What is Drug Abuse? Drug Abuse Information

Answer to - What is Drug Abuse?  Plus trusted, detailed drug abuse information on which drugs are abused and who falls victim to drug abuse.

"What is drug abuse?" is an important question for any loved one of a person with a possible substance use problem. Drug abuse information clearly states drug abuse is an extreme desire to obtain, and use, increasing amounts of one or more substances. Drug abuse is a generic term for the abuse of any drug, including alcohol and cigarettes.

When considering, "what is drug abuse?" one should remember drug abuse is not the same thing as drug dependence or drug addiction. Drug dependence or addiction indicates a psychological or physical dependence on the drug to function. Drug dependence requires the symptoms of withdrawal if the drug is discontinued, whereas drug abuse does not.1

Drug Abuse Info - Who Falls Victim to Drug Abuse?

Anyone can become a drug abuser. Drug abuse information indicates that all ethnicities, ages, social groups and genders can have drug abuse problems. Drug abuse is not a character flaw but rather a medical condition that has developed over time. While no one knows why one person becomes a drug abuser while another doesn't, drug abuse does tend to run in families. (read about the causes of drug abuse)

The National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates the following risk factors for developing drug abuse problems (typically seen in adolescence):2

  • Unstable home environment, often due to drug abuse or mental illness of the parent
  • Poor relationship with parents
  • Inadequate supervision over adolescent's activities
  • Use of drugs by friends / peers
  • Permissive attitude towards their own drug use and the drug use of the adolescent
  • Behavioral problems combined with poor parenting
  • Poor achievement in school
  • Apparent ambivalence or approval of drug use in the school, peer group or community
  • Availability of drugs in the community, peer group or home

What Drugs Are Abused?

Drug abuse can be abuse of any chemical substance including cigarettes, inhalants, alcohol and others. Drug abuse information shows both legal and illegal drugs can lead to drug abuse. In short, any drug that can be used can also be a drug of abuse.

Categories of drugs commonly seen in drug abuse cases include:

  • Legal, over-the-counter - Includes drugs like alcohol and cigarettes
  • Legal, prescription - includes drugs like methadone, oxycodone and Zolpidem
  • Chemical - includes drugs like inhalants
  • Illegal - includes drugs like marijuana, opiates (like heroin), stimulants (like methamphetamines and cocaine) and hallucinogenics (like acid)

For more drug abuse information, click the "next" article below. For information on:

  • Drug Addiction: Risk factors, signs, causes, effects, being an addict, abuse, withdrawl, treatment and more

article references

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2021, December 15). What is Drug Abuse? Drug Abuse Information, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 16 from

Last Updated: December 29, 2021

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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