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Quick Dose: 5 Things You Missed in Drug Education

As Drug Use Rises, Here’s What You Should Know

Drug use among adults is rising, bringing an increased risk for drug dependence and addiction, sleep issues, problems with interpersonal relationships, health complications and an increased risk of death.

Most drug education programs teach people to avoid drugs and focus on consequences. They educate people who do use drugs, and offer tools and resources to address current drug use or what to do in case of a crisis involving drugs.

Danesh A. Alam, MD, a Northwestern Medicine psychiatrist with expertise in chemical dependence and addiction, shares important tips to help keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy.

  1. Most first experiences with drugs begin at home or by misuse of prescription medication. Your own medicine cabinet can be your child's first encounter with drug misuse. Be sure to safely store and dispose of prescription medications.
  2. Drugs can begin to rewire your brain after just one use. Drug use can change important areas of the brain that are necessary for sustaining life, and can lead to addiction and other diseases. Addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than just good intentions or determination.
  3. Addiction can affect anyone. While risk factors exist, people can develop a substance use disorder or addiction no matter where they are from, what they look like or how many resources they have.
  4. Misinformation is everywhere. With the internet and social media, unverified and unsourced information spreads easily. Make sure you get any advice and treatment from a licensed medical professional.
  5. Recovery rarely happens in a straight line. Don't get discouraged by the ups and downs. Addiction is a treatable disease, and with the right approach from a licensed professional, you can stop using drugs and regain control of your life.