Patients who develop serious problems with illicit drugs often have psychological and social contributory factors such as socio-economic deprivation, disordered personality, disturbed family background, membership of social groups in which drug taking is prevalent, and ready availability of drugs.

Prescription drug misuse often comes from misguided medical prescribing for chronic neurotic or painful symptoms, which actually are rooted in the patient's personality.

A small minority of health professionals become addicted to narcotics and other substances (including anaesthetic gases and veterinary preparations) that they obtain at work.

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