Prescription and Illicit Drug Abuse

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is addiction?

Addiction is a chronic disease in which a person craves, seeks, and continues to abuse a legal (medication, alcohol, tobacco) or an illicit (illegal) drug, despite harmful consequences. People who are addicted continue to abuse the substance even though it can harm their physical or mental health, lead to accidents, or put others in danger.

For more on drugs and the brain, see “Drugs, Brains and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.”