Addiction (dependence) can affect individuals in different ways and is very complicated. There is no test to show if an individual will become addicted. A small number of people are genetically predisposed to addictive behaviour. If they use drugs, they are more likely than others to become addicted.
However, addiction to a drug is influenced broadly by 3 main factors – the drug, the person and the environment. Drug factors include the drug’s addictiveness, how long you’ve been using it and how much you normally use. Person factors include the role of genetic differences and the individual’s capacity to cope with stresses. And environmental factors include availability of work and social integration.
Some drugs are more highly addictive (e.g. crack cocaine, heroin and tobacco); some are liable to cause dangerous immediate effects (such as the hyperthermia seen with ecstasy use or heart attacks with crack use); some can lead to specific long term physical damage (including crystal meth, ketamine and alcohol); and some drugs can have a stronger psychological or psychiatric impact and might, for example, trigger onset of pre-existing mental conditions (with khat, amphetamine or cannabis known to have these effects). However, there's no way of you knowing beforehand the harmful effects to which you may be particularly sensitive.
Using any drug can cause problems in the short term but if you use drugs over a prolonged period the chances of it having an adverse effect are increased. It may cause problems for your physical or mental health, your safety, get you in trouble with the law, impact on relationships, your finances or your ability to work.
Some signs that things are getting beyond your control include;
If you think you may be developing a problem with drug use you should speak to your GP or one of the helping services listed on this website.