Many patients get caught up in trying to define their relationship with drugs and alcohol. For example, drug abuse, has a far less threatening reputation than that of drug addiction. According to Medline Plus, an issue with drug abuse is defined as the regular abuse of any illicit substance including alcohol over the course of a year with negative consequences. These negative consequences can be financial, interpersonal, work-related, legal, health-related – anything that changes the patient’s experience of day-to-day life for the worse.2
Alcohol is also linked to self-harm, psychosis, and suicide and because it can impair judgement and lead to reckless, compulsive behaviour, many people who take their own lives do so while under the influence of alcohol. In fact, NHS Scotland has said that over half of all hospital admissions related to deliberate self-harm have a direct link to alcohol either immediately before or during the act.
Drug addiction is a condition that is characterised by repeatedly taking or administering drugs - whether these are illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or MDMA/ecstasy, or legal prescription drugs - to the extent that you become both physically and psychologically dependent on these substances. Regardless of the type of drug addiction that you have developed, continued drug use can soon become a serious problem and can lead to a range of serious long-term consequences, and may even be fatal.
The United States' approach to substance abuse has shifted over the last decade, and is continuing to change. The federal government was minimally involved in the 19th century. The federal government transitioned from using taxation of drugs in the early 20th century to criminalizing drug abuse with legislations and agencies like the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) mid-20th century in response to the nation's growing substance abuse issue. These strict punishments for drug offenses shined light on the fact that drug abuse was a multi-faceted problem. The President's Advisory Commission on Narcotics and Drug Abuse of 1963 addressed the need for a medical solution to drug abuse. However, drug abuse continued to be enforced by the federal government through agencies such as the DEA and further legislations such as The Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, and Anti-Drug Abuse Acts.
This is an ongoing debate in the medical community, but it is generally agreed that there is no one cause for the development of addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, contributing factors may include a genetic predisposition to develop addictive tendencies, an environment that is permissive of drug abuse, access to illicit substances, and certain developmental issues. The existence of a Dual Diagnosis is one of the biggest risk factors for the development of addiction. Heroin Withdrawal | First Week In