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Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a chronic medical condition that can lead to various mental, physical, and social consequences. Fortunately, there are treatment approaches that can help people regain control of their lives.1 This page will help you learn more about drug addiction, including the signs of drug addiction, and how to find drug addiction treatment near you.

What Is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction, also referred to as a substance use disorder (SUD), is a chronic medical condition characterized by compulsive substance use.1, 2 People struggling with drug addiction seek out and use substances despite experiencing negative mental, physical, and social consequences as a result.2 It’s influenced by a complex interplay of environmental and genetic factors, as well as brain changes that occur from chronic substance use.1 Like other chronic medical conditions, various prevention and treatment strategies can help effectively treat drug addiction.1

Sedatives

Sedatives are often prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia.4 This class of drugs includes different medications, like barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and prescription sleep medications, such as Ambien.3, 4

Misusing these drugs (e.g., taking medication in a dose or way other than prescribed; taking someone else’s medication; or taking a medication to feel euphoria) can lead to drug addiction—diagnosed as a sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder.3, 4, 5 It can also lead to other health consequences, including an increased risk of overdose.3, 4 Misusing sedatives with alcohol is especially dangerous and increases the risk of life-threatening respiratory depression.5

Opioids

The opioid class of drugs includes prescription pain medications such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and illegal opioids such as heroin.6 Opioid misuse poses a significant risk of drug addiction and numerous health consequences, including respiratory depression and overdose.3, 6

Fentanyl is up to 100 times stronger than morphine. It can be deadly even in small amounts and is a major contributor to overdoses in the U.S.7 Illegally made fentanyl is synthesized in labs and often mixed with other drugs like cocaine, heroin, meth, and MDMA, frequently unbeknownst to the user.8

Stimulants

Stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy, as well as a person’s breathing and heart rate.3 This class of drugs includes illicit stimulants like cocaine and meth, and prescription medications such as Adderall, Concerta, and Ritalin which are prescribed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obesity, or narcolepsy.4, 9

Stimulant misuse can lead to drug addiction and other health consequences depending on the specific substance and how it’s used.3, 9 This includes mental health effects like paranoia or psychosis, cardiovascular effects like heart disease and heart attack, and overdose, among others.3, 9

Psychedelic and Dissociative Drugs

Psychedelic and dissociative drugs include hallucinogens such as ketamine, phencyclidine (PCP), psilocybin, and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and other drugs that have psychedelic or dissociative effects, like MDMA (ecstasy).3, 10 These drugs temporarily alter a person’s mood, thoughts, and perceptions of reality.10

Psychedelics and dissociative drugs are not typically considered addiction-driving substances.10 However, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) includes diagnoses for PCP use disorder and “other hallucinogen use disorder.” Other research suggests that psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD generally don’t lead to addiction. More research is needed to understand the long-term effects these substances may have.10

Marijuana

Marijuana refers to the bud, leaves, stems, and seeds of the hemp plants known as Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica.11 Marijuana is one of the most misused drugs in the U.S.11 It can lead to addiction, as well as various mental and physical health effects, including hallucinations, paranoia, breathing problems, and increased heart rate.11  

What Are the Signs of Drug Addiction?

A substance use disorder (SUD) can only be diagnosed by a qualified medical or mental health professional using criteria from the DSM-5.4 However, it can be helpful to understand the signs of drug addiction, so you know when it may be time to seek help.

Treatment for Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a treatable condition, and with proper treatment, people can overcome an addiction to drugs and regain control of their lives.12 According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), effective treatment is individualized and may involve different levels of care, including treatment for co-occurring disorders.13 Rehab for drug addiction might include one or more of the following options:

Paying for Drug Addiction Treatment

There are many ways to pay for drug addiction rehab, including using health insurance benefits. Substance use treatment is an essential benefit, and the federal government requires that Marketplace plans offer the same level of coverage for addiction and mental health treatment as they do for other medical and surgical care.15 Coverage can vary, so it’s advisable to check with your insurance carrier or call American Addiction Centers at to easily verify your insurance in just a few minutes.

Paying for addiction rehab without insurance is also possible. If your insurance doesn’t fully cover the cost or you want to learn about paying without insurance, you can look for a drug addiction treatment center that offers sliding scales, payment plans, or scholarships, or consider government-funded rehab.15

Finding Drug Addiction Treatment

If you’re wondering how to find addiction treatment near you, you can use our directories tool, which allows you to search rehabs and filter by criteria such as insurance, location, and more. It’s never too late to start the path to recovery, and there is always hope. You can also call us at to speak to a caring admissions navigator about your treatment options.

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