Types of Addictions

There are many different classes and families of drugs, all of which have a different effect on the central nervous system (CNS). Alcohol is a depressant; like other depressants it has a dampening effect on the CNS. The dampening effect results in reduced cognitive ability, motor coordination, and decreased reaction time. In contrast to depressants, stimulants work to increase CNS activity. Stimulants include prescription drugs used to treat attention deficit disorder and illegal drugs such as methamphetamines. Opiates and opioids are another family of drugs that are most commonly used to treat pain. Morphine is the opiate taken from the opium poppy plant; it is still used in hospitals to treat moderate to severe pain. Heroin and codeine are two other drugs from the same family.

No matter the drug or substance, the signs and symptoms of addiction are highly similar. In every case, drug addiction involves continued use of the drug or substance even with the knowledge that it is causing physical, psychological, and social problems. An individual with a drug addiction may neglect his or her regular responsibilities, such as family, work, or school, and give up on activities that he or she once enjoyed. The drug takes over to the point that it takes up all of his or her time. Someone who has a drug addiction experiences tolerance, meaning that they need to take a higher dosage or quantity of the drug to experience the high. In the absence of the drug, withdrawal symptoms appear. The drug-addicted individual has no control over his or her use of the substance.