How Are Abuse Risks Measured

Historical experience shows addiction to be more likely with some drugs than with others, just as some road intersections are more hazardous than others even though anyone might drive through them safely at a given time. Whether the subject be drugs or intersections, persons concerned about dangers attempt to discover if similarities exist. Do certain characteristics of intersections (speed limits, stop signs, obscured vision) indicate whether danger is more likely? Characteristics of drugs, particularly their chemical formulas, are examined to determine similarities that might indicate whether particular drugs have more addictive or abuse potential than others. For example, the shape of a drug's molecule may determine how a user's body reacts, so drugs with molecules of a similar shape might be expected to have similar effects. Also, new substances derived from an old drug may be assumed to have similarities to the old drug.

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