Drug use

What are drugs?
Drugs are chemical substances that can change how your body and mind work. They include prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs.

What is drug use?
Drug use, or misuse, includes

Using illegal substances, such as
Anabolic steroids
Club drugs
Cocaine
Heroin
Inhalants
Marijuana
Methamphetamines
Misusing prescription medicines, including opioids. This means taking the medicines in a different way than the health care provider prescribed. This includes
Taking a medicine that was prescribed for someone else
Taking a larger dose than you are supposed to
Using the medicine in a different way than you are supposed to. For example, instead of swallowing your tablets, you might crush and then snort or inject them.
Using the medicine for another purpose, such as getting high
Misusing over-the-counter medicines, including using them for another purpose and using them in a different way than you are supposed to
Drug use is dangerous. It can harm your brain and body, sometimes permanently. It can hurt the people around you, including friends, families, kids, and unborn babies. Drug use can also lead to addiction.

What is drug addiction?
Drug addiction is a chronic brain disease. It causes a person to take drugs repeatedly, despite the harm they cause. Repeated drug use can change the brain and lead to addiction.

The brain changes from addiction can be lasting, so drug addiction is considered a “relapsing” disease. This means that people in recovery are at risk for taking drugs again, even after years of not taking them.

Does everyone who takes drugs become addicted?
Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted. Everyone’s bodies and brains are different, so their reactions to drugs can also be different. Some people may become addicted quickly, or it may happen over time. Other people never become addicted. Whether or not someone becomes addicted depends on many factors. They include genetic, environmental, and developmental factors.