The line between drug use and abuse is very thin, and most of the time people cross it without realizing they have done so. As with any drug, tolerance to prescription pills can increase, and the drug user may in turn increase their intake over time. Although some escalate their usage simply because of tolerance issues, others may do so because they find that their prescription pills fill needs other than their intended use. Some find that their pills allow for easier and more fluid social connections because their inhibitions are lowered and their confidence is artificially inflated. If someone is trying prescription drugs among a group of people taking them recreationally, they may be succumbing to the pressure of fitting in. A person who deals with chronic pain, constant panic attacks, or any other debilitating physical or mental health issue may find themselves taking more pills to cope.
For youths in the first stage of drug use, where they have not yet used drugs, preventative measures are used. Therefore, limiting access to drugs, addressing any risk factors of the youth or family, as well as optimal parental supervision and expression regarding expectations is often recommended. The approach to those who have experimented with drugs is not minimized by drug treatment counselors, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental-health professionals, since infrequent use can progress to the more serious stages of use if not addressed. Therefore, professionals recommend that the youth be thoroughly educated about the effects and risks of drugs, receive fair but firm limits on the use of substances, and that the user be referred for brief counseling, a self-help group, and/or family support group. Teens that have progressed to the more advanced stages of drug addiction are typically treated intensively, often including inpatient drug treatment (drug rehab) and involves a combination of the medication, individual, and familial interventions already described above.