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If you have a loved one who has a possible substance use problem, you may start to ask yourself, what is drug abuse? To define drug abuse, it is the habitual taking of addictive or illegal drugs. The meaning of drug abuse can also include the extreme desire to acquire, and use, growing amounts of one or more substances. Drug abuse is a general term for the abuse of any type of drug, including cigarettes and alcohol.

When considering the meaning of drug abuse, it is important to remember that drug abuse is not identical drug addiction or drug dependence. Drug addiction or dependence signifies a physical or psychological dependence on the drug to function. Drug dependence requires the user to experience symptoms of withdrawal if the drugs were discontinued, but drug abuse does not.

Which People Fall Victim to Drug Abuse?

Anyone can become a drug abuser. Information on drug abuse states that all social groups, ethnicities, genders, and ages can experience drug abuse problems. While drug abuse is not a weakness in character, it is a medical condition that has evolved over time. No one knows why an individual becomes a drug abuser and another does not, drug abuse is apt to run in families.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, risk factors (typically seen in adolescence) for developing drug abuse problems include the following:

  • Use of drugs by friends/peers
  • Unstable home environment due to mental illness or drug abuse of the parent
  • Availability of drugs in peer group, community, or home
  • Poor relationship with parents
  • Insufficient supervision over adolescent’s activities
  • Poor achievement in school
  • Apparent approval or uncertainty of drug use the peer group, school, or communities
  • Poor parenting combined with behavioural problems

According to Statistics Canada, 60% of illegal drug users in Canada are between the ages of 15 and 24.

The top substance, holding a significant majority, used by Canadians is alcohol, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction. Based on the data collected in the 2015 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, the substance of choice is 76.9% by the general population (15 and over), 71.8% by youth (15 –24), and 77.87% by adults (25 and over).

Commonly Abused Drugs

Drug abuse is the abuse of any chemical substance including but not limited to inhalants, cigarettes, and alcohol. Both illegal and legal drugs can lead to an individual’s drug abuse problem. In short, any type of drug that can be used can also be a drug of abuse.

The categories of commonly abused drugs include the following:

  • Prescription medication, including drugs like oxycodone, methadone, and Zolpidem
  • Over-the-counter drugs, including drugs like cigarettes and alcohol
  • Chemical drugs such as inhalants
  • Illegal drugs like opiates (e.g., heroin), marijuana, hallucinogens (e.g., acid), and stimulants (e.g. cocaine and methamphetamines)

Drug abuse does not have to take over your life. If you are concerned about yourself or someone you love, get in touch with Neworld Medical Detox to see how we can help.