotherapy
Treating nausea caused by chemotherapy in cancer patients
PHENCYCLIDINE (PCP, "angel dust")
PCP is an illegal drug that comes as a white powder, which can be dissolved in alcohol or water.
PCP may be smoked, shot into a vein, or taken by mouth. How quickly it affects you depends on
how you take it.
Shooting up: If given through a vein, PCP's effects start within 2-5 minutes.
Smoked: The effects begin within 2 - 5 minutes, peaking at 15 - 30 minutes.
Taken by mouth: In pill form, or mixed with food or drinks, PCP's effects usually start within 30
minutes. The effects tend to peak in about 2 - 5 hours.
Different doses of PCP will cause different effects:
Lower doses of PCP typically produce feelings of joy (euphoria) and less inhibition, similar to
Higher doses cause numbness throughout the body, and perception changes that may lead to
extreme anxiety and violence.
Large doses may produce paranoia, "hearing voices" (auditory hallucinations),
and psychosissimilar to schizophrenia.
Massive doses, usually from taking the drug by mouth, may cause acute kidney failure,
heartarrhythmias, muscle rigidity, seizures, and even death.
Because of the pain-killing (analgesic) properties of PCP, users who get seriously injured may not
feel any pain.
A number of other illegal drugs have become popular and available in recent years, including:
Ketamine, a substance related to PCP, commonly called "Special K"
"Ecstasy," or MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine)
GHB and Rohypnol, also called "date rape," "acquaintance rape," or "drug-assisted assault"
LSD AND OTHER HALLUCINOGENS
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a very strong hallucinogen. Only tiny amounts are needed to
cause effects, such as hallucinations. Other commonly abused hallucinogens include:
Psilocybin (mushrooms, "shrooms")
Peyote (a cactus plant containing the active ingredient mescaline)
LSD use may cause:
Seeing things that aren't there (hallucinations)
Hallucinogens can lead to extreme anxiety and lack of reality, called "bad trips". These
experiences can come back as a "flashback," even without using the drug again. Such
experiences typically occur during times of increased stress, and tend to occur less often and
intensely after stopping the drugs.
The abuse of cocaine increased dramatically in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but is now on the
decline. Other names to describe different forms of cocaine include "crack," "coke," "snow," and
Cocaine may be taken in different ways:
Snorting: Inhaling it through the nose
Shooting up: Dissolving it in water and injected it into a vein
Speedball: Mixed with heroin and shot into a vein
Smoked: Cocaine may be changed into a smokeable form known as freebase or crack
Smoking cocaine produces a nearly instant and intense sense of joy (euphoria), which is
attractive to abusers. Other effects include:
Feelings of increased confidence and energy
Powerful stimulation of the central nervous system
Regular users of cocaine may need larger amounts of the drug to feel these effects. Regular
users of cocaine may have:
Loss of interest in school, work, family, and friends
Heavy use may cause paranoia, which can lead to violence.
Amphetamines are stimulants. Other names used to desrribe amphetamines or
methamphetamines include "crystal," "go," "crank," and "cross-tops." See: Methamphetamine
Amphetamines are very addictive. Prescription amphetamines are considered controlled
substances. Over-the-counter (OTC) amphetamine look-alike drugs are often abused. These
drugs typically contain caffeine and other stimulants, and are sold as appetite suppressants or
Signs and symptoms of stimulant use:
Exaggerated feeling of well-being (euphoria)
Fast heart rate
Restlessness and hyperactivity
Inhalant use became popular with young teens in the 1960s with "glue sniffing." Since then, a
greater variety of inhalants have become popular. Inhalant use typically involves younger teens
or school-age children.
Commonly abused inhalants include:
Aerosols for deodorants or hair sprays
Liquid typewriter correction fluid
Negative effects of inhalant abuse include:
Liver or kidney damage
Nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy)
OPIATES, OPIOIDS, AND NARCOTICS
Opiates come from opium poppies. These drugs include morphine and codeine. Opioids are
artificial substances that have the same effect as morphine or codeine. The term "narcotic"
refers to either type of drug.
Narcotics are powerful painkillers that cause drowsiness (sedation) and sometimes, feelings of
These drugs include:
Oxycodone (Percocet or Oxycontin)
Signs and symptoms of narcotic use:
Coma, respiratory depression leading to coma, and death in high doses
Needle marks on the skin ("tracks") if drug use is by injection
Rapid heart rate
Relaxed or euphoric state
Scars from skin abscesses if drug use is by injection
Small "pinpoint" pupils
Because heroin is commonly injected into a vein (used intravenously), there are health concerns
about sharing contaminated needles among IV drug users. Complications of sharing
contaminated needles include hepatitis, HIV infection, and AIDS.
CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM DEPRESSANTS
These substances produce a sedative and anxiety-reducing effect, which can lead to
These types of drugs include:
Barbiturates (amobarbital, pentobarbital, secobarbital), also called "yellow jackets"
Benzodiazepines (Valium, Ativan, Xanax)
Signs and symptoms of alcohol or other depressant use:
Decreased attention span
Lack of coordination
CALL YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER
If you are concerned about the possibility of getting addicted to any prescribed medications
If you are concerned about possible drug abuse by yourself or a family member
If you are interested in getting more information on drug abuse
If you are seeking treatment of drug abuse for yourself or a family member
There are a number of different support groups available to help those with drug abuse. They
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
LifeRing Recovery,Moderation Management, SMART Recovery
Drug dependence means that a person needs a drug to function normally. Abruptly
stopping the drug leads to withdrawal symptoms. Drug addiction is the compulsive use
of a substance, despite its negative or dangerous effects.
A person may have a physical dependence on a substance without having an addiction.
For example, certain blood pressure medications do not cause addiction but they can
cause physical dependence. Other drugs, such as cocaine, cause addiction without
leading to physical dependence.
Tolerance to a drug (needing a higher dose to attain the same effect) is usually part of
Drug abuse first aid
Causes of Drug dependence
Drug abuse can lead to drug dependence or addiction. People who use drugs for pain
relief may become dependent, although this is rare in those who don't have a history of
The exact cause of drug abuse and dependence is not known. However, a person's
genes, the action of the drug, peer pressure, emotional distress, anxiety, depression,
and environmentalstress all can be factors.
Peer pressure can lead to drug use or abuse, but at least half of those who become
addicted have depression, attention deficit disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or
another mental health problem.
Children who grow up in an environment of illicit drug use may first see their parents
using drugs. This may put them at a higher risk for developing an addiction later in life
for both environmental and genetic reasons.
People who are more likely to abuse or become dependent on drugs include those who:
Have depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia
Have easy access to drugs
Have low self-esteem, or problems with relationships
Live a stressful lifestyle, economic or emotional
Live in a culture where there is a high social acceptance of drug use
Commonly abused substances include:
Opiates and narcotics are powerful painkillers that cause drowsiness (sedation) and
sometimes feelings of euphoria. These
include heroin, opium, codeine, meperidine(Demerol), hydromorphone (Dilaudid),
and oxycodone (Oxycontin).
Central nervous system (CNS) stimulants include
amphetamines, cocaine,dextroamphetamine, methamphetamine,
and methylphenidate (Ritalin). These drugs have a stimulating effect, and people can
start needing higher amounts of these drugs to feel the same effect (tolerance).
Central nervous system depressants include alcohol, barbiturates (amobarbital,
pentobarbital, secobarbital), benzodiazepines (Valium, Ativan, Xanax), chloral hydrate,
and paraldehyde. These substances produce a sedative and anxiety-reducing effect,
which can lead to dependence.
Hallucinogens include LSD, mescaline, psilocybin ("mushrooms"),
and phencyclidine (PCPor "angel dust"). They can cause people to see things that aren't
there (hallucinations) and can lead to psychological dependence.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active ingredient found in marijuana (cannabis)
There are several stages of drug use that may lead to dependence. Young people seem
to move more quickly through the stages than do adults.
Experimental use -- typically involves peers, done for recreational use; the user may
enjoy defying parents or other authority figures.
Regular use -- the user misses more and more school or work; worries about losing drug
source; uses drugs to "fix" negative feelings; begins to stay away from friends and
family; may change friends to those who are regular users; shows increased tolerance
and ability to "handle" the drug.
Daily preoccupation -- the user loses any motivation; does not care about school and
work; has obvious behavior changes; thinking about drug use is more important than all
other interests, including relationships; the user becomes secretive; may begin dealing
drugs to help support habit; use of other, harder drugs may increase; legal problems
Dependence -- cannot face daily life without drugs; denies problem; physical condition
gets worse; loss of "control" over use; may become suicidal; financial and legal problems
get worse; may have broken ties with family members or friends.
Drug dependence Symptoms
Some of the symptoms and behaviors of drug dependence include:
Continuing to use drugs even when health, work, or family are being harmed
Episodes of violence
Hostility when confronted about drug dependence
Lack of control over drug abuse - being unable to stop or reduce alcohol intake
Making excuses to use drugs
Missing work or school, or a decrease in performance
Need for daily or regular drug use to function
Neglecting to eat
Not caring for physical appearance
No longer taking part in activities because of drug abuse
Secretive behavior to hide drug use
Using drugs even when alone
See: Drug abuse for more information about symptoms that may be present when using
For information about symptoms of withdrawal, see also:
Tests and Exams
Drug tests (toxicology screens) on blood and urine samples can show many chemicals
and drugs in the body. How sensitive the test is depends upon the drug itself, when the
drug was taken, and the testing laboratory. Blood tests are more likely to find a drug than
urine tests. However, urine drug screens are done more often.
Opiates and narcotics are usually in the urine 12 to 36 hours after the last use,
depending on the amount used and how often the drug was used.
CNS stimulants such as cocaine can be found in urine for 1 to 12 days, again depending
on how often the drug was used.
CNS depressants such as Valium and Xanax are found up to 7 days after the last day of
use, mostly depending on the substance used and how quickly the body removes it (its
Most hallucinogens also can be found in the urine up to 7 days after the last use.
However, evidence of marijuana can be found for up to 28 days after its last use in
Treatment of Drug dependence
Treatment for drug abuse or dependence begins with recognizing the problem. Though
"denial" used to be considered a symptom of addiction, recent research has shown that
people who are addicted have far less denial if they are treated with empathy and
respect, rather than told what to do or "confronted."
Treatment of drug dependency involves stopping drug use either gradually or abruptly
(detoxification), support, and staying drug free (abstinence).
People with acute intoxication or drug overdose may need emergency treatment.
Sometimes, the person loses consciousness and might need to be on a breathing
machine (mechanical respirator) temporarily. The treatment depends on the drug being
Detoxification is the withdrawal of an abused substance in a controlled environment.
Sometimes a drug with a similar action is taken instead, to reduce the side effects and
risks of withdrawal. Detoxification can be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis.
As with any other area of medicine, the least intensive treatment should be the starting
Residential treatment programs monitor and address possible withdrawal symptoms and
behaviors. These programs use behavior modification techniques, which are designed to
get users to recognize their behaviors.
Treatment programs include counseling, both for the person (and perhaps family), and in
group settings. Drug abuse treatment programs have a long after-care part (when the
user is released from the medical facility), and provide peer support.
Drug addiction is a serious and complicated health condition that requires both physical
and psycholocial treatment and support. It is important to be evaluated by a trained
professional to determine the best care.
If the person also has depression or another mood disorder, it should be treated. Very
often, people start abusing drugs in their effort to self-treat mental illness.
For narcotic dependence, some people are treated with methadone or similar drugs to
prevent withdrawal and abuse. The goal is to enable the person to live as normal a life
Many support groups are available in the community. They include Narcotics
Anonymous (NA), Ala-Teen, and Al-Anon. Most of these groups follow the 12-Step
program used in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). SMART Recovery and LifeRing Recovery
are programs that do not use the 12-step approach. You can find support groups in your
Drug abuse and dependence may lead to a fatal drug overdose. Some people start
taking the drugs again after they have stopped. Relapses can lead to continued
The complications of drug abuse and dependence include:
Bacterial endocarditis, hepatitis, thrombophlebitis, pulmonary emboli, malnutrition, or
respiratory infections, caused by drug use by injection
Increase in various cancer rates; for example, lung and pharynx cancer are linked
to nicotineuse; mouth and stomach cancer are associated with alcohol abuse and
Infection with HIV through shared needles
Problems with memory and concentration, for example with hallucinogen use, including
Problems with the law
Relapse of drug abuse
Unsafe sexual practices, which may result in unwanted pregnancies, sexually
transmitted diseases, HIV, or hepatitis
When to Contact a Health Professional
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you are addicted to drugs and
would like to get off of them, or if you have been cut off from your drug supply and are at
risk of withdrawal. Most employers also offer referral services for their employees with
substance abuse problems.
Prevention of Drug dependence
Drug education programs may be helpful though none has proved effective in the long
Kleber HD, Weiss Rd, Anton RF, George TP, Greenfield SF, Kosten TR, et al. Treatment
of patients with substance use disorders. Am J Psychiatry. 2007;164:5-123.
Griswold KS, Atronoff H, Kernan JB, Kahn LS. Adolescent substance use and abuse:
recognition and management. Am Fam Physician. 2008;77:331-336.
NIDA InfoFacts: Club Drugs (GHB, Ketamine, and Rohypnol). National Institute on Drug
NIDA InfoFacts: Hallucinogens - LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin, and PCP. National Institute on
Drug Abuse. NIDA. Revised 6/09.
Samet JH. Drug abuse and dependence. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine.
23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 32.
Drug abuse is the misuse or overuse of any medication or drug, including alcohol. This
article discusses first aid for drug overdose and withdrawal.
Many street drugs have no therapeutic benefits. Any use of these drugs is a form of drug
Legitimate medications can be abused by people who take more than the recommended
dose or who intentionally take them with alcohol or other drugs.
Drug interactions may also produce adverse effects. Therefore, it is important to let your
doctor know about all the drugs you are taking, including vitamins and other over-the-
Many drugs are addictive. Sometimes the addiction is gradual. However, some drugs
(such ascocaine) can cause addiction after only a few doses.
Someone who has become addicted to a drug usually will have withdrawal symptoms
when the drug is suddenly stopped. Withdrawal is greatly assisted by professional help.
A drug dose that is large enough to be toxic is called an overdose. This may occur
suddenly, when a large amount of the drug is taken at one time, or gradually, as a drug
builds up in the body over a longer period of time. Prompt medical attention may save
the life of someone who accidentally or deliberately takes an overdose.
Causes of Drug abuse first aid
An overdose of narcotics can cause sleepiness, slowed breathing, and
Uppers (stimulants) produce excitement, increased heart rate, and rapid breathing.
Downers (depressants) do just the opposite.
Mind-altering drugs are called hallucinogens. They include LSD, PCP (angel dust), and
other street drugs. Using such drugs may cause paranoia, hallucinations, aggressive
behavior, or extreme social withdrawal.
Cannabis-containing drugs such as marijuana may cause relaxation, impaired motor
skills, and increased appetite.
Legal prescription drugs are sometimes taken in higher than recommended amounts to
achieve a feeling other than the therapeutic effects for which they were intended. This
may lead to serious side effects.
The use of any of the above mentioned drugs may result in impaired judgment and
Symptoms for Drug abuse first aid
Drug overdose symptoms vary widely depending on the specific drug used, but may
Abnormal pupil size
Delusional or paranoid behavior
Nausea and vomiting
Nonreactive pupils (pupils that do not change size when exposed to light)
Staggering or unsteady gait (ataxia)
Sweating or extremely dry, hot skin
Violent or aggressive behavior
Drug withdrawal symptoms also vary widely depending on the specific drug used, but
Nausea and vomiting
First Aid for Drug abuse first aid
Check the patient's airway, breathing, and pulse. If necessary, begin CPR. If the patient
isunconscious but breathing, carefully place him or her in the recovery position. If the
patient is conscious, loosen the clothing, keep the person warm, and provide
reassurance. Try to keep the patient calm. If an overdose is suspected, try to prevent the
patient from taking more drugs. Call for immediate medical assistance.
Treat the patient for signs of shock, if necessary. Signs include: weakness, bluish lips
and fingernails, clammy skin, paleness, and decreasing alertness.
If the patient is having seizures, give convulsion first aid.
Keep monitoring the patient's vital signs (pulse, rate of breathing, blood pressure) until
emergency medical help arrives.
If possible, try to determine which drug(s) were taken and when. Save any available pill
bottles or other drug containers. Provide this information to emergency medical
Do NOT jeopardize your own safety. Some drugs can cause violent and unpredictable
behavior. Call for professional assistance.
Do NOT try to reason with someone who is on drugs. Do not expect them to behave
Do NOT offer your opinions when giving help. You do not need to know why drugs were
taken in order to give effective first aid.
When to Contact a Health Professional
Drug emergencies are not always easy to identify. If you suspect someone has
overdosed, or if you suspect someone is experiencing withdrawal, give first aid and seek
Try to find out what drug the person has taken. If possible, collect all drug containers and
any remaining drug samples or the person's vomit and take them to the hospital.
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in
the United States. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United
States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about
poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for
any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
n the deliberate inhalation of nitrous oxide to produce mood-altering effects. A type of
n the physical dependence on at least three substances that have been classified as
habit forming, but without any one of the substances having greater importance or
influence than the others. The concept does not include caffeine or nicotine.
n sexual acts performed with children or with nonconsenting adults in a criminal manner.
n the misuse of legal or illegal substances with the intent to alter some aspect of the
user's experience. May include medications, illicit drugs, legal substances with potential
mood-altering effects (such as alcohol or tobacco), or substances whose primary use
may not be for human consumption (such as inhalants).
n a substance used in the prevention, cure, or alleviation of disease or pain or as an aid
in some diagnostic procedures.
n See absorption, drug.
n an excessive or improper use of drugs, especially through self-administration for
nonmedical purposes. This term has increased significance because of the enactment of
the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, which replaces the
Harrison Narcotic Act. See also substance abuse.
n.pl the use of drugs together to enhance the properties of both to the benefit of the
n a physical or psychologic state in which a person displays withdrawal symptoms if drug
use is halted suddenly; can lead to addiction.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA),
n.pr the federal agency charged with monitoring use and abuse of narcotics. It provides
the drug schedules used to determine the addiction potential of dental drugs.
n an allergic reaction that occurs after exposure to a suspect medication. It may manifest
with a fever or rash and in severe cases, organ damage or death. It is classified as (1)
immediate or occurring rapidly after exposure, or (2) delayed or occurring several days
n an adverse drug reaction that occurs in a small number of persons and presents no
correlation to dosage or means of therapy.
n a modification of the effect of a drug when administered with another drug. The effect
may be an increase or a decrease in the action of either substance, or it may be an
adverse effect that is not normally associated with either drug.
n the capacity of a microorganism to build a tolerance to a drug.
n the length of time a drug retains its properties without loss of potency; usually referred
to as shelf life.
n the use of a drug in the treatment of a patient with a specific disease or illness.
n the body's ability to increasingly withstand the effects of the substance being used,
thereby requiring larger quantities of said substance in order to bring about the desired
n the critical or lethal reaction to an erroneous dosage of a medication. Drug toxicity may
occur due to human error or intentional overdose in the case of suicide or homicide.
n.pl the chemical compounds obtained from certain living cells of lower plant forms, such
as bacteria, yeasts, and molds, and from synthesis. They are antagonistic to certain
pathogenic organisms and have a lethal effect on them.
n.pl the drugs, mainly penicillin and its derivatives, used to combat viral, fungal, and
n.pl the chemical compounds used to reduce the number of microorganisms in the oral cavity.
n.pl the drugs that mimic or block the effects of stimulation of the autonomic nervous system.
n.pl the agents used to diminish or eliminate sensitivity of teeth, especially the dentin, to
physical, chemical, thermal, or other irritants (e.g., strontium chloride, silver ammoniacal] or
potassium nitrate, sodium fluoride, formalin, zinc chloride). Seehypersensitivity, dentin.
n.pl the drugs used in treating the dental pulp and dental periapical tissues.
n.pl the drugs that are not listed in the United States Pharmacopeia (U.S.P.) or the National
n.pl the drugs listed in the U.S.P. or N.F.
n.pl drugs that may be purchased without a prescription. More commonly called
over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
drugs, over-the-counter (OTC),
n.pl the drugs that may be purchased without a prescription. Sometimes called nonlegend drugs
because the label does not bear the prescription legend required on all drugs that may be
dispensed only on prescription.
n.pl the belladonna alkaloids that inhibit glandular secretions of the nose, oral cavity, pharynx,
and bronchi. This is the main reason for using atropine and scopolamine for preanesthetic or
First, congratulations for Olivia..
You should feel your baby's first movements, called "quickening," between weeks 16 and 24 of
your pregnancy. If this is your first pregnancy, you may not feel your baby move until closer to
24 weeks. By the second pregnancy, some women start to feel movements as early as 13 weeks
(this varies in every pregnant moms).
So when you reach your second trimester later, you need to monitor your baby's movement
sometimes (just like saloni explained to you). Feel free to consult with your OB-GYN doctor
whenever you feel a problem with your pregnancy.
But I wish you all the best for your pregnancy. Good luck! Stay healthy always..
Q. Is coffee so harmful? I am Saloni, 17 and a keen coffee-lover. Now-a-days, I drink lot of coffee
which my brother has noticed and advised me to minimize the quantity. He also blames coffee
for heart diseases and addiction status of the person. Is coffee so harmful?
The last response says "coffee is bad for you". This response gives no basis for its conclusion.
Coffee is served in hospitals. If coffee was really bad for you, then hospitals are doing bad things
to patients and would have been sued for malpractice. A judge would laugh you right out of
court for trying.
There are no FDA health warnings on coffee.
Coffee is served in restaurants everywhere in the world. Its everywhere in the work place. There
aren't any rules concerning coffee.
Q. I am going for my first mammography, Is this test harmful? I am going for my first
mammography on coming Tuesday…….just was worried as the doctor is suspecting a tumor….Is
this test harmful?
Generally there is no harm. It may be harmful when you have them during or a week before the
menstrual periods as due the tenderness of the breasts may cause discomfort.
Read more or ask a question about drug abuse
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Drug abuse and addiction facts
Drug abuse is a disorder that is characterized by a destructive pattern of using a substance that
leads to significant problems or distress.
Drug addiction is a disease that is characterized by a destructive pattern of drug abuse that leads
to significant problems involving tolerance to or withdrawal from the substance, as well as other
problems use of the substance can cause for the sufferer.
Drug abuse and addiction are unfortunately quite common, affecting 7% and more than 2% of
people at some point in their lives, respectively.
Dual diagnosis refers to the presence of both a drug-abuse or dependence issue in addition to a
serious mental-health problem in an individual.
Virtually any substance whose ingestion can result in a euphoric ("high") feeling can be abused.
Inhalants like household cleaners are some of the most commonly abused substances.
While the specific physical and psychological effects of drug abuse and addiction tend to vary
based on the particular substance involved, the general effects of abuse or addiction to any drug
can be devastating.
Although drug abuse and addiction have no single cause, there are a number of biological,
psychological, and social risk factors that can increase a person's likelihood of developing a
chemical abuse or chemical dependency disorder.
Symptoms of drug abuse include recurrent drug use that results in legal problems, occurs in
potentially dangerous situations, interferes with important obligations, or results in social or
Symptoms of drug dependence include tolerance, withdrawal, using a lot of the drug or for a
long period of time, persistent desire to use the drug, unsuccessful efforts to stop using the
drug, neglecting other aspects of life because of their drug use, and spending inordinate
amounts of time or energy getting, using, or recovering from the effects of the drug.
While the specific effects of drugs on the brain can somewhat vary depending on the drug that
is being used, virtually every drug that is abused has an effect on the executive functioning areas
of the brain. Drugs particularly affect the brain's ability to inhibit actions that the person would
otherwise delay or prevent.
Since there is no one test that definitively indicates that someone has chemical abuse or
addiction, health care practitioners diagnose these disorders by gathering comprehensive
medical, family, and mental-health information, as well as securing a physical examination and
lab tests to assess the sufferer's medical state.
Treatment services for drug abuse and addiction remain largely unutilized by most sufferers of
The primary goals of recovery are abstinence, relapse prevention, and rehabilitation.
During the initial stage of abstinence, an individual who suffers from chemical dependency may
need detoxification treatment to help avoid or lessen the effects of withdrawal.
Often, much more challenging and time consuming than recovery from the physical aspects of
addiction is psychological addiction.
The treatment of dual diagnosis seems to be more effective when treatment of the
sufferer's mental illness is integrated with the treatment of the individual's chemical
Drug addiction increases the risk of a number of negative life stressors and conditions,
particularly if left untreated.
Recovery from substance abuse is usually characterized by episodes of remission and relapse.
Next: What is drug abuse?
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