Being dependent on something (or addicted to something) means that you have no control over doing, taking or using something harmful. 

Addiction can occur when a person repeatedly uses or misuses certain substances (which can include alcohol, street drugs or prescription medication) for a long period of time. You can also get addicted to an act, such as gambling, shopping or having sex. 

If you have become dependent on a drug, you may: 

  • feel an uncontrollable urge or craving to take the drug when the last dose has lost its effect 
  • feel that taking the substance or repeat the action rewarding you (eg feeling good, or feeling 'dumb' - as it's often said) 
  • feeling that it is difficult to stop taking the drug, even if you know it is affecting your health, finances or relationships 
  • feel you need more and more of it a drug to have the same effects as time goes on (you develop a tolerance of the drug) 
  • prioritize taking the drug over other things in your life, such as friends and family, school and exams, socializing or other interests you used to enjoy them. 
  • having withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking the drug (whether you take the drug less or stop taking it altogether). 



Common drugs and medicines that people become dependent on



This is found in tobacco products and increases dopamine in parts of the brain's reward system up to eight times its normal level. 


This affects many systems in the brain and increases GABA and dopamine production. 


These are prescribed to help you sleep or treat anxiety, and they increase GABA activity in the brain. There is diasepam, lorasepam and alprasolam are some of the most common benzodiazepines.