Speech on Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a tough battle many people face. It’s like a trap that’s hard to escape from. Imagine being stuck in a maze, struggling to find the way out.

The problem isn’t just about using drugs. It’s about how drugs change your brain, making it difficult to quit. This can lead to harmful behaviors and health problems.

1-minute Speech on Drug Addiction

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we talk about a problem that hurts our world – drug addiction. It’s like a dark shadow that follows us, hurting our friends, our families, and our communities.

Drug addiction is when people can’t stop using drugs. They use it again and again, even when it causes harm. It’s like a monster that takes away their freedom. They want to escape, but they can’t. It’s a very sad thing.

Drugs trick the brain. They make people feel good for a short time, but then they feel bad. Over time, they need more and more drugs to feel good. This is dangerous. It can make people sick or even cause death.

But there is hope. We can fight this monster. We can help people who are trapped by drug addiction. We can show them love and support. We can teach them about the dangers of drugs.

We also need to stop the people who sell drugs. They are like the fuel that keeps the monster alive. If we cut off the fuel, the monster will starve.

Remember, we are stronger than any monster. Together, we can beat drug addiction. Let’s stand up and fight. Thank you.

Also check:

  • Essay on Drug Addiction

2-minute Speech on Drug Addiction

We gather here today to discuss a serious concern that has gripped our society. This issue is drug addiction. Simply put, drug addiction is when someone can’t stop using drugs, even when they want to. It’s like a monster that eats away at a person’s life.

Let’s begin by understanding what drugs are. Drugs are substances that change the way our body works. Some drugs like medicine help us when we are sick. But there are other drugs, harmful ones, that people take just because they like how it makes them feel. These are the drugs we are talking about today.

When people start using these harmful drugs, they might think they can control how much and how often they take them. But over time, drugs change how their brains work. These physical changes can last a long time. They make people lose self-control and can lead them to damaging behaviors.

Drug addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior. Just as you can’t stop having asthma or diabetes, a person with a drug addiction can’t simply stop using drugs. They need help, they need support, and they need understanding from all of us.

Drug addiction does not only harm the person using drugs but also their families and friends. It’s like a dark cloud that covers the sunshine of their lives. It brings sadness, worry, anger, and it can even break families apart.

But there’s good news, my friends. Drug addiction can be treated. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. Like other diseases, it needs proper care and treatment. It needs doctors, medicines, and a lot of support from loved ones.

We all have a role to play in this fight against drug addiction. We can start by learning and teaching others about the dangers of drugs. We can help those who are struggling with drug addiction by showing them love and support, not hatred or disgust.

In our schools, let’s educate our children about the dangers of drug addiction. Let’s give them the knowledge and tools they need to stay away from drugs. At home, let’s create a loving and caring environment where our children feel safe to talk about anything, even drugs.

In conclusion, drug addiction is a big problem, but it’s a problem we can solve together. So, let’s join hands and fight this monster. Let’s help those in need and create a world free from the chains of drug addiction.

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Speech on Drug Abuse in English in Simple and easy Words

a speech on drug addiction

Table of Contents

Speech on Drug Abuse: Drug abuse has become the most common thing these days and many youth are destroying their lives by getting addicted to drugs. It’s very important to sensitize our youth on the subject of drug abuse. They are ruining the lives of our youth and putting their future in a great darkness. The use of drugs is making their lives vulnerable and prone to destruction. Therefore, it becomes very important to raise awareness about it amongst our youth and prevent them from succumbing to it. The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is celebrated annually on June 26th it serves as a significant platform for raising awareness and addressing the critical issue of substance abuse. You can even prepare a speech on drug abuse and deliver it on various occasions and platforms.

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Speech on Drug Abuse

Long and Short Speeches on Drug Abuse in English

For your help, we have posted below some short speech on drug abuse as well as long speech on drug abuse, which will give you a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter and help you create an impressive brief to impress upon your audience and bring a change in society.

Speech on Drug Abuse – Speech 1

Dear Students – Warm Greetings to all of you! I welcome everyone to the school seminar hall.

Today, we are here to discuss about the fatal consumption of drugs and how it is destroying the lives of our youth. But before the discussion begins, I would like to deliver a short speech on drug abuse and would like to enlighten our students on this sensitive subject matter.

Drugs, as we all know, are an illegal matter which some people drink, smoke, inject or eat for the mental as well as physical effects that it leaves. There are several students who consume drugs out of fun or for various other reasons. People who deal in the selling of drugs create a network and mainly target students in order to make them addicted to drugs. Initially, the drugs are sold to the students for free and gradually when they get addicted to it, they start buying and consuming it. In fact, the students also eventually become a part of their network and start dealing in it.

It is observed that students start consuming drugs out of stress or unfair expectations of their teachers as well as parents. Lack of emotional support and disorder in their families make them vulnerable and increase their dependency on drugs. They use it in order to calm down their state of mental agitation. Other than this, it is poverty that compels some students to become a part of the selling and dealing network of drugs and derive their pocket money. Therefore, it becomes like a vicious circle of the drug addicted students from which they seem to find no escape unless the society comes for their rescue.

Sadly, the students fail to realize that the consumption of drugs has a severe impact on their physical and mental health, such as they start experiencing mental disorder, their intelligence level decreases, experience deadly diseases and untimely death. When one completely succumbs to the temptation of drugs, it gets very difficult for him/her to recover from its impact except in the centers for drug rehabilitation where they gain a new life, but which involves a high cost. In fact, there are many cases too where even rehabilitation centers fail because of the worst condition of the patients.

I, therefore, request all the students to refrain themselves completely from the consumption of drugs before it destroys their health, future and takes away their lives. Don’t even try to touch or come close to them. Drugs can even destroy a complete generation. So think wise and act smart. Shape your future which seems bright and full of achievements. The drugs that doctor prescribes to his/her patients must only be taken in order to combat a specific disease otherwise the government must take strict measures to ban its illegal trade in the market and save our youth from destruction.

I want to conclude by saying that drug abuse should be an absolute ‘No’ for all and I sincerely hope that our students will never ever try to consume drugs and will completely stay away from its use. Remember that our country needs you as you are its future and harbinger of progress.

Also Read: Essay on Drug Abuse

Speech on Drug Abuse – Speech 2

Good Morning Friends – Welcome to the 77 th campaign for drug addiction ban.

It feels extremely great to see how the members of our organization are working hard in order to make every day count and reach out to the masses for spreading awareness about the drug addiction or drug abuse. Since day one and today it’s the 77 th campaign of our organization – we haven’t really ever thought that we will grow this big, i.e. currently we have more than 200 people working for us and have gained a mass appeal. The response so far has been really good and we have been able to transform the life of the people for good, who earlier have been living under the influence of drugs.

So today I would further like to appeal to the masses to refrain themselves from using drugs and live a healthy life. Drug addiction or drug abuse is described as an excessive dependency on a substance, which inevitably becomes the compulsive need of the person using it. This need becomes so compulsive that without that substance the person cannot live his life like a normal person does. And, when such a substance is stopped being available in the market then that person is believed to be suffering from substance withdrawal.

The addiction of drugs has become one of the serious social problems in many developing as well as developed countries and it undeniably proves to be the principal obstruction in the all-round development of the people, society, country and the world at a large. Our country is a progressing country and it is already afflicted with so many other grave problems, such as unemployment, poverty and illiteracy that the problem of Adolescence and Drug abuse makes the situation even worse here as it further makes our economy regressive by destroying the lives of its youth.

Even sadder is the fact that several drug addicts cannot afford to make a purchase of expensive drugs so much so that in the end they have to resort to such activities as theft in their homes. These people are not born thieves, but their addiction to drugs makes them heinous and propels them to commit crimes in order to feed their body with drugs.

People can become addicted to drugs because of various reasons, some of which are mentioned below:

1. In order to de-stress themselves

When a person is under the influence of drugs, he/she forgets everything and enters into a trance-like state. However, it is only later that people realize that the use of drugs is only aggravating the problem and not really helping them in getting rid of the stress.

2. Out of peer pressure

Many times, people start taking drugs because their friends are addicted to them. However, once they start taking it, it becomes really difficult for them to get rid of this habit.

3. Style Statement

Many teenagers these days think that the habit of drinking, smoking and even drug addiction is what helps them look cool and create a style statement in the front of others. However, it’s only when these people get trapped in its vicious circle that they realize the irreparable they have caused to their lives.

Teenagers and every person for that matter must understand that the habit of drug abuse not only greatly affects their body and mind, but also finishes their bright future. So we should strictly say ‘No’ to drugs and save our lives as well the lives of our loved ones by spreading awareness in our surroundings.

Also Read: Speech on Adult Education

Speech on Drug Abuse – Speech 3

Respected Principal, Vice Principal, Teachers and My Dear Fellow Students – Warm Welcome to all of you! Today, standing in the prayer hall I would like to take this opportunity to deliver a brief speech on Drug Abuse.

I request our principal and teachers to kindly allow me to speak on this subject as it is a high time to enlighten our youth about the dangerous habit of drug abuse. In the present times, there are many factors that push a man to resort to drug addiction and make his/her life miserable. The most glaring factors are rapid industrialization and urbanization, which have given birth to a new kind of behavior among the youth of today, i.e. individualism and permissiveness. People these days prefer nuclear families and in many cases both parents are working, as a consequence of which they become less forbearing in comparison to their previous generations. People are living their lives in isolation and avoid getting social because the stress in the modern times has become way too much to make them withdrawn figures in their personal lives.

In the end, such people become involved in the habit of drinking, smoking, drug addiction, etc. Besides, when a child doesn’t feel satisfied at home or when he/she is deprived of love, affection and care of his/her parents, a feeling of discontentment comes in and such children become prone to drug addiction and ruin their lives completely. What is more painful to see that if the drug addicted people are not allowed the use of drugs, then he/she suffers from bouts of depression, painful and uncontrollable convulsions as well as vomiting!

It is an obvious fact that the addiction of drugs is ruining the path of progress of many individuals and our nation as a whole so much so that proactive measures need to be taken in order to keep a check on this destructive habit of our youth. The most significant step in this direction would be about spreading awareness amongst the people on a national scale.

Our Indian government has in fact formulated various campaigns and even has been able to gain success in this direction. The individuals whose family and friends suffer from the addiction of drugs are requested to approach the rehabilitation institutions and camps in order to provide treatment to the addicts.

Drug abuse should not be tolerated and be completely banned as a taboo. However, it is not advised to torture the addict or treat him/her inhumanely for this habit because if you try and convince the person about its treatment then he/she may willingly choose to opt for it and get rid of this addiction by admitting himself/herself at the rehabilitation centers.

A person who has become the victim of drug abuse is forced by his/her bodily conditions to carry on with the addiction, but sooner they realize the bad impact of this habit. All that these people need is a helping hand and therefore we should provide encouragement as well as support to these people in making these addicts come back to their normal lives and lead a healthy life.

Speech on Drug Abuse – Speech 4

Hon’ble Principal, Vice Principal, Fellow Colleagues and My Dear Students – Warm Greetings to one and all!

Firstly, I would like to extend a note of thank you to our respected Principal and Vice Principal for gracing this speech ceremony with their presence and giving their approval too. And, to all the fellow teachers – as without your support this event wouldn’t have been possible. I would also like to congratulate our dear students for making the desired arrangement on a short notice.

The topic for today’s speech is Drug Abuse! I have chosen to speak on this topic because these days I observe many campaigns being run on Drug Abuse in order to teach the people about its ill effects. As a teacher, it also becomes my responsibility to help them spread the message wherever we can and most importantly beginning from our very own school.

Drug abuse is considered one of the banes of our so called civilized society. It has affected all the sections and regions of our society. People with the illicit use of drug are found everywhere, i.e. in urban and rural regions, among men and women, among rich and poor. But it is exceedingly practiced by our young girls and boys living in hostels in nearly all technical and educational institutions.

The grave situation of drug abuse is prevalent across the world and unfortunately our very country India is more strongly affected by it. Our country is a transit country because it is placed between the Golden Triangle consisting of Burma, Thailand and Cambodia, including Golden Crescent consisting of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran – the places where most of the drugs, chiefly heroin and opium are produced. Pakistan is undeniably the nucleus of the world when it comes to any unlawful activity and as far as the drug production is concerned – it is the hub. In fact, a big proportion of drugs go by India in order that it can be exported to other countries.

This happens through the network of drug mafia who further has connections with formidable smugglers as well as terrorists. In the process, unfortunately several young men as well as women become victims to this diabolic activity. Pakistan with the help of ISI is involving itself in a proxy war in the region of Kashmir against India through money earned with the help of drug mafia. Thus, terrorism and drugs share very strong connections.

This addiction to drug is so deadly that people fall prey to its use and become almost a slave. If a person doesn’t get its regular dose, then that person starts feeling a lack of it and becomes depressed with severe pain which even leads to a lack of sensation in arms and legs. Drugs are of various kinds, such as heroin, opium, charas, ganja, etc.

There are some injections too which lead to a state of severe drowsiness. In case, a drug-addict is not able to receive the required dose of drug when needed, then he/she would be ready to do anything for it even by resorting to unfair means, such as theft or may be hurting someone physically, etc.

I therefore request everyone to strictly say ‘No’ to drugs and get such people admitted to rehabilitation centers where their conditions can be improved before it gets horrible and proves fatal for that person.

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Speech on Drug Abuse Faq’s

What is the topic of drug abuse day.

Drug Abuse Day focuses on raising awareness about the harmful effects of drug misuse and addiction.

What is drug abuse in the English language?

Drug abuse in English refers to the harmful and improper use of drugs, often leading to health and social problems.

How can we say no to drugs?

We can say no to drugs by staying informed, making healthy choices, and seeking support from friends and family when faced with drug temptations.

How to write an essay about drugs?

To write an essay about drugs, start with an introduction, discuss the impacts, causes, and solutions, and conclude with your viewpoint on the topic.

What is drugs summary?

A drugs summary is a brief overview of key information about drugs, including their effects, risks, and uses.

What is drug abuse in a short introduction?

Drug abuse is when people misuse drugs, causing harm to themselves and society. It's a serious problem that needs attention.

What are a few lines on addiction?

Addiction is a strong, harmful craving for something, like drugs, that can be very difficult to control. It can lead to serious problems.

We can say no to drugs by being strong, confident, and making choices that keep us safe and healthy.

Addiction is a powerful need for something that can be harmful, like drugs or alcohol. It can affect a person's life in many negative ways.

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18 Best TED Talks for Addiction & Recovery

18 of the best TED Talks for addiction and recovery by healthcare professionals, athletes, a Fortune 500 entrepreneur, a former Miss USA, and more.

The best TED Talks for addiction and recovery , along with other powerful YouTube videos to play for clients in a treatment setting – or for yourself or for anyone who desires to learn more about substance use.

The following best TED Talks for addiction are entertaining, insightful, and though-provoking.

1. The 12 Steps According to Russell Brand (2018)

A 10-minute clip of Russell Brand’s interpretation of the 12 Steps . Humorous and honest.

2. Addiction: A Story of Stigma, A Story of Hope | Scott McFadden (2020)

This 18-minute talk delivered by Scott McFadden is one of the best TED Talks for addiction as it addresses stigma and sends a message of hope.

Excerpt: Scott McFadden is a Licensed Addictions Counselor, who also identifies as a person in long term recovery from heroin and other drugs. He shares a harrowing story of incarceration and a long journey to recovery while explaining the dynamics of addiction and the labels, shame, and stigma which have become the greatest obstacles to turning around the opioid epidemic.

He shows us the need to talk to one another to overcome the secret places where shame resides. This is a story of vulnerability and hope!

5. Addiction Neuroscience 101 (2018)

Approximately 25 minutes, an overview of the neurobiology of addiction.

4. Chris Herren Speaking on His Addiction Recovery Story | PeaceLove (2015)

A 17-minute motivational speech delivered by Chris Herren.

Excerpt: Hear former professional basketball player and motivational speaker Chris Herren speaking about his recovery from drug addiction. Since August of 2008, Herren has been drug-free and alcohol-free, and has refocused his life to put his sobriety and family above all other things.

5. Disconnected Brains: How Isolation Fuels Opioid Addiction | Rachel Wurzman (2018)

This fascinating 19-minute video clip from Rachel Wurzman is one of the best TED Talks for addiction as a biopsychosocial disorder.

Excerpt: Addiction to opioids is now officially a national emergency. But why are addiction rates spiking and what can we do about it? Neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman shares new research about how the brain reacts to opioids, replacing the sense of community and belonging human beings are losing. We are beginning to understand that solving the opioid epidemic will require us to focus on social factors surrounding those addicted.

6. Do You Have More Heart Than Scars? | Zackary Paben (2017)

A 17-minute inspirational talk by Zackary Paben.

Excerpt: How can resilience and interdependence impact the arch of our personal narrative to transcend from victim to hero? Since 1991, Zack has been empowering adolescents and adults as a mental health/recovery professional in a variety of modalities, including wilderness and residential.

As he continues to face his own visible and invisible scars, he innately has to acknowledge the wounds of others and encourage them in their own healing process.

7. Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong | Johann Hari (2015)

A 15-minute video from Johann Hari. This piece is somewhat controversial because it suggests that addiction is a social/environmental issue while failing to address the impact of trauma, genetics, brain chemistry, etc. This clip is an excellent tool for generating discussions and is one of the best TED Talks for addiction.

Excerpt: What really causes addiction — to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do — and if there might be a better way.

As he shares in this deeply personal talk, his questions took him around the world, and unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.

8. Great Leaders Do What Drug Addicts Do | Michael Brody-Waite (2018)

An 19-minute talk from Michael Brody-Waite, entrepreneur and addict in recovery.

Excerpt: This is my story from drug addiction and homelessness to founding and leading a company on the Inc 500 list. There are 3 principles that saved me from death and set me apart as a leader. They are small enough to fit in your pocket, yet big enough to change your life. The best part is that anyone can take these principles and immediately implement them after watching this talk.

9. The Harm Reduction Model of Drug Addiction Treatment | Mark Tyndall (2017)

This 17-minute video from Mark Tyndall about harm reduction and recovery is one of the best TED Talks for addiction treatment.

Excerpt: Why do we still think that drug use is a law-enforcement issue? Making drugs illegal does nothing to stop people from using them, says public health expert Mark Tyndall. So, what might work?

Tyndall shares community-based research that shows how harm-reduction strategies, like safe-injection sites, are working to address the drug overdose crisis.

10. How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime | Nadine Burke Harris (2015)

16-minute talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris on the impact of trauma.

Excerpt: Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain.

This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer.

11. Let’s Quit Abusing Drug Users (2015)

19-minute video clip about addiction and recovery reform from Dr. Carl Hart. He discusses drug use in the context of poverty, social injustice, and ignorance. An excellent video for generating discussion and one of the best TED Talks for addiction and policy reform.

Excerpt: Carl Hart, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia University, offers a provocative, evidence-based view of addiction and discusses how it should impact drug policy.

12. The Merits of Harm Reduction | Melissa Byers (2019)

14-minute video clip from Melissa Byers about addiction, harm reduction, and recovery.

Excerpt: Melissa shares her family’s personal story of addiction and how harm reduction plays a much more significant role to recovery than people realize.

13. Nuggets (2015)

A 5-minute cartoon clip of a kiwi bird who tastes a golden “nugget.” This simple animation doesn’t require words to send a powerful message about addiction. Hauntingly accurate.

14. The Power of Addiction and The Addiction of Power | Gabor Maté (2012)

This 19-minute speech delivered by Gabor Maté is one of the best TED Talks for addiction.

Excerpt: Canadian physician Gabor Maté is a specialist in terminal illnesses, chemical dependents, and HIV positive patients. Dr. Maté is a renowned author of books and columnist known for his knowledge about attention deficit disorder, stress, chronic illness and parental relations.

15. Recover Out Loud | Tara Conner (2017)

One of the best TED Talks for addiction, this 10-minute video clip from former Miss USA, Tara Conner, is all about her personal experience with substance use.

Excerpt: Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006, shares her life-long struggle with addiction and what she has learned from 10 years of sobriety. Addicts are not bad people that need to get good, but sick people that need to get well.

In this challenging and at times humorous talk, she calls for a different response to the addiction crisis.

16. Revitalize | Living With Addiction | Amber Valletta (2015)

16-minute inspirational talk delivered by Amber Valletta.

Excerpt: Supermodel, actress, and fashion icon Amber Valletta opens up for the first time about her daily struggle of living with addiction.

17. Rewriting the Story of My Addiction | Jo Harvey Weatherford (2015)

10-minute video clip from Jo Harvey Weatherford about her personal recovery journey.

Excerpt: Jo Harvey Weatherford develops and implements drug and alcohol prevention programs on the campus of The University of Nevada. In this candid talk she discusses the importance of the stories we tell ourselves about our behavior, and how she rewrote her own story of addiction to alcohol.

18. The Stigma of Addiction | Tony Hoffman (2018)

This 15-minute video from Tony Hoffman is one of the best TED Talks for addiction. He shares about his substance use and stigma.

Excerpt: There is a stigma which many assign to drug addicts, even long after they have overcome their addiction. Tony discusses how his first time smoking marijuana led to his eventual drug addiction, homelessness, prison, and finally redemption.

For Families – The Island of Insanity: Navigating Through Loved Ones’ Addictions | Karen Perlmutter (2022)

A powerful 13-minute video for anyone who is traumatized by the addiction of a loved one.

Excerpt: With a master’s degree in clinical social work, Karen has seen first-hand that addiction is a tragedy with a profound effect on the family. She has ideas on how we can support families in combatting the devastating effects of this disease After earning her undergraduate degree through the University of South Carolina in 2003, Karen began working with teens and families through a therapeutic foster care agency. She pursued higher education in the field, earning her Master’s in Clinical Social Work at the University of North Carolina (Wilmington) in 2007, and continuing on to becoming a Licensed Independent Social Worker.

Karen has over a decade of experience working as a therapist with individuals, couples, and families. She specializes in the treatment of substance abuse and mental illness, and has developed a particular interest in supporting the holistic needs of families who are affected by these struggles.

best ted talks for addiction

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English Summary

Short Speech on Drug Addiction in English for Students and Children

Good morning all of you! Respected Principal, teachers and my dear friends. Thank you for being present here on this special occasion.

Today I am going to speak on the topic- ‘Drugs Addiction’. Today’s youth addiction to drugs has drawn my attention to this topic.

Drugs are chemical substances which have an effect on our body. There are two types of drugs, one is legal and the second one is illegal. The legal drugs are basically the medicines which we use in our everyday use for various problems in our body such as body ache, headache, etc. These drugs are to cure our body ailments.

But the illegal drugs are the ones that are used to get into the state of being intoxicated or drunk. This helps people to lose their senses and forget everything. Consumption of such drugs is illegal and can have an adverse effect on our body. It can affect us badly both physically and mentally.

a speech on drug addiction

Young people often start with just tasting of these drugs and then end up getting addicted to it. They do this due to various reasons. They consume it sometimes because of unfair expectations and stress. The drugs make them feel high and its after-effects are quite relaxing. But its effects, in the long run, can damage their brain, liver, etc.

Students also get into this drug addiction when they fail to get emotional support. So they turn themselves towards drugs to calm their agitation and anger.

Poverty is also one of the reasons behind this drug-selling network. Drug sellers target students and make them addicted to drugs. Initially, they give drugs to the students for free and once, they get addicted, they start charging them. They also target poor children and make them sell drugs in order to earn some money.

Drug consumption makes students mentally and physically weak. It also attracts various diseases. It makes students depressed and makes their recovery difficult.

In the end, I would request you all to stay away from drugs and always reach your parents and family to resolve any problems in your life. Drugs may look attractive initially but it has the capacity to destroy the future of a person. We should say complete ‘No’ to the drugs.

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  • Drug addiction (substance use disorder)

Drug addiction, also called substance use disorder, is a disease that affects a person's brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medicine. Substances such as alcohol, marijuana and nicotine also are considered drugs. When you're addicted, you may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes.

Drug addiction can start with experimental use of a recreational drug in social situations, and, for some people, the drug use becomes more frequent. For others, particularly with opioids, drug addiction begins when they take prescribed medicines or receive them from others who have prescriptions.

The risk of addiction and how fast you become addicted varies by drug. Some drugs, such as opioid painkillers, have a higher risk and cause addiction more quickly than others.

As time passes, you may need larger doses of the drug to get high. Soon you may need the drug just to feel good. As your drug use increases, you may find that it's increasingly difficult to go without the drug. Attempts to stop drug use may cause intense cravings and make you feel physically ill. These are called withdrawal symptoms.

Help from your health care provider, family, friends, support groups or an organized treatment program can help you overcome your drug addiction and stay drug-free.

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Drug addiction symptoms or behaviors include, among others:

  • Feeling that you have to use the drug regularly — daily or even several times a day
  • Having intense urges for the drug that block out any other thoughts
  • Over time, needing more of the drug to get the same effect
  • Taking larger amounts of the drug over a longer period of time than you intended
  • Making certain that you maintain a supply of the drug
  • Spending money on the drug, even though you can't afford it
  • Not meeting obligations and work responsibilities, or cutting back on social or recreational activities because of drug use
  • Continuing to use the drug, even though you know it's causing problems in your life or causing you physical or psychological harm
  • Doing things to get the drug that you normally wouldn't do, such as stealing
  • Driving or doing other risky activities when you're under the influence of the drug
  • Spending a good deal of time getting the drug, using the drug or recovering from the effects of the drug
  • Failing in your attempts to stop using the drug
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop taking the drug

Recognizing unhealthy drug use in family members

Sometimes it's difficult to distinguish normal teenage moodiness or anxiety from signs of drug use. Possible signs that your teenager or other family member is using drugs include:

  • Problems at school or work — frequently missing school or work, a sudden disinterest in school activities or work, or a drop in grades or work performance
  • Physical health issues — lack of energy and motivation, weight loss or gain, or red eyes
  • Neglected appearance — lack of interest in clothing, grooming or looks
  • Changes in behavior — major efforts to bar family members from entering the teenager's room or being secretive about going out with friends; or drastic changes in behavior and in relationships with family and friends
  • Money issues — sudden requests for money without a reasonable explanation; or your discovery that money is missing or has been stolen or that items have disappeared from your home, indicating maybe they're being sold to support drug use

Recognizing signs of drug use or intoxication

Signs and symptoms of drug use or intoxication may vary, depending on the type of drug. Below you'll find several examples.

Marijuana, hashish and other cannabis-containing substances

People use cannabis by smoking, eating or inhaling a vaporized form of the drug. Cannabis often precedes or is used along with other substances, such as alcohol or illegal drugs, and is often the first drug tried.

Signs and symptoms of recent use can include:

  • A sense of euphoria or feeling "high"
  • A heightened sense of visual, auditory and taste perception
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Decreased coordination
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Anxiety or paranoid thinking
  • Cannabis odor on clothes or yellow fingertips
  • Major cravings for certain foods at unusual times

Long-term use is often associated with:

  • Decreased mental sharpness
  • Poor performance at school or at work
  • Ongoing cough and frequent lung infections

K2, Spice and bath salts

Two groups of synthetic drugs — synthetic cannabinoids and substituted or synthetic cathinones — are illegal in most states. The effects of these drugs can be dangerous and unpredictable, as there is no quality control and some ingredients may not be known.

Synthetic cannabinoids, also called K2 or Spice, are sprayed on dried herbs and then smoked, but can be prepared as an herbal tea. A liquid form can be vaporized in electronic cigarettes. Despite manufacturer claims, these are chemical compounds rather than "natural" or harmless products. These drugs can produce a "high" similar to marijuana and have become a popular but dangerous alternative.

  • Elevated mood
  • An altered sense of visual, auditory and taste perception
  • Extreme anxiety or agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure or heart attack
  • Violent behavior

Substituted cathinones, also called "bath salts," are mind-altering (psychoactive) substances similar to amphetamines such as ecstasy (MDMA) and cocaine. Packages are often labeled as other products to avoid detection.

Despite the name, these are not bath products such as Epsom salts. Substituted cathinones can be eaten, snorted, inhaled or injected and are highly addictive. These drugs can cause severe intoxication, which results in dangerous health effects or even death.

  • Feeling "high"
  • Increased sociability
  • Increased energy and agitation
  • Increased sex drive
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Problems thinking clearly
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Panic attacks
  • Psychotic and violent behavior

Barbiturates, benzodiazepines and hypnotics

Barbiturates, benzodiazepines and hypnotics are prescription central nervous system depressants. They're often used and misused in search for a sense of relaxation or a desire to "switch off" or forget stress-related thoughts or feelings.

  • Barbiturates. An example is phenobarbital.
  • Benzodiazepines. Examples include sedatives, such as diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), clonazepam (Klonopin) and chlordiazepoxide (Librium).
  • Hypnotics. Examples include prescription sleeping medicines such as zolpidem (Ambien) and zaleplon (Sonata).
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of coordination
  • Irritability or changes in mood
  • Problems concentrating or thinking clearly
  • Memory problems
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Lack of inhibition
  • Slowed breathing and reduced blood pressure
  • Falls or accidents

Meth, cocaine and other stimulants

Stimulants include amphetamines, meth (methamphetamine), cocaine, methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, others) and amphetamine-dextroamphetamine (Adderall XR, Mydayis). They're often used and misused in search of a "high," or to boost energy, to improve performance at work or school, or to lose weight or control appetite.

  • Feeling of happy excitement and too much confidence
  • Increased alertness
  • Increased energy and restlessness
  • Behavior changes or aggression
  • Rapid or rambling speech
  • Larger than usual pupils, the black circles in the middle of the eyes
  • Confusion, delusions and hallucinations
  • Irritability, anxiety or paranoia
  • Changes in heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature
  • Nausea or vomiting with weight loss
  • Poor judgment
  • Nasal congestion and damage to the mucous membrane of the nose (if snorting drugs)
  • Mouth sores, gum disease and tooth decay from smoking drugs ("meth mouth")
  • Depression as the drug wears off

Club drugs are commonly used at clubs, concerts and parties. Examples include methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also called MDMA, ecstasy or molly, and gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, known as GHB. Other examples include ketamine and flunitrazepam or Rohypnol — a brand used outside the U.S. — also called roofie. These drugs are not all in the same category, but they share some similar effects and dangers, including long-term harmful effects.

Because GHB and flunitrazepam can cause sedation, muscle relaxation, confusion and memory loss, the potential for sexual misconduct or sexual assault is associated with the use of these drugs.

Signs and symptoms of use of club drugs can include:

  • Larger than usual pupils
  • Chills and sweating
  • Involuntary shaking (tremors)
  • Behavior changes
  • Muscle cramping and teeth clenching
  • Muscle relaxation, poor coordination or problems moving
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Heightened or altered sense of sight, sound and taste
  • Memory problems or loss of memory
  • Reduced consciousness
  • Increased or decreased heart rate and blood pressure


Use of hallucinogens can produce different signs and symptoms, depending on the drug. The most common hallucinogens are lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and phencyclidine (PCP).

LSD use may cause:

  • Greatly reduced perception of reality, for example, interpreting input from one of your senses as another, such as hearing colors
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Rapid shifts in emotions
  • Permanent mental changes in perception
  • Rapid heart rate and high blood pressure
  • Flashbacks, a reexperience of the hallucinations — even years later

PCP use may cause:

  • A feeling of being separated from your body and surroundings
  • Problems with coordination and movement
  • Aggressive, possibly violent behavior
  • Lack of pain sensation
  • Increase in blood pressure and heart rate
  • Problems with thinking and memory
  • Problems speaking
  • Intolerance to loud noise
  • Sometimes seizures or coma

Signs and symptoms of inhalant use vary, depending on the substance. Some commonly inhaled substances include glue, paint thinners, correction fluid, felt tip marker fluid, gasoline, cleaning fluids and household aerosol products. Due to the toxic nature of these substances, users may develop brain damage or sudden death.

Signs and symptoms of use can include:

  • Possessing an inhalant substance without a reasonable explanation
  • Brief happy excitement
  • Behaving as if drunk
  • Reduced ability to keep impulses under control
  • Aggressive behavior or eagerness to fight
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Appearing under the influence of drugs, with slurred speech, slow movements and poor coordination
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Lingering odor of inhalant material
  • Rash around the nose and mouth

Opioid painkillers

Opioids are narcotic, painkilling drugs produced from opium or made synthetically. This class of drugs includes, among others, heroin, morphine, codeine, methadone, fentanyl and oxycodone.

Sometimes called the "opioid epidemic," addiction to opioid prescription pain medicines has reached an alarming rate across the United States. Some people who've been using opioids over a long period of time may need physician-prescribed temporary or long-term drug substitution during treatment.

Signs and symptoms of narcotic use and dependence can include:

  • A sense of feeling "high"
  • Reduced sense of pain
  • Agitation, drowsiness or sedation
  • Problems with attention and memory
  • Pupils that are smaller than usual
  • Lack of awareness or inattention to surrounding people and things
  • Problems with coordination
  • Constipation
  • Runny nose or nose sores (if snorting drugs)
  • Needle marks (if injecting drugs)

When to see a doctor

If your drug use is out of control or causing problems, get help. The sooner you seek help, the greater your chances for a long-term recovery. Talk with your health care provider or see a mental health provider, such as a doctor who specializes in addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry, or a licensed alcohol and drug counselor.

Make an appointment to see a provider if:

  • You can't stop using a drug
  • You continue using the drug despite the harm it causes
  • Your drug use has led to unsafe behavior, such as sharing needles or unprotected sex
  • You think you may be having withdrawal symptoms after stopping drug use

If you're not ready to approach a health care provider or mental health professional, help lines or hotlines may be a good place to learn about treatment. You can find these lines listed on the internet or in the phone book.

When to seek emergency help

Seek emergency help if you or someone you know has taken a drug and:

  • May have overdosed
  • Shows changes in consciousness
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Has seizures or convulsions
  • Has signs of a possible heart attack, such as chest pain or pressure
  • Has any other troublesome physical or psychological reaction to use of the drug

Staging an intervention

People struggling with addiction usually deny they have a problem and hesitate to seek treatment. An intervention presents a loved one with a structured opportunity to make changes before things get even worse and can motivate someone to seek or accept help.

It's important to plan an intervention carefully. It may be done by family and friends in consultation with a health care provider or mental health professional such as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, or directed by an intervention professional. It involves family and friends and sometimes co-workers, clergy or others who care about the person struggling with addiction.

During the intervention, these people gather together to have a direct, heart-to-heart conversation with the person about the consequences of addiction. Then they ask the person to accept treatment.

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Like many mental health disorders, several factors may contribute to development of drug addiction. The main factors are:

  • Environment. Environmental factors, including your family's beliefs and attitudes and exposure to a peer group that encourages drug use, seem to play a role in initial drug use.
  • Genetics. Once you've started using a drug, the development into addiction may be influenced by inherited (genetic) traits, which may delay or speed up the disease progression.

Changes in the brain

Physical addiction appears to occur when repeated use of a drug changes the way your brain feels pleasure. The addicting drug causes physical changes to some nerve cells (neurons) in your brain. Neurons use chemicals called neurotransmitters to communicate. These changes can remain long after you stop using the drug.

Risk factors

People of any age, sex or economic status can become addicted to a drug. Certain factors can affect the likelihood and speed of developing an addiction:

  • Family history of addiction. Drug addiction is more common in some families and likely involves an increased risk based on genes. If you have a blood relative, such as a parent or sibling, with alcohol or drug addiction, you're at greater risk of developing a drug addiction.
  • Mental health disorder. If you have a mental health disorder such as depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or post-traumatic stress disorder, you're more likely to become addicted to drugs. Using drugs can become a way of coping with painful feelings, such as anxiety, depression and loneliness, and can make these problems even worse.
  • Peer pressure. Peer pressure is a strong factor in starting to use and misuse drugs, particularly for young people.
  • Lack of family involvement. Difficult family situations or lack of a bond with your parents or siblings may increase the risk of addiction, as can a lack of parental supervision.
  • Early use. Using drugs at an early age can cause changes in the developing brain and increase the likelihood of progressing to drug addiction.
  • Taking a highly addictive drug. Some drugs, such as stimulants, cocaine or opioid painkillers, may result in faster development of addiction than other drugs. Smoking or injecting drugs can increase the potential for addiction. Taking drugs considered less addicting — so-called "light drugs" — can start you on a pathway of drug use and addiction.


Drug use can have significant and damaging short-term and long-term effects. Taking some drugs can be particularly risky, especially if you take high doses or combine them with other drugs or alcohol. Here are some examples.

  • Methamphetamine, opiates and cocaine are highly addictive and cause multiple short-term and long-term health consequences, including psychotic behavior, seizures or death due to overdose. Opioid drugs affect the part of the brain that controls breathing, and overdose can result in death. Taking opioids with alcohol increases this risk.
  • GHB and flunitrazepam may cause sedation, confusion and memory loss. These so-called "date rape drugs" are known to impair the ability to resist unwanted contact and recollection of the event. At high doses, they can cause seizures, coma and death. The danger increases when these drugs are taken with alcohol.
  • MDMA — also known as molly or ecstasy — can interfere with the body's ability to regulate temperature. A severe spike in body temperature can result in liver, kidney or heart failure and death. Other complications can include severe dehydration, leading to seizures. Long-term, MDMA can damage the brain.
  • One particular danger of club drugs is that the liquid, pill or powder forms of these drugs available on the street often contain unknown substances that can be harmful, including other illegally manufactured or pharmaceutical drugs.
  • Due to the toxic nature of inhalants, users may develop brain damage of different levels of severity. Sudden death can occur even after a single exposure.

Other life-changing complications

Dependence on drugs can create a number of dangerous and damaging complications, including:

  • Getting an infectious disease. People who are addicted to a drug are more likely to get an infectious disease, such as HIV , either through unsafe sex or by sharing needles with others.
  • Other health problems. Drug addiction can lead to a range of both short-term and long-term mental and physical health problems. These depend on what drug is taken.
  • Accidents. People who are addicted to drugs are more likely to drive or do other dangerous activities while under the influence.
  • Suicide. People who are addicted to drugs die by suicide more often than people who aren't addicted.
  • Family problems. Behavioral changes may cause relationship or family conflict and custody issues.
  • Work issues. Drug use can cause declining performance at work, absenteeism and eventual loss of employment.
  • Problems at school. Drug use can negatively affect academic performance and motivation to excel in school.
  • Legal issues. Legal problems are common for drug users and can stem from buying or possessing illegal drugs, stealing to support the drug addiction, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or disputes over child custody.
  • Financial problems. Spending money to support drug use takes away money from other needs, could lead to debt, and can lead to illegal or unethical behaviors.

The best way to prevent an addiction to a drug is not to take the drug at all. If your health care provider prescribes a drug with the potential for addiction, use care when taking the drug and follow instructions.

Health care providers should prescribe these medicines at safe doses and amounts and monitor their use so that you're not given too great a dose or for too long a time. If you feel you need to take more than the prescribed dose of a medicine, talk to your health care provider.

Preventing drug misuse in children and teenagers

Take these steps to help prevent drug misuse in your children and teenagers:

  • Communicate. Talk to your children about the risks of drug use and misuse.
  • Listen. Be a good listener when your children talk about peer pressure and be supportive of their efforts to resist it.
  • Set a good example. Don't misuse alcohol or addictive drugs. Children of parents who misuse drugs are at greater risk of drug addiction.
  • Strengthen the bond. Work on your relationship with your children. A strong, stable bond between you and your child will reduce your child's risk of using or misusing drugs.

Preventing a relapse

Once you've been addicted to a drug, you're at high risk of falling back into a pattern of addiction. If you do start using the drug, it's likely you'll lose control over its use again — even if you've had treatment and you haven't used the drug for some time.

  • Follow your treatment plan. Monitor your cravings. It may seem like you've recovered and you don't need to keep taking steps to stay drug-free. But your chances of staying drug-free will be much higher if you continue seeing your therapist or counselor, going to support group meetings and taking prescribed medicine.
  • Avoid high-risk situations. Don't go back to the neighborhood where you used to get your drugs. And stay away from your old drug crowd.
  • Get help immediately if you use the drug again. If you start using the drug again, talk to your health care provider, your mental health provider or someone else who can help you right away.

Drug addiction (substance use disorder) care at Mayo Clinic

  • Substance-related and addictive disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. American Psychiatric Association; 2013. https://dsm.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Aug. 15, 2022.
  • Brown AY. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic. April 13, 2021.
  • DrugFacts: Understanding drug use and addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction. Accessed Aug. 15, 2022.
  • American Psychiatric Association. What is a substance use disorder? https://psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction-substance-use-disorders/what-is-a-substance-use-disorder. Accessed Sept. 2, 2022.
  • Eddie D, et al. Lived experience in new models of care for substance use disorder: A systematic review of peer recovery support services and recovery coaching. Frontiers in Psychology. 2019; doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01052.
  • Commonly used drugs charts. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/commonly-used-drugs-charts. Accessed Aug. 16, 2022.
  • Drugs, brains, and behavior: The science of addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-misuse-addiction. Accessed Aug. 16, 2022.
  • Drugs of abuse: A DEA resource guide/2020 edition. United States Drug Enforcement Administration. https://admin.dea.gov/documents/2020/2020-04/2020-04-13/drugs-abuse. Accessed Aug. 31, 2022.
  • Misuse of prescription drugs research report. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/overview. Accessed Aug. 17, 2022.
  • Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide. 3rd ed. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/preface. Accessed Aug. 17, 2022.
  • The science of drug use: A resource for the justice sector. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://nida.nih.gov/drug-topics/criminal-justice/science-drug-use-resource-justice-sector. Accessed Sept. 2, 2022.
  • Naloxone DrugFacts. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/naloxone. Accessed Aug. 31, 2022.
  • Drug and substance use in adolescents. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/problems-in-adolescents/drug-and-substance-use-in-adolescents. Accessed Sept. 2, 2022.
  • DrugFacts: Synthetic cannabinoids (K2/Spice). National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cannabinoids-k2spice. Accessed Aug. 18, 2022.
  • Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. March 5, 2021.
  • Poppy seed tea: Beneficial or dangerous?

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Understanding Drug Use and Addiction DrugFacts

Many people don't understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. They may mistakenly think that those who use drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to. Fortunately, researchers know more than ever about how drugs affect the brain and have found treatments that can help people recover from drug addiction and lead productive lives.

What Is drug addiction?

Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. These brain changes can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a "relapsing" disease—people in recovery from drug use disorders are at increased risk for returning to drug use even after years of not taking the drug.

It's common for a person to relapse, but relapse doesn't mean that treatment doesn’t work. As with other chronic health conditions, treatment should be ongoing and should be adjusted based on how the patient responds. Treatment plans need to be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.

Video: Why are Drugs So Hard to Quit?

Illustration of female scientist pointing at brain scans in research lab setting.

What happens to the brain when a person takes drugs?

Most drugs affect the brain's "reward circuit," causing euphoria as well as flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. A properly functioning reward system motivates a person to repeat behaviors needed to thrive, such as eating and spending time with loved ones. Surges of dopamine in the reward circuit cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors like taking drugs, leading people to repeat the behavior again and again.

As a person continues to use drugs, the brain adapts by reducing the ability of cells in the reward circuit to respond to it. This reduces the high that the person feels compared to the high they felt when first taking the drug—an effect known as tolerance. They might take more of the drug to try and achieve the same high. These brain adaptations often lead to the person becoming less and less able to derive pleasure from other things they once enjoyed, like food, sex, or social activities.

Long-term use also causes changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well, affecting functions that include:

  • decision-making

Despite being aware of these harmful outcomes, many people who use drugs continue to take them, which is the nature of addiction.

Why do some people become addicted to drugs while others don't?

No one factor can predict if a person will become addicted to drugs. A combination of factors influences risk for addiction. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction. For example:

Girl on a bench

  • Biology . The genes that people are born with account for about half of a person's risk for addiction. Gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders may also influence risk for drug use and addiction.
  • Environment . A person’s environment includes many different influences, from family and friends to economic status and general quality of life. Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, early exposure to drugs, stress, and parental guidance can greatly affect a person’s likelihood of drug use and addiction.
  • Development . Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person’s life to affect addiction risk. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier that drug use begins, the more likely it will progress to addiction. This is particularly problematic for teens. Because areas in their brains that control decision-making, judgment, and self-control are still developing, teens may be especially prone to risky behaviors, including trying drugs.

Can drug addiction be cured or prevented?

As with most other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, treatment for drug addiction generally isn’t a cure. However, addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed. People who are recovering from an addiction will be at risk for relapse for years and possibly for their whole lives. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medicines with behavioral therapy ensures the best chance of success for most patients. Treatment approaches tailored to each patient’s drug use patterns and any co-occurring medical, mental, and social problems can lead to continued recovery.

Photo of a person's fists with the words "drug free" written across the fingers.

More good news is that drug use and addiction are preventable. Results from NIDA-funded research have shown that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities, and the media are effective for preventing or reducing drug use and addiction. Although personal events and cultural factors affect drug use trends, when young people view drug use as harmful, they tend to decrease their drug taking. Therefore, education and outreach are key in helping people understand the possible risks of drug use. Teachers, parents, and health care providers have crucial roles in educating young people and preventing drug use and addiction.

Points to Remember

  • Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences.
  • Brain changes that occur over time with drug use challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. This is why drug addiction is also a relapsing disease.
  • Relapse is the return to drug use after an attempt to stop. Relapse indicates the need for more or different treatment.
  • Most drugs affect the brain's reward circuit by flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. Surges of dopamine in the reward circuit cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy activities, leading people to repeat the behavior again and again.
  • Over time, the brain adjusts to the excess dopamine, which reduces the high that the person feels compared to the high they felt when first taking the drug—an effect known as tolerance. They might take more of the drug, trying to achieve the same dopamine high.
  • No single factor can predict whether a person will become addicted to drugs. A combination of genetic, environmental, and developmental factors influences risk for addiction. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction.
  • Drug addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed.
  • More good news is that drug use and addiction are preventable. Teachers, parents, and health care providers have crucial roles in educating young people and preventing drug use and addiction.

For information about understanding drug use and addiction, visit:

  • www.nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-abuse-addiction

For more information about the costs of drug abuse to the United States, visit:

  • www.nida.nih.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics#costs

For more information about prevention, visit:

  • www.nida.nih.gov/related-topics/prevention

For more information about treatment, visit:

  • www.nida.nih.gov/related-topics/treatment

To find a publicly funded treatment center in your state, call 1-800-662-HELP or visit:

  • https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

This publication is available for your use and may be reproduced in its entirety without permission from NIDA. Citation of the source is appreciated, using the following language: Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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14 Powerful TED Talks Relating to Drug Addiction and Recovery

  • May 8, 2019


There’s a reason TED Talks’ tagline is “ideas worth spreading.” These influential videos have become widely popular thanks to their raw nature, innovative content, and a vast variety of subjects.

With the widespread issue of drug and alcohol addiction , it’s no surprise that there are a host of inspirational talks in the realm of drug addiction and recovery.

Below are a handful of TED talks on addiction and recovery relating to drug addiction. These videos may just provide the empowerment you need and also shed light on how our culture views addiction, as well as the science behind addiction and recovery in these powerful TED Talks.

1) How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime by Nadine Burke Harris

Any kind of childhood trauma will have a significant impact on a person’s life. Nadine Burke Harris delves into how this trauma affects the health specifically. Heart disease, mental disorders, and substance abuse are only a few of the areas influenced by trauma. One of the most important points Nadine makes is that it is important to address the root of the problem, and not take a “band-aid approach.”

2) Everything You Know About Addiction is Wrong by Johann Hari

With an in-your-face title like that, you know this talk is going to be worth your while. Johann Hari has spent years traveling around the world to find out what causes addiction and what the solution(s) could be. His innovative ideas may just be the cure for the universal crisis of drug and alcohol addiction.

3) Listening to Shame by Brené Brown

Brené Brown has a knack for presenting unique subjects in a compelling manner, as demonstrated by her previous viral talk, The Power of Vulnerability . In “Listening to Shame,” Brown discusses what can happen when people confront their feelings of shame. This talk is a must-watch for anyone who has struggled with these emotions surrounding drug and alcohol abuse.

4) A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit by Judson Brewer

While addiction is anything but simple, acclaimed psychiatrist Judson Brewer has a way of breaking down the concept of addictive behavior. Using mindfulness exercises and simplistic techniques, Brewer has helped numerous patients break the habit of addiction. He shares his thoughts in this insightful speech.

5) The Stigma of Addiction | Tony Hoffman

Tony is a former addict who has been dedicating his life to creating awareness by describing the dangers of heroin and prescription pills.

Tony Hoffman became addicted to drugs, went to prison, and lived on the streets. But even after rehabilitated his life, became an Olympic-level BMX coach, the stigma of drug addiction follows him everywhere. He doesn’t let that stop him from being successful, but many others are stopped from achieving success after recovery by the drug addict stigma.

6) How Isolation Fuels Opioid Addiction | Rachel Wurzman

Addiction is a neurological disorder that creates compulsions beyond a person’s control, and disrupts a person’s ability to enjoy social interaction down to the cellular level. Neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman discusses her findings that drug addiction and loneliness are not only connected but are controlled by the same part of the brain. Social isolation contributes to addiction and relapse, but social connectivity can actually help recovery.

7) In the Opioid Crisis, Here’s What it Takes to Save a Life | Jan Rader

Fire chief Jan Rader saves many lives, many of whom are addicts who overdose on opioids. She believes that we need to focus not only on saving lives, but helping those who overdose rebuild lives. Her community is changing the way they work with addicts, creating programs to help them after they are saved from an overdose, as well as the first responders dealing with PTSD .

8) Why We Need to End the War on Drugs | Ethan Nadelmann

Drug policy reformist Ethan Nadelmann breaks down all the moving parts of the United States drug enforcement, and the large disparities between policies and what’s actually happening. He believes that ending the prohibition of drugs and regulating, taxing, and treating drugs the way we do alcohol will kill the stigma and reduce crime. Is the legalization of drugs the answer? Ethan weighs in on his TED talk.

9) Addiction is a Disease: We Should Treat it Like One | Michael Botticelli

Only one in nine people in the U.S. get the care and treatment they need for addiction and substance abuse.*

Nearly every family in America is affected by addiction, but very few people actually talk about it, let alone help people successfully recover from it. Unless we change the way we view people with addiction, we’re unable to change for the better. Listen to Michael Botticelli, who was the Director of National Drug Control Policy under President Obama, discuss how we can help.

10) Recover Out Loud | Tara Conner

Tara Conner was crowned Miss USA in 2006. During December of that same year, Tara entered the Caron Treatment Center for alcohol and drug addiction.

With more than 20 million people in long-term drug recovery, how is it that more people aren’t talking openly about this? If we can reduce the stigma of addiction and allow people to speak more openly about it, she believes we can prevent drug addiction before it starts.

11) Drinking and How it Changed My Life | Ann Dowsett-Johnston

“I was the poster child for today’s modern alcoholic. She is female. She is well educated. She is professional. She is high-functioning…” – Ann Dowsett-Johston

Alcohol marketing is aimed at young women, and many start drinking in high school and develop deadly diseases as young as in their twenties and thirties. Women are drinking more than ever as a form of self-medication to help stress, depression, and the other pressures they face, and because wine doesn’t have the same stigma as drugs, it doesn’t seem like as big of a problem. See how Ann got her life back, and what she’s doing to prevent others from falling victim to addiction.

12) The Power of Addiction and The Addiction of Power | Gabor Maté 

Why are some people able to do drugs and avoid becoming addicted, but others cannot? Physician Gabor Mate explains the science between addiction, trauma, and relationships, and how brain development influences addictive tendencies from infancy.

13) Overdose Epidemic: Facing the Hard Truth | Stephen Dass

“The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.”

Most of the drug programs in North America are focused on treatment, rather than preventing drug abuse before it starts. By mentoring children at an early age, and nurturing them as they grow, their prospects grow exponentially. Communities are the key to disrupting the overdose trend.

14) What Causes Opioid Addiction and Why is it so Tough to Combat? | Mike Davis

In the 1980s through the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies began to market opioid painkillers aggressively, while downplaying their extremely addictive potential. Needless to say, the number of prescriptions went through the roof and so did cases of addiction, beginning the crisis that still know today. 

When opioid use is ceased, the body becomes incredibly sensitive and experiences painful withdrawal effects that make them too ill to function normally. When a person has a relapse, it’s not because they want the drug itself, but because the drug makes their symptoms go away. But with opioid use skyrocketing, getting into treatment is more difficult than ever.

Find more TED talks related to addiction on TED.com

Are you or a loved one struggling with drug or alcohol addiction ? Our Colorado drug recovery center can help. Contact us today at 720-577-4422 or [email protected]

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A collection of TED Talks (and more) on the topic of Addiction.

Video playlists about Addiction

a speech on drug addiction

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Talks about addiction.

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The past, present and future of nicotine addiction

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What you should know about vaping and e-cigarettes

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In the opioid crisis, here's what it takes to save a life

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How isolation fuels opioid addiction

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The critical role librarians play in the opioid crisis

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The harm reduction model of drug addiction treatment

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How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas

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How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day

Exclusive articles about addiction, why changing how we view pain can help us address the opioid crisis.

Smart English Notes

Speech on Drug Addiction in English for Students

Table of Contents

Motivational Speech on Drug Addiction

Good morning everyone,

Dear audience, today, I want to talk to you about a topic that affects us all – drug addiction. But I don’t want to just give you the usual statistics and information; I want to engage you, challenge your perceptions, and inspire you to take action. Let me start by asking you a question: How many of you know someone who has been affected by drug addiction? Maybe it’s a family member, a friend, or even yourself. Drug addiction is a complex issue that impacts individuals and communities in a multitude of ways.


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We often hear about the negative consequences of drug addiction – the health problems, the financial struggles, the broken relationships. But what we don’t always talk about is the fact that drug addiction is often a symptom of deeper issues. It can be a way for individuals to cope with trauma, stress, and underlying mental health conditions.

This is why it’s so important to approach drug addiction with empathy and understanding. We need to recognize that addiction is not a moral failing, but rather a treatable medical condition that requires evidence-based care and support.

But what can we do as a society to address drug addiction? There are several strategies that have proven effective, including:

1. Prevention : By educating young people about the risks of drug use and providing them with healthy coping mechanisms, we can help prevent addiction before it starts.

2 . Treatment : Access to evidence-based treatment, including medication-assisted therapy and counselling, is essential for those struggling with addiction.

3. Harm reduction : Programs like needle exchange and overdose prevention can help reduce the harms associated with drug use and prevent overdose deaths.

In closing, I urge you to join me in this fight against drug addiction. Let’s challenge our perceptions, inspire change, and create a world where recovery is possible for everyone. Thank you for your attention, and I look forward to continuing this important conversation with you.

Speech on Drug Addiction

I’m honoured to be here today to talk to you about a topic that is very close to my heart: drug addiction.

Drug addiction is a complex issue that affects individuals, families, and communities across the world. It can have devastating consequences – from physical health problems to financial ruin to strained relationships.

But despite the negative impacts of drug addiction, it’s important to remember that recovery is possible. We need to start by recognizing drug addiction as a health issue rather than a moral failing. This means providing access to evidence-based treatment and support services that address the root causes of addiction.

One of the most effective ways to prevent drug addiction is through education. We need to equip young people with the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy choices and resist peer pressure. Parents, teachers, and community leaders all have a role to play in addressing this issue.

It’s also important to understand that drug addiction doesn’t discriminate. It can impact anyone regardless of their age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status. That’s why we need to approach this issue with empathy and compassion and avoid stigmatizing those who are struggling with addiction.

I want to share a personal story with you. A few years ago, I had a friend who was struggling with prescription drug addiction. At first, I didn’t know how to help her. But over time, I learned the importance of being there for someone in their darkest moments, of listening without judgment, and of encouraging them to seek professional help. Today, my friend is in recovery and doing well.

Recovering from drug addiction is a journey, not a destination. It requires courage, persistence, and support. As a society, we need to do more to ensure that everyone has access to the resources they need to recover and rebuild their lives.

In closing, I urge you to join me in the fight against drug addiction. Let’s work together to promote education, reduce stigma, and support those who are struggling with addiction. Thank you for your attention and I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.

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Frontiers for Young Minds

Frontiers for Young Minds

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The True Meaning of Addiction (And How To Talk About It!)

a speech on drug addiction

Many of us have heard the saying “words matter”. This is especially true when talking about substance use disorders and addiction. Substance use disorders affect millions of people, including adolescents and young adults. Addiction is a long-term medical condition. In many cases, people with addictions want to quit but find it difficult. For example, many of us know someone who would love to quit smoking but is having trouble because they are addicted to nicotine. People who use substances may feel judged by others, which can make them hesitant to talk openly about their substance use or its effects on their lives. It is important that we all know how to talk about addiction non-judgmentally, which starts by knowing the correct words to use.

What Does Addiction Mean?

When people use substances, like drugs or alcohol, to the point that a substance has significant effects on their lives, they are diagnosed as having a substance use disorder . More than 16% of people ages 12 years and older in the United States have a substance use disorder, which means substances have a significant effect on their lives. This is more than 46 million people [ 1 ]! When substance use leads to changes in a person’s brain, they have an addiction . Addiction is a disease and a long-term medical condition. People with addiction lose control over their substance use and often have problems with memory and motivation. These problems are due to changes in the parts of the brain that control behavior.

People with addiction can decide not to use a substance at a given moment, but they find themselves returning to use later. For example, people who are addicted to nicotine may refrain from smoking in a restaurant, but they may smoke a cigarette the minute they leave. For people with nicotine addiction, deciding not to smoke is like trying to hold your breath. You can do it for a little while, but after a few minutes, your brain forces you to breathe again (and thank goodness for that). When a person is addicted to smoking, their brain has been hijacked into thinking it needs nicotine, which makes it very tough to quit.

How is a Substance Use Disorder Diagnosed?

Substance use disorders are diagnosed using criteria listed in a book used by doctors and other healthcare providers to help define things clearly, called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) [ 2 ]. Diagnosing substance use disorders involves 11 questions, and answering yes to 2 or more of them qualifies a person as having a substance use disorder ( Table 1 ). All substance use disorders are diagnosed by these criteria, including for alcohol, nicotine, and other substances.

  • Table 1 - Diagnosis of a substance use disorder over the past 12 months.

If the answer is “yes” to 2 or 3 questions, the person is diagnosed with a mild substance use disorder. When “yes” is the answer to 4 or 5 questions, the person has a moderate substance use disorder, and when the answer is “yes” to 6 or more questions, the person has a severe substance use disorder ( Figure 1 ). People with severe substance use disorders often (but not always) have addiction. Sometimes people with mild or moderate substance use disorders also have addiction.

Figure 1 - Level of substance use disorder based on DSM-5 criteria.

  • Figure 1 - Level of substance use disorder based on DSM-5 criteria.
  • This figure shows the number of “yes” answers required to be diagnosed with each level of substance use disorder.

Choosing the Right Words

When talking about substance use disorders or addiction, it is important to use the right words. Language is powerful, and certain words express judgment or make people feel fear or shame. Stigma is another word for judgment toward a group of people, such as people with substance use disorders. People who feel stigmatized may be less likely to get the treatment that can help them get better. This means it is important to use medically accurate terminology —words that identify disorders and diseases without judgment or stigma ( Table 2 ).

  • Table 2 - Medically accurate terminology.

While the phrase “substance abuse” is commonly used, the word “abuse” indicates fault or a choice to do something wrong, instead of correctly identifying a substance use disorder as a medical problem. In fact, in one study, when healthcare providers heard patients described as substance abusers, providers were more likely to blame the person for their disorder and believe they deserved a punishment of some kind [ 3 ]. When similar patients were described as having a substance use disorder, healthcare providers were less judgmental. Non-medical people are also more likely to judge people who are referred to as “substance abusers” ( Figure 2 ) [ 4 ]. In these studies, the people referred to as having a substance use disorder were more likely to be given sympathy and more likely to be viewed as having a medical condition needing treatment. These studies are examples of how using certain words can lead to judgment or stigma, even when we do not mean for them to. The words we choose can have a huge impact!

Figure 2 - Study results comparing how people felt when hearing that a person was a “substance abuser” vs.

  • Figure 2 - Study results comparing how people felt when hearing that a person was a “substance abuser” vs.
  • hearing about a person “having a substance use disorder” (image credit: https://www.recoveryanswers.org/research-post/the-real-stigma-of-substance-use-disorders/ , used with permission).

One example of using the right words involves using “person first” language. People are much more than their diseases. Using “person first” language avoids defining a person by a disease or disorder. To use “person first” language, put the person before other words used to describe them. For example, say, “person with an addiction” rather than “addict”.

The brains of adolescents and young adults are still developing and can be damaged by substance use. Substances such as alcohol, cannabis, nicotine, and others can disrupt connections in the brain and cause problems with memory, motivation, and the ability to control substance use. The best way to prevent the development of substance use disorders and addiction is to never use substances at all. The younger a person is when they begin to use substances, the more likely they are to develop a substance use disorder later in life. Providing education on the dangers of substance use is one strategy to prevent young people from becoming addicted. Some adolescents are more likely than others to lose control over their substance use. Further research will continue to identify risk factors that lead an adolescent to develop a substance use disorder or addiction.

Recognizing Addiction as a Disease

Substance use disorders are ongoing medical problems that people can recover from with the appropriate treatment. However, people may feel judged for their substance use, often due to stigmatizing words. People who feel judged are less likely to seek treatment, and thus less likely to recover. When talking about people with substance use disorders, use person-first language (focus on the person and not on their disease). Make sure not to use words that imply the person is making a bad choice, such as “habit” or “abuse”. Most importantly, talk about addiction as you would talk about any other disease, such as diabetes or asthma. Recognizing addiction as a disease can encourage people to seek out treatment and increase their chances for recovery.

Substance Use Disorder : ↑ Problematic use of substances identified by meeting at least two of 11 substance use disorder criteria over the past 12 months.

Addiction : ↑ A disease in which substance use leads to changes in a person’s brain, causing issues with memory, motivation, and an inability to control their substance use.

Stigma : ↑ A form of judgment toward any group of people, such as people with substance use disorders.

Medically Accurate Terminology : ↑ Words that identify disorders, diseases, and treatment without judgment or stigma.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

[1] ↑ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2022. Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results From the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP22-07-01-005, NSDUH Series H-57) . Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Available online at: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt39443/2021NSDUHFFRRev010323.pdf (accessed November 16, 2023).

[2] ↑ American Psychiatric Association. 2013. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edn . Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

[3] ↑ Kelly, J. F., and Westerhoff, C. M. 2010. Does it matter how we refer to individuals with substance-related conditions? A randomized study of two commonly used terms. Int. J. Drug Policy 21:202–7. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2009.10.010

[4] ↑ Kelly, J. F., Dow, S. J., and Westerhoff, C. 2010. Does our choice of substance-related terms influence perceptions of treatment need? An empirical investigation with two commonly used terms. J. Drug Iss. 40:805–18. doi: 10.1177/002204261004000403

a speech on drug addiction

Speech on Addiction

Some leisure addictions can have little consequences while other addictions like drug addictions can destroy families, health, and lead to crime. Some addictions are so unimportant family and friends will hardly raise an eyebrow. Others will alarm everyone associated with the person; addictions can break laws of the land and leave the person penniless or worse.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines addiction as someone who is, ‘unable to stop taking drugs,  or doing something as a habit.’

I would go further; addiction is when a person engages in the behavior, when the effects of the reward provide a compelling reason to repeat the activity, sometimes even if the activity is detrimental to his or her well being.

Let’s look at the innocent addictions that don’t raise eyebrows. If you are a young student and in your spare time you are addicted to playing a computer soccer game, if your hours of play are controlled, somewhat you are not doing any harm to anybody. Your family may even think it’s better than hanging about street corners.

Many people have a coffee addiction where they desire the need for a coffee in the morning. Perhaps someone you know has a chocolate addiction and always seems to be visiting shops to buy chocolate bars.

a speech on drug addiction

img source: addictioncenter.com

 “If it wasn’t for coffee, I’d have no discernible personality at all” – David Letterman

Famous people who have had an addiction to something considered unharmful, in the following cases: coffee, include Beethoven, Benjamin Franklin and Brittney Spears. Famous composer, Beethoven, famously was very serious about his coffee and would count exactly 60 beans per cup.

Let us focus on serious addictions that can cause an addicted person and other harm. The addiction of illegal drugs is probably the first form of addiction that springs to mind for most of us when the word ‘addiction’ is mentioned. Class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine are highly addictive and the former can be deadly. Professor Shane Darke of  The Sydney National Drug and Alcohol Centre says:

‘It’s a myth overdose deaths are due to variations in drug purity (or impurities). Deaths are concentrated among long-term users with high opioid tolerance. What’s more, in a large proportion of fatal cases, the concentration of morphine (the major metabolite of heroin) is low.’

Cocaine too is most dangerous for the long-term users. Longer use of the drug can cause heart attacks; cocaine use is linked with increased risk of strokes and can cause inflammation of the heart muscle, deterioration of the ability of the heart to contract, and aortic ruptures among other serious health problems.

a speech on drug addiction

img source: mountainside.com

Addictions to drugs has caused many serious crimes, including murder. The addicted commits crimes to find money to get his or her next fix. With this in mind it’s no surprise drugs are illegal in almost every society.

Addiction to gambling can be a serious addiction and is widespread in cities with casinos or now even at home with online casinos. Although it’s not at first glance dangerous for people’s health at 2 nd glance people losing large amounts of money can suffer stress-related illnesses and eventually fail to look after themselves properly, often, not eating a balanced diet and succumbing to alcohol or drug use to ease their pressures.

Psychology Today claims: ‘Both substance use disorders and gambling behaviors have an increased likelihood of being accompanied by mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, or other pre-existing problems. Substance use and gambling disorders not only engage the same brain mechanisms, they respond to many of the same treatment approaches.

We have discussed controllable addictions to chocolate, though food addiction – when the person starts to binge and fails to control his or her intake of desirable foods can have serious consequences. Highly palatable foods rich in sugar, fat or salt can trigger the same reward and pleasure signals, such as dopamine like a cocaine addict.

Addicted people with food addictions lose control over their eating behavior and spend excessive time involved with food and overeating, or thinking about the emotional effects of compulsive overeating.

According to WebMD

“People who are addicted to food will continue to eat despite negative consequences, such as weight gain or damaged relationships. And like people who are addicted to drugs or gambling, people who are addicted  to food will have trouble stopping their behavior. img source: full2thin.com

Like most serious addictions, problems arise when they start to impinge on an addict’s social and working life. Addicts start drinking alcohol, taking drugs, eating or gambling so much instead of working, doing recreational activities or spending time with the family.

Alcoholism is the most common cause of death of any addiction. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report. Alcohol contributed to some 3.3 million deaths as of 2012. In 2015, over 15 million American adults over 18 years-old qualified as having an alcohol use disorder (AUD), also known as alcohol addiction and alcoholism. RehabAid.com also notes that alcohol is involved in around 18 percent of all emergency room visits.

Addiction to alcohol can cause terrible health problems and create serious problems for families, friends and society. Alcohol disorders lead to physical problems such as liver cirrhosis, heart deterioration and mental illnesses such as depression.

With regard to social behavior, the addict can often become homeless as the scourge robs them of the feeling of everyday responsibility to take care of themselves. Socially, like drug addiction, the need for more alcohol can lead to anti-social behavior including robbery and assault.

The addiction does not only affect the poor. Famous celebrities have become addicts and admitted to having to battle their addictions.

Zac Efron, 31, confessed that becoming such a young celebrity pushed him to abuse drugs and develop an alcohol addiction. Zac started rehab twice in one year when filming Seth Rogen’s Neighbors.

Colin Farrell, 43, admitted that he “didn’t want to live” while filming After filming Miami Vice, due to the stress of his drug and alcohol addiction .

a speech on drug addiction

img source: lakeviewhealth.com

If you or a friend have an addiction it’s important to seek help. Look in search engines for your local addiction help center or for The Samaritans number. They will put you in touch with your closest addiction help center.

Life is very uncertain. People often keep on looking for happiness in many domains but forgot to live life during all these hassles. The same goes for the individual suffering from addiction. It is easy to find fake happiness in momentary thrills and it seems to be an easier way to live life. But this perspective needs to be changed.

People should be more interested in living their life properly rather than finding happiness in elementary things. If you think that you are in your low, you should talk to a responsible adult or a friend who can guide you and make you understand the better way to deal with the situation.

It is easy to get influenced by any addiction, but it requires a tough soul to deal with tough situations of life. Be a hero to your future and fight against addiction. Don’t let it harm you and your family.

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United Nations

Office on drugs and crime.

  • Information For

26 May 2003 Stockholm, Sweden

Young People and Drug Abuse: Prevention and Treatment Bliss technology won't bring back lost paradise Hell on earth is more likely

Your Majesty Queen Silvia, Distinguished Members of Parliaments, Ladies and Gentlemen

Last March, I addressed the Stockholm Symposium on Cannabis. I am back to this wonderful city thanks to the Swedish Government and in particular to the National Drug Policy Coordinator, Mr. Fries, our host.

Our subject is Young people and drug abuse : a compelling subject, so very appropriate for the distinguished members of the many parliaments represented here. My belief is that, working together during the next couple of days, we shall demonstrate that successful (drug) policy, aimed at youth, can have a human touch.

It is about the compassionate heart of drug policy that I wish to speak. And I shall do so, not to launch a new slogan, but as a tribute to you, Queen Silvia, whom I salute as the symbol of Sweden's commitment to save young lives from addiction. Your call for the "right to hope" in a life, both exciting and drug-free, was the wonderful testimonial you brought to political leaders attending the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on drugs in 1998.

Five years since your call, the world drug situation has changed dramatically. To some extent change has been for the better. Yet this undeniable progress has not gone as far or as fast, as we had desired. In part this is because the rules of the drug game kept on changing, at times forcing governments to chase -- rather than to lead -- events. This message I delivered to Ministers last April, during the meeting of the Commission of Narcotic Drugs. But we should not only point to unpredictable changes in external circumstances - they are part of life. We should also have the courage to blame ourselves: our children's "right to hope" is indeed intertwined with our societies' ability to deliver the conditions for that hope to materialize. And, at present, not all societies are equally committed to control the drug problem.

I remain convinced that we shall make better, and faster, progress towards a world not threatened by drug trafficking and drug abuse if, and only if, we stay the course defined by the international Conventions (of 1961, 1971 and 1988) and further mapped out in New York in 1998. Yet, although necessary, staying the course is not a sufficient condition. We also need to make clear the consequences of changing the course -- something not done adequately so far.

We need to communicate louder and clearer that the risks involved in abandoning half a century of drug controls are so high and the resulting public costs and private suffering so big, that the Conventions are not up for negotiation. This was the Ministers' unanimous view in Vienna last month. What is under consideration, starting here, today in Stockholm, are the ways and means to account for the dramatic changes taking place in the world of drugs, so that governments can maintain control of the situation and lead. I look forward to listening to the debate. As a contribution to it, let me consider three issues that deserve, I believe, special attention.

My first proposition is the following: drug abuse among young people, while not a normal occurrence, could become such . The chemical technology of bliss -- namely, the consumption of synthetic substances, like ecstasy and speed -- is blurring the notion of drug addiction as parents and governments alike are confused about the severity of their impact. Not surprisingly, in the last decade, the consumption of bliss substances by young people has become more serious than in the past.

My second proposition follows from the preceding one: while societies' sufferings are similar, governments' responses differ . They range from benign neglect of substance abuse, to robust intervention against it. These differences magnify the misunderstanding in society and facilitate the spread of misinformation about which country is doing what about the drug problem - including the related costs and consequences.

My third proposition brings the argument forward by calling for joint action: drug risks for the young are no longer confined within national borders . Today's culture has abolished time and space. Life styles are shared instantly and internationally. The presence here of parliamentarians from so many countries is an excellent opportunity to realize 1) that the problems your constituencies face are not unique, and 2) that we must therefore develop a shared understanding of what needs to be done.

Bliss technology is on the rise

Let me offer you some facts on the first proposition. There was already some discussion on cannabis during the international symposium held here last March. In the second half of the '90s, cannabis abuse throughout Europe increased dramatically among students. In some countries (Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Italy, to name just a few), lifetime use almost doubled, reaching the 25-35% range. Almost all other European countries registered an increase in the same period (ESPAD survey 1995 and 1999).

Thanks to another variation on the technology of bliss (in this case, genetic engineering of plants), the active ingredients of cannabis have become much stronger. Today, we find up to 20 per cent THC in cannabis compared to a fraction of that amount (2-3%) in the 1960s. (I still remember the smell of the weak marijuana smoked by the "flower kids" in Berkeley, my alma mater.) Even though more research is needed, the increased THC level may result in even more problems for quite a number of young people.

Stronger cannabis is only one item on young people's bliss technology-menu. The increasingly popular dish on the menu is synthetic drugs in general, ecstasy and speed in particular. In the United States, lifetime use of ecstasy among 12th graders has almost doubled (to 10.5%) since 1996 (Monitoring the Future survey, 2002). Ecstasy abuse has also increased considerably in Eastern Europe and Russia. Only in Western Europe has its consumption declined (from a relatively high level), as it has for cannabis (ESPAD surveys 1995 and 1999).

We therefore have a growing number of reports of serious health consequences, even among first-time abusers. Though such consequences may not be immediately visible, ecstasy's neurotoxins impact the brain and hurt major organs (liver and heart).

As synthetic drugs are simple to produce with ordinary chemicals, are simpler to take, and are (erroneously) perceived to be relatively harmless, the threat posed by their consumption is enormous. I have called them "Public Enemy Number 1". They may, in a not too distant future, replace organic drugs at the top of the list.

Although I have mainly spoken about rich countries (which are, as we all know, at the origin of the bliss technology production), manufacturing and addiction are spreading to other parts of the world: for example, to the Far East, where the problem has turned into an alarming epidemic. Slowly, young people in developing countries are catching up with the experience of their northern peers.

Although I have dealt with cannabis and ecstasy separately, they are not separate in young people's minds or experience, as poly-drug abuse is on the rise. It is actually at the origin of an increased number of deaths around the world - a sort of stealth cause of death, as many of them are not attributed to bliss technology products.

My first conclusion is the following: alarm bells should be ringing all over the world. The data about adolescents are especially worrisome, as adolescents are establishing behavioural patterns that will accompany them for a lifetime. On the front, however, news is not so good.

Mixed responses to a common problem

Indeed, and this is my second point, not everyone seems to hear the alarm bells. Responses in various countries have been mixed.

Some countries are maintaining a fatalistic approach, even benign neglect. Somehow, families, educators, and governments alike consider drug abuse as an inevitable part, and not an exception, of growing up.

This attitude has stretched up to the acceptance of policies such as testing of pills in discos to prevent the "unsafe" ingestion of unknown chemicals. The dubious message being sent out is that it is relatively "safe" to use these pills once they are checked. It is ironical that we test people on the road (namely, after alcohol consumption) to prevent drunken driving, and we test pills (namely, before intake), thus condoning driving under drug intoxication. And then we read on Monday's papers about the weekend road massacres!

The wish to "stand outside oneself" (the original meaning of the Greek word ekstasis ) has accompanied human beings from the moment they exited the Garden of Eden. Not surprisingly the temptation is still there, and the call still strong. Yet, how different is the ekstasis brought about by one's control of the mind as practiced by ascetics and hermits in the past, and the one induced by the technology of bliss today.

Karen Armstrong has recently described these differences quite aptly (The Guardian, 23 May 2003). " Our desire for transcendence and unfettered bliss has got out of control. Today young people simply swallow a pill and enjoy states of mind that have formerly been the preserve of a few highly talented mystics, but without the traditional safeguards " (first difference). She adds: " the purveyors of ecstasies are no longer well meaning, highly trained priests. They are unscrupulous dealers who have no concern for their victims, many of whom die in the search of joy, liberation and transcendence " (second difference).

At a time when religion is fading, family bonds are weakening and society is splintering, the technology of bliss poses a new, enormous threat. It "promises" young people to become Saturday-night "masters of the universe". Law enforcement alone cannot control this compulsion for ekstasis . Since these changes are societal, society as a whole needs to share the responsibility. I thus invite the parliamentarians in this Hall, true representatives of society, to examine what they can do to help.

The need for a common response

Countries apply the Conventions on drug control in accordance with local conditions. Yet, the increase in abuse among young people is no longer a matter of national variations. It is a global trend, driven by an increasingly global culture and increasingly trans-national crime syndicates. We need a common response. Above all, we should not think of backing down from the overall commitment to protect the health of our youth.

This commitment was unanimously confirmed at the recent Ministerial meeting in Vienna. The Drug Commission confirmed the importance of current international drug control mechanisms. Ministers stressed the need for innovative prevention based on experience. Here lies another gap: prevention efforts do not always speak clearly to youth and to the pressures they are increasingly facing.

For greater impact, we need to:

  • Understand how young people perceive drugs in their life, and develop our prevention efforts based on that;
  • Increase the confidence of young people so that they can deal with their problems, without turning to drugs;
  • Involve young people in healthy activities, for example in various forms of volunteer work at home and abroad, where substance abuse is combatted.

Above all, society should stop sending conflicting messages to young people. I call for responsible behaviour on the part of media and the music industry: their role models in relation to drug abuse is crucial.


All countries are part of the drug problem. Commitment by all countries is needed for its solution.

I have invited you to think globally, but let me also ask you to act locally. It is important that the United Nations Conventions and their goals are translated into national policies. Your role in this process is fundamental. Drug abuse by youth cannot be addressed in isolation. Questions of education, employment, social inclusion, sexual health, and others need to be considered.

Hopefully, at the end of this meeting, you will return to your constituencies with renewed energy and engage everybody -- voters and fellow legislators alike -- in our common effort: a healthy future for our children also depends on you.

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Chris Christie's emotional speech about drug addiction is going viral

In a video posted a few days ago, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey (R) delivered a passionate and emotional speech about addiction.

The video is really taking off — accumulating over 5 million views through The Huffington Post's Facebook page alone , as well as being repeatedly featured on cable news.

"My mother was a smoker," the 2016 presidential candidate began in the video. " She smoked her whole life. She was addicted to nicotine.

"We know the lung cancer was caused by the smoking," Christie said. "But no one came to me and said, 'Hey listen, your mother was dumb. She started smoking when she was 16. Then after we told her it was bad for her, she kept doing it. ... She's getting what she deserves.' No one said that."

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Christie contrasted that sharply with how the public treats drug addiction.

"Somehow, if it's heroin or cocaine or alcohol, we say, 'They decided it. They're getting what they deserved,'" he said.

"It's easy to be pro-life for the nine months you're in the womb. They haven't done anything to disappoint us yet. They're perfect in there! But they get out, that's when it gets tough. The 16-year-old teenage girl on the floor of the county lockup, addicted to heroin, I'm pro-life for her too."

He added: "The president needs to say those things."

Christie, a Republican presidential candidate, went on to describe a friend from law school who struggled with drug addiction. That friend, Christie said, was good-looking and had a great career and family, but his Percocet addiction led to his divorce, bankruptcy, and, ultimately, death.

"When I sat there as the governor of New Jersey at his funeral, and looked across the pew at this three daughters, sobbing because their dad is gone — there but before the grace of God go I," he said. "It can happen to anyone. And so we need to start treating people in this country, not jailing them."

Watch below:

Chris Christie Makes Emotional Plea To Rethink Drug Addiction ... "Somehow, if it's heroin or cocaine or alcohol, we say, 'They decided it, they're getting what they deserved.'"(Read more here: http://huff.to/1LQg27g) Posted by HuffPost Politics on Friday, October 30, 2015

NOW WATCH:  Chris Christie made an emotional speech about addicts that could put his campaign back on the map

a speech on drug addiction

  • Main content

Life-saving addiction treatment shouldn’t be out of reach

Taylor Lashua returned empty bottles of take-home methadone to be refilled at the Behavioral Health Network opioid treatment clinic in Orange.

Resource is available for pediatric providers and teens receiving substance use care

Re “Too young for treatment but old enough to die” (Page A1, March 13): We read Chris Serres’s article with interest, and we agree that there is an urgent need to increase access to medications to treat opioid and other substance use disorders in youth. The Division of Addiction Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital has partnered with the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program to create a substance use consultation call line for pediatric primary care clinicians, staffed by addiction medicine specialists. In addition, we offer telehealth counseling for teens who are receiving substance use treatment from their PCCs. Families access this service by calling the PCC.


Using this model, we have supported PCCs who manage patients with opioid use disorders in primary care, including Dr. Jason Reynolds, who was interviewed for Serres’s article. For more complex patients, we can co-manage with the youth’s PCC. This service allows us to support substance use treatment, including buprenorphine, for any pediatric patient in Massachusetts from the Berkshires to the Cape. We recommend that PCCs call whenever they have a question about teen substance use.

Dr. Sharon Levy

Chief, Division of Addiction Medicine

Boston Children’s Hospital

Dr. John H. Straus

Founding director

Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program

Mass. Medical Society pushing to break down barriers to proven treatment

The physicians of the Massachusetts Medical Society thank the Globe for its March 17 editorial, “Why is it still so difficult to get life-saving addiction medications?” which sheds light on the barriers to accessing treatment.

Opioid use disorder is a chronic disease, and for many patients, evidence-based, medication treatment is a critical component of a pathway to recovery. The medical society has long advocated for measures that would ensure that individuals who suffer from opioid use disorder can safely access medications such as methadone and buprenorphine. Removing barriers to care is crucial to saving lives. These barriers include limits on take-home doses, medical and social stigma, a shortage of pharmacies that stock addiction medications, and the lack of access to physicians, including pediatricians, who are trained to prescribe them.

Too often, these obstacles both deny patients — many of whom are from historically marginalized populations and medically underserved communities — medically proven treatment for opioid use disorder and undermine access to clinically appropriate, evidence-based, and equitable health care.

The medical society continues to support federal legislation that would fund key national programs to address the opioid epidemic and support patients affected by substance use disorder, and it urges Congress to pass legislation to expand access to methadone. We can make an impact by eliminating the need for patients to make daily visits to methadone clinics to receive medication. The establishment of overdose prevention centers, where people with substance use disorder could use drugs in a controlled setting, would also be a lifesaver.

Dr. Barbara Spivak

Massachusetts Medical Society

a speech on drug addiction

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Chuck Schumer on His Campaign to Oust Israel’s Leader

The senate majority leader, chuck schumer, explains why he decided to speak out against benjamin netanyahu, the israeli prime minister..

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In a pointed speech from the Senate floor this month, the majority leader, Chuck Schumer, called for Israel to hold a new election and for voters to oust the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Soon after, Annie Karni, a congressional correspondent for the Times, sat down with Mr. Schumer to understand why he did it.

On today’s episode

a speech on drug addiction

Annie Karni , a congressional correspondent for The New York Times.

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Mr. Schumer, America’s highest-ranking Jewish elected official, said he felt obligated to call for new leadership in Israel .

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