POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 63 Drug use becomes a problem when use of a drug results in negative consequences for the person who uses the drug. These may be physical, mental, social, emotional, legal, economic or environmental consequences. When a person continues to use a drug despite negative consequences to him or herself or to other people such as family, friends or employer, this use is often informally referred to as drug or substance abuse. Other terms used to describe drug use associated with negative consequences include "misuse", "dependence" and "addiction". As well as being used informally to describe the negative consequences of drug use, the terms "abuse" and "dependence" are also used by professionals in classifying substance-related disorders, e.g., drug dependence, alcohol abuse. "Drug or substance misuse" is generally used to describe drug problems that are less serious or longstanding or, in some cases, inadvertent, such as not complying with prescription medication instructions. When used informally, "dependence" refers to when a person who uses drugs feels unable to function without taking the drug. Dependence may be either psychological or physical or both. Dependence includes continued use of the drug despite adverse consequences and usually, but not always, the presence of tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Although the term "addiction" is no longer used as a medical diagnosis, it is still commonly used to describe a range of compulsive behaviours, including drug abuse and gambling problems. It is also often used to describe specialized services (as well as related policies and activities) for people with drug abuse problems. Drug abuse can result in increased risk of health problems such as illness, injuries and physical damage to the body or death. Drug abuse can result in personal problems such as loss of motivation, or physical and/or psychological dependence, problems at work or school. Drug abuse can result in family problems like strained and unhappy family relationships and family breakdown. Drug abuse can contribute to social problems like increased crime and traffic crashes. Drug abuse can also result in financial costs to society for things like health care, crime or lost productivity. Sometimes even the use of a drug for medicinal purposes can cause problems. These problems may occur because of side effects from the medication, or because the drug is used for too long, at the wrong dosage or because the person does not use it as directed. Different Types of Drug Problems Drug problems can develop for a variety of reasons and from use of any type of drug. Using Drugs Too Much Use of a drug can cause a problem if too much of the drug is taken at one time or if the drug is taken too frequently. These problems may include immediate consequences such as unpleasant side effects or even a harmful or fatal overdose. Other problems may take some time to develop, such as needing more of the drug to achieve the same effect and becoming dependent on the drug. Some medicinal drugs can have a beneficial effect if taken at the correct dose for that person, but cause problems if too large a dose of the drug is taken or if the drug is used more frequently than prescribed. In the same way, a drug like alcohol may not be harmful if taken in moderation. Many of the problems caused by alcohol result from drinking too much at one time. Using Drugs for Too Long A drug can cause problems if it is taken regularly for a long period of time. Some medicinal drugs, like pain killers, as well as drugs taken to aid sleep or reduce anxiety, can cause problems if they are taken after they are no longer needed. For instance, people who use drugs may have difficulty stopping use of the drug because they have become dependent on it. Taking Drugs for the Wrong Reasons A drug can cause problems if it is taken for the wrong reason. A common example is using alcohol as a way of coping with unpleasant feelings, rather than drinking as part of a social or celebratory occasion. When Does Drug Use Become a Problem? (continued...)