Dependence is a disease.

Substances such as alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, certain tranquilisers and sleeping pills (e.g. benzodiazepines), and volatile solvents as well as illegal drugs such as cannabis, ecstasy, LSD, cocaine, and heroin (opioids) can lead to dependence.

Almost every dependence develops as follows: Experience – repetition – habituation. During habituation (tolerance), the effect of the drug decreases upon repeated use. Patients affected by dependence compensate for this loss of effect by consuming increasingly larger doses.

The EMCDDA (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction) currently defines “problematic drug use” as the “injection or prolonged/regular use of opioids, cocaine, and/or amphetamines”. Current estimates for 2010 and 2011 suggest between 30,000 and 34,000 problem opiate users in Austria alone.

In Austria, the prevalence of alcohol dependence is estimated at five percent of the population aged 15 years and older (Uhl et al. 2009a). Thus, 350,000 individuals in Austria could be considered alcoholics.

Source: GÖG/ÖBIG (Austrian Health Institute), 2013 Report on the Drug Situation

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