Addiction and Drug

What is addiction?

The reason why some people get addicted to any addictive substance is still not yet clear. Essentially, it seems that intake of addictives is somehow prompted by the expectation of mood changes. Some drugs (e.g. opium and its derivatives) may cause euphoria and a feeling of being happy. Others may blunt the capacity to appreciate experiences (e.g. alcohol, barbiturates, tranquillisers) Others may generate or enhance the state of excitement (e.g. cocaine, amphetamines). Another group alter the thinking and sensual appreciation of the environment (e.g. LSD, Hashish). Apart from addictions dependant on substances there are also the so-called behavioral addictions such as shopping addiction, internet addiction, gambling addiction or work addiction.



Mental and physical addiction

Mental addiction is the intemperate desire for the drug or behavior, the loss of control regarding the consumption and the neglect of other interests. A drug (e.g. cocaine) which ‘only’ causes mental or psychical addiction is therefore not harmless. In fact, the treatment of mental addiction is generally more difficult and demands a lot of time and patience. Physical addiction is in most cases relatively easier to treat and can be overcome in a few weeks. Physical addiction develops through the person getting used to the addictive substance. With time, the body tends to tolerate more and more of the same addictive substance. In order to produce the same drug effects, the addict must increase the doses.

The continuation of the drug abuse makes the body capable of utilising amounts that are lethal under ‘normal’ conditions leading to the so called ‘tolerance development’. Abruptly stopping the drug at this stage could lead to appearance of withdrawal symptoms such as general body pains, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and fainting attacks. These may manifest in form of the so called vegetative symptoms live shivering, cold, sweat, etc. If the person is addicted to several substances (the so-called polytoxaemia), a life threatening condition may result.

After the detoxification, the body tolerance of the substances decreases. During a relapse, the addicted person runs the risk of a lethal overdose since the tolerance to the addictive substance is greatly reduced.


Legal and illegal addictive substances

Illegal addictive substances are those whose possession, distribution, cultivation, or trade is forbidden by the anaesthesia law and is punishable as a criminal offence. Under the definition of this criminal law, any person who possesses anaesthetic substances like cannabis (hashish, marijuana) LSD, heroin, or cocaine without due permission would face a high fine or in severe cases, imprisonment. These substances are currently the centre of a public debate. Because of their damage to individuals and society, legal addictives like alcohol, nicotine and also medicines have more or less the same significance. Also the behavioral addictions are very important in this context.


Legal addictive substances

Alcohol, medicines (stimulants, sleeping pills, sedatives, anaesthetics, analgesics) nicotine, snuff.


Illegal addictive substances

Cannabis, crack, designer drugs (Speed, Ecstasy), hallucinogens (substances naturally extracted from plants or synthetic ones like LSD) cocaine, heroine, opium and morphine.


How does the drug work?

The effect of the different addictives can be read from many reference books and literature. The damage of the particular addictive depends on many factors: the method of intake, the duration of intake and personal and bodily prerequisites of the addict and his social environment.

The different addictives can lead to physical, mental and social damage.


Where can I find help?

An addict must go for therapy on his/her own conviction. That is the pre-condition for the best chances of success. It does not help when therapy is begun only because she/he is being forced into it. As a rule, the motivation for the therapy at the beginning is unstable and becomes solid only through progressive therapy. At every stage, the addictive person is prepared step by step to assume responsibility again.


The counselling in the counselling centres is free. The detoxification and the weaning treatment must however be paid for and the payment through the social insurance must be guaranteed.


Addiction counselling centres help through clarifying these questions and provide support so that at least the addict can start the treatment. They also help in the correct choice of the treatment centres. Also for the relatives the counselling centres are an appropriate address.


Source: Addictives, Treatment Possibilities

and Counselling Centres A pamphlet series

of the Federal Center for Health Education.


Here are some tips:

Call the BzgA-Telephone for the prevention of addiction. They personally advise citizens with addiction problems and provide info on counselling and help.

Tel: 0221 89 20 31 (daily from 10:00 – 22:00)


Zentrale Drogenberatungsstelle Berlin:


Jugend- und Suchthilfezentrum

Ansbacher Str. 11

10787 Berlin-Schöneberg

Te.: 19 237



Suchtberatung Friedrichshain

Beratung, therapeutische Gespräche, ambulante Entgiftung

Finowstr. 39

10247 Berlin- Friedrichshain

Tel. 291 16 92



Drug Therapy Center


Frankfurter Allee 40

U-Bahn Samariterstraße

Tel. 293 85 319


Fachstelle für Suchtprävention im Land Berlin

Mainzer Str. 23

10247 Berlin

Tel. 29 35 26 15


Elternkreise drogenabhängiger Jugendlicher

Landesverband Berlin-Brandenburg EKBB e.V.

Ansbacher Str. 11

10787 Berlin

Tel: 030 / 25 75 97 29 – Die Internetplattform der BZgA für Jugendliche