The Definition of Substance Abuse Is ComplexOctober 30th, 2012
Drug abuse and alcoholism can strike anyone from any walk of life. It’s alarming to think that most people know someone who is addicted to drugs or has a life-threatening drinking problem. But many people don’t stop to think what the actual definition of substance dependence really is.
• Substance abuse is a pattern of behavior that involves habitual use of a substance or drug for which the user receives some kind of perceived benefit, such as feeling high or increased physical performance.
• Use of any drug beyond the supervision of a medical professional is considered substance abuse.
• Use of illicit drugs for any reason is considered substance abuse.
Because alcohol is culturally accepted in most societies around the world, many people don’t consider alcoholic beverages to be drugs in the same sense that cocaine or valium are. But alcohol is a very powerful mind-altering drug that is also highly addictive for some people, so by the first definition, abusing alcohol counts as substance abuse.
When most people think of substance abuse, they think of illicit drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine, and indeed, these drugs are all psychoactive or pain-killing drugs. But taking prescription drugs without a doctor’s supervision—the fastest growing form of drug abuse in America—can be dangerous and lead to dependence and health problems. Generally speaking, when we define drug abuse, we’re defining any use of substances that offers a perceived benefit but will really only cause health and quality of life problems.
In this sense, taking performance-enhancing drugs like anabolic steroids falls under the definition of drug abuse. But these drugs, while capable of doing great harm to otherwise healthy bodies, are not addictive. They do, however, cause quality of life problems for habitual users.
Symptoms Answer the Question What is Substance Abuse Disorder?
How a substance negatively affects a person’s life is the key to defining drug abuse. When using the drug takes priority in the user’s mind over more important matters, the drug abuse is winning and will keep on winning until something gives. A substance abuse problem will not solve itself and won’t go away if ignored. Abusing drugs can cause many health, personal, financial, and legal problems:
• Decreased work productivity
• Lost job opportunities and wages
• Anti-social behavior
• Out-of-control spending
• Unpaid bills and chaotic personal finances
• DUI and possession offenses
• Depression and other psychological disorders
• Catastrophic health problems
One of the universal effects of drug abuse is destroyed lives.