Drug Abuse

Before considering the issue of abuse, a brief discussion of some legal distinctions around recreational and prescription drugs.  There is a great deal of overlap between recreational and prescription drugs.  Further, many drugs, previously considered as primarily or exclusively recreational, are finding use in therapeutic environments.  At the same time, many prescription drugs, previously considered safe, have been found to have dangerous side effects or long-term negative effects, especially if taken over extended periods of time.

For purposes of clarity, we will use the term Type to describe the group of drugs by physiological effects and the term Schedule or Class to describe the legal classification.  The legal classification is important, of course, because of the possible career consequences of felony convictions.  For reference, click here to see a list of the federal drug scheduling classifications.  Note that there isn’t always agreement on a correspondence between the federal drug schedule classification and potential for addiction.  To further complicate matters, some drugs classified as Schedule I (no currently accepted medical use) such as cannabis, are listed in several states as legal for medical, and in some cases recreational use.

Dependence vs. Addiction

The principal difference between addiction and dependence is that with addiction, there is a physical withdrawal component in addition to a mental craving or obsession.

Drug Types and Abuse Potential

Opiates

There are a wide variety of opiates, both natural and synthetic and they vary widely in strength.  The legal use is almost exclusively for pain management.

  • Examples: Tramadol, codeine, methadone, morphine, heroin, fentanyl
  • Addiction Risk: Addiction risk varies by the individual drug.  Addiction may follow increased tolerance from sustained use.
  • Physical Risks: Like addiction risk, the risk of overdose varies widely by substance.  While there is some risk from less potent opiates like tramadol, it is quite low, while fentanyl has a very high risk of overdose even from very small amounts.

CNS Depressants/Tranquilizers

Central nervous system depressants (CNS) fall into three categories: benzodiazepines, sedative hypnotics, and barbiturates.  They are typically used as muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety aids, sleep aids, and withdrawal from alcohol.  They all have the risk of dependency in the sense that one can rely on them to sleep or relax or deal with anxiety.  The benzodiazepines, in particular, have a high risk of addiction.

Benzodiazepines
  • Examples: Valium. Xanax, Klonopin
  • Addiction Risk: High with continued use.
  • Physical Risks: There is a significant risk of overdose, especially when combined with other drugs and, especially, alcohol.  Overdose symptoms can range from disorientation, unconsciousness, or even death.
Sedatives
  • Examples: Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata
  • Addiction Risk: There is a risk of dependance/addiction with continued use and with addiction there are significant mental changes such as confusion and disorientation.
  • Physical Risks:  There is a significant risk of overdose, especially when combined with other drugs and, especially, alcohol.  Overdose symptoms can range from disorientation, unconsciousness, or even death.
Barbiturates
  • Examples: Nembutal, phenobarbital, Amytal
  • Addiction Risk: There is a risk of dependance/addiction with continued use and with addiction there are significant mental changes such as confusion and disorientation.
  • Physical Risks:There is a significant risk of overdose, especially when combined with other drugs and, especially, alcohol.  Overdose symptoms can range from disorientation, unconsciousness, or even death.

Antidepressants

There are several classes of antidepressants including but not limited to Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), and Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).  They have different effects and are generally not among drugs of abuse.  Misuse of them, however, can be dangerous.  MAO inhibitors combined with alcohol, for example is a dangerous combination.

  • Examples: Prozac,
  • Addiction Risk:
  • Physical Risks:
Hypnotics
  • Examples: Quaalude
  • Addiction Risk:
  • Physical Risks:

Stimulants

  • Examples:
  • Addiction Risk:
  • Physical Risks:

Cannabis Based

  • Examples: Marijuana, THC, Hashish
  • Addiction Risk: Moderate risk
  • Physical Risks: Heavy use can result in some disorientation.  Smoking it has si

Dissociative Drugs

  • Examples: PCP, Ketamine, DXM (Dextromethorphan)
  • Addiction Risk:
  • Physical Risks:

Psychedelics

  • Examples:
  • Addiction Risk:
  • Physical Risks:

Stimulants

  • Examples: Caffeine, Cocaine, Amphetamines
  • Addiction Risk:
  • Physical Risks:

Inhalants

There are over a thousand different substances used to get high. They fall into four categories: Volatile Solvents. Aerosols, Gasses, and Nitrites.  Each class has individual risks.  Volatile solvents, and aerosols have high degrees of toxic chemicals in them that can lead heart failure, seizure, liver damage, or coma.   Gasses can also cut off oxygen supply to the brain,

For more information click here,

 

 

For a detailed description of the types,

National Institute of Mental Health

 

 

Verified by MonsterInsights