By: Sol Recovery Center 17 Jun 2015

What is substance abuse, exactly? Many people think of substance abuse and addiction as the same things. In reality, substance “abuse” differs from addiction or dependence because the user is not physically or mentally addicted to the substance.

Substance abuse is a wide spread phenomena that can impact anyone. The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that 24.6 million people over the age of 12 were illicit drug users or had abused a prescription medication within the last month.

The staff members at our rehab center in AZ have decades of experience providing addiction help for clients suffering with substance abuse. They can help you.

What is Substance Abuse?

The Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the, “DSM-V”) defines substance abuse as follows:

Substance abuse is defined as a pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress as manifested by one (or more) of the following, occurring within a 12-month period:

  • Recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home (substance-related absences, poor work performance, suspensions or expulsions from school, or neglect of children or household).
  • Recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (driving an automobile or operating a machine while impaired). Recurrent substance-related legal problems (arrests for substance-related disorderly conduct).
  • Continued substance use despite persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance (arguments with spouses about intoxication and physical fights).

The symptoms for “substance abuse” do not meet the criteria for “substance dependence.”  According to the DSM-V, a person can be abusing a substance or dependent on a substance, but not both at the same time.

What is Substance Abuse: When and How it Begins

Recreational substance use usually begins in adolescent or teen years. Certain factors may make someone more likely to abuse substances:

▪   Chaotic home environment
▪   Bad parenting
▪   Poor social skills
▪   Poor grades
▪   Peer pressure

What are the Signs of Substance Abuse?

The early recognition of a substance abuse problem will increase the chance of successful rehabilitation treatment. Some of the signs include:

▪   Losing interest in activities (such as sports, hobbies, and seeing friends)
▪   Declining grades or job performance
▪   Aggressiveness and irritability
▪   Forgetfulness
▪   Disappearing money or valuables
▪   Use of room deodorizers and incense
▪   Possession of paraphernalia (like baggies, small boxes, pipes, and rolling paper)
▪   Lying and secrecy


What are the Most Commonly Abused Substances?

Commonly abused substances include:

▪   Alcohol
▪   Marijuana
▪   Hallucinogens
▪   Club drugs (ecstasy, GHB, Rohypnol)
▪   Inhalants
▪   Dissociative drugs (PCP, Ketamine, cough medicine)


What are the Consequences/Dangers of Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse can lead to problems in all areas of life. It is important to get help before the problems get worse. The following are some of the consequences/dangers of substance abuse:

▪   Developing addiction
▪   Arrests and charges (crimes like drug possession, public intoxication, underage drinking, assault, and DWI/DUI)
▪   Motor vehicle accidents while under the influence
▪   Overdose, coma, or death
▪   Brain damage
▪   Sexually transmitted disease due to risky sexual behavior
▪   Organ damage and cancer
▪   Poor decision making
▪   Hurting/losing friends and family
▪   Emotional problems (depression, anxiety, paranoia, delusions, black outs, and memory loss)
▪   Experiencing sexual assault while under the influence
▪   Withdrawal symptoms if substances are denied or unavailable (e.g., anxiety, jumpiness, shaking, trembling, sweating, nausea, insomnia, depression, fatigue, loss of appetite, and seizures)


Still need an answer to the question, “What is substance abuse?” Call right away to find out if one of our rehabilitation programs can help you or your loved with a substance abuse problem. Call our Arizona rehab facilities to talk to an intake coordinator 24 hours a day at 866-239-1700, or contact us here.


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