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Drug abuse or substance abuse refers to the use of certain chemicals for the purpose of creating pleasurable effects on the brain. There are over 190 million drug users around the world and the problem has been increasing at alarming rates, especially among young adults under the age of 30. Apart from the long term damage to the body drug abuse causes, drug addicts who use needles are also at risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis B and C infections.
Drugs of abuse are usually psychoactive drugs that are used by people for various different reasons which may include:
Drugs of abuse fall into three groups and these include:
Examples of drugs are:
There are several different routes of administration for drugs of abuse including orally in the form of a pill, intravenously in the form of an injection, by inhaling the substance in the from of smoke or via snorting the substance so it is absorbed into the blood vessels of the nose.
Cannabis, marijuana and hashish are the most widely abused drugs in the world. Around 141 million people worldwide consume cannabis. The use of stimulants such as amphetamine and ecstasy is also widespread, with nearly 30 million people abusing these drugs. Cocaine is used by around 13 million people across the globe, with the highest numbers of users in the United States. Abuse of heroin and other opioids is less common than with other drugs and is taken up by around 8 million people worldwide, mainly in South-East and South-West Asia and Europe.
Drug abuse is seen in various different age groups and in individuals from nearly all walks of life and socioeconomic strata. However, men are more likely to abuse drugs than women, single people are more likely than married individuals and urban dwellers more likely than rural dwellers. Prisoners, street children and younger individuals are also more likely to abuse drugs.