Drug addiction is a dependence on a street drug or a medication. When you're addicted, you may not be able to control your drug use and you may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes. Drug addiction can cause an intense craving for the drug. You may want to quit, but most people find they can't do it on their own.
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Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted, but for many what starts as casual use leads to drug addiction. Drug addiction can cause serious, long-term consequences including problems with physical and mental health, relationships, employment and the law.
You may need help from your doctor, family, friends, support groups or an organized treatment program to overcome your drug addiction and stay drug-free.
Most drug addictions start with casual or social use of a drug. For some people, this is as far as it goes. For other people, using the drug becomes a habit and use becomes more and more frequent. As time passes, you may need larger doses of the drug to get high. Soon you may need the drug just to feel good. As your drug use increases, you may find that it becomes increasingly difficult to go without the drug. Stopping may cause intense cravings and make you feel physically ill (withdrawal symptoms).
Drug addiction symptoms or behaviors include:
• Feeling that you have to use the drug regularly
— this can be daily or even several times a day
• Failing in your attempts to stop using the drug
• Making certain that you maintain a supply of the drug
• Spending money on the drug even though you can't afford it
• Doing things to obtain the drug that you normally wouldn't do, such as stealing
• Feeling that you need the drug to deal with your problems
• Driving or doing other risky activities when you're under the influence of the drug
• Focusing more and more time and energy on getting and using the drug