Substance abuse

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Substance abuse, or drug abuse, happens when a person uses a drug over and over again, in ways that are harmful to their health. The person is using the drug to change his or her mood or to feel better, not for any healthy reason.

What Kind of Drugs are Abused?[change | change source]

People abuse drugs in many different ways, including:

Illegal Drugs[change | change source]

Some of the most commonly abused illegal drugs are:[1]

Legal Drugs and Medicines[change | change source]

Some of the most commonly abused legal drugs and medicines are:[1]

Substance Abuse and Addiction[change | change source]

The people who abuse drugs are often addicted. Since many of these drugs are illegal, very often drug abusers have problems with the law.[2]

In many cases, when a person is using drugs, their thinking and behaviors change. Sometimes, they commit crimes while using drugs. They may do things that are not safe, like drive a car while drunk. When people abuse drugs over a longer time, their personalities often change as well.[3]

Substance Abuse, Depression, and Suicide[change | change source]

Substance abuse is the second most common risk factor for suicide (after major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder).[4] People are more likely to commit suicide if they use drugs over a short time (acutely) or over a long time (chronically).[5]

Drug or alcohol use is involved in more than half of suicides. Up to 25% of people who kill themselves are addicted to drugs or alcohol. This is much more common in younger people. Up to 70% of adolescents who kill themselves are addicted to drugs or alcohol.[source?]

This table explains more about how some commonly abused drugs relate to depression and suicide:

Substance abused Effects related to suicide
Alcohol People who misuse alcohol are more likely to have a number of mental health disorders. Alcoholics have a very high suicide rate. Suicide from alcoholism is more common in older adults.[6] If a person drinks 6 or more drinks per day, he or she is six times more likely to commit suicide.[7][8] Many heavy drinkers have major depressive disorder, and heavy drinking itself can cause major depressive disorder in a lot of alcoholics.[9]
Benzodiazepines People are more likely to be depressed, and have a higher risk of suicide, if they have been abusing benzodiazepines (like Xanax) or using them for a long time.[10] Depressed adolescents who were taking benzodiazepines were much more likely to hurt themselves or kill themselves.[11]
Cigarette smoking Many studies have shown a link between smoking, thinking about suicide, and suicide attempts.[12][13] In studies done with 50,000 nurses and 300,000 male U.S. Army soldiers, the people who smoked between 1 to 24 cigarettes per day had twice the suicide risk, and people who smoked 25 cigarettes or more had 4 times the suicide risk, as compared with those who had never smoked.[14][15]
Cocaine Misuse of drugs such as cocaine often has a link with suicide. The time when the effects of a drug wear off is called the "crash" or withdrawal phase. During this phase, many people feel very bad. Suicide is most likely to occur during this phase in people who use a lot of cocaine or are addicted. In younger adults, suicide more commonly happens when two or more drugs are taken together.
Crystal meth Crystal meth use has a strong link with depression and suicide as well as a range of other bad effects on physical and mental health.[16]
Heroin Deaths among heroin users that are thought to be from suicide range from 3% to 35%. Overall, heroin users are 14 times more likely than people who do not use heroin to die from suicide.[17]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Commonly Abused drugs Charts". DrugAbuse.gov. National Institute on Drug Abuse. October 2015. http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts. Retrieved December 24, 2015.
  2. (2002). Mosby's Medical, Nursing, & Allied Health Dictionary. Sixth Edition. Drug abuse definition, p. 552. Nursing diagnoses, p. 2109. ISBN 0-323-01430-5.
  3. Ksir, Oakley Ray; Charles (2002). Drugs, society, and human behavior (9th ed. ed.). Boston [u.a.]: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0072319631.
  4. D., PhD Frank, Jerome; Levin, Jerome D; S., PhD Piccirilli, Richard; Perrotto, Richard S; Culkin, Joseph (28 Sep 2001). Introduction to chemical dependency counseling. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. pp. 150–152. ISBN 978-0-7657-0289-0. http://books.google.com/?id=felzn3Ntd-cC&pg=RA1-PA151.
  5. Giner L, Carballo JJ, Guija JA, et al. (2007). "Psychological autopsy studies: the role of alcohol use in adolescent and young adult suicides". Int J Adolesc Med Health 19 (1): 99–113. PMID 17458329.
  6. Chignon JM, Cortes MJ, Martin P, Chabannes JP (July 1998). "[Attempted suicide and alcohol dependence: results of an epidemiologic survey]" (in French). Encephale 24 (4): 347–54. PMID 9809240.
  7. O'Donohue, William T.; R. Byrd, Michelle; Cummings, Nicholas A.; Henderson, Deborah P. (2005). Behavioral integrative care: treatments that work in the primary care setting. New York: Brunner-Routledge. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-415-94946-0. http://books.google.com/?id=PO5u2w3qL68C.
  8. Ayd, Frank J (31 May 2000). Lexicon of psychiatry, neurology, and the neurosciences. Philadelphia: Lippincott-Williams Wilkins. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-7817-2468-5. http://books.google.com/?id=ea_QVG2BFy8C.
  9. Fergusson DM, Boden JM, Horwood LJ (March 2009). "Tests of causal links between alcohol abuse or dependence and major depression". Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 66 (3): 260–6. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2008.543. PMID 19255375. http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=19255375.
  10. Taiminen TJ (January 1993). "Effect of psychopharmacotherapy on suicide risk in psychiatric inpatients". Acta Psychiatr Scand 87 (1): 45–7. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.1993.tb03328.x. PMID 8093823.
  11. Brent DA, Emslie GJ, Clarke GN et al. (April 2009). "Predictors of spontaneous and systematically assessed suicidal adverse events in the treatment of SSRI-resistant depression in adolescents (TORDIA) study". Am J Psychiatry 166 (4): 418–26. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2008.08070976. PMID 19223438. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=19223438.
  12. Iwasaki M, Akechi T, Uchitomi Y, Tsugane S (April 2005). "Cigarette Smoking and Completed Suicide among Middle-aged Men: A Population-based Cohort Study in Japan". Annals of Epidemiology 15 (4): 286–92. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2004.08.011. PMID 15780776.
  13. Miller M, Hemenway D, Rimm E (May 2000). "Cigarettes and suicide: a prospective study of 50,000 men". American journal of public health 90 (5): 768–73. doi:10.2105/AJPH.90.5.768. PMC 1446219. PMID 10800427.
  14. Hemenway D, Solnick SJ, Colditz GA (February 1993). "Smoking and suicide among nurses". American journal of public health 83 (2): 249–51. doi:10.2105/AJPH.83.2.249. PMC 1694571. PMID 8427332.
  15. Miller M, Hemenway D, Bell NS, Yore MM, Amoroso PJ (June 2000). "Cigarette smoking and suicide: a prospective study of 300,000 male active-duty Army soldiers". American Journal of Epidemiology 151 (11): 1060–3. PMID 10873129.
  16. Darke, S.; Kaye, S.; McKetin, R.; Duflou, J. (May 2008). "Major physical and psychological harms of methamphetamine use". Drug Alcohol Rev 27 (3): 253–62. doi:10.1080/09595230801923702. PMID 18368606.
  17. Darke S, Ross J (November 2002). "Suicide among heroin users: rates, risk factors and methods". Addiction 97 (11): 1383–94. doi:10.1046/j.1360-0443.2002.00214.x. PMID 12410779. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/openurl?genre=article&sid=nlm:pubmed&issn=0965-2140&date=2002&volume=97&issue=11&spage=1383.