Substance abuse means using drugs for non-medical reasons. The drugs can be
either legal or illegal. They don't have to be illegal to be abused. If you abuse drugs,
you can become dependent on them physically and mentally. Drug abuse and addiction can lead
to many problems in life. They can also harm your health.
Many people who abuse drugs don't know they have a problem, or don't want to
admit it. They ignore the warning signs of drug abuse and don't listen to family and
friends who are concerned.
This assessment is for people who regularly use drugs and wonder if they have
a problem with abuse or addiction. The assessment is not for occasional users of drugs.
This assessment is based on the CAGE assessment. CAGE was originally
developed to identify alcohol abuse. But it's now also used to assess drug abuse.
This short questionnaire can help you take a closer look at your drug use.
A "yes" answer to any of the questions in this assessment
should make you think about the role that drugs may play in your life. Could
you be in denial about a problem with drugs? If you have concerns about drug addiction,
talk with your healthcare provider. This is true no matter what your results are on this
assessment. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your current provider about drug
abuse, find another provider.
From the answers you gave us, it does not appear that you have a problem with drugs.
About drug addiction and drug abuse
Both drug abuse and drug addiction can lead to many health problems. These problems
vary, depending on the type of drug abused. In general, these are the effects:
- Drug abuse weakens your immune system. This makes it harder to fight off infection.
- People who abuse drugs often take part in risky behaviors. These include unsafe sex and
sharing of needles. This makes them more likely to get sexually transmitted diseases
such as HIV and hepatitis. They are also more likely to get into
fights and motor vehicle accidents.
- Abusing drugs can affect the way your heart works. It can raise your risk for heart
attack. It can also weaken your heart and cause heart failure.
- Certain drugs can harm the kidneys. Other drugs can harm the liver. These include
heroin, inhalants, and steroids.
- All drugs that are abused affect the brain. This is because they cause a pleasurable or
euphoric effect. Some drugs damage the brain or cause strokes or seizures. Drug abuse
can affect memory and attention. It can affect decision-making. Over time, the damage to
the brain can lead to paranoia, depression, and aggression.
- People who abuse steroids for bodybuilding or athletic performance have problems related
to sex hormones. For men, infertility and shrinking of the testicles occur. Women's
bodies become more masculine.
- Pregnant women who abuse drugs affect the health of the developing child. Drug abuse
may cause miscarriage, preterm birth, and low birth weight. As the child grows up, they
may have problems with behavior or learning.
Drug abuse and drug dependence also have a large impact on society:
- More than half of the estimated cost of drug abuse is tied to drug-related crime.
This includes the impact on victims of crime, the cost of police and prison services,
and loss of a legitimate contribution to society by engaging in a life of crime.
- Additional costs are tied to substance abuse treatment and prevention programs, and
medical care needed for health problems tied to drug abuse.
- A teenager who abuses drugs may have problems finishing school.
- An adult who abuses drugs may have difficulty keeping a job or helping to provide
for a family.
- An older adult who abuses drugs may be more likely to be misdiagnosed with dementia
Drug addiction is a chronic disease. Like type 2 diabetes, cancer,
heart disease, and other chronic illnesses, it has no cure. Drug addiction can be
successfully treated, however. Treatment that focuses on changing behavior helps many
people. People who are addicted to heroin and certain other drugs can be helped with
medicine and behavior change therapy.
Most treatment programs are led by people who have been specially
trained in drug abuse and licensed as drug treatment counselors.
Programs can be inpatient or outpatient. A variety of programs is
available because no single program works for everyone. If you enter a treatment program,
you will need to stick with the program for the length of time recommended for it to work.
Even then, you may need several periods of treatment to stay drug-free. Most programs
include partners and families in therapy sessions. This helps you deal with issues and
build ongoing support for your goal of staying drug-free.
Where to go for help
You can find a treatment center near you by calling SAMHSA toll-free at
800-662-HELP (800-662-4357), or by visiting the SAMHSA website.
About CAGE: The above assessment is a modified CAGE
questionnaire for finding problems with drug use. The CAGE questionnaire was developed by
Dr. John Ewing. Ewing was founding director of the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. CAGE is an internationally used assessment
tool for finding problems with alcohol.