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Drug Abuse and Dependence - Overview

How are drug problems diagnosed?

Drug problems may be diagnosed at a routine doctor visit or when you see your doctor for a health or social problem linked to drug use, such as anxiety, depression, or family conflict. If a partner or friend thinks you have a drug problem, he or she may urge you to see your doctor.

Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and past health. He or she will do a physical exam and sometimes a mental health assessment.

How are drug problems treated?

Treatment includes medicine, therapy, and support groups.

The first step in treatment is to quit using drugs. You may need medical care to manage withdrawal symptoms when you first quit. Some people call this detoxification, or detox.

After you stop using drugs, you focus on staying drug-free. Most people receive some type of therapy, such as group counseling. You also may need medicine to help you stay drug-free.

When you have stopped using drugs, you have taken the first step toward recovery. To gain full recovery, you need to take steps to improve other areas of your life, such as learning to deal with your work, family, and living situation in healthy ways. This makes it easier to stay drug-free.

What can you do if you or another person has a problem with drugs?

If you feel that you have a drug problem, get help. You can visit a doctor or go to a self-help group. The earlier you get help, the easier your recovery will be for you and your family.

Helping someone who has a drug problem is hard. If you are "covering" for the person, you need to stop. For example, don't make excuses for the person when he or she misses work.

You may be able to help by talking to the person about what his or her drug use does to you and others. Talk to the person in private, when he or she isn't using drugs or alcohol and when you are both calm. If the person agrees to get help, call for an appointment right away. Don't wait.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 05, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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