Drug Addiction Definition and Explanations

Drug Addiction – Definition and Explanations

Drug Addiction Definition and Explanations

Originally the addiction is a term that comes from the Greek toxikon, “poison” and mania, “madness”. This means that someone repeatedly and excessively uses one or more toxic substances (analgesics, stimulants, and other psychotropic drugs) without therapeutic justification.

Today we more readily speak of addictions in the plural because consumption practices have evolved towards polydrug addictions (alcohol, drugs, various synthetic or natural drugs, etc.). Uses are evolving towards an uncontrollable need to continue using the product, accompanied by addiction and then dependence. hence it’s very important to know Drug Addiction Definition and Explanations

Hence, According to the WHO, the strict definition of addiction corresponds to four elements:

  • An irrepressible urge to consume the product;
  • a tendency to increase doses;
  • psychological and sometimes physical dependence;
  • harmful consequences on daily life (emotional, social, economic).

Term Discussions

This term for being connoted on the psychiatric level (mania = madness) is for some too marked and, therefore, less used.
This reproach understandable, but it can also describe the situation very well since it indeed poison, especially in the doses consumed, and indeed a “crazy” consumption (mania) since it can lead to all the excesses and excesses.

Some strictly limit it to the use of prohibited psychotropic substances (or drugs); others use it to refer to all consumption of psychotropic products without distinguishing between types of consumption (problematic consumption, occasional consumption, etc.) while others focus on the definition as a whole without distinguishing between products and attach to it all kinds of compulsive-type behaviour such as alcoholism, smoking.

As early as 1960, the WHO recommended that the term “dependence” more likely as “addiction”, according to the experts of this body, which is less imprecise.

psycological considerations

  • In psychiatry, it is the notions of pleasure-seeking and alienation that are central to the definition.
  • Addiction defined along three axes: pleasure, compulsion, and toxicity.
  • It is the search for pleasure – or the avoidance of the situation of displeasure linked to the absence of a product – that would lead to repeated use; this repeated use would induce, due to the installation of an addiction, a forced use undergone by the user and this forced use over time would reveal the toxic nature of the product.
  • From this point of view, more than the product, it is the personality of the user that determines drug addiction, defined as having “an abnormal and prolonged craving” whose origin can be attributed to emotional problems.

Problematic use

The notion of problematic use is an essential notion in the definition of the term addiction.

It is the one that makes it possible to distinguish between so-called simple use and addiction. It is determined irrespective of whether or not the product is legal.
In fact, since problematic use is an inability to control one’s consumption, the notion of controlled use appears, in which the user remains in control of his or her own consumption.

This distinction was formalized as early as the 1970s in several official reports. (the Baan report in the Netherlands published in 1972, the Pelletier report in the USA in 1978, etc.).

These reports defined the potential risk of abuse and differentiated between occasional and problem users, emphasizing that much more than the product, it is above all psychological or social factors which determine drug addiction.

Specialists such as Claude Olievenstein, for example, described two modes of consumption for illegal psychotropic drugs.

  • A so-called “festive” or “recreational” or sometimes “performance” mode of consumption, which is more likely to concern a mainly young population from all walks of life where consumption is induced by pleasure, curiosity or a group effect.
  • A so-called “problematic” use, designated by the term “addiction”, which would concern a population with difficulties prior to the use of psychotropic drugs and for whom this use is induced by malaise.

Practice about Drug Addiction Definition and Explanations

In practice, therefore, users are those whose use leads to an encounter with the public, health, social or judicial systems.

So-called “problematic” consumption also opposed to the notion of occasional consumption.
Furthermore, A so-called “problematic” use, referred to as addiction, which would concern a population with difficulties prior to the use of psychotropic drugs and for whom this use would be induced by malaise.

In practice, therefore, users considered to be “problem” users are those whose use leads to an encounter with the public, health, social or judicial systems.

  • It should also be pointed out that it is this notion of “problematic”.
  • consumption that makes it possible to avoid considering patients treated with morphine as drug addicts.
  • since their consumption controlled by a doctor and does not induce compulsive behavior through regular use.
  • For tobacco, we dependence assess according to criteria such as the quantities consumed and the time-lapse observed between waking up and the first cigarette.
  • For alcohol, drinking according to WHO three glasses of alcohol per day for men and two for women as addiction.

furthermore, for illicit psychotropic drugs, it is heroin that most often poses a problem consumption requiring health and social care for the user.


In USA, it estimated that the number of new patients treated per year is 55,000 for tobacco, 43,000 for alcohol, and 34,000 for drug addiction.
Types of drugs that lead to problematic drug use
Drugs act on the brain, changing behavior, or sensations.

In the beginning, these products, licit (coffee, tobacco, …) or illicit (LSD, amphetamines, …) used for pleasure, to give energy or for fashion. After a certain time (different for each product) the body will need this substance, and this is when we will be addicts.

Types of drug addiction

⦁ Amphetamines:

These products are synthetic and created in clandestine laboratories. They are psychostimulants and appetite suppressants. Furthermore, Amphetamines used in different ways: by ingestion (in the form of a pill) or by injection. They increase stamina, overcome hunger and sleep, increase attention span, … These are the short-term effects. Long-term effects include skin rashes, weight loss or undernutrition, depression, increased heart rate and sweating, and sometimes even paranoia. There is a strong psychic dependence on these products.

⦁ Cannabis:

Most widely used substance in the world. It can disrupt the functioning of the brain. The active ingredient of this drug is THC (tetra-hydrocannabinol). Smoked in cigarettes or pipes but can also be eaten (in the form of tea or “space cake”). It creates feelings of euphoria or relaxation, the effects can be different depending on several factors. In the short-term effects, we can observe an increase in heart rate, decreased salivation, red eyes, increased creativity, … It develops a psychic dependence, comparable to that of nicotine.

⦁ Cocaine:

Cocaine is a fine white powder that snorted, injected, ingested or sometimes smoked. In the short term, it causes a feeling of euphoria, power and indifference to pain and fatigue. The effect is intense but brief (about half an hour). Long-term effects can be, for example, damage to the heart (because the heart rate is increased), the subject may be anxious or depressed and suffer from agitation, insomnia, weight loss and sometimes necrosis of the nose. This substance creates a strong psychological and sometimes physical dependence.

⦁ Ecstasy:

Ecstasy is a synthetic drug that produced in clandestine laboratories. It is similar to amphetamines. It comes in the form of oral tablets. The short-term effects are feelings of well-being, euphoria, emotions and strong sensations, delirium, mental confusion, … Long-term effects are weight loss, unstable moods, heart problems, thermoregulation, and behavioral problems. It creates a psychic and physical dependence.

⦁ Heroin:

It comes from opium and obtained from morphine. It smoked, inhaled through the nose or injected into the veins. In the short term, one can observe a feeling of well-being, ecstasy, euphoria, the effect is brief but intense. In the long term, we can observe a loss of appetite, the fall of teeth, … Heroin overdose characterized by respiratory insufficiency that can lead to death.

⦁ LSD (or lysergic acid diethylamine):

This product extracted from the parasitic field of rye. It is a white, crystalline powder that taken orally or by ingestion. It is a powerful hallucinogen. Short-term effects are hallucinations, sensory changes, colors are more beautiful, you feel the noise, you see the music, crazy laughter that can lead to insanity or suicide. Long-term effects include depression and psychotic symptoms. There is no physical addiction, but a strong psychic addiction.

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