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The WHO defines drug dependence as:
A state, psychic and sometimes physical, resulting from taking a drug, characterised by behavioural and other responses that always include a compulsion to take a drug on a continuous or periodic basis in order to experience its psychic effects, and sometimes to avoid the discomfort of its absence. Tolerance may or may not be present, and a person may be dependent on more than one drug.
Otherwise, drug dependence may be described as compulsive drug use which takes priority over considerations of personal health or social obligations.