A drug of abuse is one with a high probability of causing addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Addiction is defined by the Institute as a chronic brain disease that is susceptible to relapse. It is characterized by compulsive drug seeking as well as compulsive use. This compulsive behavior occurs and continues despite the harmful, and oftentimes, profoundly negative consequences associated with the drug seeking and use.
Seemingly less harmful drugs are considered to be drugs of abuse because of their propensity to serve as a gateway drug to more serious addictive substances. For example, alcohol and marijuana are both considered drugs of abuse that could lead to the use of substances like meth, cocaine or heroin.
Drugs of abuse come in a range of different categories. Addiction recovery specialists classify them into illicit and legal categories. Illicit drugs include cocaine, heroin, meth and in the majority of the country, marijuana. Legal drugs include prescription medications and alcohol.
Drugs are further classified based on the effect they have on a person's body. They are also classified based on their addictiveness and potential for abuse, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration. Schedule III drugs are known as controlled substances. These are the drugs deemed most susceptible for abuse and for causing addiction in a user.
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There is a general correlation between the most commonly used drugs of abuse and the level of addictiveness of these substances. Alcohol tops the list as the most commonly used drug and one that is highly addictive.
Other commonly used, highly addictive drugs include heroin, meth, cocaine and a variety of prescription medications. Pain medications top the list of highly addictive prescription medications that are widely abused today. The abuse of these medications occurs when people improperly use their own prescriptions and when others buy and sell these medications illegally or use them without a prescription.
It is important to know the warning signs of drug abuse so that you or someone you love can get the appropriate treatment. The following are signs of drug abuse:
A variety of treatment options exist for a person seeking to recover from a highly addictive drug of abuse. The treatment process will more than likely commence with medical detoxification. Withdrawal is a serious process, with the potential for serious and even life-threatening, complications. Therefore, detox needs to be medically supervised. At alcohol treatment centers, qualified medical professionals oversee the detox process for every patient and creates the most individualized and best-suited treatment plan possible. This ensures that every person received the utmost care and attention and that all their health needs are being met.
Once the detox process is completed, the patient will be able to fully integrate him or herself into the recovery process. They will participate in both individual and group therapy sessions and activities. They will be provided with education about relapse and alternative therapy methods that may better suit them on their journey to recovery.