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While society is becoming more progressive in considering the medicinal aspects of some drugs, it’s still important to understand that any drug can be abused, and there’s often a fine line between drug use and abuse. In some cases, like nicotine, cocaine, and methamphetamines, any use would imply an abuse because they offer little or no benefits at the risk of potentially dire health consequences. For other drugs, such as THC, alcohol, opiates, among others, there is a threshold where some people may actively need or benefit from limited, measured use. What determines substance abuse in these cases is the way it affects your daily life.

The Coffee Dilemma—Substance Dependency

For some people, coffee is a harmless treat or energy boost enjoyed on occasion. However, the presence of caffeine can cause us to crave coffee not only on a daily basis, but practically require us to be around it at all times. In this case, coffee goes from being a benefit to being a dead weight, slowing productivity whenever we’re faced with its absence. When we can’t function without a drug, we are dependent on it just to feel “ourselves.”

The same can be said about marijuana, which is gaining legal status in many places around the world. Medical marijuana and medicines derived from marijuana can be vital for certain conditions, as far as being approved by the FDA for certain epilepsies. But the THC in marijuana can also act as a catalyst for psychotic symptoms in people with certain disorders. It can also become a dependency, or addiction, with people using marijuana as an alternative sleep medicine, or to cope with daily stress. In these cases, there is a fine line between normal practice or substance abuse and dependency.

Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is rising rapidly in the US. In 1999, there were 3,442 reported deaths from prescription drug overdose. Just 18 years later, there were over 17,000 annual deaths from prescription opioid overdose. The ease of access to these drugs in rural and suburban communities makes them particularly dangerous in these areas, while recovery options may be less available. These drugs are important pain relief medications for patients post-surgery, or with serious injuries or illnesses, but addiction to these drugs can be deadly. It is extremely difficult to get out of an addiction to a prescription pain medication, to the point where even pregnant women are might not be able to resist their addiction, as in the case of Amanda Hensley.

Because of the intense withdrawal symptoms after becoming addicted, quitting a prescription painkiller can be extremely dangerous without professional supervision. Medication like methadone may be necessary to ease a patient down from a potentially life threatening withdrawal. You should always search for a professional substance addiction recovery program when trying to quit an addiction involving strong opiates.

Drug Abuse Impacting Daily Life

When cravings for a substance such as cocaine or heroin become a part of your daily life, it can take a toll on your physical health, job security, and family safety. If you ever find yourself in dangerous situations, such as driving under the influence, experiencing blackouts or memory loss, or any other symptoms of addiction, it’s important that you seek a professional substance abuse recovery provider immediately.