Use, Abuse, And Dependence


addiction2The no drugseffects, risks, and dangers of psychoactive substances (also known as psychotropics) vary with the substance and the way that it is used. People’s reasons for using these substances also vary, depending on their personal history, health, family background, and social setting.

Psychoactive substances can provide immediate sensations of pleasure or relief. For example, people may:

drink a glass of wine because they enjoy the
taste, or to relax, or to calm down after a
frightening experience, or, alternatively, simply
because they have become dependent on it;

smoke tobacco to imitate their peers, or to
spend time with their friends or co-workers,
or simply because they can’t quit;

take ecstasy in the hope of experiencing
intense sensations;

abuse substances for many other reasons— for example, to reduce feelings of uneasiness, to forget painful memories, or to escape difficult situations.

Whether the substance is licit or illicit, three types of substance use behaviors are distinguished: use, abuse, and dependence.

Each of these types of behaviors involves different risks. These risks depend on what substance is used, how much, how often, and by which method of use. The risks also depend on the vulnerabilities of the particular user and on various social, psychological, and cultural factors.

February 12, 2015


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