Drug addiction, or substance dependence is the compulsive use of drugs, to the point where the user has no effective choice but to continue use. This phenomenon has occurred to some degree throughout recorded history (see "opium"), though modern agricultural practices, improvements in access to drugs, and advancements in biochemistry have exacerbated the problem significantly in the 20th century with the introduction of purified forms of active biological agents, and with the synthesis of hitherto unknown substances, such as methamphetamine and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB).
While "addiction" has been replaced by "dependency" as a clinical term, the terms are used interchangeably here. The addictive nature of drugs varies from substance to substance, and from individual to individual. Drugs such as codeine or alcohol, for instance, typically require many more exposures to addict their users than drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Likewise, a person who is psychologically or genetically predisposed to addiction is much more likely to become dependent.