Drug Addiction

Overview of Drug Addiction

Drug addiction also known as substance use disorder particularly affects an individual’s thinking patterns and behavioural conducts. These drugs affect your brain so much that it becomes difficult for you to stop taking those drugs. The first step in treating drug addiction is seeing the problem and then deciding to get help for it.

What is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction (نشے کی عادت) is a common health issue but is treatable. It is a chronic dysfunction of your brain that revolve around motivation, reward and memory. In this, your body craves a certain behaviour or substance, especially in the case of the obsessive or compulsive pursuit of the ‘reward’. It is defined as a progressive disease, in which people can lose control over themselves and it can be life-threatening if they don’t get treatment on time.

With time, addiction can seriously affect your daily life activities. People suffering from drug addiction are also prone to remission and relapse cycles. It can be a mild or intense cycle. Due to this, addiction can lead to serious health complications for life.

Addiction is not merely a problem of morality and willpower. It is rather a difficult and complex disease. People suffering from drug addiction, are not able to simply cut addiction, even if they want to. The drugs actually change the functioning of the brain and make quitting both mentally and physically difficult. Addiction treatment may require lifelong therapy and care.

Drug Addiction Meaning in Urdu

یہ کوئی بیماری نہیں ہے بلکہ ایک عادت ہے جس سے اگر نجات حاصل نہ کی جائے تو یہ بالآخر ایک بیماری کی شکل اختیار کر لیتی ہے۔ اس عادت کا شکار افراد الکوحل، نیکوٹین، اور دوسری بہت سی نشہ آور چیزیں استعمال کرتے ہیں۔ ان نشہ آور چیزوں کے استعمال سے ان کا اعصابی نظام بری طرح متاثر ہو جاتا ہے، جس سے ان کی دماغی صلاحیت میں بھی کمی واقع ہوتی ہے۔ نشہ کی عادت سے چھٹکارا پانا کافی مشکل ہوتا ہے، تاہم ڈاکٹر اور خاندان کے باقی افراد کی مدد سے اس سے نجات حاصل کی جا سکتی ہے۔

Occurrence of Addiction

According to the stats of 2020 of the United Nations Office on Drugs, Pakistan has about 6.7 million drug users. Out of which 2 million people are addicts which are among the highest number for any country all over the world.

Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction

Drug addiction symptoms or behaviors include:

  • Feeling that you use or have to use the certain drug regularly
  • Having an extreme urge to intake such drugs that block any thoughts
  • Increased need of drug to get the same feeling or effect, just like first time
  • Increased intake of drugs with time
  • Maintaining the supply of the drugs
  • Avoiding social gathering or daily life activities
  • Continued use of drugs even when it's causing physical, mental or any other psychological health issues
  • Doing things to get drugs that you normally don’t do such as stealing
  • Doing various things under the influence of drugs such as driving or any other risky activities
  • Spending time on achieving the drug only
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you are about to leave the drugs
  • Failing attempts of quitting drugs

How to Recognize Unhealthy Drug Use by Your Loved Ones

It may not be easy to distinguish if a teenager is suffering from drug abuse or not. Here are some of the ways that can help you find if your teenager or any other beloved one is into drug addictions or not. These are:

  • Problems at school or work such as missing work or classes, dropping grades and neglected work performance
  • Health issues, that include weight gain or loss, red eyes or lack of motivation or energy
  • Change in behaviour with family and everyone and being secretive
  • Money issues such as a sudden request for money without any proper explanation

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Types of Drug Addiction

According to the studies, 1 in 3 people all over the globe suffer from some kind of addiction. The most common and well-known serious addiction is due to alcohol and drugs.

The common drug addictions are:

  • THC i.e. in marijuana
  • Nicotine found in tobacco
  • Cocaine
  • Pain relievers
  • Narcotics or opioid

Addiction is most commonly linked with smoking, drugs, alcohol and gambling but you can be addicted to just anything as well such as:

  • Work – Some people are addicted to their work to the point that they not only neglect their health, family and even become physically exhausted. So, if you never take off from work, you may be addicted to your work.
  • Internet – With the increased use of digital screens such as computers and smartphones, internet addiction has increased a lot. Neglecting daily life activities, people can spend day and night surfing the internet and gaming.
  • Shopping – It is one of the common addictions when you buy things that you don’t want. In the end, you feel guilty, despair or shame.
  • Solvents – You can also get addicted to petrol, aerosols, lighter fuel and glue, as it can give you a feeling of intoxication

Drugs that Lead to Addiction

Drugs that are misused and can lead to addiction are:

  • Stimulants such as cocaine and meth
  • Hallucinogens such as D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), ayahuasca, phencyclidine (PCP), peyote (mescaline) and DMT
  • Alcohol
  • Inhalants such as aerosols, solvents, nitrites (poppers) and gases
  • Opioid painkillers such as heroin, oxycodone, fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine and codeine
  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Tobacco/Nicotine or electronic cigarettes (vaping or e-cigarettes)
  • Synthetic cathinone (bath salts)
  • Cold medicines and prescription drugs
  • Steroids (anabolic)
  • Sedatives, anxiolytics (anti-anxiety medications) and hypnotics
  • Synthetic cannabinoids (K2 or spice)

All of the aforementioned drugs vary from each other but they all strong activator of addiction centre of the brain. Making it a habit. However, this habit varies from one person to person.

Long term side effects of drug addictions include:

  • How you behave
  • Your ways of dealing with stress
  • Your learning ability
  • Your ability to make decisions
  • Your memory

Causes of Drug Addiction

Just like mental health issues, there can be many reasons that contribute to the drug addiction. Some of the main factors are:

  • Genetics – Once you are into drugs, it can be due to inherited genetic traits as well, which can either worsen the drug addiction or delay the recovery process.
  • Environment – There are some environmental factors that contribute to drug addiction such as attitude and belief of family, facing any problem and wanting to get rid of such thoughts and exposure to such peers that make you feel, it’s cool to do drugs.

Risk Factors of Drug Addiction

People of any age, ethnic group, gender or economic status can suffer from drug addiction. But, still, there are certain factors that increase the risk of developing a drug addiction.

Complications of Drug Addiction

Drug addiction can have a long-lasting or short term effect on your health. Some drugs can have a severe effect and can be life-threatening. Here are some complications that you can develop due to drug addiction:

  • Cocaine, opiates and methamphetamine are highly addictive drugs and lead to many short and long term health problems such as seizures, psychotic behaviour and even death.
  •  Flunitrazepam and GHB can cause confusion, sedation and memory loss. These drugs are also called “date rape drugs” and are notorious for impairing the ability to recall an event or resist unwanted contact. A high dose of these drugs can cause seizures, coma and even death. The risk is increased when it is taken with alcohol.
  • Molly (MDMA) or ecstasy drug can cause electrolyte imbalance, dehydration and seizures. Long term use can cause brain damage.
  • Inhalants are toxic in nature. This addiction can lead to severe brain damage.

Other health complications of drug addiction can include:

  • Easily suffering from communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDs.
  • People with drug addiction are more likely to suffer from accidents or suicide.
  • Family or marital conflict can occur due to drug addiction.
  • Drug addiction can affect your work by declining your productivity, performance and absenteeism.
  • Problems at school
  • Legal and even financial issues



The best way to prevent drug addiction is not to use drugs at all. If your doctor has prescribed you such a drug that has the potential of becoming a drug addict.

Preventing Drug Addiction among Children and Teenagers

Here are a few steps that can help you prevent drug addiction or abuse in children and children.

  • Listen – You need to be a good listener. Be supportive, and talk to your children about peer pressure.
  • Communicate – You need to talk to children and teenagers about the harms of drug addiction and its misuse.
  • Strengthen Your Bond – You need to befriend your children and strengthen the bond with them. If you have a strong bond with your children, it would highly reduce the risk of them falling into the trap of drug addiction.
  • Set a Good Example – Children learn from what they observe. So, you need to set good examples for them by not drinking alcohol and doing drugs. Children are at greater risk of drug abuse if their parents are addicts.

Prevention of Drug Addiction Relapse

Once you are a drug addict, you are likely to fall back into the trap of addiction even during treatment. If you do it, you’ll only lose your control. So you need to be mindful of your health first.

Here is how you can prevent a relapse of drug addiction.

  • You need to be consistent and stick strongly with the treatment plan.
  • You need to avoid such gatherings where drug misuse is common.
  • If you have fallen back into the trap of drug addiction, you need to consult your doctor immediately and get help from your doctor.


The very first step in the diagnosis of drug addiction is recognizing the problem and then reaching out for help. The initial diagnosis may start with the involvement of either a family member or friend who would notice this in you. Once someone decides to seek help for drug addiction, the next step would be:

  • Complete health examination by your doctor. The doctor would recommend blood tests, urine tests and other lab tests to check for the level of drug addiction and any other underlying health condition. These tests are not particularly for the diagnosis purpose but are rather to assess drug use. These tests may also be used in monitoring the recovery and treatment plan.

  • For the proper diagnosis of drug addiction and abuse, mostly mental healthcare providers would use certain criteria in the DSM-5 or Diagnostic and Manual Mental Disorders as published by American Psychiatric Association.

Treatment of Drug Addiction | When to Consult a Doctor

There are various treatment therapies available for drug addiction. No matter, how severe the case is, the treatment can help. You might have to undergo a combination of therapies depending upon your condition. These treatments include:

  • Detoxification – First you need to stop taking the drugs. It’ll allow your body to detox the drug and leave your body. You might require professional doctor help in this regard.
  • Medicinal Therapies – During detoxification, your doctor would prescribe medication to help control the craving and also provide help with the withdrawal symptoms.
  • Behavioural Therapies – Psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy is often used during the treatment of drug addiction. This therapy also helps you in building self-esteem and teaches you healthy coping ways.
  • Inpatient addiction treatment
  • Support groups and self-help groups
  • You can also consult your primary healthcare provider for an evaluation.

Doctors to treat Drug Addiction

Last updated on Monday 31/10/2022


Ms. Irat Shaheen

Psychologist | MS Clinical Psychology, MSc psychology, Advance Diploma in Clinical Psychology

Al Afzal Medical CentreRs 1500


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Ms. Maliha Ahmed

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Dr. Muhammad Imran Sharif

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Hameed Latif HospitalRs 2500

Farooq Hospital (Westwood Branch)Rs 2500


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The doctor is patient friendly and he is thorough in his services.

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