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Drug addiction facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
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Drug addiction, also called substance dependence or dependence syndrome, is a condition where a person feels a strong need to take a drug. Addiction also involves other behaviours. These include finding it difficult to control the need to use the drug and feeling the use of the drug to be more important than more normal things such as family or work. When the person does not use the drug for an amount of time, they may suffer from withdrawal.

When a person is addicted, they are usually addicted to a class (a specific kind) of drug.

A person who may easily become addicted to drugs is said to have an addictive personality. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines drug addiction as a mental disorder. Drug addiction is often linked with other mental disorders.


  • Neglecting responsibilities at school, work, or home in favor of drug.
  • Wanting to quit using drugs, but being unable to stop.
  • Experiencing significant cravings or irritability when not using drugs.
  • Using drugs despite the impact on relationships, jobs, finances, and physical and mental health it may cause.
  • Using more of a substance than intended, or needing to use more of a substance in order to achieve the same result/feeling as when you first began using, which is referred to as tolerance.
  • Experiencing mental and/or physical withdrawal symptoms when you stop using drugs, which is referred to as dependence.

The health effects of drug abuse are not just a concern for the individual using drugs. In the case of a woman who is abusing drugs while pregnant, the long-term health of the child can be adversely affected as well. A study from Pediatrics reports that babies born to women who abuse drugs during pregnancy may have physical, emotional, and mental health issues during childhood and even throughout their lives, including:

  • Slowed or impeded physical growth.
  • Delayed development of language abilities.
  • Long-term neurological impairments such as chemical imbalances, slowed cognitive development, learning disabilities, and decreased intellectual capabilities.
  • Increased risk of behavioral issues, including hyperactivity, attention deficit, and delinquency.
  • Increased risk of mental health disorders later in life, including substance abuse.

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See also

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