In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in prescription drug misuse or abuse. This increase has led to a corresponding increase in ER visits because of accidental overdoses as well as admissions to drug treatment programs for drug addictions.
What Is a Drug Addiction?
Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease. It causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted person as well as the people around that person. The abuse of drugs -- even prescription drugs -- leads to changes in the structure and function of the brain.
For most people, the initial decision to take prescription drugs is voluntary. Over a period of time, however, changes in the brain caused by repeated drug abuse affect a person's self-control and ability to make sound decisions. While this is going on, the person continues to experience intense impulses to take more drugs.
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