This is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain—they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long lasting and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs. It is a disease that does not discriminate regarding age, sex, race, religion or economic status. It is progressive and chronic in nature and can be fatal if left untreated.


Over 4 million Americans are currently using prescription pain relievers (Opiates) non-medically. The abuse of pain relievers has increased at a much more rapid rate compared to other drugs of misuse. Opiate drugs are highly addictive and are used illicitly to achieve a state of euphoria or “high,” and/or self-medication to relieve depression, anxiety, and stress. Drugs classified as opiates are: Opium, Morphine, Codeine, Hydrocodone, Demerol, Dilaudid, OxyContin, Heroin, and other opioids.

“Drug addiction is a brain disease that can be treated”
~ Dr. Nora D. Volkow

Why do people take Drugs?

  • To feel good- Most abused drugs produce intense feelings of pleasure
  • To feel better- People who suffer from social anxiety, stress
    related disorders and depression begin using in an attempt to self medicate
    and lessen the feelings associated with mental health disorders
  • To do better- in an effort to perform better in a certain area,
    individuals feel the need or pressure to chemically enhance their athletic
    or cognitive performance
  • Peer Pressure – Curiosity and because others are doing it

Physical Signs of Drug Abuse

  • Loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss or weight gain
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cold, sweaty palms
  • Slowed irregular walk, poor physical coordination
  • Pupil dilation or constriction

Behavioral Signs of Drug Abuse

  • Change in personality
  • Change in friends, new hang-outs
  • Change in interest
  • Drop in grades or work performance
  • Moodiness
  • Paranoia
  • Change in grooming habits